· This poem cannot reduce the CO₂ in the atmosphere to a survivable level. It cannot feed a hungry child or provide safe harbor to even one refugee family.

· This poem cannot heal the sick or relieve an exhausted nurse.

· This poem will not get out the vote, won’t volunteer at the food bank, won’t start an art program for urban youth, won’t monitor the water quality in Sausal Creek.

· This poem has never heard of climate change. It doesn’t know the word “justice.”

· This poem won’t even weed the garden or take out the trash.

· This poem isn’t good for anything! It’s just sitting here sipping coffee, listening to the mockingbird running through its repertoire.

· This poem can’t concentrate. It doesn’t know what it’s trying to accomplish.

· This poem is completely irresponsible. It’s pretty sure someone else will put lunch on the table. If no one does, it knows where the peanut butter is.

· This poem isn’t concerned about the leaky bathroom faucet. It has never even crossed its mind.

· This poem is not thinking about its to-do list. It doesn’t have a to-do list.

· This poem is like a mayfly, its life so short that it doesn’t have a mouth.

· This poem has developed self-awareness and wonders how much time it has left. Has it made the most of its life? Has it done what it could? Has it squandered its brief time?

· This poem was better before it started worrying. When it was just a new little poem, blinking at the surprising world, tasting everything. Before it knew it had any responsibilities.

· It’s just a poem! It doesn’t have any responsibilities!

· Poor poem.

Gwen is a quantitative researcher using insights from data to improve social service delivery at Code for America.

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