2016 Primaries

This season, Mr. Trump’s a raging wildfire,
a storm ignited by reality TV,
fodder for anyone who likes good satire.
He’s poised to win as far as I can see.
The exit polls are making me perspire.
Who gives a damn about democracy?
A welcome distraction from death and taxes,
meanwhile, the earth is spinning off her axis.
But let us not forget our old friend, Sanders,
who’s offering a damned good pie in the sky,
and who can say he doesn’t have high standards?
Some people dare to think he’s worth a try.
Then there’s the candidate who some don’t trust:
She’s too pragmatic, and leaves us non-plussed.



Glommed to the screen of your smart phone,
not noticing you’re next in line—
so many choices of ring-tone,
screen-savers, apps, places to dine.

The world wide web interconnects
us all. That’s obvious, you think.
But how about how it affects
a child: the cyanide and zinc,

along with mercury and lead?
The unintended choice you made:
my child, who earns her daily bread
recycling, underpaid, betrayed.

Retired phones are shipped here: Gwayu,
China, and stripped of precious metals.
Recyclers stir a toxic brew
and heat it up in iron kettles.

It’s not the kind of thing you want
to look at, when you buy a smartphone,
so turn it on, be nonchalant;
be sure to choose the proper ring-tone.


Ode to Grinnell Glacier

The glacier glistens as it glides downslope.
Kneeling, knowing nothing lives forever,
ear to the earth, earnest in prayer,
I listen to the drip, drip, drip,
the silent sorrow of the silver ice.
Softly, now, I pronounce your name,
“Grinnell Glacier.” You glimmer, then glare.
Melting slowly, you slide downslope.
Sorry to say, it’s too late to save you.
But you’ll leave a lasting legacy in stone:
the cirque, the saddle, the sand, the gravel,
the tumult of talus before the terminal moraine.
Many will come to marvel at your monuments.
But when the drip, drip, drip, of your melting
stops, and your streams stop, along with the cascades
crashing through crevices and over the cliff,
and your emerald lake is forever empty,
we’ll wonder what we were thinking and why
we allowed the waters of the world to overwhelm her shores.


John W. Steele. Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, is a student in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Western State Colorado University. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.  

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