Journalism In Verse


My Early Death by Fossil Fuel

in Environment by

“My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”
                                                                                -David S. Buckel

We are drawn to the self-immolation, flames
of martyrdom—righteous or tragic or both—
semantics of one’s own chemical dependence.

There is a dark patch of grass where he last sat,
injustice weighing on his empathetic soul,
on the heart that pulsed its own fuel through

a contained system—all vein & artery, skin
& flesh, life source staying where it belonged.
I’ve read this before: Earth as a bleeding body.

We love to write ourselves bigger than our
being. But this was no bloody end, nor will
ours be. He left the metaphor behind, sealed

in a manila envelope out of the flame’s reach.
The conceit is his life’s work: we are all equal,
which is to say, we will burn the same. Call it

an industry, call it energy. Or call it what it is:
the cause of death. I fear the future, as he must
have—each toxic breath, each muddied petrol

pond where a lake once shined, for centuries.
We love to fill our pockets fuller than our own
foresight. Funny how profit, how convenience

blurs one’s vision so easily. How we refuse
to see ourselves in the flame, Prospect Park’s
once-green blades dark & heavy with our ash.



Activist lawyer sets himself on fire in environmental protest [Above the Law]
Remembering David Buckel, the pioneering lawyer who championed LGBT rights [The New Yorker]

Matty Layne Glasgow is the author of the collection ‘deciduous qween,’ selected by Richard Blanco as the winner of the 2017 Benjamin Saltman Award and forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2019. Matty’s work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Missouri Review, Crazyhorse, BOAAT, Muzzle Magazine, The Collagist, Rattle, and elsewhere. He currently reads poetry for The Adroit Journal.
Photo of David Buckel.

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