by Sam Killmeyer

April is a month to celebrate the re-greening of the world, and there’s no better way to honor something special than with poetry! Plus, it just so happens to be both National Poetry Month and Earth Month, which gives you yet another reason to turn to eco-poetry. Here are excerpts of a few poems that are bringing me joy, including pieces by Colorado-based poets. 

Read them to the robins, to the newly budding trees, to yourself over breakfast. Read them when you need help finding hope in the face of climate catastrophe or want a fresh way to connect with the earth. Happy national poetry month, happy earth day, and happy reading!

Abigail Chabitnoy – If You’re Going to Look Like a Wolf They Have to Love You More Than They Fear You

“A man thought wolves should be used

to cull the herd.


And we who had been catching water

dripping through stone

in the homes we dug

out of the earth

we licked our long teeth clean

and set to work.”

Read and listen to the full poem here

Chabitnoy is a Colorado-based poet, living and writing in Denver. Her book How To Dress A Fish (2019), won the Colorado Book Award for Poetry. 

Camille T. Dungy – this beginning may have always meant this end

“coming from a place where we meandered mornings and met quail, scrub jay, mockingbird, i knew coyote, like everyone else, i knew cactus, knew tumbleweed, lichen on the rocks and pill bugs beneath, rattlers sometimes, the soft smell of sage and the ferment of cactus pear.” 

Read the full poem here

Listen to Dungy’s Earth Day 2020 reading here, including a CO poem “Dream Lake: Headwaters of The Colorado River

Dungy is a Colorado-based poet, living and writing in Fort Collins where she teaches at CSU. 

David Rothman – Always Somewhere

“Somewhere in the dark is always mountains,

Years in mountains, mountains silent, standing

Inscrutable, big, rocky, piercing, sheer,

And hills, wrinkled and rippling, calling clear”

Read the full poem here

Rothman is a Colorado-based poet who lives in Crested Butte and serves as the Western Slope poet laureate. 

David Mucklow – inheriting ghosts

a shallow ocean the father of sandstone subduction the father of

        orogeny the father of these mountains of schist and granite and gneiss

                                           fathers like these talk about weather and land but

                                                                                                      not themselves

Read the full poem here

A Colorado-based poet, Mucklow was born and raised outside of Steamboat Springs. He writes about mountains, rivers, ranching, trout, and the west.

Ross Gay – To The Fig Tree On 9th and Christian

“…a man on his way

to work hops twice

to reach at last his fig which he smiles at and calls

baby, c’mere baby,

he says and blows a kiss

to the tree…”

Read the full poem here

Listen to Gay read To The Fig Tree On 9th and Christian

Want more? Watch/listen to a collaboration with Bon Iver for the poem Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude 

Ross Gay lives in Bloomington Indiana where he serves on the board of the Bloomington Community Orchard. 

Aimee Nezhukumatathil – I Could Be a Whale Shark

“Yes–I could be

a whale shark, newly spotted

with moles from the pregnancy—

my wide mouth always open

to eat and eat with a look that says

Surprise! Did I eat that much?

Read The Full Poem Here

Nezhukumatathil also has a new book of illustrated essays about the way the natural world can teach and inspire us: World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

Joy Harjo – Eagle Poem

“To pray you open your whole self

To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon

To one whole voice that is you.

And know there is more

That you can’t see, can’t hear;”

Read The Full Poem Here

Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Nation and the U.S. Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold that role.

W.S. Merwin – Place

“On the last day of the world

I would want to plant a tree


what for

not for the fruit


the tree that bears the fruit

is not the one that was planted


I want the tree that stands

in the earth for the first time”

Read The Full Poem Here

Merwin lived from the late 1970s until his death in 2019 on an old pineapple plantation in Hawaii, which he worked to restore to its original rainforest state.

Sherwin Bitsui – From Dissolve

“They inherit a packet of earth

hear its coins clank in a tin box


push them aside

reap thick strands of night from thinning black hair.”

Read the full poem here

Bitsui was raised in White Cone, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. He creates poems and visual arts about the transformations of the landscape of the Southwest. 

Brenda Hillman – The Bride Tree Can’t Be Read

“The bride tree puts down its roots

below the phyla. It is there

when we die & when we are born,

middle & upper branches reaching

the planet heart by the billions

during a revolution we don’t see.”

Read the full poem here

Hillman lives in Tucson, AZ, and writes about geology, the environment, politics, family, and spirituality.