Millions of Voices

A Youth Climate Community Poem

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About

Created for NOAA’s 2024 Environmental Literacy Program and Science on a Sphere Joint Workshop

May 7–9, 2024 The Wild Center, Tupper Lake, NY

Youth Writers & Performers

Jenna Audlin
Elliot Carrick
Keeley Jock
Emma Kavanagh
Ariah Mitchell
Bridey Ryan

Coordinators

Garrett Marino, Youth Climate Leadership Coordinator,
The Wild Center

Kate Semmens, Science Director,
The Nurture Nature Center

Scripted & Staged By

David Hassler,
Bob and Walt Wick Executive Director
Wick Poetry Center
Kent State University

Millions of Voices
A Youth Climate Community Poem

I am an avalanche of a woman
all unpredictability and a natural at disaster.
They should teach classes on how to survive me,
because here I am persuading you to release
your carbon strangle on our winter
with the millions and millions of snowflakes.

THIS WINTER THE WARMEST EVER RECORDED IN THE ADIRONDACKS

We’ve all heard the saying about biting the hand that feeds.
And yet, still, we are parasites, latching on, piercing skin, imbibing blood.
Like fleas or leeches, we are drunk on life
from our devouring of material stuff.

When did the Earth become simultaneously too much and not enough?

When did we start praying with hands spread open?

The signs of change too quick to adapt to
are beating down the door,
native bees, out too soon,
hungry for pollen that’s not there yet.

“Historically, there were fewer ticks in this area,”
I read in the literature.
Now, by the calm waters,
they fill the grasses, waiting.

Fear exists where it did not before.

The wind toys with reflections 
of trees on the lake.
How ferocious she was
when ice-out came early!

The unseasonable warmth broke the spell
like the Person from Porlock.
She irritably rose from her cool winter slumber,
her waters choppy, rolling, violent.
It wasn’t time to wake. 

In the Science of Climate Change,
we learned this is the pivotal century.
In this singular lifetime,
our species’ choices will
determine the time scale 
and severity of warming.

My generation will shape Earth’s climate 
for thousands of generations to come.

The alarm bells have sounded.
The young of our young hang in the balance.
What legacy will we leave?
What future will we grant them?

I was born in a land made of beauty.
I was born in a place tough like stone.
I was born on a planet fierce like fire
And the fire bloomed like a rose.

I live in an icy dread
frigid drops of melting icicles
quivering above our necks
and dripping

down

my

spine

not knowing if this snowfall
will be
my last.

I AM TOO DAMN YOUNG TO BE THINKING 
ABOUT DOING THINGS FOR THE LAST TIME

From the Earth we came, to the Earth we will go.
We are one in the same,

Each.

And.

Every.

One.

Of us.

In the West the mountains tower. 
They protect us, most times. 
But when the valleys fill with fire,
they can’t block the smoke from our eyes.

Now my stars are all caught up in
in smoke nets that the sunlight turns all white.
Like the Pope anointing each factory,
all pure, all good, alright. But
when you close your eyes
all you got is a mouth
full of haze.

We blame the planet for not being calm,
when we are the ones dropping bombs.

We are stuck between grasping at straws and inaction.

Now is the time for solution and revolution.
It’s “We the People” in the Constitution.

From the fisher to the bee
all our relations need to be free.
We are one in the same.

The first time I heard an avalanche
we froze in our snowshoes because we thought a bomb
went off before we realized it was not violence
only the explosion of change.

It is hundreds of thousands of snowflakes
that make an avalanche rumble.

And here we are –
millions 
and millions
of voices.