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Monday, the Supreme Court ruled state governments (specifically five counties in my state) may seek damages from fossil fuel companies worsening the climate crisis, and lying about it. That is kind of shocking – and while still being hotly debated, that the Supreme Court took this step openly admits that we have a problem and not all of us are engaged in being part of the solution. I wonder where this will take us.

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It was the most eventful winter in this state for the past seventy years. There are still houses collapsing under the weight of the snow in the northern edges of our state, but despite the persistence of the snow, the season has changed, and runoff has begun. The rivers are historically high – to many state officials, catastrophically high. One of the pictures on the front page of the paper showed spare life jackets just hung on a sign – the desperate Parks and Rec officials hoping the public will do something to at least try and stay safe. They’re also bracing themselves – because human beings traditionally aren’t good listeners, and there will be fatalities. Meanwhile, the rivers are icy cold, and gorgeous.

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Jewish and Christian religions both embrace that bit about “the stranger” or “foreigner” within your community written of in the commandments. It’s repeated – and repeated – and even enshrined as part of the Seder service, which commemorates leaving Egypt, remembering that once the Jews were foreigners in a strange land, and slaves.

I took the title from the Hebrew words of that phrase – which I’ve heard read beautifully. Even though I’m not Jewish, I can see clearly the point: none of us came from here, we’re all guests. Guests on the planet, guests on the land, guests in our communities. We are, frankly, terrible guests. We could do better.

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One of the many, many things popular culture gets wrong about Pandora is that she didn’t open a BOX, it was a jar, a pithos that the Greek used to store all sorts of things. In the myth, Pandora opens the jar, and unspecified evils fly out into the world. Hastily, she then closes it back — trapping one last evil, hope, inside. The arguments about what that could possibly mean began immediately thereafter.

One interpretation of the tale is that hope is… deceptive. When viewed through my rather jaded lens this week of anything changing in reference to gun violence in our country… I can see that.

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It’s odd to be entering the last nine days of the month. It’s almost MAY, people, and that’s just concerning and alarming, as this month has rushed by in a headlong bolt. Perhaps the confusing part for me is that where I live in California, the temperature hasn’t yet climbed into the eighties as it usually does in April, and it’s lush and green on every hill. I think collectively we keep looking around wondering, “Where the heck ARE we?” I don’t know either, Cali.

Meanwhile, the world keeps spinning and it’s abhorrent in its usual way. I cannot get the beautiful face of Ralph Yarl out of my mind this week, and the wreckage of his life, and his innocence keeps breaking me. As I often do when I’m trying to process, I’ve been writing poems – awful, toxic poems which won’t see the light of day… but it’s excising some demons. To that end, I’m returning to the Crapsey cinquain, but loosely letting my thoughts go to current events. I’m going to tell the story of this time in five line bites — what we’re doing, what we’re thinking, so we remember. Human beings have such short attention spans. To my horror, I realize I’ve written more than one poem about an innocent Black child getting shot.

But here we are again.

Poetry Friday is hosted at Karen Edmisten’s the blog with the clever name, and there’s so much lovely Spring content. Please don’t miss Denise K.’s poem about democracy and gun laws which gave me some words for mine.

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My cousin, Mary Lee, wrote a whole series of poems on the climate emergency last year (I think?) and I have to admit that some of them were depressing – because she needed to be real. People have been falsely optimistic for a long time, hoping good wishes would do the trick. It won’t. But, action will. My action has been to plant a garden – a tiny, hopeful, oxygenating thing to do. I’m trying to be an optimist – because I’m an Eeyore at heart. Here’s to thinking of what else we can do.