Crying Out

By the banks of a flood
we sat and wept — by the

rivers of
Babylon, by the shores of the mighty 
Mississippi. From the rooftops
of a drowned city. Near the edge
of a rising tide.  

We sat and wept
and then cried out:
we were promised
dry land; where is it now? We were 
promised safety, where is it now?

We were promised lives 
and now are being told this is not feasible,
we only ever asked for lives
and now are being told these are not
practical, were promised 
that promises made were to be kept
and now we find that all the air
was fouled from the moment it left
their mouths and then,

then to see you

sitting by these same banks
with your own feet swamped in the filth
of the flood, see you

with the drowning so close to you as well, see

you with your eyes
raised over our heads

to something we can’t see,
see you and hear you

asking us why we broke the dams
and let this happen when all we did
was point at the dams and say
look at the seams, the leaks, the cracks,
look, look, can’t you see 
we are drowning?

Can’t you see that
you are soon to be drowning as well?

You ask us why we cry out
with our arms raised and flailing.

We stare back at you, we ask:

how can you not?


About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

2 responses to “Crying Out

  • charlotte

    I like the poem Tony – speaks very much to the pain from having caused environmental problems – also works as metaphor, the degraded sense of humanity that we live with… please take this as constructive criticism or whatever it’s worth: the last line doesn’t work for me – it’s because the question refers back three lines but the reader (especially if you’re reading quickly, as most of us do, but also if you’re reading this out loud, the listener) is going to think back only one line, therefore it reads: why are you not (seeing the rising water)? so that’s an OK ending to a great poem, but I would make it a great ending and reword the last line

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