Cristina Umpfenbach-Smyth (Climate Change, Eco-activism, Whisperings of Social Justice)

Cristina Umpfenbach-Smyth was raised and educated in Germany, subsequently living in France for a number of years. She then moved to Manhattan, where she resided in Greenwich Village. She now lives in Ridgefield, WA.

 

Once a staff reporter for a German travel magazine, researcher and reviewer for the German Tourist Bureau, Cristina Umpfenbach-Smyth now writes poetry and short stories. Her second collection of poetry “Shouts, Whispers and other noises” was published in March of 2023.

 

Presage

 

We waited anxiously for summer.

Spring was not enough to satisfy

The longing for sun on our skin.

 

Now sun, too much, too bright, relentless.

Not a whisper of cloud, not a breeze,

No storm gathering with refreshing rain.

 

The river has nothing left but dry stones.

Blight has befallen the crops, they come to waste.

Wells run dry.

 

We stay inside. Heat seeped into walls,

Sucks the last cool from stone floors.

Fields are parched, gardens wilted.

 

Chimneys spew acrid fumes,

Rain forests die in slash/burn,

Ships plow the seas through

Fields of plastic trash,

Tourists watch glaciers calf, disappear,

Drinks in hand, from decks

Of behemoth vessels.

Walking is a sport we do not indulge

As a means of transportation.

Remedies to stop the rape of the earth

Are mere suggestions.

It is not a question of if,

But a matter of when we breach 1.5C

The tipping point to doom.

 

And again and again

The sun sets in molten gold.

Glorious to behold. Oblivious to our doing.


 

 

Cause Celebre

 

“Nana, this is serious” he said,

with a worried old man’s look

on his college kid face.

She smiled inwardly.

Every generation has its Cause Celebre.

She remembered protesting the war.

He talked weather, global warming, climate change.

He said: “when the dominoes start falling,

They will fall fast and hard”.

With his fatalistic bend envisioning doomsday.

 

When the sea claimed the stretch of garden

Between the house and the cliff’s edge,

She grew concerned.

When the well ran low for 2 summers

She worried.

And when the fires turned the hills

Into patches of crumbling dirt,

She believed.

 

The ground shudders under the assault of the sea.

Waves pounding the bluff

Spill over the edge.

Shingles fly,

Windows explode.

The house moans, shifts into

A surreal vision of cubistic rubble,

Slides over the edge.

A life’s dream dissipated

The dominoes have started to fall.


 

 

 

Unopened

 

Like a cheap gadget, tightly wrapped

in a plastic shell, the box is unopened.

It does not hold

much of a threat to begin with.

It’s more like a joke that got tired.

 

She sees the slash burn of virgin forests,

poisoned water, famine, genocide,

the river Styx a maelstrom of the dead.

Miasma unchecked.

A sinkhole turns into Abyss.

 

A new race, homo noxious, has risen,

dances around a bloated golden calf

to artless rhythms.

Pale moon rises above the horror,

the bloody scenes of their making.

 

No, it’s not her doing.

The box never opened.

Pandora falls into exhausted sleep.

She dreams of owls,

their wings a gentle whisper.


 

 

Nursery Rhyme

 

 

Black silhouettes in shadow boxes sway,

think of escape.

Marionettes, strings broken,

lifeless puppets,

think of freedom.

Unarmed tin soldiers

ride headless rocking horses.

The music box skips every other note.

 

The children have left a long time ago.

 

Silhouettes in black limousines,

bloated with power,

pull strings of marionettes

in a dance macabre.

Soldiers die in foreign places.

Headless horses of the apocalypse

trample freedom

to the tune of greed.

 

The children have grown up.

 


 

 

Through A Lens Sharply

 

Colors bright under the midday sun,

Green, red, orange, yellow,

And a touch of blue.

A perfect picture. A perfect angle.

 

Tribal cloth draped around her

Against a bright blue sky,

Billows in the breeze which carries sand

over the parched expanse that is her life.

 

She sings softly, swaying,

Waving away flies

On the face

Of her starving child.

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