Sunday, October 25, 2009

Garbage Poem

The 350 event held in Thunder Bay at Waverley Park was just one of more than 5200 held around the world. Here is the banner hung on one of the huge old cottonwood trees in the park. After a short program in the bandshell, which included local speakers, politicians, and the poetry word construction crew of which I am part of (my poem is below), we all walked to Hillcrest Park to have our photo taken on the hill with the Sleeping Giant in the background. We then walked back en masse to Waverley Park where John Cutfeet gave a closing speech. John blogs at Noopemig, which means "the forest" in Oji-Cree.

Below, my Garbage Poem:

Dear Universe,

We have made a mess of Earth.
Earth—a small crumb in the cupboard of your house.

We have sent tons and tons of garbage orbiting
a halo of space scrap circling in a cosmic stream above us.

Grandmother Moon—we bombed her.
Her serene face now littered with our military fallout.

We have dumped tons and tons of waste into the waters of Earth
oil sewage solvents detergents pharmaceuticals bilge chemicals
Barrels of unpronounceable names clearly stamped skull and bones.

We have set a sea of plastics swirling in the Pacific Ocean
a Texas-sized gyre of plastic rubbish
combined weight: 3 million tons.

We rub our bodies with chemicals hidden
in soul-satisfying seductive guises. We call them:
Moisturizer. Body shampoo. Make-up. Deodorant.

We feed our children chemical-based food-like products,
give them dead liquids branded The Real Thing.

Our homes are entombed in vinyl siding. We breathe
vapours of volatile organic compounds. Our stuff—
rugs, shower curtains, computers, electronics, walls, furnishings
poisoning us, slowly.

Polar ice shelves snap off, melting
tarpits, ravenous, swallow entire flocks of birds
yet still we drive to the mall to buy more stuff shipped in
from China transported to us across highways of roadkill.

How dear Mother of Blackness, stars and mystery
can we change our ways?

Our future has been written on the leaves of trees

but our trees are uprooted daily in clear cuts
by giant forest machines disrespected
1000 flattened per day.

How can we read the leaves to see our future
if we’ve torn down the trunk and shredded the body
into pulp to blow our noses?

Our Mother who art the Universe
give us this day the wisdom and the resistance
to stop the destruction of our holy home.
Grant us the anger to kick out the politicians
whose heads are in the oilsands, who defile
our small encampment in space in the name of
development and democracy.

Dear Mother, help us.

Tamil Nadu 350 Action for Climate Change event

The number of 350 events held and the creativity of the events is truly inspiring! Photos and videos are pouring into the 350 website, a few of which I've posted below.


"Today together, children, young people and the elders, all of them Totonacas, an ancient native tribe from the northern region of the State of Veracruz in Mexico, gathered to create a splendid 350. The message is clear: TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE IT! The chosen place is one of the most important archeological sites in Latin America, called "El Tajín." The "Voladores de Papantla" an ancient dancing ritual of the Totonacas, have just been recognized as Cultural Heritage of the Humankind by the United Nations. We all sang and danced to make it happen, to reach a better world for all!!! Greetings from Mexico, Víctor Alvarado"

# And what does this 350 number even mean?

350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide—measured in "Parts Per Million" in our atmosphere. 350 PPM—it's the number humanity needs to get back to as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change.

If we're already past 350, are we all doomed?

No. We're like the patient that goes to the doctor and learns he's overweight, or his cholesterol is too high. He doesn't die immediately—but until he changes his lifestyle and gets back down to the safe zone, he's at more risk for heart attack or stroke. The planet is in its danger zone because we've poured too much carbon into the atmosphere, and we're starting to see signs of real trouble: melting ice caps, rapidly spreading drought. We need to scramble back as quickly as we can to safety.

"This is a very special shot, for which we owe great thanks to our friends at Friends of the Earth Middle East. The 3 -- That's on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea. The 5 -- Down the beach, in Palestine. The 0 -- It's on the Israeli coast. The Dead Sea is dwindling, and we need to take action to keep this remarkable corner of the world livable. If there's any image that illustrates the ability of people to come together across political boundaries, this should be it."

The video above shows what "Susi Newborn at Oxfam helped coordinate in New Zealand yesterday. Sending a message that New Zealand's Pacific Island neighbors are being "hung out to dry" by climate change, they erected a massive series of washing lines in the sea.

Pacific Islanders waded out to the lines and hung 350 T-shirts, each printed with the name of a different island, on a series of giant washing lines to highlight the insufficient action being taken to combat climate change.

Jane Filemu, a 9-year-old Samoan girl, walked through knee-deep water to hang the final T-shirt--a poignant reminder of just how high the stakes are, and an incredible sign of how intergenerational this movement has become."


Merche Pallarés said...

CONGRATULATIONS! It was a worthwhile cause and your poem, beautiful! One of these days I'll try to translate it and post it in my blog. Too bad I'm so busy lately. I had more free time in the summer! Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

I am only doing my small share. I noticed there was a photo from Spain, too. I can't remember where in Spain. There are so many photos to look at!

It would be great if one day when you have the time you can translate this poem to Spanish. This would be a first for me--to have a Spanish translation of one of my poems! Hugs to you, too, M.

Katja Maki said...

Taina, your poem is an achingly beautiful call to action and prayer to Mother Earth. I thank her every day for the blessings she gives us. If we all work really hard together to manifest changes, I'm hoping she'll forgive us and climate change will start to recede. But there is so much work to do, we have to get to it!! and the 350 event is a good start!!