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Have you guys seen this? It’s Powell’s Poetry Madness bracket, and they are already voting for the elite eight. I’ve got Brooks and Rich in the finals, but Atwood could be a strong upset.

It’s sleeting out. A cold North spring, fixin on rain and snow in the mountains for the next four days. Meh. Spring in the North Woods is such a fickle mistress. I feel like I’m hitting a creative slump. I’ve had all day to write a poem, but everything has been so normal, mundane, even, that I feel blind to inspiration. What could I have poemed about today? The laundry? My knee hurts? The sleet? The fact that the world at large feels so remote when viewed from the palm of my hand that I feel divorced from the normal outrage I would experience at news articles on Keystone or the Supreme Court, and from the joy at things like Earth Day or birds that are 100% faithful (Albatross!)?

It was a struggle yesterday, too, and just about as close to BS as I’ve come so far. Without that slideshow, I sure couldn’t have come up with a damn thing. I guess some weeks are less poemy than others.
I have been thinking about Earth Day, though. Growing up in the 90s, the big public service campaign was all about conservation. It was all about recycling, and turning off the lights, and picking up litter, and leave no trace. We had the cartoon Captain Planet. I used to credit Bill Clinton for that, but now I credit Al Gore. That sure stopped. I wasn’t paying attention for the first decade of the new century, so I have no idea what little psa cartoons the kiddos watched then. I should ask my students. Now I gather, from watching lots of PBS Kids, it’s all about food, and exercise, and there are lots of little messages featuring dancing broccoli. Thank you, Michelle Obama. Truly, daughter one has actually tried some green things that she might not have tried were it not for Dinosaur Train.

As a kid growing up in a National Park, in elementary school with a bunch of park service employees kids, we did Earth Day right. Lots of songs, (“habitat, habitat, you have to have a habitat”, and “Inch by inch, row by row,”), a schoolwide picnic and such. Wildlife lessons that included wildlife. It was rad.

Now I try my best to treat the Earth right, but I fail on a lot of fronts, and resort to getting angry about what’s being done to the celestial homebody by reading stories and signing petitions on the internet. If the US went to a four-work week, I swear we’d birth more activists. We would get it done.

Anyhow, I’m going to try to write an Earth Day poem. It could go righteous, or sad, or celebratory, or all three. Those are really the only options.

Righteous, Sad, Celebratory–April 22 2014

I. Righteous

The righteous have grown crooked, extracting their capital, and the pipeline promises are all lies, and brackish ones at that. The truth is too heartless, told on the beaches of Pointe a La Hache, and Elk River, and in the wells of Pennsylvania, and Texas, and Ohio, and on the shoulders of the tilting roadways in both Dakotas, and Idaho, and Montana.  Let’s not forget Canada. When the chains and signatures fall on these scavengers who would spend our souls like mealy dollars, this is their agenda of violation.

II. Sad

It would take a megaload of morality to forget the fear, one point six million tons of grit and certainty and, if need be, hostages, to stop this greed. In the end, it will all come down to the water, pulled capillarily down into the soil, it will be the water in the oats, peas, beans, and barley that we test for poison. In the end, all the stories will be, now and always, water stories.

III. Celebratory

There will be solar streets in Sandpoint, ID, the blue arm of a red state. There will be backyard chickens and compost piles. It is the great turning of farmers and artists markets. It will be, because it already has been, sponged up in the hearts of small children nurtured by tall mountains. Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow, all it takes is a rake and a hoe, and a piece of fertile ground. All the certainty on this pale blue dot of the hope suspended in sunbeams, all the brief moments of outrage amongst careless, thoughtless moments, all the children who know without thinking that their mudpies are worthy of praise, will become our revision.

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Huh. Got a little John Denver and Carl Sagan mixed in there. Funny. Happy Earth Day, people of Earth.

 

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