An Extended Beatitude for the Twenty-First Century
The earth used to be covered
with trees, giant, ancient trees.
We couldn’t cut them down
before. They were our mystery.
Only shepherds and monks used to live
on mountains. Now paved roads
ensure that only the rich do,
so they can have their balcony views
to the sea, where fishermen used to live
and now even fish don’t. Only the rich
can afford fish.
We’ve fished out the seas!
Who in their worst
Hieronymous Bosch dreams
could have prophesied that?
The meek my ass—
the world is for the one percent!
We need fewer parables
and more equity.
Who will speak for the poor
huddled masses who were our parents
and grandparents and great-grandparents
and who are our neighbors today,
making our L.L. Bean shirts
and Nike shoes,
cultivating our coffee, our chocolate,
harvesting our bananas to split,
our sea bass to encrust,
our rice for bedding our sea bass with,
in Chile, Bulgaria, China, India, Mexico
and the United States?
If the poets won’t
then the poor are screwed
and most of the rest of us, too,
since there are only so many rich,
and they need to feed off somebody.
Blessed are those with the will
to extend their roots
and not be swayed,
to stand tall in the face
of the blade.
Jeff Fearnside’s writing has long focused on place, the natural environment, and cultural issues. His chapbook Lake, and Other Poems of Love in a Foreign Land, winner of the Standing Rock Cultural Arts 2010 Open Poetry Chapbook Competition, was published last year and received a Peace Corps Writers 2012 Poetry Award. Other awards for his work have included nature writing residencies at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont, Kentucky, and the Oregon State University Andrews Forest. For more information, please visit his website at www.jeff-fearnside.com