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Saturday, May 09, 2020


by John W. Steele  

The human cost of the climate crisis will hit harder, wider and sooner than previously believed, according to a study that shows a billion people will either be displaced or forced to endure insufferable heat for every additional 1C rise in the global temperature. —The Guardian, May 5, 2020. Photograph: An Indian farmer walks across the bed of a pond that has dried out during a water crisis. Credit: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty Images

Give us a pandemic or a war.
They bring out the best and worst of us.
Survival’s what we’re made for. Give us more.

Set the world on fire, let it roar.
We’ll find a way to put it out, no fuss,
then wrangle a pandemic or a war.

When the oceans breach suburban shores
watch what we do to save the upper crust.
Survival’s what we’re made for. Bring on more.

As for the slow creep of global warming
let science-based predictions gather dust.
We don’t want a pandemic or a war

to wake us up to what’s worth fighting for.
Renouncing fossil fuels would bankrupt us.
Survival’s what we’re made for, nothing more.

Our threatened habitats must be ignored.
Wall Street greed is where we place our trust.
Don’t give us a pandemic or a war.
Bottom line, we’re done for. And we want more. 

John W. Steele is a psychologist, yoga teacher, assistant editor of Think: A Journal of Poetry, Fiction and Essays, and graduate of the MFA Poetry Program at Western Colorado University, where he studied with Julie Kane, Ernest Hilbert and David Rothman. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Amethyst Review, Boulder Weekly, Blue Unicorn, Colorado Sun, Copperfield Review, Heron Clan Anthology, IthacaLit, The Lyric, Mountains Talking, New Verse News, The Orchards, Society of Classical Poets, Urthona Journal of Buddhism and the Arts, and Verse-Virtual. He was nominated for a Pushcart prize, won The Lyric’s 2017 Fall Quarterly Award, won an award in the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and was awarded Special Recognition in the 2019 Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest. His book reviews have appeared in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and Raintown Review.