A Modern Alphabet



A is for Albatross

A is for Albatross,

far-winging freely across oceans of wonder,

mating for life till they die,

but their chicks have a diet of grim plastic plunder,

filling their bellies with lies.

Death-stranded now on far distant islands,

wings ne’er to fly,

hearts ne’er to guide those bold ancient mariners,

genes all to die.


From millions of years of glorious biology

their future ends now in the junk of our age,

with the white tampon applicator, plastic red lighter,

broken remains of the six-pack brigade.


Grief is the world of the albatross bird-poets,

passing their wisdom from adult

to wings that will never sing, hearts that will never beat.

Oceans fall silent.


The human heart knows not the depth of our folly,

to empty this world of albatross wings.



B is for Beauty

B is for Beauty, balm for the soul,

breathing its harmony into the whole.

Mountains so glorious, wrapped up in ancientness,

mornings so intimate, mist through the dawn.


Music so delicate, dancing divinity,

silence so exquisite, forests so old.

Nothing could heal the ache that we’d feel

if beauty was gone from us, never to heal.



C is for Cecil

C is for Cecil, the pride of Zimbabwe,

lion of the universe, proud of his own,

shot by a dentist, first wounded then blasted

then skinned for a trophy to hang on a wall.


Pride of creation, pride of Earth’s nation,

pride of all animals, shame of our own.


Thus now for centuries, songbirds and buffalo,

rhinos and beavers, killed for our gain,

food for the pot or fuel for our egos,

wolves, sea otters, tigers, whales.



D is for Diaphany

D is for Diaphany, soul of divinity,

echo of love that rings through creation,

spark of the Universe sings through all consciousness,

general, omnipresent, diaphanous whole.


Why do we love, why seek higher harmony?

How do we know that we’re part of some whole?

Why Jesus, Mohammed, why Buddha, why Krishna,

if not that they offer a way to come home?


Surrender to emptiness, cast off the holding lines,

fall in embrace of miraculous whole.

Give up the struggle, let go the defending line,

love in diaphany lightens the soul.



E is for Energy

E is for Energy, power up and get there,

amazing machines that can rush round the world using

fire from Earth’s fossil fuels, fission and dynamite,

power that can satisfy passion and fury.


E is for energy, all solar energy,

distant past fossils from aeons ago,

locked up in earth for myriad millennia

then suddenly freed and let loose to give birth

to powerful industry, steam pumps and symmetry,

armies so fast they can kill from afar,

then questions, then misery, nature catastrophe,

atmosphere filling with carbon catarrh.

If E’s for Ecology, Earth-love and Empathy,

maybe we’ll change just in time to restore

the balance of carbon, balance of wisdom,

put envy aside and return to the core.


F is for Future

F is for Future, a world without fossil fuels,

new solar symphony changing the gyre,

clean up our garbage, restore Nature’s harmony,

offer our children the hopes they desire.


F is for future without a plutocracy,

no more tax havens corrupting the vine,

Instead clear democracy, justice and equity

bring change and compassion, all down the line.



G is for Gross

G is for Gross Depletion of the Planet,

the GDP all economists seek,

the ripping, the tearing, the cutting and killing

that brings us such wealth, and Nature’s defeat.


Gross is the weight of the rainforests leveled,

gross is the volume of metal ores mined,

gross is the sadness of species gone missing

and people long driven from ancestral lands.



H is for Hope

H is for Hope, the fuel of our future,

the magic ingredient that powers all our dreams,

the purpose, the mission, the guiding commitment

that helps us work miracles, helps us build teams.


They say hope springs eternal, but is that really so?

The teenagers I know feel worry and grey

for the future they’ll live in where hope’s far away.


Dig deep is what’s needed to let hope have sway,

to unearth its power and give joy to the day.

Earth’s problems are many and we are the cause,

but we’re also the answer, to open the doors.



I is for Ice

I is for Ice, melting fast, melting everywhere,

dripping and flooding, rising the sea,

Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, glaciers

feeling the heat of the carbon-soaked sky.


Challenging intellect, fathoming history,

calling on courage to understand why.


Ice in the heart leads to ice in the brain,

failure to see Nature’s warnings in vain.

Failure to comprehend, failure to apprehend

causes that threaten a deep watery grave.



J is for Joy

J is for Joy, singing bright in the innerworld,

permanent pillar of kindness unfurled.

Joy makes all nature sing,

friendship and music bring

blissful communion to life’s inner swirl.



K is for Killing

K is for Killing, the inverse of Kindness,

the sorry debacle when all people think is

to stab or to shoot, to bomb or explode,

machine-gun to pieces, the heart turned to cold.


We’ve done it on battlefields, done it in darkness,

done it in prison cells, done it at dawn.

We’ve done it for love and we’ve done it for hatefulness,

done it for greed, in stupidity’s maw.


We’ve done it to humans, we’ve done it to animals,

once filled with life on the hoof or the wing,

packed into cages then trucked to oblivion

every last one of them longing to live

one more day, one more night,

one more dawn in this paradise,

blessed, alive again, breathing the light.


When will we cease? Open hearts to a better way,

talking and sharing instead of the gun,

living life without cruelty, food without misery,

sharing creation under the sun.



L is for Love

L is for Love, the ocean’s vast longing,

the music, the mystery, two become one.

One become many, then Earth become whole again,

all by love’s silence, burst into song.


L is for love, the heart’s way of saying

you’re part of me, all of me, show me the way

to touch you, to care for you, treasure and share with you

all of life’s colours, all of life’s grey.


