Thoughts at the End of Empire

by Scott T. Starbuck

It’s possible future generations will destroy
our art, literature, music, film,
and corporations, in bitterness
for allowing ecosystem collapse,

and mistrust for how many leaders
were distracted, apathetic, selfish
ignorant, or insane with money and power.

It’s possible future generations will redefine
family, community, work, value, happiness,
life, dirt, success.

It’s possible education will change
from locking children in boxes
to getting them outside in tide pools,
rivers, creeks, deserts, mountains

and their community of remaining
mammals, birds, fish, amphibians,
invertebrates, reptiles, plants, trees.

It’s also possible, based on our collective
behavior, there won’t be future generations.

Starbuck is a co-creative writing coordinator at San Diego Mesa College, was a Friends of William Stafford Scholar at the “Speak Truth to Power” Fellowship of Reconciliation Seabeck Conference, an Artsmith Fellow on Orcas Island, writer-in-residence at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, and 2016 PLAYA climate-change resident in poetry. His ecoblog, Trees, Fish, and Dreams, with audio poems, is at

Scott T. Starbuck is a poet/activist. His books are Industrial Oz: Ecopoems, noted by Bill McKibben as “rousing, needling, haunting,” Hawk on Wire: Ecopoems, available at Fomite Press (preferred) and Amazon.