Volume 32, Number 4

the work to be done

so many things to save

the planet
the Republic
plant life   animal life
all lives threatened by a virus

the sun   the moon   the stars
bear witness to dreams
left simmering on the stove
too long ago to be remembered
but not quite forgotten
in the rushing river of distraction
deflection and insurrection

charred remains of promises
tossed out the back door
where smoke dissipates
along with the intention
to map an escape route

calamity’s spiral
has stretched across millennia
while ever more ingenious tools
render the earth malleable   mutable
enabling wars to be waged
by the light of a computer screen
removed from the screams
and the stench
of death

jealousy   cruelty   greed
an insatiable hunger for power
persist like roaches and rats
their skeletons preserved
in ancient fossils, ancient stories

no matter how fast life spins
or how complex the next invention
no buttons, knobs or dials
open hearts wide enough
to walk us over glass
in the shredded shoes
of a sister or brother
whose mother we’ve never met

—Emily-Sue Sloane