FOUR POEMS by Carla Martin-Wood

Too Late

It’s too late
the alarm sounded long ago
but we didn’t listen
let marketplace manlogic rule
preferred profits to prophecy
of tree huggers
and biologists

it’s too late for talks
between the big oil bullies
and failed government
our wetlands have been sold out
shining green and gold
nursery to sea life
breath of an economy

it’s too late for the promenade
of kings and queens
of Mardi Gras
for the bead tossing throng
for the scent of magnolia
tinged with the stink of oil
petals soiled and black

it’s too damned late
to be shocked
to be stunned
to make a stab at a comeback
in the quiet, cold darkness
of our hearts
we knew this all along
knew it was coming
with every drop of blood
in our tanks.


Don’t tell Mama

Don’t tell Mama
what we’ve done here
if she finds out
oh man
she’s gonna be pissed

we were just playing
having a good time
and now just look at what we’ve done

oh man
look at the mess we’ve made
of her garden

oh man
look at how her pets died
starting with the birds
and now even the bees are leaving

oh man
look at how we made everything so dirty
with our toys
how the streams
look like a backed-up toilet
how the air
burns our eyes
how we’ve even broken
her thermostat

oh man
there may not be time to clean this up
no time to fix things
before she sees

oh man
she’s gonna be mad

do you think she knows already?

was that an earthquake
or was that her
shaking with rage?

was that a tornado
or was that her
getting ready
to clean house?

was that a tsunami?
or was that her
warming up
to give us the whipping of our lives?

oh man
Mama’s coming
and she’s pissed.


Don’t tell the children

Don’t tell them
how we made snow ice cream
free of factory made contamination
piggybacked poison
with the snowfall

Don’t tell them
how we drank from virgin streams
unsullied by our greed
how we swam crystalline waters
clear as our consciences

Don’t tell them
how we picked blackberries
in the wild
let juice drip down our chins
without a toxic thought
how we climbed orchard trees
to steal unwashed cherries

Don’t tell them
how we hiked untouched glory
watched a thousand suns set
in rainbowed splendor
unenhanced by airborne chemicals
that alter nature’s palette
and photoshop our view

Don’t let them know
about brightfeathered wonders
and Amazonian treasures
lost to marketplace manlogic

Don’t tell them
how bees left
the flowers on their own
and how the flowers went down, too
with nothing but a lucky wind
to spread their kind

Don’t let them know
there were rivers
without warnings
and oceans
thick with life
and don’t let them know
what coral looked like

It would be too cruel.

As we turn photographs to the wall
when a loved one passes
let us burn the images
of all once-living things
as each species disappears
let it be done

Lest the children know
what was lost.

Like all politicians
let us cover our tracks
hide the evidence
of our incalculable avarice
our limitless waste
our misnamed progress
our indifference

Lest the children know
our greed.

Let us remove all stories
of creation from all sacred texts

Lest the children know our guilt.

Don’t tell them
how we betrayed our duties
how we squandered their inheritance

how so little now is left
of their Eden.



Her profile
pale and proud
almost recognizable
nothing else left
to give away
her former lofty position
save for the bag at her feet
battered ostrich leather
packed with relics
of fickle applause

the early train
whistles its low, sacred song
carries her across
an indolence of predawn bayou
frog chorus rising hypnotic
cane fields emerging from mist
and here and there
a lantern swings
flashes warm and welcome
through ragged darkness

coming home
to the city that bore her
so high
she flew
fallen now
but undefeated

like her city
domicile of despair
saved by no god
saved by the orgy of life
that sustains it
Betsy, Camille, Katrina
and this new, black grief of oil

stations of her cross
dark decades
of hell’s rosary.



In the greed engendered by what I have come to call marketplace manlogic, our society has embraced the misguided notion that the natural world is here to serve us. That we can take what we like without replenishing, that we can rape the land and the sea to line our pockets, that we can waste and spoil that which is precious without a second thought. It behooves every poet who has been inspired by this generous, living organism known as Earth – by her waters and her wilderness – to write the wrongs our society has done to her. Through our words, through our documentation of these events, we can raise consciousness, sound the alarm, defend this planet, which is our home and our first mother.


Three times nominated for The Pushcart Prize, Carla Martin-Wood is the author of Flight Risk, How we are loved, and the forthcoming One flew east, all full-length collections of her poetry (Fortunate Childe Publications). She has authored six chapbooks: Songs from the Web (Bitter Wine Press); Garden of Regret and Redheaded Stepchild (both Pudding House Chapbook Series); and Feed Sack Majesty, HerStory, and The Last Magick (all Fortunate Childe Publications). Her work also appears in the following anthologies: Love Poems & Other Messages for Bruce Springsteen and Casting the Nines (both Pudding House Publications); Lilith: a collection of women’s writes and Postcards from Eve (both Fortunate Childe Publications); and From the Front Porch (Silver Boomer Books). Carla’s poems have appeared in a plethora of journals in the US, England, and Ireland since 1978. She maintains Smoky Joe’s Café, a spoken word venue, on her website, and is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory at

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