​​How can I? 

The patience of the small brown spider 

reweaving a web from its gut 

for the third time this week 
admonishes me. 

This time I will let its grey net

 hang still from mirror to shelf. 
A spider too must make a living 
​as it can. 

My abbysinian Puck inserts himself 

between monitor and keyboard 

saying pay attention to me, not 
​email. I am alive. 

Lover with almond shaped pale 
​green eyes like newly opened
​ birch leaves, how can I continue 
​to resist you? 

Surrounded by creatures with 

their own agendas, feed me, 
leave my house alone, don’t 
​step on me.

 I make my awkward way balancing
​ my own and others’ needs, 

a clumsy waitress hoisting 
an overloaded tray.


The orchestra playing to deaf ears

The goldfinch waiting its turn at the feeder
calls, calls its name I will never know. 
It’s a male in new bright marigold
plumage, now joined by a squadron
of brethren, jostling for sunflower seeds.

We live in the midst of clouds of other
lives we brush aside, bulldoze, poison,
eat unmourned. The earth is our dying
oyster that will poison us too. Once upon
a time the waters ran sweet. Now oily

or flaming from the faucet. Streams
are cocktails of drugs. The fish swim

upsidedown. We are blind and deaf
to the orchestra around us. Ants
signal with pheromones. Bees dance

their data. Even plants warn each
other of danger through delicate
roottips. My cat reads me more
accurately than I can decipher her.
We walk ignorant through nets
of calls, of scents, of chemicals

of signals of whiskers and tails, 
all languages we cannot scan.

Sheba taught Solomon to speak with
the animals and that made him wise.


Money moves in

When I moved here the road called Cobb 
Farm actually led to a farm, where 
in fall we’d clean out the chicken house 
for free to feed our vegetables. 

You could buy eggs still warm from 
a hen’s body. On a rolling meadow 
in Eastham, a family raised and sold 
ducks. The Old King’s Highway led 

for miles, a sandy track through forest 
without a house, now subdivisions. I 
dug arrowheads where houses crouch 
on lawns empty ten months a year. 

The ocean beach was a shell picker’s 
paradise where now tampon covers, 
oil clots and plastic bottles wash up. 
Foxes lived on the hill long flattened. 

No Trespassing signs are common 
as tree frogs used to be. Rich folks 
claim the beaches and exile oyster 
farmers, families without trust funds. 

We may be the last generation to think 
butterflies are common. Where did all 
the box turtles go? This land I love 
I have watched turn into real estate. 

I have seen it vanish under huge houses 
nobody needs, decks wide enough to land 
helicopters on with views of others with too 
much money they waste, creating waste. 


We know

The crickets are loud at night 
a chorus of teakettles demanding 
sex. The tomato plants begin 
to brown from the bottom up. 

Southward a hurricane comes 
ashore with murder in its hollow 
heart, winds little can stand 
against, a surge of tide roiling 

over sea walls. The lords of oil 
know they will survive however 
the soil cracks with drought 
and cattle and mustangs die 

of thirst. No matter how tornadoes 
level towns, strewing the precious 
of lives across rubble. Hurricanes 
move in posses across the weather 

map. We who garden feel climate 
change in our dirty hands, see 
strange new bugs and stampeding 
weeds, piles of eggplants and no 

peas, fewer butterflies, more horse 
flies. We face the ocean that is way 
too warm this time of year and wait 
and worry, but we do not pray 

to the lords of oil who control 
the climate but to whatever god 
we offer our hope like the fruits
Cain brought that were rejected.


The real event

             - for Linda Hogan

At that conference we were required 
all us poets and novelists, to give 
a quasi-academic lecture of pure shit 
served up as blanc mange. I cannot 

remember what wan jargon I mewed 
or what anyone else spewed, dense, 
earnest, boring as mouthfuls of sand 
but you I remember with clarity 

not your lecture, but that because 
you were working with wounded 
raptors, you brought a red tailed 
hawk, huge, female, perched 

on your wrist glaring at us 
with eyes of furious topaz. 
She was molting. As she 
groomed herself a feather 

precise as an obsidian knife 
and delicate as babyhair 
floated into the audience 
and I grabbed it. Great 

wings stretched out; she 
shrieked. You calmed her 
and she settled. That vision 
imprinted my eyes like black sun.


Poems: Copyright © 2012 by Marge Piercy. All rights, including electronic, are reserved by the author. For permission to reprint one must write the author at:Box 1473 Wellfleet MA 02667. E-mail: hagolem@c4.net

Five Eco-Poems by

Marge piercy: How Can I?; The orchestra playing to deaf ears; 

Money moves in;  We know; The real event - for Linda Hogan

Marge Piercy is a very widely published and respected poet and fiction writer whose work displays great respect and understanding for the natural world. Knopf brought outPiercy’s 18th poetry book The Hunger Moon: New & selected poems 1980-2010, in paperback 2011. Knopf has also publishedThe Crooked Inheritance, The Moon Is Always Female, What Are Big Girls Made Of, Colors Passing Through Us, Circles on the Water and others in paperback. Piercy has published 17 novels, most recentlySex Wars; PM Press just republished Dance the Eagle to Sleep and Vida with new introductions and will be bringing out Braided Lives next spring. Her memoir is Sleeping with Cats, Harper Perennial. Her work has been translated into 19 languages and she has given readings, workshops or lectures at well over four hundred venues here and abroad. More information can be found at www.margepiercy.com/ The following poems are copyrighted (C) 2012 by Marge Piercy. All rights, including electronic, are reserved by the author.