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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Sally Zakariya

Fire and Ice

I dreamed the fields were on fire
at the bottom of the earth
a world in flames, in cinders

I dreamed a city’s worth of ice
let loose at the top of the world
the ocean gorging on the melt

By the bay the sand beyond
the sea wall is submerged
soon waves will lick our toes

In Washington they sit bemused
sure there’s no need for alarm
surely no need to take action

But it was no dream—down
in Australia the kookaburra
no longer laughs

Falling from the Sky

Birds ‘falling out of the sky’ in mass die-off in
south-western US —The Guardian, 9/16/20

Plague stuns the world as wildfires torch the West

and drive migrating flocks from yearly flyways.


Flycatchers, warblers, cranes—they won’t reach Mexico,

won’t find nesting spots in food-filled winter havens.


Lightness falls from the air—feather and skin and bone—

as thousands of birds drop in the Southwest desert.


Once made out of song, they plunge silent, starved,

from a cloudless sky, their souls drifting upward.


Here below we mourn our diminishing family,

sing a song of sorrow for a fading future.

Goats Against Wildfires

We saw them trimming the grass
with their little goat teeth,
man and dog keeping watch
there on the highway verge.
It was California, where trends
take hold—California, where now
herds of goats are the latest
weapon against wildfires.
Rent-a-Ruminate they’ve been
called for years—four-legged
weedwhackers who’ll clear
your land of invasive plants.
Curious, intelligent, agile beasts,
they’ll rear up and nibble
on trees, all the while smirking
sideways, slit-eyed.
Let them come, those clever capras.
Let them eat the brush and fertilize
the fields while they’re at it.
Let the futile flames retreat.


Sally Zakariya’s poetry has appeared in some 90 print and online journals and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her most recent publication is Something Like a Life (Gyroscope Press). She is also the author of Muslim Wife, The Unknowable Mystery of Other People, Personal Astronomy, When You Escape, Insectomania, and Arithmetic and other verses, as well as the editor of a poetry anthology, Joys of the Table.

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