On Climate Denial (V1 Original)

Denial is the first stage of grief, but what are you grieving?
Maybe the fact that our clean air is leaving,
Our lungs constantly receiving the grey,
Ourselves slowly receding into the black.

Our blue waters we pretended to love,
Suffocated with plastic we disposed of.
Red turns the dove who flies away
With no turning back.


Back into time when I still saw—
Seeing green and gold and green and blue
Seeing is believing but I can only see
One place at one time.

Hurricanes in Houston,

Freezing people in Chicago,

Bangladesh underwater—

But I can only see

One place at one time.

The time is now, but when is now really?
Three months ago, two weeks ahead, last year—
Yesterday,
It was yesterday,

When I was anxiously waiting for a phone call

From Grandma Vicky down in San Juan.

It was yesterday,

When I saw the beautiful island suffocated by the heavy grey fog.

It was yesterday,
When I had no time to say everything
That will happen by the time I finish this poem.

The water climbs,
Climbs so far away that
Island nations will not see another day.
The ice caps are melting to blue,
But don’t you know that affects us too?

The New York City skyline is flooded,
Not with water this time,
But empty promises that float to the top,
Stealing the air and
All you can do is sit and stare—

Stare at the world around you.
She is crying to you in the form of

Ashes and smoke, smoke and ashes.
Ashes and hope.
That is all we have left.
And all there is left to do is right.
Searching for direction,
All we can look to is each other.
Look up and what do you see?
What do you hear?

If it is a colorless world you do not fear,
You aren’t thinking hard enough,
Thinking far enough.
Look inside yourself and
Ask if you’re doing enough.

If you acknowledge the climate crisis
You’ll see that the climate price is
Too much for us to bear,
And I’m not talking polar bears.

All it takes is for you to care,

Not about the birds, the bees,
Or Florida’s orange trees,
But about people.

Your family, neighbors, community,
Creating the change we need to see.
When I stop and breathe,
All I can think is that this problem
Is so much bigger than me.

Bigger than I,
But it is the I that starts the we,
The we that saves us from the black debris.
When we finally come together,—
Only then, we can truly be free.

Yellow signs with black words,

Danger, danger. Keep out.

Act now, or forever hold your peace.


You see,
Big things are made up of little things,
Big problems are made up of little ones,
And solutions are the same way.

No one is asking you to plant a billion trees,
Or develop renewable energies,
But we all have to contribute
To this international society.

Change has a fist and a voice.
And she is not afraid to shout.

We see her in the hues of the youth,

Hear her in the battle cries on the streets,

Taste her in the bitterness of the past,

Feel her in the warm embrace of hope.

Her eyes are green,

And they flash at you

With courage and urgency,

Asking you:

When will you go?

written March 28, 2019.

modified and performed for Climate Speaks at the Apollo on June 14, 2019, Climate Week on Governor’s Island on September 21, 2019, and BE.Hive On Campus at Dickinson College on October 5, 2019. Featured in PBS’ Climate Artists documentary and the back cover of the October 2019 issue of the New Republic.

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