The Lyrical Works

Harvey Taylor

Our Day In The Sun

He criss-crossed this country way back in the day,
planting apple trees each step of the way…
every Autumn since then, countless apples ripen,
a feast for deer, raccoons, horses, bears, and humans.

Like many before him, and many to come,
Johnny Appleseed had his day in the sun…
Johnny had his day in the sun.

She was born in the old South, and raised as a slave,
then spent much of her life helping others escape,
guiding runaways North, to freedom…
she was brave, wise, bold, and very determined.

Like many before her, and many to come,
Harriet Tubman had her day in the sun…
Harriet had her day in the sun.

She wrote poems non-stop, up in her room,
flower after flower, bloom after bloom,
word after perfect word, language galore…
now we all can enjoy the fruits of her labor.

Like many before her, and many to come,
Emily Dickinson had her day in the sun…
Emily had her day in the sun.

I’ve selected a few people very meaningful to me,
but I could’ve picked others, as appropriately…
for there are heroines and heroes wherever we look,
for example, planting trees, helping others, or writing a book.

Like many before them, and many to come,
we’re all having our day in the sun…
we’re having our day in the sun.

—Harvey Taylor, August ‘07
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Where We Earthlings Dwell

I saw a headline in the paper:
Mother Earth Is In Intensive Care—
she’s pictured in bloody bandages,
with IVs poked in everywhere.
A worried nurse checks the thermometer…
Mama’s temperature is sky high—
we’ve got to get her fever down,
before the ice-caps melt and die.

A hospital spokesman says it’s ‘touch and go’…
doctors are doing everything they can—
it’s hard to decide where to operate first,
whether the ocean or the land.
Mama’s poor lungs are laboring…
too many forests have been whacked—
her pulse is getting awfully faint:
how in the world do we bring her back?

Put solar panels on every roof…
watch windmills go ‘round and ‘round—
keep coal inside the mountains,
and let oil stay underground.

Relatives gather at Mama’s bedside…
We really-really want her to get well—
because after all, Mother Earth is
the home where we Earthlings dwell.
And now I’m looking into my crystal ball…
O, what a glorious sight I see:
children laughing, birds singing,
and Mother Earth, healthy, and happy…
children laughing, birds singing,
and Mother Earth, healthy, and happy…

yes, put solar panels on every roof…
watch windmills go ‘round and ‘round—
leave coal inside the mountains,
and let oil stay under the ground

—Harvey Taylor
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Make Yourself At Home

I spoke with my friend Maria, long ago,
a conversation during a potluck,
about her work as a midwife.
She told me that a Cherokee medicine person
she’d apprenticed with taught her that
in times of planetary peril, with
chronic warfare, and the destruction of Nature,
highly-evolved beings stream into the world,
like firefighters to an inferno,

cosmic first-responders.

I keep encountering people
who remind me of what Maria said,

vigorous elders, wise adults,
radiant children…
and when I meet babies,
I tell them, telepathically,
Welcome, Friend…
make yourself at home—
we need all the help we can get!

—Harvey Taylor
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Recovering Egomaniac

I keep coming back to a stark realization,
compelled by circumstances to acknowledge
a fundamental flaw in my character, and
not just mine, but a seemingly universal trait:
the ‘default setting’ for my basic concerns
covers the spectrum from me, to myself, to I.

It’s like I’m living in a pre-Copernican cosmos,
still believing that the sun revolves around the earth…
and not just believing it, but acting as if that’s the case,
or at least, certainly should be.

Shouldn’t my whims and impulses,
my desires and needs,
my priorities and compulsions
be the most important things in the world?!

What a ridiculous question!!
Damn right they should!!!
Or so goes my assumption.

Of course, in the real world this means
I’m often bumping up against other egomaniacs
who have their own version of this melodrama running,
starring, naturally, themselves, with no interest whatsoever
in casting someone else in that coveted leading role.

