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It's Time

The poem delivered by Erica Lees-Smith at the September General Strike.


Tick tock

I don’t know about you

But I’ve already started counting down to

The year-consuming, stress-inducing four letters

G C S E Nearly sixteen,

Why would I be truanting, why would you be truanting,

Why should we be truanting?

Well you see, my government’s environmental policy

Is causing me to write apologies

To my school

For missing a day of education

Because instead we’ve got to educate the nation.


Tick tock

A year ago

I didn’t really care much for the climate crisis

Because nobody had told me it was one.

In fact that wasn’t even the term that was used

When we studied it in geography back in year 9

Or discussed it with mates a few random times

Never truly scraping the surface.


A year ago

A young girl,

A brilliant beam of light brightening the dismal skies

Of 2018 politics and calling it a

Climate crisis.

Armed with an aura of certainty and science,

Sixteen years of denying the liars

And compassion,

Unknowingly igniting the fires

Of an international movement.


And as she began rallying behind this justified cause

Something

Snapped

Inside me.

The far-off fantasy of global warming,

A cosy, tourist-centred ideology,

Of businesses profiting with oceans simultaneously,

And something

Snapped

Inside me.

We’ve got time, they said,

It’s okay, they say,

a few centuries left to pass yet,

Not our problem but for our great-great-great-great

Grandkids to deal with

But as it’s become a great-great-great and even greater problem

Now we’re facing the consequences

The reality check has checked in early at the hotel room

And we’re not ready:

Heating’s broken,

Bathroom’s flooding,

And we’re not ready

But we can’t just wave this one away.

Why should it take Western recognition

For true international validation

When for years the great-great-great-great problem has been

The reality check for too many

Each and every day?


Life on earth struggling for breath

Fog and smog clouding our vision,

Literal and metaphorical.

The thing is, we’ve lost our way

In life’s meandering paths,

Amidst distractions of the universe,

Success stored in gold treasures held tight to our chests

But now we must

WAKE UP.


We’re pushing your head back down from the clouds

Your blissful ignorance of the burning abyss

WAKE UP

From your dreaming amidst the flames.

No, “12 years left” isn’t simply a stat

To be memorised or recited

Under watchful eye of an exam hall clock

TICK TOCK

But to be shouted in the streets today

As we rise and say

Enough is enough

To a government who

Won’t prioritise what’s justified,

The victims that are the cost and we’ve lost,

Lose, will lose to the war we waged on humanity

In blood and fire and greedy rage

200 years ago.

Yes, we’re fit to burst

A deep, growling passion

A washing machine churning a sickness inside us

So we cry out in anguish

Despite muted adolescent voices

And millions more that won’t be represented

WHAT DO WE WANT? -


You don’t understand what you’re saying.

How can you, an average teen without a vote,

Spout apocalyptic nonsense when you’re always on your phones?

How can you, an average teen without a vote,

Justify missing school when Britain’s doing just fine,

You’re conforming to this lie.


You see this may be beyond our comfortable lives

But surely if our eyes

Are distracted by this distinct lack of action

Then a generation and a nation

Without the same alleged technological addiction

Can do the same too,

So why can’t you?


This ominous fiery monster

A dragon on the horizon

We ‘don’t stop going on about’

Will seek vengeance

On this tiny little island, the so-called Great Britain,

These unnatural dark forces have

Eroded our planet,

Moulding us like clay jays

To sculpt this postmodern age

Of profit over people

So what makes us any different?


In a world where

Pain and

Despair

Are just another sad news story,

Not a life,

Or a family,

But one in a market of

Seven billion buyers.

In a world where those with the cleanest record

Are to pay the most awful price.


But then there’s unity.

This beautiful alliance of

School strikers in solidarity with

Teachers and doctors,

Bankers and politicians,

As we point towards the light at the end of the tunnel,

Further from the pit of

Commonplace carbon recklessness.


So let’s draw on this inherent unity as

Just one unique species in creation

With scarce privilege or preference over another

And certainly not 'greater' than each other

Death and denial will not take us further

But instead let’s look back together to the foundation we’ve built all this chanting upon,

Not material but just as strong

So that day in x years’ time

If you can’t look people in the eye when they say,

Dad, what did you do in the climate emergency?

Then let's just take a moment to recognise

And maybe then you'll realise

How different things would be

If we didn't choose change over catastrophe:

In a bleak dystopia

It’s hard to recall what life ever looked like before

Back when tall green things proudly reached for the skies

And we didn’t have to cover our eyes each time a monstrous machine shrouded our home with a great carbon coat


Today innovation and tech have come so far, yet we seem so far from where we surely should be,

With cracking ice and rising seas

And we can beat about the bush with a few better bins or plead politely with petitions and pretty poetic presentation

But ultimately understand this:

We can't stand this -


What will come

If nothing is done

See, we’ve not lost this war yet but young people

Were never meant to be

defenders of the earth,

we need a whole new kind of weaponry

As we lead the charge, put an end to all this chaos, our world leaders need to take up the mantle to dismantle a system which doesn't get what's at stake,

And at last make us take

Action.

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©2020 by Climate Strike Leicester. Made by children for children.