L is for love for the deepest great mystery,

spirit of everything, silent within,

love that’s returned to us, each every one of us,

love that embraces us, holds us as one.


Open my heartstrings, show me the way,

show me love’s mysteries: this do I pray.



M is for Mammoth

M is for Mammoth, the last of the giant ones,

roaming the Earth before humans appeared,

life before danger, life before spears,

life for ten million years under the stars.


What do we know, we who so lately came

here onto nature’s stage, hunting our way?

Seen by the mammoths, seen by the short-faced bears,

seen by the bison, roaming the plains.


Time’s our accompanist, here in the present

but time holds such secrets, before and beyond.

Time was the mammoths’ friend long before we arrived,

then no more.



N is for Nature

N is for Nature, miracles everywhere

filling the planet with green creeping vines,

from tiniest microbes to wandering wolverines,

explosion of living, wings, teeth and eyes.


Starting with atoms then built into molecules,

mixed with rich carbon infused with belief

in a future so possible, strange and improbable,

bursting all over from crevice to reef.


Nature’s our origin, seed, life and everything,

total surrounding, total within.

To think we are separate, better or different,

that has to be the original sin.



O is for Ocean

O is for Ocean, deepest far water-sweep,

carrying memories far,

source of all life, evolution’s long ancestry,

all DNA began here.


Ocean deep ocean, even the waters weep

plagued by our plastic and trash,

stripped of your best and left bare for the jellyfish,

slave to the bankers and cash.


What are we doing that we plough you so thoroughly,

chasing anchovy, pollock and squid

with our trawl nets so deep and our long lines so lengthily

trolling your depths for a quid?


Add heat from the atmosphere, acid from carbonsphere,

toxins from oil spills and tar,

sick is the word that burdens your waters,

urgent the need to repair.



P is for Peace

P is for Peace, when we sleep in our beds at night

unworried by rockets or bombs,

when the harvest comes in and we party so merrily,

peace with our hearts and our kin.

P’s for Persistence, that breaks down the violence,

silences missiles and drones,

makes people talk and begin to communicate,

find common ground in our bones.

P’s too for Pandemic, message from Nature,

not to abuse what’s not ours.

Learn how to slow down, unfold and grow down,

Back to community’s core.


Q is for Quandary

Q is for Quandary, challenging choices,

whether to fight—or to sleep?

Join in the effort to make this a better world

or just change the channel, and weep.

Driving’s so easy, steaks are so tasty,

plastic bags are, oh my, so convenient,

but what if it’s true, what they say about climate change,

and racial hate,

what if we have to act now?

What will my friends say, what will they think

if I pick up a placard and march?

If I join in the struggle

make effort to help us grasp


Victory at last over money and lassitude,

corruption and cruel inequality,

victory over the racists and plutocrats,

bring back democracy, fast.



R is for Revolution

R’s for Revolution, for change in the streets,

for change in our hearts and our minds,

for change in our inner-scapes, change in our vision

change in our reasoning why.


R’s for re-evolution, a rolling of the soul,

a turning of attitudes grey,

out of the doldrums of endless dull listlessness

into a joy that will grow

Into a future so bright with the possible,

dreams long suppressed that now live,

ending the racism, repression and ridicule,

welcoming rainbows and love.

Right here over the rainbow, real dreams fly.

If dreams fly over the rainbow, so, then oh so, shall I.

If other people choose to fly

beyond the rainbow so, oh, so shall I!

R is also for Race,

for change in the rage

that turns one good soul

‘gainst another.

for change in the fight

that divides and denies us

the love we could have

for each other.


S is for Spirit

S is for Spirit, the heart of who we are,

the voice that speaks so quietly,

the voice that speaks so far.


S is for Spirit, the heart of one and all,

the song of the whole Universe, the song of divinity’s thrall.



T is for Truth

T is for Truth, is it easy to tell it

when comfort and lies intervene?

When solid reality speaks of a tragedy

waiting its millions to claim?


The truth is we’re cooking the planet in carbon,

we’re loading the oceans with grief,

we’re melting the icecaps and burning the forests,

burdening Earth past belief, but…


The truth it is also that visions impossible

now stand ready to chime,

that people are ready and change is inevitable,

everything changes in time.



U is for Utopia

U is for Utopia, the hopes that persist,

tucked in the back of our minds.

The dreams of what’s possible, ready and practical,

over the rainbows and rhymes.


It’s common to mock it, to chuckle and denigrate,

say that it never can be,

but all the good changes we now see as normal

were once utopian dreams.



V is for Victory

V is for Victory, laughter and ecstasy,

everyone’s efforts rewarded.

Vision of centuries, labour of many hearts,

history changed and recorded.


W is for Wave

W is for the Wave that sweeps across continents,

awakening the vision to thrive,

saying “Now!” saying “Come join us!” to millions of people

who have dreamt of this day all their lives.


X is for eXtraordinary

X is eXtraordinary, the efforts we make

to save precious Earth from the worst,

to use all our brilliance to serve the emergence

of this great evolutionary burst.


Y is for You

Y is for You, the great possibility,

loving and skillful and wise,

saying ‘Yes, I am part of this, I share in the heart of this,’

joining the blessed surprise.


Z is for Zenith

Z is for Zenith, the moment, the far above,

Earth on the edge of transforming

from fossil to solar, from destroy to restoring

to wisdom, to essence, to love.

7 thoughts on “A Modern Alphabet

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