poems on climate change

Three of my poems on climate change have been published in the esteemed feminist journal, Canadian Woman Studies: Women and Water, Inanna Publications, http://inanna.ca/index.php/catalog/women-and-water/, December, 2015.

Here are “Grazing the Face of Climate Change”, “Gender Bias Even Among the Elements” and “Middle March and Beyond”:

Gender Bias Even Among the Elements

The hurricane was first named for the saint’s
day on which it surfaced, stark mnemonic.

Then World War 2 meteorologists plotted
Pacific storms by women’s names. Ever

since 1980, hurricanes are called equally
after men and women. And so we learn—
“Much gender bias is more automatic,
ambiguous and ambivalent than people

typically assume.” The more masculine
the name, the more respect for a hurricane.
Sound familiar? Bring on mysteries inherent
in the mélange between culture and element.

Our system of belief has no limit but it does
have confused and complicated consequence.

“Researchers find that female-named hurricanes
kill about twice as many people as similar male-

named hurricanes because some people under-
estimate them. Americans expect male hurricanes

to be violent and deadly, but they mistake female
hurricanes as dainty or wimpish and don’t take

adequate precautions.” Such silly assumptions
neglecting the power of words end in salt tears.
Beware an errant hurricane named for women:
the female ever more dangerous than the male.


Middle March and Beyond

Last day of winter and snow recedes slowly
as creatures emerge tentatively to feed. We
are all immersed, immured, enveloped in
this strange in-between time, ice melting
to air. Transition ritual: old kings must die.

So we are told. Be gone, cold. Welcome,
fluctuating circumstance. Holding our breath,
hanging as elements change their nature, we
women wait patiently, impatiently, accepting,
rejecting conditions that no longer serve us.

Hoping against hope, whatever that means
for a future few sure will be any longer
golden or even green, given climate change,
given stupidity on all levels of governance,
internal, external. We await the chance to

vote, elections upcoming, change essential
but arbitrary. We fear the tricks of power
determined to stay in place, in control no
matter how wild the swirl of oceans gone
beyond all known bounds predicated on

past possibility or predicted by those whose
voices are silenced by the powers that be:
that be sly, short-sighted, power-mad and
roiling to keep a lid on that boiling crock—
those melting glaciers, the rising sea.


Grazing the Face of Climate Change

The cedar the bohemian
wax wings twitter among
bare boughs on their way

Envy emulates flight,
lights desire, douses
doubt in fiercer certainty.

Icarus stretches his fine
new wings, disarmed by
possibilities plus.

“Beware the wax, my son. It
cannot last in the face of
strong Sun shine.”

No fear. Bright day beckons.

“I’m on my way and who will
gainsay the path to glory, glory!”

Damn the consequence, o’erweening
teen. Between
between the elements.

High performance art starts
here. Raising mighty arms
he flaps. He flies.

Close, warming his face.
Oh, the glow! Pride
bursts, sun bursts,
sun grazing.

Rising solar flare—
sudden glare incipient—

may might may not

Bright implausible wings dim
before a brighter sun, too close.

Closer. Losing
altitude, attitude


Farther from father info free

(Hubris, they will say
in that all-knowing future.)

The fall, falling. Spring

A flutter of feathers
catching the light
light on the surface.

Follow their fine drift
on the wind, winding

through sub-lunar
splendour onto
sea sparkle.

Living sphere,
Facing fear too late
on a sea of metrics.

Facing ob-
livion. (Immortal
eyes can not cut it).

Dead last. Death lasts
forever. Ever

Reflect, refract, reflect
again and loss a gain.

Free to fail only
once and then no

No longer boy but

Penn Kemp



One thought on “poems on climate change

  1. Penn Kemp says:

    On January 13, I’m giving a reading and creative writing workshop for the “Water Now” course, Western University Visual Arts Centre…so am now gathering my poems on Water. I’ll feature these three recently published in the “Women and Water issue”, Canadian Woman Journal: https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/poems-on-climate-change/.


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