Matches by Martin J. Elster

Matches

It only takes a couple of small matches
to torch a total forest to the ground.
A flick of the wrist, and kindling quickly catches
and palms and rubbers hiss and soon the sound
grows louder as they crackle, snap, and sputter
as lizards skitter, hummers rise and flutter,

and sloths, absurdly slow, stay put and fry.
One match. A million matches. Same effect
for anaconda, frog, or butterfly.
The lungs of Earth are now ablaze, unchecked
as our encroachment on the last pristine
preserve—when nothing will again be green.

But then there is the match of CO2
heating the homeland of the kangaroo,
koala, wallaby, and flying fox
imprisoned in a broiling greenhouse box
where plucky firefighters fight and fight,
where even the sun can’t match this matchless light.

by Martin J. Elster

Editor’s Note: Iambic pentameter is always pleasing to the ear, but this poem’s content is unfortunately more grim than pleasant. A lament, however, is still a poem, and this one is beautifully constructed.