State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Credit: Cameron Strandberg


afire they emerge

flares of apricot and apple and corn yellow

taste earth from where they erupt

flames drip through their fingertips

shooting stars of heat bleed against slate sky


earth sings in all her glory

finally birthed anew


from ground up they transcend into sky

arms splay out wide to

accept all that is to come


wind begins to dance and

brown leaves take flight

spin and tumble over one another


twirl to meet shooting stars and

return to their chartreuse state


flames no longer eat dirt but

shroud them

emanate them

encompass them

emit them

omit them


never has earth burned

an emerald gem dazzling as day she stands

still untouched untarnished

without mar or scar

but replenished and



unbeknownst to most

fire is actually cleansing

did you know that a forest must burn to be free?


so that it did

stars burst from trees

birds flock a-troposphere

midnight wings beat against mineral gloom

fog smoked clouds cling in air



one mind one spirit

they burned and burned

they blazed and blazed

they glared and gleamed

a conflagration of suns


did you know the sun is the brightest star?

but on this day it does not shine


Originally from Jamaica, Brianna Brown is a student at Barnard College, where they’re majoring in Environment and Sustainability. Read more of their poems here.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments