Green Charades

North Carolina activist, RiverDave, created a poem about wood pellets. We found the poem really inspiring. Below is a video of the author reading the poem as well as the poem transcription followed by a quick interview with RiverDave!


by RiverDave

Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker









Two Pileated woodpeckers
Sat on a lonely limb,
Below dead trees were strewn about
The sight was rather grim.

I can’t believe the human race
One woodpecker bemoaned,
Is so downright improvident
Their sanity disowned.

To uproot all these lofty trees
That line both swamp and creek,
Then ship them off to far off lands
It sounds like doublespeak.

His feathered friend then turned and asked
What now will be the fate,
Of our ancestral nesting trees
Might they incinerate?

The former said, A big machine
Makes pellets from these trees,
To burn for electricity
A life of modern ease.

With outlets stamped on every wall
They’ll charge their mobile phones,
While central heating day and night
Will warm their winter bones.

The feathered friend sat silently
Averse to verbalize,
And pondered how his loss was seen
Through pellet users’ eyes.

With such divergent circumstance
How could it reconcile?
We face demise of habitat
They pad their own lifestyle!

The former bird then dropped a turd
He felt his friend’s distress,
Then bravely spoke the ghastly truth
For all the dispossessed,

Those at the other end of this
Vile trans-Atlantic trade,
Get credits from their governments
Pursuing green charades!

Dogwood Alliance: What inspires you most about forests?

RiverDave: A forest is an intense place of luxuriant, seething, living energy (prana) where I feel the most vital.

DA: What is the greatest threat to forests?

RD: The greatest threat to forests today is the ravaging overpopulation of the human species.

DA: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

RD: In my present incarnation, I chose to be born in Durham, North Carolina for reasons not yet fully understood by me. Although well traveled, I continue to keep my hometown of Durham as the epicenter of my life. It is a modest community surrounded by nice rivers and forests.

DA: If you could have people know one thing about forest protection, what would it be?

RD: In my tree camp program, I emphasize how our relationship with trees holds the potential for a most deep and satisfying personal friendship.

DA: Where were you when you wrote Green Charades?

RD: I write most of my poems and essays as a resident writer at the Weymouth Center for the Arts in Southern Pines, North Carolina. This retreat is adjacent to the oldest stand of Longleaf Pines in the world, from which I derive great inspiration.

DA: What is your favorite childhood memory of the woods?

RD: My favorite memory of the woods is growing up in Durham’s Duke Forest neighborhood. There, I built and maintained a tree house back in the forest. From high atop its planks nestled in the trees, I contemplated the world as a child.

DA: What is your favorite animal and why?

RD: At present, my favorite animal is the white-tailed deer. They come up and greet me every morning from the Eno River forest directly behind my cabin. They are large, beautiful creatures whose families are a delight to have as neighbors.

DA: If you could bring back one extinct animal what would it be and why?

The sadly extinct Carolina Parakeet.
The tragically extinct Carolina Parakeet.

RD: I do miss the Carolina Parakeet this time of year when the fruit of the Tupelo tree hangs ripe and thick. I understand that was the parakeet’s favorite food. I often pause under this tree and visualize what it must have looked like with its colorful, orange-red fall foliage, teeming with noisy green parakeets…

A photo RiverDave took of the early turning tupelo tree leaf with ripening berries.
A photo RiverDave took of the early turning Tupelo tree leaf with ripening berries.

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