Samarra Prahlad – Armageddon and Hope is an emerald ocean

Samarra Prahlad
Armageddon and Hope is an emerald ocean

Samarra Prahlad, Armageddon, acrylic on canvas, 2022


Samarra Prahlad, Hope is an emerald ocean, acrylic on canvas, 2022

Monique van Maare – Engulfed

Monique van Maare

I built a shelter on the island’s highest point. It’s not much for comfort, but it keeps me dry. When I moved up here, I could still see the reefs and the other atolls in the distance. Gulls would screech and brace against the strong East winds, swooping in to forage in the scattered bays. Now, there’s just water everywhere.
           I am the last one here. When the tourists stayed away, the young and adventurous among us packed their bags and sought out the cities. Then, when the first terraces flooded with sand and seashells, families gathered up their young and headed for the mainland, too. Slowly, the frothing white web lines connecting our little islets faded, as one by one the fishing boats and water taxis were left behind at their wooden docks.
           I stayed, out of a deep love for the turquoise of our waters, and the giant sea turtles that stop here every year on their long journeys to nest. Perhaps, too, out of love for the wind-beaten shape of her palms, the long empty stretches of her windswept dunes.
           She was always our provider. Pine, coconut and figs featured richly on our plates, and hollow coves protected the crops of hatching fish. Even now, there are hibiscus flowers growing up here that I can braid into wreaths, like we used to do on festive days. We’d dance on the stony beaches, and honour all her winged, leafed and finned species. I made one yesterday, but it unraveled from my head with my first sway, translucent yellow petals raining softly on my leathered skin. I can sense the day getting closer. I must remember to collect those nervine herbs I saved.
           The day the water reached the old graveyard, I cried until the purple dawn. I thought of the bones of our great-grandfathers and -mothers, our uncles and nieces and the little ones that died too young, roused roughly by the incoming waves, their spirits roaming the outstretched peninsulas and lifting angrily into the sky. Will they find peace again? Will the wind remember their stories, and strew them to our scattered hearths?
           Soon, porpoises and dolphins will nibble in her valleys. Sharks will mate in the shallow hollows of her ponds, which will no longer fill with lilies. The waters will get darker and wider, and the fierce pull of the currents will be deeply foreign to her soil. The nereids, with their bleached coral crowns and white silk robes, will swarm in and laugh at her discomfort, and at our hubris, our folly, our devastation.
I feel I owe her this, to be with her as she is consumed by the waves. When the time comes, and my last sanctuary here disappears in the waves, I will grind my feet into the shifting sand of her last dune, and hold on to her with my curled-in toes as long as I can.
           When the cold water reaches my knees, and the gales pick up, the bones of our ancestors will call my name, tell me it is time to let go. I will remember how Perseus came for his sweet Andromeda, perched on her rock in the sea, but I know that he never held such promise here. My body will be thrown off the sand by the bashing current, and she and I will become one. Even if, against all odds, the wind guides his winged Pegasus to these waters, what else will he see but an endless blue-grey expanse of deeply heaving sea?     AQ

Matthew Friday – All the Storks

Matthew Friday
All the Storks

At Dandora landfill zombies stalk
a city of refuse stacked in the middle
of slums. They sludge the avenues
for plastic bottles, bags, metal slivers,

electronics to sell, scraps for lunch,
wincing with chest pain caused by
smoke seeping out of the heaps,
abdominal pain of kidneys kicked

by the rainbow flavoured waters.
Thousands of single mothers, young
men with sterile bulb eyes, wheezy
school children compete for life

expectancy with marabou storks,
all of them walking fossils amongst
Nairobi’s Anthropocene arcades.
At least the storks can fly away.

kerry rawlinson – Afterburn

kerry rawlinson

kerry rawlinson writes: ‘My creative leaning is expressionistic, exposing the battle lines of people vs place; the edges & intersects of nature/construct, culture/chaos, order/anarchy. I photograph with an old Canon DLSR, then dabble with various digital photography tools to develop and move each piece wherever it leads. I never use Photoshop or any other graphic design software, and often enhance my pieces with acrylics or inks.’

