Downtown flourishes remnants of a former 
dignity, in stone cornices, handsome 
wood, ironwork spun around certain 
doorways as though by massive metal spiders. 
Storefront churches gather the desperate 
and spiritually starved, who are legion. 
Head shops whiff of stale smoke from the Sixties. 
Windows of the tattoo parlors offer 
horror insignia transferable 
to human skin.  The reward for our 
inaction is a self-administered lethal 
injection of despair for the planet. 

Odd souls shuffle the shadows of closed 
offices, do not look up at the sky. 
Carbon in the atmosphere reaches four 
hundred parts per million, and the bees are 
dying.  The cooking pot heats up degree 
by degree, but the frog won’t jump out. 
Because of us, native people leave coastal 
villages.  The next valley over is losing 
its drinking water and crops.  We can’t see it. 
We dig in like badgers and ignore signs. 
Won’t anyone here help?  Or must 
God—or someone like him—save us? 

Thomas R. Smith
Illustration Nick Victor

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