Who doesn’t need beaches sunshine palms and pine?

Wild red anemones tease, fall in love
with the sea. Down the coast, up raggedy
rocks, a child smothered in scarves yells
“C’mon, C’mon.” Waves crash against the bluff,
tails of whales invite, wind stings like kisses,
someone yells out, this is my religion.

Fire enslaves Paradise. Captured in the wind’s
Spread of Fire, owners of pickup trucks
and Porsches run, the devil at their tails.
Flames consume identity. Sirens demand
Exit, No Returns. Smoke spins California’s
cobalt sky black.

Survivors safe in shelters, write lists,
Become advocates for the poor, the aged.
Thousands missing, rescuers prod
charred land for remains, but hope to find
the lost safe in someone’s home.

100 miles south children strangled by tainted
air, trapped in classrooms, play games. One kid
wrapped in red, chases faces in white masks.
If touched, they fall on their knees,
cry for clean air, plead to go outside, to breathe.

All Californians know the preacher like the cold,
but believe that drought, fires are fed by climate
change. But still get down on knees,
           look to the sky, pray for rain.

* excerpts from The Mamas & the Papas and REM


Mare Leonard’s poems have been published in the Vietnam publication at Perfume River, Rats Ass Review, Chiron,, Eunoia, Unbroken, Ariel Chart Resist: Glass, and finally a new chapbook, The Dark Inside My Hooded Coat, was published at Finishing Line Press in 2018.