kerry rawlinson, Afterburn, photograph, 2022

Heather Swan – History

Heather Swan

your body is a smooth body
your body is a desert drilled for petroleum
your body is a trout stream drying
your body is a splinter pulled from the tree
your body is a ferris wheel at the carnival spinning
you may not recognize this body
you did not remain silent, but still
your body is a jet plane carrying other bodies
your body is spent jet fuel
you may not understand the words
your body is an old story, your body is a tweet
your body is an orchard, a tendril, a ripened plum falling
your body is a wound
you may not remember the blades or the blasts
your body is an astral body, a celestial body
a body barely understood as body
but it is the only body you have
and it holds your honeyed secrets and it holds your lead
body of air, body of atoms, body of light

Gail Tirone – Prayer for a Warming Planet

Gail Tirone
Prayer for a Warming Planet

May the ice caps remain solid
may the permafrost stay frozen
reliably there
at the top of the world.

May the whales continue
to sing and spout
may fish still frolic in the seas.

May California return
as a basket of bounty
berries, figs and dates
arbors ripe with grapes
instead of scorched-earth wildfires
and biblical droughts.

May the waters of Venice calm
and not flood the cathedrals
may Piazza San Marco have
no need of planks
poised above rising tides
may tourists mingle
with locals in the cafes
over pastries and latte
watching the pigeons flutter
and children play.

H. K. G. Lowery – The Only Earth

H. K. G. Lowery
The Only Earth

Oceans, climbing
into clouds as land
loosens, realigns.
Chasms. Creeks. Craters.
Polar bears
and their offspring,
from dying ice.
on black water.
without their howl
in flamed forests.
like cocaine.
gripping skyscrapers.
in the madness.

Simon Brod – Emergency Cord

Simon Brod
Emergency Cord

Our train is about to crash.

Many passengers believe it won’t happen.
They sink back
into lattes, memes, dreams.

Some are expecting only minor disruption.
They sigh,
review agendas,
reschedule appointments.

A few are beginning to look at maps.
They struggle to understand scale,
but hope
to find a convenient siding to turn onto and wait
until danger has passed.

One or two have gone pale.
They lose their breath,
bite their nails,

Only a maniac would insist
the train must stop
and everyone continue on foot.

People would have to cross the tracks unaided.
Those with first-class tickets, join the rest and walk.
Our baggage is more than we can carry.
Our feet might get blisters. We might get rained on.

Yes, it seems things really have gone off the rails.

