Hard Choices/First You Have to Will It

Devon Balwit

Hard Choices:  Equivalencies (10=10)


Today, Senators in Washington claimed

                                    that burning forests releases no carbon,

their own gassiness offset by nothing.

                                    That the earth is staggering beneath us

should be obvious to any witness.

                                    Only Death’s profiteers could deny it.

Record high temperatures, record rains—

                                    snowdrifts deep enough for history books,

yet we proceed, business as usual. 

                                    What will it take to make us change our ways,

to forego ease that small creatures might live?

                                    Surely we could adapt to our losses,

treat them as larks, a return to our roots.

                                    In World War II, we boasted about lack,

privation a sign we were fighting hard—

                                    recycling, planting victory gardens.

Why have we grown so soft, so unwilling?

                                    Trump boasts about contributing nothing,

his shirking reconfigured as flashy, bold.

                                    More impressive are those who make Stone Soup,

whole communities fed by sharing scraps.

                                    Let me stand with those who pour themselves out,

with those who sneak migrants across borders.

                                    Heroes take bullets for justice.  Could I? 




first you have to will it


without picturing the blast zone & the blasted

you will not go out & buy the parts

the pressure cooker the screws the ball bearings & the detonator

you will not scout streets tally victims

you will not attach the wires add the explosives

you will not nestle the device amidst trash & push the button




first, you have to fill your dreams with death

swell after swell of an angry sea

you have to cast off from the dock

of mothers & children siblings & lovers

& go where no one is anything to anyone

only there adrift could you do what you do


each time you leave us in pieces

I want to believe we will gather ourselves

but, we also have to will it

Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, Oregon. She has a chapbook, Forms Most Marvelous, forthcoming from dancing girl press (summer 2017). Her recent poems have appeared in numerous print/on-line journals, among them: Oyez, Calamus, Red Paint Hill, The Ekphrastic Review, Serving House Journal, The Journal of Applied Poetics, Emerge Literary Journal, Timberline Review, Trailhead Magazine VCFA, The Prick of the Spindle, and Permafrost.