Notes for a Lecture on Climate Change
Stephen Siperstein



Striding across campus

to an afternoon lecture,

thinking I can change the world—


no, not the world, but maybe

adjust the lens so students will see

a little more clearly


the inner workings

of capitalism, colonialism,

energy and power—


I pause beneath cedars

hundreds of years old.

I am beginning to worry:


If only I were more prepared, more

patient, more compassionate, more

like someone I once believed


I could grow into.

When I arrive at class

I am afraid—


being stranded with nothing

in front of people expecting solutions

to a wicked problem.


“But it can’t be solved!”

I want to yell.

“Let me tell you how


we have already lost

so many days not seeing

the weather change.”


Yet the faces do not say

Give us answers, or

Tell us the way.


They say, We are scared.

We are sad. Tell us

that you are too.Tell us

a different kind of story.




Stephen Siperstein lives and teaches at the Kohler Environmental Center at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut. Siperstein also co-leads the Environmental Literature Institute, a summer program for environmental educators, and is the editor of the recent volume Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities. His poetry has appeared most recently in The Hopper, saltfront, and Poecology.