Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Friday, January 24, 2020


by Pepper Trail

Twenty-one children brought a lawsuit arguing that the government needs to act on climate change. A federal court dismissed it. —The Atlantic, January 22, 2020. Photo: Kelsey Juliana, a lead plaintiff in the case arguing that the federal government must act on climate change, outside the Supreme Court. (KEVIN LAMARQUE / REUTERS)

Plaintiffs cannot identify any injury to a concrete and particularized legally protected interest because their grievance is universally shared and generalized.  —U.S. Department of Justice

Seeking to quash this suit, the government bluntly insists that it has the absolute and unreviewable power to destroy the Nation – U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staton, in dissent

The problem, dear children, is—
            causing universal disaster is not against the law

The government, indeed, has made a strong case to the contrary—
            that it is our most characteristic activity

Every tree that grows, bird that flies, fish that swims
Every drop of rain, every acre of ground, every river flowing—
            come on, you know this–is for us

And so we cut and cleared, emptied the sky and sea
Harvested the rain, plowed and burned, dammed and drained –
            the technical term is Stewardship—everything
All the while thinking … well, there must be more        

Dear children, the court admits some sympathy for your situation—
            you chose a most unfortunate time to be born

But that does not change the facts of the case
Destroying the planet has always been a basic human right—
            a precedent this court must respect

Therefore, we hereby declare and affirm that we—
            in conjunction with all judicial and political authorities worldwide—
            deny your misguided attempt to save the world

Case dismissed

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.