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Dale Cottingham has published poems and reviews of poetry collections in many journals, including Prairie Schooner, Ashville Poetry Review and Rain Taxi. He is the winner of the 2019 New Millennium Award for Poem of the Year and was a finalist in the 2022 Great Midwest Poetry Contest. His most recent volume of poems will appear in Autumn, 2022. He lives in Edmond, Oklahoma.


Trigger Warning

Much will be forgiven those
on whom not much has dawned.
But let me ask: How could you not see the signs?
What with the oceans rising, icecaps melting,
the evidence is in. I too spent time stinking in the lowlands
having had a hand in creating this mess.
And if we suddenly saw the impact
of all those years, how all our claims of freedom
closed off future affairs, would we
turn around, take a narrow path
hoping the climate would renew?

From back lot and attic, perhaps a new way will be seen,
a way of being where the individual takes second part,
giving room to the collective, where group action finds strength.
It will be like when a war ends and a new era begins,
music will sound different, mean different things.
We will feel buoyed, as if now we’ve found a second life.

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