Earth Day Reading + a poem from Apocalypse Mix

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On Earth Day 1970, I was a kindergartner, sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Arrowhead Elementary auditorium where ten costumed bumble-bees hovered in a line, arms holding up poster board letters that spell out “E-N-V-I-R-O-N-M-E-N-T”: a message powerful enough to drive a crew of litterbugs off the stage. The warbly notes of “Blowin’ in the Wind” filled the house; the bees buzzed along.

I was too young to know my generation would be offered ringside seats to a series of vanishings. But the skit offered something I’d hold onto: force of words as charm and cure; incantation and invitation to action.

This month, I’ve enjoyed several books that intersect with this theme—lyric cartographies of resistance and celebration. They’ll make wonderful additions to any library:

Taylor Brorby, Coming Alive: Action and Civil Disobedience

Camille T. Dungy, Trophic Cascade

Anna Lena Phillips Bell, Ornament

David Wojhan, For the Scribe

And here’s a poem from the still-new Apocalypse Mix (Autumn House, 2017) sparked by early musings on the environment:

Portuguese Man o’ War

 

Full sail, a feat

of stylized rigging,

armed frigate, eating machine

whose armadas blow ashore

through warming currents,

to cooler coasts off Amagansett,

up the Atlantic as far north as the Bay of Fundy,

The Isle of Man—and I

who envisioned your technicolor

rays only in Our Amazing World’s

slick pages, centerpiece of

danger and display—how you swim

up unbidden, struck chord

like the wail of sirens, the warning

and the all-clear, the stark list

of grocery stash guaranteeing

post-atomic household survival. So you drop

that fine-spun glass pane

at the first sign of surface threat

to submerge or travel dark, lucent pools—

O blue bottle, spilled ink—

Even dead you deliver a sting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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