HISS & HERS, plus More Good News




I should hiss at you,”

She said, “All those poems

talking about other girls

I don’t care if they’re in the past..

Damn your oily hide!

Are you turning me into a poem?

Are you writing this all down?”

She demanded,

appalled, yet somehow proud.

Is it,” She asked, after a pause,

a flattering portrayal?”

Peering intently across at my journal.

O Intensely, my Darling,”

I assured, and kept writing.




by David Suzuki & Holly Dressel(Greystone Books 2010)


Holly Dressel is an author and adjunct professor at the school of the Environment, McGill university, where-ever that is. David Suzuki is far more well known as an environmental campaigner of global importance. Together they try and convince us that all is not lost, that the looming global eco-crisis can be averted, and that though much is lost, much can be saved, and in some cases that which was considered lost can be resurrected.

I must confess at this point that I’m pretty much what you could call an eco-pessimist. Personally I think we’re totally fucked. We have past the tipping point, the point of no return. We are in a burning car hurtling towards a brick wall, there are no brakes and the doors are locked. Nothing to do but try and enjoy life in the short interval, and afterwards the survivors can sort thru the wreckage and see whats left. And when I think about recent political attempts to deal with issues like global-warming, overfishing, overpopulation, I reminded, for some reason, of H.L. Mencken’s famous definition, that Democracy was based on the premise that the people know what they want..and deserve to get it, good and hard.

But I have a child so I try and be more optimistic. I try and walk lightly upon the earth. I buy free-range eggs. I have, on occasion, been known to stand in front of bulldozers, a fearful, fragile David in front of grinding metal Goliaths. I try and persuade myself it makes a difference, but always in the back of my mind are drift nets, miles long, killing everything they touch. That and the suspicion that “Sustainable” has become a code word for “Business as usual” in some mouths.


Anyhoo, I read this book to sustain some hope, and surely there is some to be had. We learn of such struggles as that to create and preserve the Adirondack Forest, and the efforts of forestry companies like Collins Pine, who have learnt to treat their forests as a Living Whole that must be kept healthy in order to harvest its resources in a sustainable way.

Other foresters also are apparently learning lessons of the interdependence of various species. Suzuki tells us, for example, that; “Alder, long considered a “trash” tree to be killed with herbicides, actually inoculates the soil against disease and pests, thats why nature puts it out first.”

Elsewhere in the book we learn of the come-back struggles of various “primitive” traditional techniques of resource management in the third world, after years of disastrous Ist World intervention, from the “Green revolution”s pesticides & fertilizers to the GM crops.

Is it enough I ask myself? For every Collins Pine it seems there are ten other Forestry companies clear cutting, suppressing natural fire cycles and planting monocultures.

Well, enough anyway, that scraps and bits here and there can be preserved until humanity changes its direction. Suzuki & Dressel touch only briefly on what they also admit to be the most important point of all. Population. Until the human race can somehow find the cultural wisdom and political will to control its numbers, all solutions are just sandcastles against the tide.

And if we don’t control our numbers I’ll bet inexorable old Mother Nature has a good plague coming up to thin out the numbers a little. Which reminds me.. 

Reading the Forests chapter of this book put me in mind of that sinister old Myth that Ovid relates in his Metamorphosis (Book 8), about Erysicthon, the greedy forester.

Erysicthon was laying waste to the forest and decided to cut down the Grove of Ceres, where grew the tallest oaks. He wouldn’t listen to arguments, even though the grove was considered sacred to the earth goddess, and cut down the tall oaks, eager to make money.

As a result, Ceres cursed him and sent the Spirit of Hunger upon him, so that we became filled with unending hunger. No matter how much he gorged, he always felt hungry. He couldn’t sleep for hunger. He sold everything he had to buy food, but it still wasn’t enough. He sold his children into slavery to buy more food, and still he couldn’t eat enough to satisfy his hunger.

In the end he died devouring his own limbs, in a fruitless attempt to still the pangs of his all-consuming hunger.

What a wonderful allegory for the Modern Age, in a World devoured by Greed.


The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet

and an Ordained Minister of the Church of the Universe

AND the Church of Spiritual Humanists.

As a well wisher once noted, “300 years ago they burnt people like you at the stake.”



~ by reverendhellfire on February 13, 2011.

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