A Poetic Wake Up Call – Dangers and Opportunities in this Pandemic
Today is Earth Day, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, in fact. As I’ve posted poems addressing the deep impact of the current coronavirus pandemic on people all over the world (pandemic means “all people”), [see An Imagined Letter to Humans from COVID-19 and Poetic Reflections on These Times, on All Times] people from all over the world have been sending me more poems. I include another eloquent “wake up” call today, from Mother Nature herself, because poetry simply speaks to our deepest hearts that carry our deepest concerns, underneath the barrage of facts and falsehoods.
THE LAST CALL by Mary Lou Edwards
“That’s it. I’m done. I’m so freaking done with all of you. This is the limit,” Mother Nature shrieked. “Go to your room!”
“But what did I do,” barked China.
“What did you do and what are you doing are the questions. Epic air pollution, cancer villages, slaughtering elephants for ivory, sharks for fins, rhinos for their horns. Enough! Go to your rooms and don’t come out until all—and I mean all—of your homework is finished! Here’s your Spelling List. Write each word twice, use it in a sentence, walk the talk, live it. ‘Til then don’t even think about coming out.”
“I have no idea where you’re going with this,” said China.
“You’re about to find out. China, you’ve lost your moral compass as has the rest of the world thinking you can do whatever the hell you want. Don’t play the victim card crying that you have mouths to feed. Really, China? That’s what you’ve been doing? Taking care of your people? Thousands of dead, bloated pigs floating down the river that provides Shanghai’s drinking water? Don’t make me laugh. Get in your room and change. It’s your only hope.”
“Wait, wait, wait, just a minute–look at these words–easy enough to spell, but live? Get serious, these are archaic, goody-two shoe words—truth, love, values, kind, decent, ethics, integrity, justice, obligation—this is Boy Scout bullshit. Homework? You’re kidding, right? Do you know who I am? I am the United States. Ridiculous spelling words for a country that created the internet, walked on the moon, cured diseases, built a nuclear bomb?”
“Just shut the fuck up, USA. Don’t say another word! Listen, for once! You took the gifts I loaned you and used them and abused them and thought it would never end. I am so fed up with your arrogant, ignorant self that I can’t stand it. Now go to your room, and learn the list and don’t you dare come out until the words are embedded in your soul.”
“Come on now. We’re America–we started from scratch—we built a society, a culture—hell, we even created sports, not to mention hip-hop.”
“Don’t try to be funny, USA, the joke is on you. You destroyed what was here to build a new society on the backs of souls, on the throats of human beings. You’ve built a culture obsessed with status and celebrity, where the only thing you find ethically repugnant is poverty. You are a country of workaholics who worship money and pray at the altar of NASDAQ.”
“So how about Russia and India—are they part of an evil cabal?”
“Are you joking or agitating because you don’t want to get me started on those two. Desertification, look that one up but don’t put it on your spelling list—India has already mastered it and Chernobyl broke my heart. Yes, they too destroy all that I have lent them.”
“Even Japan and Germany?”
“Please, the whole world has participated in my desecration. You are all going to your rooms. Over the years I’ve sent plenty of warnings trying to catch your eye—earthquakes, floods, landslides, monsoons, hurricanes, heat waves, wildfires, cyclones—and no one even blinked just continued using, abusing, maiming and killing each other and the planet. CORONA IS BRINGING IT TO A HALT.”
“But wait, Mother,” Nepal piped up, “we did nothing. We are poor—we are pawns.”
“Oh my sweet little Nepal, my heart breaks that you are caught up in this swamp of disgust, but I‘m left with no choice. If it’s ‘just’ another avalanche, oh well, they say as they wring their hands—‘just’ a tsunami, so sad, too bad, not my problem they say as they continue to wreak havoc so, you see, it has to be cataclysmic, it has to bring everyone to his knees. No more games, this is life and death. COVID shows you all that I’m not some Russian bot.”
“Poor little Nepal,” mocked Brazil, “you are simply collateral damage in Mother Nature’s temper tantrum.”
“BRAZIL! Brazil, I can’t believe you are opening your miserable mouth. You’ve stripped the rainforests naked destroyed plants, animals, humans, whole ecosystems, scorched everything in your wake. You’ve turned my magnificent rivers into open sewers. How dare you mock me, how dare you underestimate my fury!”
“Oui, oui, said France, we get it, you’re angry so you make the entire Universe suffer, even bella Italia? What did Italy ever do to be so decimated?”
“Chiudere un occhio—they turned a blind eye.
Italy’s top dogs pander to the world’s insatiable appetite for material trash and tens of thousands of Chinese drudges labor for starvation wages in Italian garages and basements making goods that are branded “Made in Italy.” Scandalous immigrant exploitation in the name of ‘fast fashion’ is chic and the innocent are paying with their lives. Add shame to the list of spelling words.”
“But, Mother, many of us have already paid huge prices,” said Africa, “so why tar us with your brutal brush?”
“Sure, you’ve suffered, Africa, but you have been the architect of your greatest pain with your genocidal wars and world-class corruption. What part of this don’t you get? No more passes—no one gets a pass this time around—not Europe, not Asia, not the Americas—no more passes for planet Earth. Learn the Spelling words, commit to living them and I might let you come out of your rooms. Maybe my rage will subside, maybe this massive price will wake you up because, for the first time, you are all paying the bill.
Come to your senses, save your souls, become a loving people—return to humanity. Cut the blaming, stop the finger-pointing, knock off the name-calling and the threats. You mistook my largesse for being an easy mark, but the party’s over–own the fact that you have double-crossed the Universe one too many times. I am finished with the if-you-do-it-one-more-time catastrophes. This is the ultimate lesson. Everyone stays in his room until I say it’s over. Never forget that Mother Nature makes the rules and I cannot be bullied.
One of your own said, ‘The best hope is that one of these days the ground will get disgusted enough just to walk away leaving people with nothing more to stand on than what they have so bloody well stood for up to now.’
Corona is the last call before the ground walks…”