Tag Archives: existential threat

Semi-formal poem: ‘Thin Thin Skin’

Life on the earth is thin as dust on an apple.
25,000 miles round the planet, and if we go 2 miles high
we struggle to breathe, claw at the air, fight it, grapple.
25,000 miles round the planet, mostly sea
and if sea levels rise a foot, whole communities are lost
and if a storm gives 10 foot waves, houses and lives are lost.
We live on the thin thin skin of the earth.
Is the soil three inches deep, or a foot, or five?
Can we grow enough to survive?
We live on that thin thin skin of dirt.
And people too are fragile, their bones, organs, held in
by their thin thin skin. A knife,
a bullet, even too much sun,
will break the thin thin skin and drain the life.
And society too is fragile, with too many knives and guns,
too little respect for sun, ocean, climate change;
too many people with a thin thin skin
leading their ignorant people into the razorwire of unpredicted change.

*****

This poem was originally published in Lighten-Up Online (or LUPO) last year – thanks, Jerome Betts! It’s not really a formal poem, though there are some rhymes. As for the subject matter, all I can say is: If you haven’t run across the delightful XKCD graphic of the past 12,000 years of temperature change, please click here!

Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages: A middle school science teacher explains a lesson on climate change using a SMART board. Copyright CC BY-NC 4.0

Poem: ‘The Future as Event’

The future like an avalanche
is roaring down the sky.
If you’ve prepared no hiding place
then be prepared to die.
You never reason why.

The future like a question mark
is scything humankind.
If you can see, then handle it –
you’ll be cut down if blind.
The future doesn’t mind.

The future like a giant wave
is heading for the shore.
If you can ride that wall-like wave
it’s no wall, but a door
into forever more.

I was looking for one of my poems that might be appropriate for the aftermath of the 2020 US election, regardless of any of the possible outcomes. This is the best I could find: no matter who wins which election in any country in the next couple of decades, the world is going to be struggling to play catch-up with enormous changes happening in the climate, the sea, cyber warfare, space militarisation, A.I., genetic modifications… Trump, Biden, BoJo, Putin, Xi, they are all corks on an ocean with a hurricane coming.

‘The Future as Event’ was originally published in the much-lamented ‘Rotary Dial’, produced in Toronto by award-winning poets Pino Coluccio and Alexandra Oliver. A delightful monthly of formal verse, it ceased without warning. So it goes.

Photo: “Giant waves at Half Moon Bay in Calif.” by robertg6n1