Ode to the Commons


What portion of the world’s estate
is everybody’s home?
What duty to the planet’s fate
must everybody own?

What promise to the global good
must everybody pledge,
if we’re to staunch the rising flood
and brace the glaciers edge?

What sovereign rite of passage grants
the world to everyone?
Who owns the ground whereon we stand
when there’s nowhere to run?

What is the value of the sea?
The songs that robins sing?
What credit rate is guaranteed
to every flowering thing?

What law defends the salmon’s run;
gives agency to bees?
What right to root beneath the sun
is guaranteed to trees?

Aren’t elephants and polar bears
endowed with rights to roam?
Or birds, whose country is the air,
entitled to a home?

Aren’t whales the ocean’s citizens
with rights no man can breach?
Aren’t all the coastlines home to them
despite who owns the beach?

We need an earthly bill of rights
for every living thing
that swims the sea, or roams the land,
or wanders on the breeze.