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Here be dragons, cetaceans, pink crustaceans, dear humans & a book of remembrance by Aileen Cassinetto

The cavalry’s here,

loud as thunder, wild and wiser,

like a nobility 

of beasts—catch the light 

where x marks the spot 

and if anyone asks,

this poem is a map 

that lapses daily,

sees clearly two seadragons 

spinning snout-to-snout 

and pods of cetaceans

fueled by clouds

of pink crustaceans—

the shape of the Arctic

is less solid now,

fading into swaths 

of milky blue—

and above us, dying stars

consuming their weight 

in gas and dust—we’re a throbbing 

mass of grief and limbs

like whale food, or swollen

coastlines—do me a kindness

and repeat this worship

of humans, their book

of remembrance

a cadence of heartbeats

more than a thousand 

a minute, short-winged 

and foraging for flowers

which bloomed much earlier.

If I could I would

gather this shimmer—

this wonder of stars,

stop the world from burning,

the seas from rising—

be the cavalry

or a reliance of stewards:

remember what it means to love you


Aileen Cassinetto was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow in 2021. In 2023, she co-edited the climate change anthology, Dear Human at the Edge of Time, a companion to the Fifth National Climate Assessment, for poets to contribute to the urgent conversations on environmental justice.


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