By Scott T. Starbuck and Guy Denning. Fomite Press: Burlington, VT. 2018.
Carbonfish Blues has 78 poems by Scott T. Starbuck, and 12 art works by Guy Denning of activism, refugees, human vulnerability, and realism known throughout Europe.
This book is about the war planetary life is losing to oil companies, and an appeal to all to help reverse this while we can. The text reports local and global scenes of climate breakdown most affecting the silenced least responsible. Thomas Jefferson’s warning about injustice of slavery resonates in the book’s words and images: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Join Starbuck’s friends with “organic carrot cupcakes / and Dry-Erase pens” fighting big oil and imagining “The night before the stone in his forehead, Goliath had a terrible dream.”
Sandra Alcosser wrote, “Kairos, sudden insight, gifts Scott T. Starbuck’s poems with lightning-quick vision.” and Craig Santos Perez added, “Carbonfish Blues explores today’s urgent environmental issues with soulfulness, humor, irony, and wisdom. Throughout, Scott Starbuck speaks in a profound human voice imploring us to listen closely to the Earth for guidance, to act conscientiously of our connection to all things, and to sing our common heritage of light.”
In a related essay, Starbuck’s “Manifesto from Poet on a Dying Planet” is online at Split Rock Review.
Five poems from the book are included below, and three art pieces are on Starbuck’s climateblog Trees, Fish, and Dreams.
into nameless moonfish
inside their mothers,
Laugh Out Loud Café (first appeared in The Raven Chronicles)
is so quiet it makes history museum
seem like carnival ride.
“What’s up with the name?” I ask.
“Previous owner,” I’m told,
and think of bad storms
that change coastlines,
leaving half full.
Ancient Forest (first appeared in The Analog Sea Review )
People stare at iPhones
but what about listening
to voice of sea,
cedar arms in wind,
like ages before
when men and women knew
quench soul hunger
first thing in morning
before saying anything
people are affected by what you do, think, feel, believe.
You toss your computer, and Chinese people get sick
from lead and mercury.
You think climate change is a hoax, and Marshall Islands sink.
You feel entitled because of your hard work,
and people everywhere starve.
You believe this poem doesn’t matter,
and are reincarnated as a cockroach.
“I will not beg the world leaders to care for our future. I will instead let them know change is coming whether they like it or not.” —15-year-old Greta Thunberg, “descendant[ ] of Svante Arrhenius, the Nobel-prize-winning scientist who in 1896 first calculated the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide emissions,” to “conference of nearly 200 nations” at 2018 UN climate change summit as reported by Damian Carrington in The Guardian article “‘Our leaders are like children,’ school strike founder tells climate summit,” December 4, 2018
Your parents said
if you followed rules
you would be okay.
Grade school, middle school,
high school, college,
made same promise.
Your employer went
one step further
to better than okay.
The truth is,
as you discovered,
Scott T. Starbuck’s Hawk on Wire: Ecopoems was a July 2017 “Editor’s Pick” (along with The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury) at Newpages.com, and was selected from over 1,500 books as a 2018 Montaigne Medal Finalist at Eric Hoffer Awards for “the most thought-provoking books.” His climateblog Trees, Fish, and Dreams has over 43,000 views from about 40 countries. In 2016 and 2017 he participated in, and presented at, the UCSD Climate Curriculum Workshop, gathering ideas for his science-based poems. In 2018 he was a core speaker at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) hosted by University of California, Santa Barbara.