THREE POEMS by Rick Reibstein

Child of Gaia

The leaf, the star, the blackness of night
have belonged to me, because I have said so.
The downy ones – oh – when they are
abandoned…the ones who flash
from within dark waters…
and the ones who watch,
too frightened to be seen.
To me belongs the quiet before
the morning songs, and the pine-scent
of evening is mine.  I have taken
the cool, heavy air out of which
the moon struggles to rise,
and I own what is howled to it.
I grind it all with hunger
into marrow so my bones can live.

Though my skin is now coated with filth
I cannot wash off, my eyes closed
by curtains of muck, my hands slowed
by stunning stink, and I hear
my voice aching, with the death
and silence around me, I do not speak of
what I see, but of what must be.

I will die on these shores, and my bones
will be found, cleansed of
failure.  I will breathe again,
my treasures renewed.
My mother will hear my voice:
I have loved, and saved this for you!


I Take Back My Gods

I take back my gods – they play the short game.
They get no more grudging respect from me.
I want ones who don’t have monuments, who don’t need praise.
I want ones who so love existence they are inseparable
from it.

Let me be a small prophet of rejection
of what has led us to this.  Permit me to ask:

Do you see that our frantic fascinations have led us
to prick the Great Mother?
That she is bleeding black, and is
hemophiliac?  And nothing has been
done to fix it yet?  May I suggest:

If you are part of this, then apply
the tourniquet to yourself, and stop the
flowing out of your soul.  For we breathe
with her as one, and it is very serious business.

Please!  Help me imagine new gods
who will help us lose interest in the game,
that has distracted us from time.
They will reveal the secrets of entrance.
And then we will take care of Mom.


The Corporation is a Person, Says the Law

The corporation is a person, says the law,
and like a drawn picture, it does look at you with human eyes.
But the legal paper that creates the corporation can turn
edgewise and cut.   And because paper is the foundation on which the empire is built,
it can easily fold.  Is this wise?

The throne at the top, too, is made of paper.
Wet it and it will collapse.  Sparks easily end it.
Here the Chief Executive tries to be the person.
All around him are enemies – most dangerous, the
ones who also want to be the person.
From this world of almost people he looks out – to us,
to our humanity.  He wants us to lend it.

We have only to turn him edgewise to make him disappear.
Why have we forgotten this is something we can do?
It is late.  We can go, as tired, real people can,
at long last, to bed, and close this paper book.
Tomorrow we can write a new one, with a story we’d like to hear.



In times when people fear their connections to others, and to nature itself, the poetic becomes necessary. Even that which doesn’t seem to have hope or show the way – if it touches something, connects.


Rick Reibstein — I am a professional environmentalist, having worked in environmental agencies at the state and federal level, taught environmental law and policy at several universities, and provided training on such topics as pollution prevention and lead poisoning prevention. I have published articles in Environmental Law Reporter, Pollution Prevention Review, The International Journal of Cleaner Production, Environmental Quality Management, and other such journals. I have been writing poetry privately for decades, which I sometimes share with friends, and have made only occasional attempts to publish. A year or so ago I had the great opportunity to take Barbara Helfgott Hyett’s workshops and this is how I have learned of this opportunity to publish environmental poetry. I hope these are suitable for your purposes. The first one is just a mythical cry of passion. Myth is vital. The second two – about the corporation and the false gods – these are about the root causes of our problems. My perspective is to focus on the source of the problem, and to try to envision the world you want to get to at the same time.

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