The World As We Know It

When we were twelve years old, 

we were never told  

that the Earth as we know it might no longer be home. 

On hot summer days 

we would play with the hose, 

watch the water’s endless stream flow  

Unaware that it wouldn’t go 

On forever. 


Beach days after four o’clock the water would come up to our parents chairs 

We move back a hair  

Inching our way to the line of houses  

The ocean’s water douses my legs  

Giggling, I bend to pick up a sand dollar 

My fingers brushing a plastic imposter 

I toss it back like a skipping stone  

My parents clap at how far it was thrown.  


Salt water in hair, feet bare  

Filling the bathtub without a stare  

At the faucet as it runs, 

my sister and I would run into the bathroom, 

Patiently leaning over the edge  

Checking the waters temperature with our thumb 

the water doesn’t run out. 


My twelve year old self only had one thing to fear: 

the dark.  

I couldn’t go to bed without the spark  

of my Tinkerbell night light 

Glowing bright across my bedroom walls 

as I would finally fall asleep, 

keeping it on until morning 

We never had a warning about 

How one day, that light might go out. 


The day after Thanksgiving  

We would find Americans giving their houses the luminous glow 

Of red, green and white lights strung from tree to tree, 

My family would drive through neighborhoods to stop and see  

The multi colored beams that gleam 

it seemed like they would never go out. 

It seemed like things would never change, 

it’s strange how it’s turned out this way. 


How many more days like these do we have? 


We were never told  

that with time, 

The backyard hose would run dry. 

We were never told 

how our oceans would absorb plastic 

so fast and we wouldn’t be able to swim in those waters anymore. 

We were never told 

That our flashlights won’t brighten the night 

How coloring book pages have taken forests of trees 

How our Capri suns are poisoning the seas 

We were never told this is how it would be. 


We emptied all these bottles 

And cut down all these trees 

Just to make money 

But when the oxygen is gone 

We’ll finally realize 

We were focusing on the wrong kind of green 

This whole time. 


It’s like we were blind 

Clouds of smog growing bigger, 

Clouding our eyes 

Now is the time 

To wake up 

And make change 

Before it’s too late 

The environment is suffocating, 

What’s up with all the waiting?! 

The time we have is dissipating. 


Scientists are saying that we have twelve years before we reach the point of no return, 

Until there’s really no going back. 


In twelve years we need to cut carbon emissions in half, 

What’s so hard about that? 

Doesn’t it shock you that 

When a baby born today is twelve years old 

She won’t even know how her final years will be spent, 

She never had the chance to prevent these wrongs 

That have caused 

The world as we knew it 

To eventually be gone 

Unless we act now. 


And now we are sixteen and Trump “passed” the National Climate Assessment (dramatic pause)  

On Thanksgiving weekend.  

A testament  

to how climate change 

doesn’t deserve his investment.  


For a business man  

his investments seem to be in the wrong place.  

Our leader is too busy trying to erase  

The truth about our planet that’s going to waste 


When our daughters are twelve years old 


We want them to have clean water to drink 

A backyard with animals that didn’t go extinct 

An ocean to swim in 

A clean world to live in 

A world that can serve as a home our children 


Our sisters, our brothers  

we ALL need to show some respect for our mother.... 




Alyssa Keith is a junior at Newburyport High School in Newburyport, MA. She is a member of both her school’s Environmental Club and GOMI. Her passion about political, social and environmental issues plaguing society is what fuels her writing. She believes the environment’s intrinsic value cannot be aptly described by mere logical statements, so she engages in the introspective art of poetry to use raw emotion to convey her message.






Caroline Tiernan is a junior at Newburyport High School. She loves writing poems about current issues, such as climate change and the environment. Caroline is involved with the school’s Louder Than a Bomb team, where she competes in poetry slams. She is passionate about protecting the planet, and believes that every little bit helps!

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