orange tongue 	seeks anything left 
life left screams 	caught		caught

forests burn amazed 
humans finally understand 

death / no breathing 

over and over and over again
people try to find ways around

deny this -- the end the ancestors dreaded 
believe they are on messiah’s side 

there is no messiah 
there is no side 

no stutters of should-have-done
quench this reality – 

fire storms rain despair 
despair flails the heart

smoke haunts what is alive / its beguiling fingers 
search any left daring to hope

crackle and moan / spit all moisture from the bone
I feel what I am – something quickly lost 

can I remember what I wished for?
all I loved	and all the rest

quickly / gone

Forests Burn — I wrote this poem in 2020 about fires in the US, but I am publishing it now because of climate-related fires that broke out in the UK during a two-day record breaking heatwave (18/19 July 2022). Please see

By 18 December iof 2020 there had been about 57,000 wildfires in the United States according to the National Interagency Fire Center. More than 10.3 million acres burned in 2020. Ten percent of “wild” fires are started by lightning or lava. But 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by people, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, downed power lines, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The uncontrollable spread of these fires into towns and cities is attributable to drought, high winds , “natural” things, which have been cyclical, but whose cycles are interfered with by human effect on our climate.

Poem by Jo Mariner / Image by RAJESH misra