Shifting – Change comes

Shifting – Change comes

Shifting air currents,

                Later rains,

                                Drier vegetation,

                                                More fire.

Change comes.

Fossil fuels,

                Mass pollution,

                                Tropical storms

                                                Hurricanes

Change comes.

Opher 22.4.2021

We are reaping the results of three hundred years of abuse.

Our numbers are a bacterial scum rotting everything we touch.

The oceans and forests are not infinite.

We are tipping the balance.

Change is coming.

WE will not like it – not one bit.

Biblical floods, fire, plagues, drought, famine, migrations and desperation.

Change comes.

We are responsible.

South of Easter – a story

South of Easter

Mau Rata sat himself down on the couch to explain the events that had been passed down through time by his ancestors.

‘The first tribe settled on Rapa Nui having crossed over a thousand miles of ocean from East Polynesia. Their safe arrival at land heralded as a gift from the great god Make-make. The gift was perfect – a land of plenty, of water, trees, birds and animals. There were eggs, meat and fruit aplenty. It generated much rejoicing. Life was easy.

Their first Anki insisted they give thanks to Make-make and honour their ancestors by building the Moai. The massive statues were carved from the volcanic rocks in the quarries and many trees were chopped down with which to roll them to their sites of erection. Much hard work and industry was required.

The life of ease was soon replaced by the toil of construction and transport, but Make-make was content and the ancestors were suitably honoured. Life on Rapa Nui was pleasant and the tribe prospered and grew. Many Anki came and went and always there was the pressure to produce more Moai for Make-make required appeasement and there were times when the rainfall was slight, the harvests slim and hunting more difficult.

As time passed the trees began to thin out as more and more were used to transport the huge Moai. With the thinning of the trees the soil began to wash away and the crops could not grow, the bird and animal populations decreased and hunting dried up, but there were still plenty fish in the sea.

More importantly, the water became scare. Without the trees the rain was not retained. Life became progressively harder.

The Anki saw this as the anger of Make-make and urged even greater efforts in the making of Moai. Surely if sufficient effort was put into producing Moai Make-make would be pleased, the rains would return and bring back the birds and wildlife; life would be easy again.

Feverishly they carved the rocks in the quarries and the last trees were felled in order to move them to their sites. On the day when the last tree fell, Hotu Matu’a paused with his stone axe, thought for a moment as he stared over the barren surface of their denuded island, and wondered. It was only a brief pause. Wielding the flint axe to good effect he soon brought the very last tree to earth.

The last Moai was moved to its position but there were no more trees on which to roll more Moai, so many were abandoned in the quarries and further carving was halted.

Now life was hard and cruel. There was no shade from the relentless sun. Water was scarce. There were no crops or fruit, no meat or eggs. There was no wood to build canoes or branches to make spears. Fishing became hard. People starved. There were roving bands of cannibals to hide from.

In disgust they began to topple the statues.’

Poetry – A little bit of England

A little bit of England

Hidden away, to the side of the road,

By the side of the canal,

Next to the river,

There is a little area of swampy land, with ponds,

Trees, reeds and bushes.

Nobody wanted it.

It could not be farmed.

It could not be built on.

It was a tiny bit of England

Left untouched.

Home to frogs and toads, to fish, birds and voles.

Where butterflies and bees play,

Snakes slither and fish dart

As herons fish and ducks dabble.

It is a tiny haven,

A piece of England

Left intact from days gone by.

Once it was all like this

Now this smidgen has to do,

To provide us with a glimpse

Of what once was everywhere.

Opher – 23.4.2020

Somehow I believe we have got the balance wrong. We have become too numerous, too invasive. We have not managed to find the balance. We are destroying too much of the natural environment.

The world we live in is unnatural. Even the green fields are planted, sprayed and devoid of life. We have taken over every habitat. From the tops of the mountains to the shores of the seas we swarm in great numbers and destroy or disturb the natural ecosystem.

Once England was covered in forest. There were glades, heathland, moors, swamps, streams, ponds and rivers. It swarmed with life – everything from wolves and bears to frogs and newts. It was complex, vital and so alive.

We have tamed it – chopped down the forests and killed the beavers, wolves and bears. What we now have is the tiny rump of what used to be. If we are not careful that will be destroyed too. Nature will just be the crows, pigeons, seagulls and foxes, which are able to exploit the human environment.

To stumble across a tiny area of nature, a vestige of swamp and river, so full of creatures, was so wonderful. It reminded me of what the whole of Britain was once like ……… and what we have all lost.

