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  • Alyssa Keith and Caroline Tiernan

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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