Poems about Climate & Extreme Weather

Desperate, wizened fingers claw at dry soil,
still hopeful, the parched earth will seep a drop of moisture.
Eyes red-raw: crying got her nowhere.
Four years without rain, the cruel dust winds sting.
Rotting roots, the juice of cactus, the crunch of insects:
all she knows is the children must be fed.
Their hunger eats away at their insides, like maggots in soft fruit.
Death lingers in the heat.

Young men travelled far: failing crops pushing them ever northwards.
Old men, ashamed of the hard-grey soil, withered like twisted sticks.
The women had no choice -they stayed,
watching the stale earth crack, decay.

Once, this sandtrack had been a river –
its blue slither snaked its way to the sea.
water flowed silver over sand and rock,
oozing its jubilant freedom, spreading its hope of escape.
How they had splashed in its friendliness,
paddled in its playfulness, bathed in its immenseness,
watering their livelihood – a distant memory.
Her cracked lips are unaware of melting ice-caps,
how rising seas threaten other mother’s children.
She only hears her baby’s cry.
What she wouldn’t give for one drop, one drop, one drop!
The corridors of power bustle with decisions:
sipping their spring-water from plastic cups,
leaving them half drunk or tossed away…
still her baby cries for just one drop.

How many more like us can we expect
when all is barren south of Casablanca?
How many grieving souls
will set off on a ruthless trek
confident their answer
rests in Europe’s wealth and fertile soil?

When all the wells are dry, when crops are crisped
and when the very air’s too hot to swallow,
how many years must burn
before you size despair and risk,
bag up your life and follow
the flight of friends, mindful there’s no return?

We sell-up for what pittance we can get
and bung the larger portion to the man
whose trade is organising.
Then burdened mainly with regret
we actuate the plan,
our vision fixed upon a pale horizon.

But working in the shadows of the north
we find the climate fiery, as at home.
The flag-wavers resent us
regardless how we prove our worth:
we’ll always be for them
whipping boys and vents for pent-up tempers.

The situation in the south has worsened.
Rivers fail and staple food crops shrivel.
We take a cut in pay
blamed not on drought, but surplus persons.
Now northern rains unravel
whilst more upon more of us are on their way.

The sky is so much darker now.
It houses rage that burns,
no longer the dreams
I’d float on as a child. The fires come
like stampede. Watch out.
Or die. There is nothing beyond
this plane of existence, but the heat
that cuddles too tight, makes
you sweat like it’s rinsing you of life.
We walk, but the road is lava.
We learn to wear blisters as shoes.

That day mackerel skies darkened,
bilious clouds arced overhead,
the sun sickened in tunnelled storm light.
There were sure signs, every warning.
Appalled we paced with bellies lurching.

That day rain lashed in braces,
gutters flushed, spewed, gushed,
pounded down the patio,
filled up cracks and crushed
the grass with invading foul feet.

That day the wind’s blast growled,
bent awry the washing line mast,
as forgotten sheets snapped flapping.
Soon the house heaved, hauled
at anchor, groaned, stuck fast.

That day lightning strobed the garden,
a toxic tsunami plume surged,
exploded grids, vented sewerage,
till the bilge soared higher than the roof.
Soon our scuppered house submerged.

That day our hall lay thigh deep beneath
bubbling surf burping, as we waded
through waves of toilet paper scurf,
shreds and excreted shoals that left
tide lines streaking once clean walls.

Next day, the wreckage of our lives
was beached on a stinking reef
of fetid debris, slow-drying.
Weeping we salvaged what we could
and flung flotsam onto oozing skips.

Our arms carried babies over scum –
nothing else, Relying on the kindness
of others we hoped for sanctuary,
beds to rest in and food, then left
our home – a hulk marooned by the flood.

A small rock on the kitchen table
found on a school trip
Faye’s teacher said it was millstone grit
and it’s been there alone
for the past ten thousand years
Faye brought it home

we called it Millie and chatted to her
stroking her coarse-grained surface
she became part of the family

Steve had muttered something about
more of his sister’s science stuff
but he’d been the one to notice
on the first warm day in May
that Millie was feeling smoother
not responding to gossip

it was a difficult few weeks
we were losing her
until he happened to say
that maybe Millie didn’t like heat
maybe the climate changing
was affecting her as well
we should put her in the fridge

the reaction was startling
I could feel it immediately
when she was placed
next to the milk
where it’s easy to take her out
twice a day
to keep her up to date
with what’s going on in the world.

The torching of felled trees
bringing the earth to its knees
no food to feed tropical bees
a pittance paid in logging fees.

The lungs of the planet are choking
too many fires, trees are smoking
can the earth continue to breathe
here’s hoping.

Indigenous people walking
politicians just talking
people not noting
the air we inhale polluted.

Deforestation cuts across nations
satellite data shows the destruction
but we need the trees for carbon reduction.

Greta Thunberg sails the seas
but can she help
to save the trees.

But it’s not just the forests far away
pollutants are here,
here to stay,
all part of the modern way.

Now that we’ve had our day
problems of our making
we’ve done all the taking
and it’s not the climate news
we’re faking.

We had peace before the rain fell
Incessant monsoons, warm rain that ran
In torrents down our muddy streets, taking everything
And everyone prisoner, washing away our homes.

We had plentiful food before the hurricane roared
Tearing up trees by the roots, sweeping away
Crops from our dusty fields, leaving behind
A path of devastation in its wake.

We had water before the drought descended
Slowly creeping in, drying out our land
Baking, boiling, parching the soil, killing
Our crops, our herds and our children.

We had hope before the storms came
And took away our former lives.
Washed away our freedom
Destroying our bright future.

And we still have hope, that
Somehow amidst this carnage and devastation
Life will go on for all of us
And we will live to see more storms.

Irksome heat under collars, blue and white alike
The family smogged over by a carbonised methane cloud
The home morphing into a greenhouse fountain of gas
Outside your window a battle front sprawls without frontier or ownership
A tree, a maternal ally, a casualty, floats by on water shunted by a distant iceberg

Stand up, leave the car at home and run to its aid
Grasp that ally by its horns
Resuscitating carbon capture and store
Carbon on the menu: cut down its choice by two thirds and not another tree in nine years

Contesting your mother’s existence,
with the poorer nations that need support
Make your intention a reality
Now walk that talk

It’s getting cold
Burn some more fossils
or put on another layer?
You know the answer
Plant your allies

The rain soaked my hair
It soaked my clothes
It tried to drown me
I couldn’t see through it

I couldn’t find any refuge
The water rose and rose
I felt like I was drowning
My head falling under the water

Then something grabbed me
A hand keeping me afloat
Not letting me down
Not letting me drown

The rain isn’t real
And it isn’t going to drown me
Although it tried its best
My strength is my refuge