Poem #Curadaterra

Epiphany | In the Know | Mapping

(for Cura Da Terra*)

Why smoke gauloises in the rainforest
After the gotcha X Ray: frayed lung tissue,
Denuded woods, siamese disasters?

Prelates of excess purloin god
The way a ventriloquist dummy parrots estranged prophets.
Like magpies who have stolen mirth

Their rasping song recalls the loss.

Marlborough Man strides across the Grand Teton.
Amazon usurps a name, abuses its fundamentals
To sacrifice warehouse brawn and sinewy reach:

An atonal writhing in indignity, the fugue of despair.

Soy grease softens twigs and cigarette butts
Burn spent leaves. Plows and of course swords
Bloody with overheated desire and the freedom myth

Of choosing anything over anything else.

Biology is a slow green, history a fading yellow,
Contingency a sunscratched red. Gauloises
Stolen along with mirth in the Magpie’s claws

Rasps another still birth.

What’s what is not.

Being of childbearing age is tectonic
From what I’ve heard. A fête for those who will
What comes next.

Only mothers know there was once life here.
Mothers know higher purpose in the feast of placenta,
In the soft delicate majesty of breathing,

Applause for the arrival of what they long for.


*The process of restoring good health is key to how we might generate trust in each other and restore the Earth’s trust in us

In the Know

You know how a baby propels arms
Toward heaven, aiming to stand, but not yet.
You know how the heron propels her wings
To the stars into flight, but not for long.
You know how rabbits scamper about
Like fluff off a dandelion, stop to play statue,
Then chase their tails.

These are known knowns
….and you are in the know.

You know barn raising is what neighbors do.
Like refusing to let the planet burn or drown.
You know to calm a woman’s grief,
Put her tears in your hanky, replace her torn leather
Soles and her boy’s frayed nylon nickers.
You can haul the two-by-fours, hammer the nails,
Sweat in just the way the good lord intended.
That’s what neighbors do.
You know what they say about walking on by
Closing yourself in. If you haven’t heard,
They say it’s the beginning of sin. You must know
About barn raising, it’s what neighbors do.

These are known knowns
….and you are in the know.


I like what is called mapping:
Drawing routes, light years, roads
Not yet traveled, the micro future.

I map in the color of eyes, in the color of ear wax,
Of urine, of paint chips scrapped off old barns.
I map dream tops, disappointment sheds,
Geese taking an old-fashioned walk, stigmatic
Mountain lion figuring out tri-focal lenses.

I map the tours of those who can touch a hoop
Without reaching, the limp of those who can’t,
The highway trough of those who place bets.
I map the spray of disinfectant, the infection
Lining plastic shelves, zip code dice thrown about.

I map the phragmites at oases to show
how overgrowth itches remorselessly.
I map large perennial grasses discovered America in slave ships.
And spread westward to celebrate Easter.

I map bees swarming children to protest their queen’s
Imprisonment for pollinating on private property.
Each mom blows her breath on his face,
Adds honey to her breakfast cereal.
I map low flying planes it’s difficult to see when lilacs bloom
Shooting bullets as if lone petals might have a will to cover the ground.
You could see trees swoon, flip backwards somersaults
When lilacs brown and low flying planes blast bullets
Into full-bloom bodies.

And oh …
I map pilgrim’s trails, see them become the vegetable and the grease.
I map where squirrels lift their legs like dogs
On cucumber vines.
I map lovers grazing back and forth on makeshift swings.

And oh…
I map the tremblings of monsters
Who run their mouths on emptiness
In hope some terrifying Other might make them human.

About Colin Greer

Colin Greer is President of the New World Foundation. He has published several social science books. He was a founding editor of Social Policy Magazine and Change Magazine, and wrote a column for Parade Magazine for almost 20 years. His poetry has been published in Kosmos Quarterly, Tikkun, and Hanging Loose. His third poetry collection, If But My Gaze Could Heal, was recently published by Lantern.

Read more