Mandira Pattnaik – Somewhere in Subliminal Spaces

Mandira Pattnaik
Somewhere in Subliminal Spaces

was Zoev. Strung like a taut wire. In the dirty unapologetic puddle, Sun got poached. Howls of people they addressed as Leftovers — separated from those that left for a permanent exile — rung in his ears. Skies above, as clear as mirror, held no promise of rain. Light reflected from everything except the blackened-out mounds of earth. Zoev stood on the causeway next to the sludge of toxic chemicals, to his right were weeds shrouded under soot.
      Things had precipitated fast. Way too fast. How many days ago was he in the cockpit of a fighter jet bombing the land below? A mere switch of the button had rained gamma rays; everything got decimated; wildly circling vultures were all that there was left to show for life. Lastly, the prized land—barren, a chemical dump—had meant nothing. Hours later, they had ordered an emergency evacuation to the edge of the planet. Beyond the boundaries of known homes.
      Suicidal shame it was—the waiting ships’ crew had body-scanned the passengers for microbes. Deaths and diseases on the journey were unaffordable—they had scanned people inside out. Passengers had buckled onto seats, five in a numbered chamber, packed from floor to ceiling with fuel and food.
      Amidst bursts of confetti, people had thrown wads of currency, rejoicing because they’d been allowed into the journey. As a final unshackling.
      Little did they know: money was ash. Money, dust.
      Zoev had scrambled to get onto the ship. Far too many here—everyone murmured under their breaths. People got squished; there was a stampede. The problem needs trouble shooting—someone had suggested. There was a shower of bullets; people had fallen like game animals—bloodied and maimed in a heap, but nobody could care less.
      Alas! Zoev was stopped at the final passage—a trace of the ordinary flu!
      Zoev decided to run along the causeway, turning back spitefully to see the glistening tip of ships leaving for another street, an away home, pointing to the skies, looming over the burnt out stumps of Cedars.
      He ran as fast as he could—dejected, hungry and thirsty. He thought he’d die of thirst. Finally, he sneaked into the humble roads of the town he once lived in. He stood outside his childhood home, taken over by a family of overgrown plants, black nightshade, pink water speedwell, water plantain and dwarf spurge, all dying, or just tethered to life.
      He looked around: Once the pride of the Mediterranean, now a ghostly town of half-eaten buildings, the crowns all smoked black. Yawning windows screamed—shrieks which none heard. They had bombed the town before it was too late. The ships wouldn’t have room for everybody.
      Zoev, a prisoner of the Sun and skies and whatever became of its clouded amalgamation, trudged through the ashen blocks, the smell of death was overpowering. His tongue hung loose.
      Evening descended. He watched the crepuscular skies sliced by white and black fumes rising from the destroyed precincts. Insignia of stupidity!
      Zoev thought of the calm turquoise planet it once was; and saw only tufts of amber dead grass. He remembered Jane, his wife. He thought of his mom. I’ll fall back on lives and afterlives; I’ll own you forever. His eyes welled up.
      Further down the street, he saw a Rottweiler at the bend—black and mahogany, its forehead arched. It was hungry; narrowed its eyes to measure the domain challenger. Zoev aimed his pocket knife like a spear at the animal. He stood like a Greek statue and threw. At lightning speed, the Rottweiler charged, an arrow off a bow. The spear had no chance. The dog struck the man to the ground and with its paws held him to the dust till his head threatened to burst. Zoev lay like dead. The animal paused and circled him.
      Tired Zoev wanted death; he did not beg for mercy. But the animal gave him pardon and crouched. The night they spent face to face. Nothing moved, only the ships leaving, one after another.
      When the sun emerged, all fire and fury, Zoev rose to his feet. He wasn’t sure if he was grateful to be alive. He ignored the Rottweiler but it followed as they paced together across the once-charmed cobbled walkways, down to the river, east of town.
      They saw traffic frozen in time; cars mangled; cycles twisted in a heap when the people tried to escape like mad.
      The river lay dead. Zoev walked over its broken bed, and reached its dried middle. He began to dig furiously—in its depths may lie the native element that could quench his thirst.
      The Rottweiler watched him surreptitiously, afraid of the fanatic man. From the core of its being rose a voice—ingenuity of man is matched only by his unwise actions! Zoev kept on digging deeper. No trace of water. Mounds of dry sand piled; blood oozed from his fingers.
      Now a dust storm rose, obscured the definitiveness of day or night. Winds came in from every side. Man and animal, unguarded, were like offerings to the elements. Zoev screamed —not a wise thing to do—sand entered his mouth, blinded his eyes. He was beginning to give up when the Rottweiler darted towards the stone banks, led, the man ran behind.
      They reached a dark cavern, the corners of which were lit by a feeble ethereal light. Zoev did not know where he was; he stood numb and drained. In that light, the Rottweiler marked out—clear water seeping by the rock sides, like a melting heart. The dog watched the man lick, like a return to the native element after the apocalypse.   AQ

Catharine Clark-Sayles – Degrees of Disaster

Catharine Clark-Sayles
Degrees of Disaster

we melt at one hundred and eleven, eggs fry on sidewalks,
bare feet blister, reports of heat stroke, usually foggy mornings
blaze up to hot at dawn as degrees mount into swelter.
Fans and ice water are not keeping me safe, one more risk
to this crumbling body with its tenuous balance of flesh.

The earth plays bad cop, sweats out my confession at night
when it cools to ninety-two and sleep remains in a distant valley,
I cough air smoky from fires and an orange moon near full
jacklights my bed, pins me to consider guilt: those lovely
long drives for the pleasure of driving, my fifteen-minute idle

while the windshield ice melts in winter, open-window idle
with car AC on blast until the steering wheel cools for comfort,
how many bottles of water have I purchased and casually tossed,
how many weeds have I sprayed. Confess: recycled bottles,
and cardboard is too little, too late. Meatless Mondays not enough.

Glaciers melt, seas rise, floods and drought and forest fires—
a roundabout of destruction—earth will find equilibrium
with sapien fossils for whatever comes next.