By Charlie Johnson
9th grade, Carrboro High School, NC

With lines from “Young Climate Activists Warn Their Elders: Stop Destroying the Planet” by Emily Baumgaertner, Parth MN, and Kate Linthicum, a Pulitzer Center reporting project

by your
blatant oblivion,
and numbed
into frigid trepidation
by the icy fist
of terror.
frozen in place,
i await
the storm.
                     our plants don’t flower like they did before
she’s a mere child,
a callow girl.
too young to care.
but you
wash your withered palms
of responsibility,
and await the buzzards.
so whose problem is it
                     our plants don't flower like they did before
who is to help her
shoulder this burden
if when she calls
it is on
willingly deaf ears?
if when she
tries to find
a resuscitative breath
she looks to
blackened lungs?
                     our plants don't flower like they did before
falsely deemed safe,
the volatile soil
prepares for collapse
beneath my soles.
no matter how much
you deny
that it's a problem
it doesn't change
the fact that

Charlie is a rising sophomore at Carrboro High School in Carrboro, North Carolina. They love any sort of art, especially painting, and also enjoy running track and cross country. Along with creating impactful paintings, they hope to continue writing poetry about important issues, and hope their work can reach a wide audience. They hope that the topic of their poem resonates as much with you as it did with them!

Read more winning entries from the 2022 Fighting Words Poetry Contest.