Ghazal: Greta’s Stare Down

“You are failing us!” How incensed, Greta’s stare down,
our emptiness profound against Greta’s stare down.

Earth and the markets got hot, we all made money.
Not a single cent recompensed Greta’s stare down.

In wanton consumption we beg for extinction.
Our repentant recyclers sensed Greta’s stare down.

Two mean scowlers, the Donald and that girl, except
science not gas pains influenced Greta’s stare down.

God’s human experiment faces the verdict.
Have “its exquisite sins”* silenced Greta’s stare down?

Free market fantasies or New Deal nostalgia,
there she stands, trolled and unconvinced, Greta’s stare down.

My own eyes witnessed the children’s climate strike, but
in their eyes I was dashed against Greta’s stare down.

Eugene A. Melino
Earth Day, April 22, 2020

When climate activist Greta Thunberg stared down President Donald Trump as he passed her at the United Nations back in September 2019, the news media and social media buzzed. He was there for a U.N. meeting on religious freedom. Greta came to attend the U.N. Climate Summit, where she gave her famous speech. “You are failing us!” the 16-year-old bluntly told the adult dignitaries and media gathered in the U.N. General Assembly that day.

* Sampled from Faiz Ahmed Faiz. “Ghazal: He bet both this life and the next,” translated by Agha Shahid Ali. The Rebel’s Silhouette, p.7. University of Massachusetts Press, 1995.

Image: “Climate Strike NYC Sept. 20, 2019 – Sparkly Backpack.” Original photo by Eugene A. Melino.