Can’t bear the thought of it, can’t stand the taste
of oil spills, wildfires, putrid air, plastic
filth like some gross diarrhoea of the soul,
sputum we’re hawking into our blue planet,
sewage, cesspit of the solar system.
Not in the mood for this rancid dead world
of toxins, torture, lies and massacre –
don’t have the bowels for it, don’t have the guts.
Yet we keep peeling the flesh of misery,
of guilt, of greed, this brazen violation
of earth whose joys our children have every right
to breathe, to love, to know; licking the corpse
of poisoned tundra, storms and tsunamis,
drought and famine, pestilence, pandemic,
the hideous thirst for power, control –
sick of the stench of it all, my stomach turns.
Bring back, I beg you, the soft grey mongoose,
fetch me the olive thrush, loerie, flatties,
fruit bats, laughing doves, lizards, puffadder,
gymnogene, purring African scops owl,
dassie, duiker, nightjar, tree aloe, fig
and coral, sunbird and hadeda, rain
and sunshine, heat and chill, the very wealth
of the wild no oligarchs can ever buy.
Outspoken in his commitment to the natural world, Harry Owen is the author of nine collections, most recently Small Stones for Bromley (2014); The Cull: new and resurrected poems (2017); and All Weathers (2019). Thicket: shades from the Eastern Cape, is currently available as an eBook.
He lives in South Africa.