For a friend fearing that time is up for humanity

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by Ernest Lowe

Recorded by author


“The journey might take you a few hours, day, a year, a few years, a hundred, a thousand, or even more.” –Joy Harjo*

You say that we’re not immune from the Great Extinction . . .
our ship is going down . . . civilization is collapsing . . .
all happening in accelerating slow-mo right before our eyes.
You say, What the fuck can I do about it?

You can start by crying a flooded river,
ravens on your shaking shoulders.
You can feel in your belly a mother elephant
murdered for her ivory tusks.
You can taste in your mouth
a child dying of 120 degree heat
. . . heat without water.
When your sobbing quiets, just wait . . .
. . . somewhere . . . it’s all happening . . . right now.
The wells of grief are deep.

Then, friend, wait some more.
Wait and listen
for the raven’s call to her mate
circling her in swooping play.
Listen to the grass growing
in a dead tree’s hollow.
Listen to the worms returning
a car-crushed deer to the soil.
Listen to the toes of your feet
caressing moss and lichens on a fallen log.

Perhaps, after these initiations,
your heart will reveal to you
the world ’round compassion
guiding you to your rocky path of action.
The ravens on your shoulders
will whisper in your ear.

June 27, 2019

*Joy Harjo, “For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet,” Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2015).

Audio recording of biography

Photo of Ernest Lowe with a raven.

Ernest Lowe is a poet in parallel with being a documentary photographer, an innovator in sustainable development and industrial ecology, a gardener, a husband and father. He has had no training in any of those fields, especially not in poetry. Some of his poems are available at and His only book, In the Midst of All This Light (1981), is available on Amazon for an absurd $86.10 and most likely is falling apart after 40 years. In fact, he’s starting to fall apart after 86 years.

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