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Tuesday, December 01, 2015


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Place de la République on Sunday. Thousands of activists took to the streets of Paris ahead of climate summit, despite a ban on public demonstrations following the Nov. 13 attacks. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters via CBC News.

The weather has turned cold.
The sky is dirty white.
A crow caws without enthusiasm
From high up in a bare maple
As I scuffle through piles of leaves
On my way home from the post office.
The day is deeply still
As if holding its breath in anticipation
Of the massive storms
That have been predicted for this winter
After years of drought.
A sudden shower spatters the leaves
The decaying gardens, the pavement
Then stops abruptly
Leaving the ground barely wet
And the air smelling of winter rain.
I scan the clouds for signs of big weather
But see nothing that suggests
The downpour we so eagerly await
Not without some anxiety
Since heedless and profligate profiteering
Have so drastically mangled
The natural systems that have made the Earth
Habitable for us and others
And once the deluges begin
We cannot be certain that they will end
Before catastrophe.

We march in the streets
We block entrances and intersections
We interrupt and interfere with business as usual
Demanding an end to the toxic practices
That could mean the end of us.
But time is running out
And the ones with their hands on the throttles and gears
Act reluctantly
If at all.

I open my front door
And step inside the warm house
My morning's errands completed.
I have bought a few groceries
Returned a library book
And mailed a birthday gift to my daughter.
And now I settle down
With a magazine and a cup of tea
Glancing from time to time
Out the big front window
Wondering when it will rain.

Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai'i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesday and others. He has published several collections of poems, most recently, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World. His interviews with soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan became the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.