Clayton McCann ≈ Dear Children




Dear Children: your parents killed the Earth


1. yes.

the ones you live with.


the one you live upon.

and when these parents

decided to give you life

they were expressing a belief

in the future,

the future of the World

—you are that belief, made flesh.

yet in every thing they do

your parents

push us one meter more

over the cliff,

the end of all that is human.

in the toxic sludge

with which they clean the house,

in the gas and oil

they pour in the family car,

in the garbage bargain food

they feed you and themselves,

in the rich white man

they voted for in Ottawa…

your parents killed the Earth,

so why bother about it now?

they strangled the birds, the fish,

cut down every tree, made deserts where once were forests

—but the deeds are done

so why talk about it now?

let me tell you a secret

—you know what secrets are,

your parents have many

and secrets are like monsters,

much too wild and dangerous

to keep around the house.

so if i tell some secrets,

i’m setting those monsters free

—they’ll return to the Cave of Dreams,

back to monster heaven,

and be with their friends again.

i will tell it:

we can still save the planet Earth

but we must begin today,

this very moment must we begin.

and it won’t be recycling

or cleaning up the schoolyard

—you kids are smart

and have seen through those jokes already—

it won’t be your parents

making you take out the trash,


your parents have flat-out refused

to help in saving planet Earth.

you could ask them

if what i say is true,

but they will reply

they didn’t know they were killing the World.

they will say something like,

“we have to work to feed you,

we have to work, it’s the law;

we just work on heater coils,

a faster way to melt the cheese,

to move the trains, to make the water boil.

we simply sold the real estate, the research,

to pay our many bills,

production was our temple

—we’ve had no time

to kill this Mother Earth!”

and they will probably get angry

at this point

and send you off to bed.

let’s tell another secret

—we’ll set this one free together—


your parents knew

they were killing Mother Earth

they knew

and did it anyway

living in denial

and LYING to you

(and what do you think of that?

didn’t they warn you to never lie?)


really they didn’t know

that they were involved

in the killing of planet Earth

in which case



(and what do you think of that?

did they not always urge you to study and grow your brain?).


your parents

(the ones who are killing Mother Earth)

will say something


“things aren’t as simple as all that,”


“children just don’t understand.”


—another secret, here—

this is exactly what


say when they start to tell you




the ones

to blame.


2. Dear Children,

your parents are keeping slaves,

and they starve them

and chain them hard as iron

and they hide them

in factories


and ghettos, special camps, and hovels

all around this planet Mother Earth.

Your parents are keeping slaves

to make machines

to grow the food

to knit the clothes

to build the roads

to sing slave songs

(your parents like these best of all)

to stay behind bars

in torture cells and Death,

to stand ignorant and ill,

to be shipped

at your parents’ leisure

half way ‘round this Earth of ours

to drive the cabs

to pick the fruit

to fill the shoes of other, dead slaves

and should these poorest poor

the slaves your parents keep

should they displease or fail or fall

off to prisons go

or back to war zones sent

so your parents can get fresh new slaves

and go on killing Mother Earth.


3. Dear children,


is a story

written by your parents

(mostly your Dad—HIS-story, don’t you see?)

and your parents’ parents

and their folks, too

about the past

of long ago

and not-so-long-ago,

a story from which

they erased a lot of stuff

like voices they didn’t like the sounds of

like violence they were ashamed of

like women who said “no,”

like how your parents and their friends

sailed and flew and marched

to nearly every poorest place

and murdered the leaders there

(you see how happy

your parents are with blood?).

and in this story

written by your parents

(who still are killing Mother Earth)

they added lots of stuff

(stuff that isn’t true—

you see how comfortable your parents are with lies?)

they added lots of stuff








(yes, children just like you).

or maybe your Earth-murdering parents

will tell you

they didn’t know

they did not hear nor see

the poor being shot and robbed

the poor being given disease

and dying on the dirt floors of their huts

“we didn’t shoot them,

we never pulled the trigger!”

but the secrets keep escaping,

and here is another loosening her bonds:

if your parents don’t know

that they sailed half way ‘round our Earth

and strangled some old woman

who dared keep back some grain

and hanged some young black man

who dared suggest that his people and land were slaves

—well, but how do they find their way home

from work each night?

from the market?

how can such silly people raise up children?

i’m not so sure

about these parents of yours.


4. Dear children maybe you’ll be grounded

or given extra chores

but if you get a moment

maybe over supper

ask your parents just what does “Democracy” mean.

i can’t imagine what they’ll say

but keep asking

even after they finally whisper

“we don’t know”

or when they tell you

to be quiet and eat your food


there’s a rich white man

who lives in Ottawa

and he sent some poor Canadian soldiers

to parts of Canada

and other places, too,

who killed the poorest slaves of all.

and remember:

this is one of the biggest lies ever told

we call it “Democracy”

and it is similar

to a big pile of broken telephones

and it is like

a large crowd of people

who have nothing to think and nothing to say

except what Television tells them

and it is like

a rich man who points a gun at your head

and it reminds me of the time of kings

and it sounds like a poop landing in the toilet

and it means “Same thing again” in Greek

or “Worse than before” I can’t remember

but the rich white guy in Ottawa

he knows what it means

something about

him being allowed to do whatever he wants

(and he’s an Earth-killer, too).

if you listen, children,

you’ll hear those broken phones

they’ve piled up almost to the sky

and no one uses them

not your parents

they won’t call the rich white man in Ottawa

they could easily call

or write

but they won’t

they say they are too busy

—go ahead and ask them—

and what would they say,

if they used the phones,

but “please do not kill the poor leaders of the poor”?

and what would the rich white man in Ottawa say, but

“things aren’t as simple as all that,”


“you are like children who just don’t understand”?

i think you are starting to understand

what “Democracy” means.

and if your parents are too busy

—you tell me…

do they have time to play with you anymore?—

then they are just as much to blame

as the poor Canadian soldiers

who poisoned the well

in the village

in the desert

in the mountains

in the poorest lands of all.

and if your parents are guilty

and if your parents are LIARS

and your parents are KILLERS




are these the kind of folks you want

to teach you

how to be a grown-up?

how to live with others?

how to be a parent?


5. Dear children it’s time to leave

go and pack your bags

bring your wildest imaginings

of what the World can be

bring your hearts so pure

and wipe the sleep from your eyes

so you may see the truth of Earth

stow away your childhood things

cast off the ropes and chain

we’ll set out at once

we’ll leave after dark

and we’re going past the moon

beneath the deepest ocean floor

we’ll hang new starfish

upon the old comet’s tail

we’ll paint a poem along the eyelid of the universe

and it will shine each night

and it will set the planet

in an organic garden

somewhere near Ursa Major

and it will be a poem full of wisdom

and it will go like this,

“Dear parents: … ”



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