“Signs” by Kai Carlson-Wee

Kai Carlson-Wee


Reading again how the bees are dying.
The seals are dying. The sharks are making
their way up the Western Coast, losing
their sense of smell. The days are getting
warmer still. The Williston oil rigs
bleeding their heat on the cool gray passage
of clouds. Crickets are matching their whine
to the drainpipe. Lightning bugs failing to reach
the pulse, tracking the headlights of cars.
Trump. Corruption. Twenty-five gone
with a suicide bomb in Iraq. I part the blinds
to let the morning light pour in. The wheezing
brakes of rush-hour traffic, inching its way
through the park. The hardest sheet of ice
is melting. The gray wolf murdered again
for the lacquered wood of the hunter’s
wall. The children of Flint, Michigan
are dying. The people of Syria and Libya
are dying, slaughtered by warlords or driven
to various borders of heatstroke and sand.
The stars are crossing the western plains
on their oiled blades of grief. The eagle’s wings
are breaking thin and the drone that will drop
the next atomic bomb is being built in a warehouse
in North Dakota. Where is the courage to say
this prayer? I turn on the kettle to make
my tea. Stand in the window to look at the fog
burn away from the Golden Gate Bridge. Earl Grey.
Oolong. Lipton Black. I hear the whistle start
to scream. I sweeten the water with honey.

Poets Respond
March 6, 2016


Kai Carlson-Wee: “I started this poem after reading an article about the declining population of honey bees. A bee expert was quoted saying, ‘Everything falls apart if you take pollinators out of the game,’ and I started to think about the ways in which our public discourse seems to be unraveling, bloated with fear mongering and hate speech and anger, and as I started to read a few more articles (a suicide bombing at a funeral in Iraq, the Flint water crisis, Donald Trump’s comments, etc.) I started to feel like something more basal and elemental was going wrong with the current state. The poem attempts to come to terms with these spiraling doomsday processes and the impact of global information that only seems relevant to some place else.” (web)

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