Four Poems

Copyright 2022 by John Curl



Something is very wrong.

The chemical smells, sick plants,

dying birds and insects.

(It actually hasn’t been very long,

just a blink in geologic time)

since we began transforming

these wild watery gardens

of ourselves, the universe

of our own bodies,

into toxic dumps.

Are we too far lost to

retrace our steps,

to find our way back?

Although I don’t know their names

or their places on my family tree or

on anyone’s family tree, I am certain

that somewhere in my past, and in

your past, and in all of our pasts,

were people who knew how to live

in better ways than these, who

lived  in good ways, who walked

lovingly on the earth, who did not

cause too much damage to other

people or to other creatures, or to

our mother, and who left our world

perhaps even a little better than they

found it. It is to these ancestors that

we need to turn for guidance to find

their lost path and follow it.

Are we too far lost to retrace

our steps, to find our way back?

(It actually hasn’t been very long)

Strange odors, sick birds, dying trees.

(just a blink in geologic time)

since we began transforming these

gardens of ourselves, this wild

watery universe of our own bodies.



Rain is alive. Rain is life.

We living things, all of us,

are water droplets.

Consciousness is a form of

water. We are

children of the morning dew.

Vapor rising from the sea

clouds of vapor

drifting toward land.

Listen to the rain drench

the suffering city streets.

Listen to the dew.

Raindrops in a summer

shower, bouncing on roofs

swirling down storm drains

hovering on eyelashes

dripping down chestnut leaves

seeping into meadows

flowing through soil.

Snowflakes drifting through

cumulus clouds, floating

into children’s faces,

blowing against tree trunks,

piling into drifts,

perfect unique crystals

coating star maple branches

rabbit burrows, cranberry bogs.

Listen to the snow cover the hills.

Listen to the clouds.

Listen to the waterfalls.

Listen to the waves

endlessly splashing.

Water droplets underground

flood along the watershed

gather into currents

surface again

mountain springs of purity

trickle around pebbles

leaping brooks

babbling over frogs

flowing past tongues of turtles

splashing streams meandering

around ox bows

funneling into whirlpools

eddying in gentle swells

surging into great rivers

crashing against rocks.

We are vapor

we are clouds

we are rain

we are all snowflakes.

we are dew

we are rivers flowing together

into the ocean, our mother,

and she is us too.

Then why do military drones keep

striking wedding parties of snowflakes?

Why do clouds still cry themselves

to sleep at night from cold and hunger,

while warehouses are packed with

clothes and food? Then why are two

million American raindrops still in

prison? Why are we poisoning the

children of the morning dew?



Don’t worry about trying to fix it, he said,

we’ve destroyed this world past

redemption, beyond habitability, it’s dead,

murdered, our task now is to leave and colonize

another planet. Wow. He really said that.

Seriously. He imagines heroically saving

humanity from extinction by escaping to some

spacesuit utopia in the stars. That is the

Puritan’s eye, escaping the corrupt Old World,

reinventing yourself in a new city on a hill in

an imagined  tabula rasa, the eye of the imperialist,

dreaming that there is always some new

pristine place to start over again and plunder,

even now when people have pillaged the entire

earth and there is no place left here to plunder.

Then go, if you must, she said, to your own suicide, but

don’t expect me to buy you that spaceship.

Even if life really did come here

long ago from the stars, she said, and

even if that means we are star people too,

even so, we have been here so long we

are now and forever earth people, and

this earth does not belong to us;

we belong to her. This planet is not

an object we can use, abuse, discard like

so much garbage. Our task now is

not to escape but to stay right here, to

hold fast to earth, to learn to live here,

to protect her. We are now and forever

inseparable from her, our wild watery habitat,

our precious green mother.



After all this blood,

here we are, still

torn in this crisis

of destruction and delusion.

At a time like this, how

can we even think of celebration?

Remember that hazy

summer day we lay

side by side in the grass

gazing lazily

into the clouds, tell me

what do you see?

A dolphin jumping

through a wave

a swaying palm tree

a field of corn

a rhinoceros horn.

Wind and rain

the shapes change

a swooping bumblebee

a raging storm at sea

a crimson bird

soaring along the horizon

a frowning clown

an angry crowd

a thundering herd of bison.

Look up into the

sky, into the clouds,

tell me what you see.

Grim masks in crowded dungeons

prisoners whispering forbidden

thoughts forever unfinished.

Midwives hugging bleeding infants

orphans holding endless wakes

widows seizing desperate moments

windows shattering lost childhoods

concrete collapsing bridges and dams

toxic water gushing through neighborhoods

broken priests torturing war dogs

everyday terror and plunder.

boys murdering men murdering women

forests blazing animals fleeing

all the greatgrandchildren scream

the gangster banker regime

the loathsome empire’s

last bitter crimes drip drip dripping

dark splatters of blood

on the last rotting dreams

clotting in the last gutter.

None of this will

ever be forgotten.

Yet it is written:

Invincible regimes collapse

all-powerful empires

swept away to nowhere.

New civilizations arise

from the earth

with a kiss.

The clouds change.

The moment of

celebration is to be.

Remember that hazy

summer day we lay

lazily in the grass,

gazing up into

the sky, tell me,

what do you see?

lovers in a filthy jail

the rings on a tiger’s tail

salmon creeks

flamingo beaks

grazing gazelles

buddha bells

flowering joshua trees

sunrise over turquoise seas.