Poetry – The Last Gasp

The Last Gasp

With the last desperate gasp

She slumped back on to the floor and was still.

Outside the birds sang in the pruned apple trees,

The spiders span their webs in the trimmed hedges,

Rabbits nibbled grass in the field at the back

And mice slipped through the foliage of the hedgerows – unseen.

Inside the house it was still, as if holding its breath in disbelief.

The car sat in the drive and everything was as neat and tidy as normal.

Except this was a new normal.

All over the world it was the same story.

Creatures hesitantly tested the extent of their jurisdiction

As they warily adjusted to the new world,

Keeping one eye on the look-out for man.

But there was no man to be seen.

In time they would forget.

In time the boundaries would disappear.

It had been so quick.

One minute there were lawns being mown, roads being laid and trees being felled –

One minute the world was full of cars, chainsaws and guns,

And the next it was quiet, holding its breath, before exhaling a new song of joy.

It did not take long.

The roots and spores soon set to work.

Concrete cracked, wood rotted and plants grew unchecked.

No more herbicides and pesticides –

A plethora of weeds, trees and insects –

A profusion of creatures large and small –

Without hindrance or cull

The predators had food a-plenty.

The seas unfished and freshened;

The air clear and scented;

The soil reinvigorated.

As grey turned green and life teemed

Evolution worked overtime to plug the gaps that man had hollowed out –

The mega-beasts, the balance and harmony, the variation and abundance.

And over a million years the bones

Compressed in rock

Were the only reminder of the days of disaster.

Opher 22.10.2016

The Last Gasp

I have been thinking of writing a novel about a world to come, when mankind has had his day and the planet passes out of the Anthropocene and into a new age.

Without man it would not take long for all our structures to crumble away, for the plants and animals to reassert their presence and for the world to once more teem with life.

Without man the air and water would be pure and the soil cleansed so that balance could be restored.

Without the artificial farming of the most fertile land it would soon return to its natural climax and become rich in habitat and possibility. It would rapidly reassert a new harmony and balance.

It would provide impetus for a new burst of evolution as mutation threw up new possibilities to fill the gaps that mankind has wheedled out. Unchecked new species would emerge to exploit the abundance and changing ecosystems. The planet would soon recover.

Within the brief expanse of a million years or two it would be a rich new world of possibility, and there, buried in the rocks, would be the bones left to tell a terrible story of desperate days when a savage beast ravaged the land and relentlessly tainted and destroyed – a beast of intelligence, imagination and skill who proved himself none too clever, had his day and departed the scene.

I could not think how to write that novel with no characters to focus on, no survivors at all, so I condensed it into a poem.

Poetry – There is a War

There is a War

There is a war raging

Using chemical and machine,

Counting the casualties

In numbers astronomically obscene,

Laying waste the land,

Hunting the helpless in fantastic amounts,

Spraying poison indiscriminately –

Where profit is the key

And the only line that counts.

Opher 13.9.2016

There is a War

There is a war going on. It is a war against nature. Pest and weed are being decimated. There is collateral damage.

A pest is a creature that we don’t happen to like. It wants to live. It eats our crops and lives on our land.

A weed is a plant we don’t like. It grows on our land. It takes nutrients and light from our crops. It makes our garden look untidy.

We have to eradicate anything that encroaches on ours.

We can take what we want but nothing should dare to intrude on what we have claimed as ours.

We wage war on it. With chemical poison and machine we slaughter in huge numbers. The bees, butterflies, frogs, newts, and toads are all collateral damage.

The invertebrate population has been decimated. 56% have gone. That’ll teach them! 10% of all wildernesses have been claimed by us in the last twenty years. We have laid waste to it all. It is now denuded, coffee plantation, palm oil or simply desolate.

There’s a war going on. We won’t be happy until we have beaten it all.

Poetry – By the carpark

By the carpark

By the carpark

Where the wood one stood;

By the stream

Long since culverted in;

Where the new housing estate now stands

On what used to be a marsh,

A vole hides among the rubbish.

Near the runway

For the new airport;

By the side of the new field

Reclaimed from wasteland;

Alongside the new road

Bringing travellers to and fro;

On the roundabout

That used to be a copse,

A tiny mouse shivers

Under a newly planted shrub.

Opher 18.4.2016

By the carpark

I was sitting on the bus going back to pick up my car. It gave me a higher view over the hedgerows into the fields beyond. I could see all the new builds.

As we approached the town there was more and more. New estates were springing up. The trees, streams and ponds were disappearing along with the remaining patches of wasteland. Even the word wasteland betrays the attitude. If it is not being built on or used for agriculture it is wasted.