Now and then, I bump so hard into someone else, or
some situation involving others, that I’m forced by
my pain to take a close look at what’s going on, and
do some personal therapy, perhaps in the form of
reading from a book called ‘When Things Fall Apart,’
doing some informal rehab, some meditation,
extra-hard swim workouts, more t’ai chi,
talking things over with a friend,
writing a poem, making up a song,
playing my trumpet all night long,
whatever it takes to get halfway sane again.

That particular crisis weathered, I tend to slide back
into good ol’ egomaniac mode, perhaps a little more
subtle version, ‘til the next time…
and there’s always a next time.

I’m long overdue to realize that
I’ve got to ‘stay on my program’
permanently, as is the case with
any other addict who’s serious about
recovery, for, ego is the real heroin,
crack, alcohol, nicotine, and obviously,
I’m seriously addicted to ‘me’

—Harvey Taylor
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All The Difference

April Fool’s came early this year,
on the second day of Spring…
right after flowers starting peeping up,
Winter had another fling.
My neighbor trudged through deep drifts,
as I finished shoveling,
her car stuck in the alley, sideways,
emergency lights flashing.

I went down the alley with her,
and we dug, and dug, and dug,
then she stepped on the gas pedal,
while I pushed and shoved, and shoved.
Well, we were getting nowhere fast,
and I mean that literally…
that’s when an angel arrived—
an angel without wings.

This angel and I,
we both had our knees in the snow,
rocking the car, back and forth—
then we got on a roll.
But we bogged down one more time,
in an icy rut, really deep,
then, with one more all-out push,
we finally made it to the street.

There’s a moral to this story,
and this is what it is:
when an angel comes along,
they can make All The Difference.

Feel free to take this story,
and apply it to other seasons…
yes, go ahead and use it
for many different reasons.
Because, there’s a moral here,
and you don’t have to guess what it is:
sometimes, you might be the angel,
yes, YOU too can make All The Difference…
uh-huh, YOU can make All The Difference

—Harvey Taylor
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Jeff Poniewaz

The Last Endangered Species Glass

Three years ago two friends gave me
a set of six Endangered Species Glasses,
each glass etched with the picture and name
of one of the species near extinction.
The Oryx was the first to bite the dust--
a friend laughed so hard at something I said
it slipped full of wine from her fingers.
A few months later the Cheetah fleeted
faster than my reflex to catch it.
The Polar Bear was the loser
in a battle with an ice-cube tray.
The Whooping Crane flew out of my hand
as I wildly gestured a poem.
The Eagle was the last to go.
I broke it against the faucet
while doing the dishes.
Each time one of those glasses broke
I got a lesson in fragility,
a shattered metaphor for
what extinction means. Now
only the Tiger remains…
and it’s chipped.

—Jeff Poniewaz, 1976
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Earth Day is the Mother’s Day of the Earth

I love the Mother Earth
as much as (almost more
than) my own mother
and my mother’s mother--
the Earth who is my Mother
as really as any mother
I ever had. The Mother Earth
whose name is Estelle Poniewaz
and a billion other names
and who is a zillion living
beings who have no name,
untaxonomied by all the
taxidermists who ever
taxed the lineages
of nonhuman beings that
ever emerged like me
from this vast Mother of an Earth
made love to by the Father Sun.

I love the Mother Earth
even more than the Virgin Mother
(Hail Mary of whose womb
blessčd was the fruit).
I love the Mother Earth,
this dear old granny of a planet
this greatgreatgreatgreat
grandgrandgrandgrand Mother
of a living breathing planet
whose breaths are the clouds
more than I love Jesus Mary Joseph
put together, with the Holy Ghost
thrown in for good measure.

I love the Mother Earth
more than Jesus Moses Buddha
Mohammed Krishna and all those
other definitely lovable folks
put together. This Mother
Earth from whose sacred womb
I sprang so many years ago—
and from whom also sprang
all my myriad brothers &
sisters, human & non-:
two-leggčd, four-leggčd,
wing’d, finn’d, whatever.

Unless we realize the absolute
and utter fact that the Earth
is our Mother as truly and really
as our specific human mother
and unless we defend the Mother Earth
from rape as fiercely as we’d defend
our own human mother from rape,
then we are blinder than Oedipus,
raping the Mother who gave
birth to and nurtures all.

