Poetry at the end of the world*

Indigenous peoples do not believe the world is ending.

The world is changing, they say.

Even before the scientists named climate change

The shamans knew it

When they saw the snow caps melting

The earth quaking and tilting

Animals and birds leaving

The Ocean rising

They say: The Earth is Changing. For the sixth time.


The Inuit ask: When all the ice melts, who will we be?

In Vanuatu they say: We have nowhere to go in this island.

The Kogi says: The Younger Brother is hurting our Mother

The Syrian refugees say: The war is caused by drought.

The Indian farmer says: I cannot pay my debts; I’d rather die.

The white man in Texas says: I will build me a bunker.

The white man in the White House says: I will build me a wall.

The Silicon Valley techie says: I will build spaceships to Mars.

The media mogul says: Let’s make more reality tv spectacles.

The religious say: God will provide.


In the meantime —

Fire says: I’m hungry

Water says: I am thirsty.

Fish says: I am choking on plastic

Bees say: Your chemicals make me sick.

Monarch butterflies ask: Where’s our habitat now?


Chthulune, Anthropocene,

Biomimicry, New materialism

Agential Realism, Inter and Intrasubjectivity

Mental monocropping, Hybridity

Indigenous Cosmopolitanism

Concepts roll off the brain but doesn’t land on the skin


Poetry at the end of the world is:


Elegant Disintegration

Just. Be. Kind.

Tender and Generous


Go barefoot often

Salute the Sun each morning

Say Goodnight, Moon.

Eat local and in season


I keep going because I belong to a village

Pay my debt for the privilege of being here for a few moments

Live poetically even if I am not a word poet

English is not my first tongue


Grieve now while you can

Build beautiful altars to Death

Sing and dance your prayers

Resist the temptation of bright-sidedness

Do not meditate away your grief

Do not write another self help book

Poems, yes.

Leny is Kapampangan. Settler on Pomo and Coast Miwok lands. Founder and Elder at the Center for Babaylan Studies. https://www.lenystrobel.com/

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