hottest july

on record. we’ve heard
it before, the hottest ____
on record. just fill in the
revolving blank.

hail mary, full of grace

ravenous wildfires. floods.
look! here’s video, a camper
van floating the pigeon river;
that’s novel, unique.

pray for us sinners

until it’s not. and it’s
not. furniture by the
curbside, blessed by mud,
baptized in contaminated

now and at the hour

american dream,
biggest, best, fastest
factories. some shuttered
but a superfund legacy lives on,
parting gift for locals. that creek
behind the house? don’t play
in it, child, on record-
breaking hot afternoons.

of our death

the word entered flesh, the
word is trichloroethylene, or
tcl, if that makes it easier to
deny tumors bequeathed
to the community.

the lord is with thee


Click here to read Peggy Hammond on the origin of the poem.

Image: “sweltering” by spinster cardigan, licensed under CC 2.0.

Peggy Hammond:
The event that pushed me to write this poem was Tropical Storm Fred’s devastating flooding in western North Carolina; the Pigeon River rose to record flood levels. Homes and lives were lost, and in the aftermath, locals said they’d never seen anything like it. Although some deny climate change, the evidence of worsening storms and rising temperatures can’t be ignored; in part, that’s what this poem tries to capture. But it also spotlights the larger issue of man’s impact on nature, and to do this, I reference a superfund site in Asheville, NC, caused by pollution from a factory that operated from the late 1950s to mid-1980s. In between stanzas, almost like a lament, I used pieces of the rosary prayer Hail Mary, Full of Grace. Overall, this poem is my way of asking, will we ever wake up?

Peggy Hammond
Latest posts by Peggy Hammond (see all)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.