So where do the voles, mice, hedgehogs, newts, frogs and toads go? Is there space foe the lizards, slowworms and snakes? Are we sanitising the countryside of insects?

I looked out over the fields and all the birds I see are pigeons, crows, magpies and sea-gulls – the scavengers. They are having a fine old time.

But how far can we continue pushing nature into the periphery before it runs out of room?

Is it all going to be ploughed fields, manicured lawns and ornamental shrubs?

How many creatures are shivering in the wreckage of their homes?

Poetry – What we want

What we want

What we want

Is not hard to say

It is merely hard to do.

We want the world

To stay green,

Full of animals

That are free

And skies that are blue.

We want the water clear

And trees to wave

In the breeze;

Tigers and rhinos

Running through the long grass

As they used to do.

It’s not too much to want

In a world so big

Is it?

Opher 14.4.2016

What we want

It seems that I want the impossible. I want the world.

I want life to flourish.

I want the wild creatures free and running through the wilderness.

I want the space for every type of life to flourish.

There’s room enough.

I’m not alone.

Lots of us want the same thing.

I am told it is too much to ask for.

People are more important.

No they are not.

I do not believe they are.

The ants and bees are as important. There should be room for the chimpanzees.

I do not believe it is impossible.

If we have the intelligence we can manage our numbers, manage the land, and leave room enough foe everything.

Poetry – Nature

I wrote this one yesterday. It seems to fit with the one before which I wrote five years ago.

Nature

Cauterised, sterilised

Manicured and tamed.

Pulverised, terrified,

Massacred and maimed.

Caged, manacled,

Tied up and chained,

Flattened butchered

Castrated and drained.

Nature in this century

Always on the run.

Treated like the enemy

And tortured for fun.

People in this modern world

Losing their connection.

Senseless and callous

Bereft of all direction.

Opher 13.3.2021

The planet used to be an interconnecting web of different habitats, each different and rich in number and variety. It was a web that we were part of.

That web is now broken up by fields, roads and towns. It no longer connects.

We are no longer part of it.

Nature has become something to be conquered and tamed.

The wildlife is driven back, the swamps drained, the forests cleared and the seas dredged.

The creatures are driven out. Those we find, the remnants, are poisoned, butchered or tormented for fun.

We know longer have purpose. We think we are above everything.

I fear there will be a terrible reckoning

Poetry – Magic’s Gone

Magic’s Gone

Salamander,

Smooth snake tail,

Tiger tooth –

Now as rare as the Holy Grail.

Rhino horn,

Gorilla’s nail,

Not enough left

To even make one spell.

All the magic’s gone

Out of the world.

Sold down the drain

For a crock of gold.

Hardwood tree,

Chimpanzee too,

Mighty lion

From Timbuktu,

Whale and bear

Melted down for glue.

Before it’s all gone

What are we going to do?

All the magic’s gone

Out of the world.

Sold down the drain

For a crock of gold.

Opher  13.12.2015

Magic’s Gone

When I was a child the world was full of magic. I’d run in the flower-laden meadows all full of grasshoppers, beetles, bees and butterflies. The whole air trilled and whiffed with their sound and scent. I fished in the ponds and streams for sticklebacks, frogs, newts and toads. There were lizards, slowworms and snakes, voles, mice and hedgehogs.

It was a world that was alive with magic – the magic of nature.

I read stories of the impenetrable jungles where the gorillas, orang u tangs and elephants roamed. The seas were full of fish. The bears, tigers and lions strode through the wilderness and the wildebeest herds were measured in millions.

That was magic.

Now the logging companies have built in their roads, the hunters have followed them in and the impenetrable has become accessible. The jungles have been drastically reduced. Soon they will be gone.

Now the population of the world has more than doubled and they are gobbling up land, wild-life and resources. The jungles are burnt down and cleared; the animals driven out and hunted for bush-meat in an endless slaughter.

Now the ponds are filled in and the streams culverted. The meadow flowers no longer scent the air. The insects no longer buzz. The herbicides and pesticides have done their job. The streams are muddy ditches devoid of stickleback, frog and newt. The fields look drab and lifeless.

The magic is gone.

As the last vestiges of chimpanzee, gorilla, tiger, rhino and elephant now hang on a knives edge and are being hunted to extinction; as the mining and logging companies move relentlessly forward; as the population continues to explode – we’re selling the future for a greedy present.

How can we bring the magic back? Are we going to allow it to die completely?