RILEY W.

Global Warming

Buildings seem to sink into the ocean,
water rising to
second,
third,
fourth
story windows.
Photos soaked,
ink running,
and dyeing the water various colors:
cyan,
magenta,
yellow,
black,
all mixing together in a murky stream of pigment.

*

Far from the coast, in the southwest,
an opposite effect occurs.
Humanity caught in a drought, where water is precious.
Heat waves plague people with
exhaustion,
heat stroke,
and hyperthermia.
Days of trying to ignore the heat are long gone.
Sipping cool drinks.
Sitting on breezy porches.
Running through the sprinklers.
Such tactics are no longer enough
to cool the heat.

*

In the Northwest,
the land has eroded from rising sea levels.
The ocean has killed its own ecosystem.
“The pH value is now at 4.3! Far from our average of 9!”
is heard on the radio.
As acidic as vinegar,
when fish can’t reproduce,
and the adults die off.
Once lush forests
are now riddled with diseases.
Entire woodlands have fallen in defeat
in a battle they can’t win alone.
Sometimes, it’s hard to breathe.
Your throat feels constricted,
and your lungs are clenched in an unforgiving fist.
Your organs feel like they’re mashed together
trying to compact,
getting closer,
closer,
closer.
Until you can get one little gasp of air.
One little gasp
that releases all the tension.

*

Moving to the east,
where you’re caught in a constant cycle
of heat waves and heavy downpours.
When the heat hits you pray for a release from the warmth,
but when the rain pours,
you feel like you’ll drown on your way to work.
Your lungs are damp,
and you’re sure that the heat can’t be this bad.
When the heat spell returns,
you finally understand why people say,
“The grass is greener on the other side.”
In this heat, plants dry
and you feel nothing will green again.