Happy Mother’s Day
dear tormented Mother,
more full of sorrows than
the Sorrowful Mother
of crucified Humankind.
Forgive your five billion
ungrateful brats, so many children
she didn’t know what to do,
her children eating her
out of house and home.
Happy Earth Day / ReBirth Day,
teach us your wisdom
that we and you may live.

—Jeff Poniewaz, Earth Day 1988
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Holly Haebig

CIRCLE OF SPIRITS

Share the moon…

They came in numbers, sister and brothers
Hand in hand under the moonlit sky
Hearts openin’ wide, spirits set free, wide opening…
Share the moon, share the moon, share the moon.

Stories to share, voices fill the air
Wind sings along with the tired and strong,
The journey has been long.

Come share the moon (share the moon) in a circle of spirits
Where dreams settle into the earth
Come share the moon (share the moon) in a circle of spirits
Where hearts open up to rebirth
To Rebirth

Moon gave us light and we danced into the night
Howling…awwwuuooo
We were all One, One Voice, One Drum,

One sacred memory of long ago

When, we shared the moon (share the moon) in a circle of spirits
Love broke the bonds of our fears
We shared the moon (share the moon) in a circle of spirits
The path of our souls became clear, so clear!!!

One by one…by one…one by one, by one…
One by one, by one…one by one, by one…
One by one we rise
dropping each disguise
Once again we stand as One

Oh the world’s in pain,
but our love can change it
transforming dark to light (ahhh)

Come share your light…
in a circle of spirits
Imagine all the people,
living life in peace…

One by one…one by one…
Two by two…two by two…

The ones that came before us lead the way
it’s now in our hands.
We have the knowledge, the power
You can feel it, it’s the hour
There’s no need to fear
For there are circles
Everywhere

Everywhere.

—Holly Haebig
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Louisa Loveridge-Gallas

Low Life and Blood Relatives

Unseemly wet

knob of flesh,
child’s snot ball,
what part of Earth,

what Mother

loves your facelessness?

Mouth-sucking

where you sit
or sleep,
on seedlings, first buds,
a vengeance of ugliness
oozing in my garden!

Unsettling protoplasm,

mud-whale
small as fingernails,
slick mystery of grey

State your purpose!

We live together,

but is
respect due?

You, sleazy,

low-down acrobat
passionate
to gum holes
in my delicate-veined
lettuce, crisp
harmonious halves of leaf
with unbroken peripheries
of wet-webbed points
complete, perfect,
except for you!

My crude
neighbor,
my low-life
third eye,

Earth’s balance,

wholeness, too,
is grounded
in our strange
difference.

Remind me,

with your alien body
of startling goo:
We are mud relatives.

We’re family,
me and you.

—Louisa Loveridge-Gallas
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The Body Radiant

Each of us is a body
of water and fire
body of earth
wind body of breath

Each of us
a natural world

The chemistry of our hair
the maps of our finger tips
are like no other each chromosome
a galaxy of inner space

When we lie on the earth
spread our arms and legs
in four directions
we are a circle
an etheric body so electric
we radiate energy like a golden sphere

Magazines created from
the dead bodies
of trees tell us we are not
beautiful enough or whole

They preach our shape is
a fall from grace

urge us to compare
envy compare
it is dangerous
to share

They warn: our cup
empties when another fills

BEWARE: these are the power sneaks,
who speak to us with the sound
of our own voices,
whispering inadequacies,
impoverishments,

Whispering:

In another’s power, our weakness,
In another’s art, our clumsiness,
In another’s brilliance, our humiliation

Take care!

The beauty snatchers,
are always in the neighborhood
to invade our dreams

‘Beware,
Earth needs us
to turn these thieves
out of the temple!

How much time does she have
for us to hide our eyes,
wounded,
in isolation?

Do the voices whisper “You are shameful”?

Do they whisper “Stay hidden”?

Reach out. You are not alone,

a rare creature,

no other community
of cells like you
on our planet!

