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Wednesday, December 12, 2018


by Ron Riekki

“The United States teamed up with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to challenge language that would have welcomed the findings of the landmark report, which said that the world has barely 10 years to cut carbon emissions by nearly half to avoid catastrophic warming.” —The Washington Post, December 9, 2018

“What’s been a rotten investment for me? . . . We bought a whole series of birds for the suites in the Plaza Hotel. These are real, live birds—all sorts of little birds flying around in the suites. Some people walk in, they don’t believe what they’re seeing. Usually they’re just little artificial birds. These are real birds. And we have to be very careful, David, with who we let go into the suites. Sometimes a high roller wants to come to New York, and they want to go into the Plaza Hotel, and I’ll never let a high roller from Atlantic City go into the suite in The Plaza where we have these live birds because the birds won’t be alive very long.” —Donald T***p to David Letterman, November 10, 1988 quoted in The Atlantic.

Each day we go out of business.
I meant to say that we should mind our own business.
I mean to say that we shouldn’t,
that we’re too busy with banishing,
I mean,
I mean to say that you’re a mean one, Mr. T.,
the bad T.,
the one with truckloads of money
where he trumpets his everything,
the one who’s trying to truncate us,
the U.S.,
the U. S.O.S.—
by this I mean that we might be adding humans
to the list of
the African elephant
            whooping crane
            Puerto Rican parrot
and the rest predicted to go extinct,
the rest that’ll rest for eternity,
from trick-or-treat voting,
a true-lies presidency.
I write this while listening to a neighbor’s coughing
next door,
a coughing that sounds, strangely, a bit like whooping cough,
a coffin type of coughing,
his lungs taken
by the recent forest fires
that weren’t forest fires
but everything fires—
Tule elk fires
and California clapper rail fires
and golden trout fires
            and San Francisco garter snake fires
            and California newt fires
(all of which only live in California)
and, of course, Californian fires

88 killed in the recent fires

climate change
change = coins = money
there is a lot of money to be made
from deregulation,
from rampant pollution,
from prioritizing coal overall
over all
how a friend
who said his coworkers working on the electric car
are worried they’ll end up in the electric chair,
meaning there is sabotage in this age,
extinction tied to someone ExxonMobil-loyal,
that our President’s hands are covered in oil
the way that Macbeth’s were covered in blood.
The innocent sleep.  The innocent sleep.  The innocent slept.

Ron Riekki wrote U.P. and edited The Way North (2014 Michigan Notable Book), Here (2016 Independent Publisher Book Award), And Here (Michigan State University Press, 2017), and the upcoming Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (with Andrea Scarpino, MSU Press, 2019).