Monday, March 7, 2011

The Centre Cannot Hold

[image from]

[This is a prompt from Real Toads. We are to take a title from one of the phrases in the poetic excerpt from Yeats's The Second Coming, and write about how things seem to be falling apart in the present day, or express our disillusionment with the 21st century. I chose The Centre Cannot Hold, from the following:
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
Definitely a theme I can relate to.]

When mountainsides
are being cleared
faster and faster,
in a rush to get
the last
of the trees
before they
all are gone;
when thousand-year-old
bite the dust,
to be trucked away
and turned into
toilet paper;
when each summer
gets hotter and hotter
because there is no canopy;
when the lungs of our planet
are being surgically removed
with no transplant
available -

The centre cannot hold.

the System
does not know
how to change.
It continues on
like a moronic robot,
taking, taking,
filling its maw
with our future.

The ocean
is warming up;
plankton, food
for hungry mammals,
is disappearing.
The fish are
full of toxins
man has spilled
into the ocean,
and nuclear waste.
Are we completely mad?

We are eating the toxins
we have dumped there
with the fish we catch.
And driftnets catch
too many.

The centre,
the centre cannot hold.

Due to our
insatiable demand
for oil, our car
and all of
the pollution
from industry,
the planet
is hotting up.
Up north,
the frozen tundra
is melting.
The glaciers 
are disappearing 
on earth's
tallest peaks.

I once heard
a scientist say
the melting of
the polar ice caps
could flood
all coastal cities,
tilting the earth
on its axis.
He said the ocean
could one day roar
through the Fraser Canyon
and wind up in the Okanagan.

The centre cannot hold.

The bandits on Wall Street
with their billion dollar salaries
can defraud the American people,
claim financial trouble
and be handed bailouts.
No one bails out
the unemployed,
those losing their houses,
or the working poor
who cant afford
to get sick
or fix their teeth.

In Russia,
decades ago,
they predicted
that our consumption frenzy,
our capitalistic system
would topple,
would implode
into itself.

Because the centre,
the centre cannot hold.

One day,
it may get so hot
we'll fry like bacon.
Water will be
as scarce as oil,
and more expensive.
Floods will decimate
the coastal populations.

Earth will flick us off
like pesky mosquitoes
and, when we're gone,
over millenia
will heal itself.

And then,
at last
the centre
will hold.


  1. This is magnificent, Sherry. The repetition of the key line is particularly effective.

  2. Wowzers!! Sherry, this is a cut-throat rant at the blatant mismanagement of our Earth's resources. Magnificent work.

  3. Sherry, your refrain, "The centre cannot hold," was extremely effective. Translating Yeats' classic line to apply to geopolitical concerns was a stroke of genius. Your really rose to the challenge. And I agree with your entire assessment of the world: The Koch brothers "bought" a governor for Wisconsin to bust the unions and privatize fuel businesses for... why, yes! The Koch brothers. If we in Madison, who are striving hard to maintain unions' collective bargaining rights, are not supported by the rest of the country, we will all look back at the failure of this great experiment called America and say, "Gee, we should have kept those greedy bastards in check." Good work, and strong. Amy (Sharp Little Pencil)

  4. Today this is my favorite write so far! How wonderful, at least you can say it. Send it to everyone. Obama, and all the others, congressmen and senators. What a voice! You don't stutter, you are so clear! Thank you Sherry!

  5. Scary vision. Things gotta change!

  6. a painful poem...truth hurts.

  7. Sherry, I love the refrain in this, so,
    aptly put. Things are in a terrible state


  8. Brilliantly written Sherry, I wish this could be read by a wider audience.

    The repeat of 'the centre cannot hold' was so effective. The truth of this one can't be denied and brings to light the catastrophic Elephant in the room that so many are pretending not to see because it is too painful, too horrifying to contemplate.

    Some that have empathy and feel for the Earth and nature have to find coping mechanisms. I am afraid that my coping mechanism is in my response to the same real toads challenge that I wrote this morning.

    Strong, powerful and heartfelt writing Sherry, thanks for speaking up. x

  9. The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.


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Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!