Poetry

September 19, 2016 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Daisy Goodwin

 

By

Penn Kemp

 

 

Smog Alert

 

 

Throughout our listening area
light pollution. Evening haze drifts

 

down from some secret smelter
depending on which wind blows. Small

 

particulate matter fills the air, fills
our lungs with tiny lumps that hang there
undetected. Except we can no longer fully

 

breathe. Cosmic clouds descend upon us.
Below breath. Below thought. Below bellow.

 

Probability of precipitation. Mixed rain
and thundershowers. Severe weather

 

warning. War in heaven, warming
torrents into twisters. Forecast unforeseen.

 

The radio calls for showers. Fog patches.
Clouds clog the mind, crowding thought.

 

Now calm come … clear of cloud…
I’m thinking stars. Or stars are thinking me.

 

Where are they? Beyond the veil, still
twinkling, emitting their own dust trails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gender Bias Even Among the Elements

 

 

Hurricanes were first named for the saint’s
day on which they surfaced, stark mnemonic.

Then World War II meteorologists plotted
Pacific storms by women’s names. Ever

since 1980, hurricanes are called equally
after men and women. And so we learn—
“Much gender bias is more automatic,
ambiguous and ambivalent than people

typically assume.” The more masculine
the name, the more respect for a hurricane.
Sound familiar? Bring on mysteries inherent
in the mélange between culture and element:

“Researchers find that female-named hurricanes
kill about twice as many people as similar male-

named hurricanes because some people under-
estimate them. Americans expect male hurricanes

to be violent and deadly, but they mistake female
hurricanes as dainty or wimpish and don’t take

adequate precautions.” This trite assumption
neglects the power of words and ends in salt tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penn Kemp

London Ontario poet, activist and playwright Penn Kemp is the League of Canadian Poets 2015 Spoken Word Artist of the Year. She received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for service to arts and culture. As inaugural Poet Laureate for the City of London, she presented poetry at many civic functions. Her latest works are two anthologies she edited for the League of Canadian Poets, launching them at The Writers’ Summit, Toronto, in June. Her new book of poems, Barbaric Cultural Practice (Quatrro Books), will be launched in October.

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