Silent Epidemic (#30 NaPoWriMo prompt)

Image result for colorado RMNP beetle kill
NPS photo

We walk among the dead.
Decimated by an epidemic of
Epic proportions.
A literal graveyard.

834 million trees standing, dead.
One in fourteen trees, dead.
Death is a gray haze on a hillside,
Foreshadowing the smoke of future fires.

The physical presence
Merely a symptom
Of the thing we have imagined,
The thing that shall no longer be named.

Temperate temperatures.
Dry warm nights inviting, welcoming
First the mountain pine beetle (3.4 million acres)
Now also the spruce beetle (1.7 million acres).

Admire the blue-stained wood.
Make guitars, snowboards, skis.
Revive biochar.
Carcasses carved and cooked.

Sing songs about the days when
Snow piled under snowboards and skis.
When forests had winters.
When trees could grow.

Image result for colorado RMNP beetle kill
wikipedia

 

Image result for colorado RMNP beetle kill
climatediscovery.org

NaPoWriMo

And for our final (optional) prompt, I’d like you to take your cue from Borges, and write a poem that engages with a strange and fascinating fact. It could be an odd piece of history, an unusual bit of art trivia, or something just plain weird. While I cannot vouch for the actual accuracy of any of the facts presented at the links above (or any other facts you might use as inspiration!), I can tell you that there are definitely some poetic ideas here, just waiting for someone to use them.

Row 14, Seat F

MVIMG_20180305_175015.jpgJetting after the sunset,
A misplaced belief that our
Hurtling metal-light skin,
Buoyed by air,
Or hope,
Maybe belief,
Could outstrip time, itself.
Red flashing eyes score the nothing while
Wagon train ruts, now traced by
Sulphurous orange glows,
Score the destructive path of
Progress.
Shrouds of exhaust fumes
Exhaled from so many
Someones,
With someplace to go.
And I want.
I want.
For once my imagination
Outstrips what it knows,
Beating time, place, chronology,
Until the best of our
Pastpresentfuturefantasies
Converge in this moment.
Here in row 14, seat F.
There is peace on Earth.
With a side of
Goodwill to so many someones.

If We Lived Within Our Means

MVIMG_20180222_133605.jpg

I arrived home from the deserts of Arizona yesterday. I enjoyed the moments, after the rain, when the sun shone warm on my face and a breeze lifted my hair. I think you can guess where this is going.

Back in Grand Lake, Colorado, where the temperature was a balmy 34 degrees last night, I breathed a sigh of relief. The dry air brushed against my hands and curled under my hair to give me a chill, but the kind of chill that is friendly and invites you to put on a roomy sweatshirt.

This morning in the strident sun, it’s 23 degrees and perfect. The smooth snow advertises a pillowy comfort while my littlest dog runs along its hard-shell top with the tiny steps of a toddler trying not to slip. New Ponderosa Pines and tiny firs demonstrate resilience in this pine-beetle-wasted lot, their needles vibrant and clearly vigorous.

Yes, there was green grass and budding flowers in the desert city. Every time I’m down there I wonder about the cost.

A few summers back, I straddled the headwaters of the Colorado river, amazed that the seepage in a green meadow would become the high class rapids I rafted down a decade ago. It all begins here, maybe 15 miles from where I live.

I think most of us know that the Colorado River only began reaching the sea again in 2014 after the U.S. and Mexico made the Minute 319 addendum that now allows the waters to reach the Gulf of California and the Sea of Cortez. I’m frustrated that the addendum was even needed.  Every time I see the crops, homes, and flowers of the Salt River Valley, I’m reminded that the 12th largest metro region in America, with a population of more than 4.5 million people, shouldn’t be there.  The people, the crops, the golf courses full of sprinkler systems for exceed the capability of that area’s water. Instead, they take long showers, mostly unaware of the source of their water. The Salt River project obtains water from the Colorado River, among other sources.

Water and oil don’t mix. And water will be the resource we battle over in the future.

Even as the Colorado River now finally returns to the Sea of Cortez, much of the snow melt in the Never Summer range in Colorado runs into the Grand Ditch, built in 1890, and flows to the east side of the front range in Colorado. Another reclamation project, the Adams Tunnel, takes water pumped from Grand Lake into the Shadow Mountain Reservoir and sends it 13.1 miles, an exact half-marathon, under Rocky Mountain National Park and to the dry eastern slopes of Colorado. Originally this water was intended for agriculture, but more and more it supplies water to the growing population in Eastern Colorado. The Front Range Urban corridor extending from Denver to southern Colorado Springs has more than 4.8 million people alone.

I wonder how this story ends? Reading post-apocalyptic books, especially Claire Vaye Watkins’s Gold Fame Citrus, shows us the imagined possibilities of what all this man-made manipulation could create. After turning the dark pages of this potential future, I’m always hoping for something better. Could nature simply choose to reclaim the alterations we’ve made for its own purposes? Could we reverse the damages in time?

What would the world look like if we lived within our means?