Do the voices whisper “You grow old”?
Remember the rings of wisdom
accumulated inside us
like a great oak
and celebrate--

the sap is running richer
to carry on!

First body
of our bodies,
Earth needs us
to remember

Each of us is a world,
a history,

Each of us
a doorway

Beware the beauty snatchers,
when the voices whisper:
hairless, wrong-bodied, average, uncherished,
childless, unpublished, unachieved,
failed, incomplete: guilty

LIFT UP YOUR HEAD

We are of her,

Earth

THE BODY RADIANT

Each of us,

A VISION

When Earth looks to us,
she needs to see
our sacred face.

—Louisa Loveridge-Gallas
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Suzanne Rosenblatt

RAISING CAIN

Mongolians Romanians, Germans Czechs Albanians
Palestinians Ukrainians, Chinese Lithuanians
Angolans Afghanis, Poles Azerbaijanis
Zulus, Bantus, Uzbeks, Pakistanis
Earth’s surface seethes
with the urge to be free
People demand
Democracy
And many are looking at the U.S.A
Longing for life the American way.
We.are.the
E.pit.o.me
Of.a.free
E.con.o.my
EpitomeEpitomeEpitome

Thirty thousand items from which to choose
We’ve got to figure out what brands to use
Two hundred cereals, juice from passion fruit
Twenty types of toilet paper, eighty kinds of soup.
From New York to Miami, there are nine airlines to take
What pill capsule tablet will cure a headache?
EpitomeEpitomeEpitome MarketEconomyMarketEconomy
A pity, a pity, a pity, Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me

In Russia and Romania, Poland, Lithuania
Consumer goods are hard to find,
In Texas Minnesota, New York Maine Dakota
Endless choices paralyze the mind
EpitomeEpitomeEpitomeEpitome
MarketEconomyMarketEconomy
A pity, a pity, a pity, Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me

We’re the role models, we’re the role models
we cover the globe with chains of Macdonalds
Pizza Hut, Burger King, Kentucky Fried
Pepsi, Coke, Seven-up, and Sprite world-wide
We’re the role model, the footsteps to follow
Once the world is free
To spend eight hours daily
watching T.V.
Buy Barbie dolls, beer, Anusol
Cheerios, cars, Tylenol
Fax machines, microwaves
C.D. players, spend, why save?
possess possess possess possess
Use Master Visa American Express
Expaaaaaaaand the economy Expaaaaaaaaaand the econo-
me-me me-me me-me me-me mo-more mo-more mo-more mo-more
me-me me-me me-me me-me mo-more mo-more mo-more mo-more
Me-me mo-more me-me mo-more me-me mo-more
L-L-L-L-L-L-Love Ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex L-L-L-L-L-L-Love Ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex
L-L-L-L-L-L-Love Canal, Ex-ex-ex-ex-Exxon Valdes, nuclear waste, toxic seas
Spreading deserts, vanishing trees, warming globe, CFC’s ,
Ozone holes, PCB’s
ToxicityToxicityToxicity
ToxicCitiesToxicCitiesToxicCities
A pity, a pity, a pity, Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me

Mongolians Roumanians Germans Czechs Albanians
Palestinians Ukrainians Chinese Lithuanians
Angolans Afghanis Poles Azerbaijanis
Zulus, Bantus Uzbeks, Pakistanis
Throw away your bike, your yak
your camel, train, or bus
Everyone should have a car,
Buy from us
Demand, demand democracies
Expand, expand economies
Expaaaaand Expand
Over oceans, over land
Into outer space, Any extra waste
Can be dispersed, throughout the universe
As we forge the final link in the chain
From Adam Eve Abel Cain
From Cain and Abel, Cain and Abel
To cannibals cannibals
Mother earth’s animals
Consuming mother earth
Cannibals cannibals
Mother earth’s animals
Consuming mother earth
Making every resource available
into something salable salable
Pay later, pay later, pay later-ater-ater
Ate-her ate-her ate-her
Ate her.

—Suzanne Rosenblatt, Performed at Alverno College on October 5, 2006
To view a video of this performance poem on You Tube click here.
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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on April 16, 2008

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