Earth Cries

“Earth Cries and the Oceans Catch the Tears,” “Reservoir No More,” and “Summer — Memory or Prophecy?”

In Winter 2024: Climate Crisis, Poetry by Russell Willis

Earth Cries
Photo by Todd Turner on Unsplash

Earth Cries and the Oceans Catch the Tears

Each corner of a globe

With no corners

Born of the sea as

Liquid or solid

In dances with humans

And dances between humans

Fear and hope meet in their own dance

As the earth cries

And the oceans catch the tears

And the tears are sensed

As warning signs

As storms measured in categories

As attitudes measured in politics

And the future measured in lives

And livelihoods

What category of ambition, idiocy or neglect

Will we deserve

If we ignore these categories?

What becomes of us who ignore the tears?

What becomes of us who forget the dance

Or refuse to dance

Or refuse to love the dancers?

Where lies our curiosity as we witness the tears?

What will trigger imagination in the face of our fears?

And what of the fears of others

When we think we have nothing to fear

And They come to fear Us?

And what of the evil unleashed

By self-inflicted ignorance

(not to mention arrogance)?

Reservoir No More

seas rise as lakebeds crumble into dust

parched earth stares at heaven

with blank, bloodshot eyes

nothing moves unless blown

by heart-broken winds,

scattering dust, rendering no relief

as waves of heat mimic breath

nothing moves since nothing lives

where water has ceased to visit

having sought refuge in the sea

in the face of an unrelenting foe

Summer-Memory or Prophecy?

Nothing moves except as singular acts of defiance

defiance of the stillness that would otherwise

rustle leaves and limbs or drive old leaves or paper across yard or pavement

or skitter desiccated clouds across hazy firmament,

flying east, escaping a self-absorbed sun in search of a dazzling throne to set into;

imitated by that skittish cat scampering under a car for shade,

a squirrel leaping from dead limb to dead limb hunting moisture captured in a nut or root,

that lone spider sliding across her gossamer realm of sticky, dry death;

each movement a complete act, bracketed by stillness,

the stillness, a tangible blanket of heat, heavy, stagnant, sapping of life

punctuated by sound — birdsong, thrum of cicadas, honking horn, crying child —

sound penetrating the unconscious mind as another source of discomfort,

coercing the conscious part to settle whether the cry was angry, frightened, or hungry

About the Author

Russell Willis

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Russell Willis emerged as a poet in 2019 with the publication of three poems in The Write Launch. Since then, he has published poetry in over thirty online and print journals and twenty print anthologies. He won the Sapphire Prize in Poetry in the 2022 Jewels in the Queen’s Crown Contest (Sweetycat Press). Russell grew up in and around Texas (USA) and was vocationally scattered as an engineer, ethicist, college/university teacher and administrator, and Internet education entrepreneur and pastor throughout the Southwest and Great Plains, finally settling in Vermont with his wife, Dawn.

Read more work by Russell Willis .