THE LAST DECADE:
The Communists vs. Climate Catastrophe
Protean Magazine is proud to host The Last Decade, an ecosocialist zine created in response to the 2018 IPCC report on climate change. The IPCC estimates that 2030 is the deadline by which action must be taken, or climate catastrophe will befall the Earth in 2040. The 2030s will be defined by either the dawn of a new order that is able to avert calamity, or one of absolute despair and hopelessness as we sail inexorably into oblivion. Thus, the 2020s are the last decade of the world as we know it, in which the future of humanity depends on our courage today. It would be absolutely ridiculous if it wasn’t as real as a heart attack.
Table of Contents
James P. McNamara is poet based in Kansas City. He is an alumni of the Charlotte Street Foundation Studio Residency. His book, Poems From The Turn Around, was released by Spartan Books in 2017. Outhereincarcountry.com
Rebecca Kokitus is a poet residing in the Philadelphia area. She has had poetry and prose published in various literary journals and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018. She is currently a student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she studies English with a concentration in writing. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @rxbxcca_anna, and you can read more of her writing on her website.
In addition to serving as Protean’s Poetry Editor, James is a guy who lives in Van Nuys. He’s not going to take all the credit but he was the one who stayed up reading epub blogs on how to do the CSS files for poetry so it’s consistent across a variety of ereaders and other devices. His work can be found in Bylines Magazine. He is on Twitter.
Dorothy Castell is a poet who resides in Los Angeles. Is in fact an android who enjoys coffee and is into politics.
Alissa is a college senior from Southern California. All of her social media is @probablyalissa. She loves dancing, baby animals, and when her neck finally cracks after being tense all day.
im your boy
20th century boy.
Saint George Probably had to Kill Dragons All Day
Alyssa is an illustrator from Los Angeles, not a writer.
Carla Hays is a Belarussian Jew born and raised in San Francisco. She spends her time gardening, writing poetry, fighting cops, arguing with liberals, trying to reign in her Aries, plotting the destruction of capitalism and the colonial white supremacist state, loving and caring for her wives, husband and two step-children, and above all dreaming and planning and organizing with her comrades to build a new society that rejects consumerism and the commodification of life, and instead uplifts human dignity, mutual aid, and symbiotic relations with the earth and all its life forms.
Before The Riot
Chris Costello can be found online at writetorebel.com and on Twitter @writetorebel.
Gritty. What to make of the stupid beast? His eyes wide and googly from crack, his beard and hair a mop, he is as much animal as man. We know these tropes. If you haven’t said it already, maybe it was something that crossed your mind, but for some reason didn’t articulate. If not, it’s here. This zine has the answer. Ready?
And he’s taken on a life of his own! Oh, how cowards laugh, and pedants sneer, “he is the creative property of an advertising agency,” but the muppet’s moron acolytes have a point. While its true that the owners of the hockey team (hockey?) who commissioned this neutral vessel produce, above all, their own gravediggers, the contradictions have crossed the threshold in which the most flawed product, Communism itself, is sold at the most imperfect price: nothing. No American with health insurance deserves the presumption of innocence, but the WikiQuote Jacobin backstory was not the fruit of a marketing workshop. How could they, when the Meme Gritty seems scarcely understood by his actual authors?
Nothing changed upon the uploading the report by the IPCC to the internet. Wait.
Everything changed. Of course it did. The world was not and still isn’t doomed, which wouldn’t matter until it happened. (And when the end of the world began, perhaps that would matter, but soon it would will have been over and it again wouldn’t matter.) There was and still is a spectrum of futures, and one of them will be chosen. You understand, right? This is the point. It’s real, and it’s happening, right now.
Some are confused. I’ll tell you the facts. They took Gritty, not that it had to be Gritty, and cut whole cloth a legend. Like a shopping mall Santa, he’s everywhere. He takes a shit on the bourgeoisie’s doorstep, then kills their entire family. He wants a Green New Deal and a dang new guillotine. He whispers to his foe, when it is our turn, we shall make no excuse for the midterms.
A friend of mine got arrested last week. This was on Earth. She’s homeless, and we aren’t really friends with the homeless. I’m glad to hear your friendship with the gentleman outside your 7-11 is different, but you must know that because of your extraordinary patience and discretion, your experience with your friend (he’s your friend, right?) is an outlier. On Earth, I barely knew her, and it’s a stupid lie that I can be friends with someone who isn’t allowed to go inside shops. You can’t have sex with them, either. It’s bestiality. None of this is irony, so don’t ask if it’s irony.
The lumpen will have a role, as will everybody. What that will be, I don’t know. There’s so much I don’t know. But I know for certain (and I mean that), it won’t be as a stream of respawning Rambos. That’s stupid. I don’t like that you’re terrified. Stop it. Do as I say.
A year ago, I might have said join a party. Now, it’s less clear. That will change. If you’re lost, do the reading. Marx, Engels, Lenin, and the rest of the poster. It always helps when it comes time to do something. If you’ve read it, and still there’s nothing, call for help. You’ll need a space. Coffeeshops expect a purchase, but there’s less logistics to it than getting a community room or lecture hall rented. Try the church. The one in Koreatown. Eighth street. You’ll be on your way out, and even though I’m about to tell you its prohibitively expensive, you’ll need to be seen walking out of the sanctuary and saying “fare dopely mon dude” to your comrade departing. There will be a sparrow. Turn left. You’ve never noticed this staircase because it wasn’t here before. It’s cut a trench between two buildings, and as you descend the sun out of sight further sets, till all you can see is the strip of purple night above you. You’ll know where the door is. Three to three. There’s a blinking panel, indicating at once a dozen urgent issues, not one alone completely comprehensible, but in concert each complimenting a bell-clear cacophony. 你好，美国哦。You’ve chorded the keyboard to bring the core teak cut card into quit quick view. Your co-pilot aimed geo on Echo before you came in. They ask if you’re doing an *Ba_ltimore Party. Not a chance took is every shot lost. They ould! Vesta slunt, Vesta gondoan the more, &f each do vorak the yee luoore the bei bei unkjnd. Fabulous.
THE LAST DECADE
The new world will not be won by soldiers.
It will not be led by anyone who has written a book on the subject,
and will not have a 5, 10 or 20 year plan.
It will not be led at all.
It will be built, by small hands that do not know what they are building. Hands that build a house because they need somewhere to sleep Hands with bitten nails and alligator skin,
that do not ask for bread,
but take it,
and flip you their middle finger.
Hands that plant avocado trees knowing they will
take 50 years to fruit
who can taste the cream
and feel the pits
sliding smooth in their grandchildren’s mouths.
All futures are written in blood,
but the new world’s will be written by the cracked and calloused feet of survivors,
not the lifeblood of martyrs.
Blood rich in iron, calcium, magnesium and nitrogen,
that we feed to the budding avocado groves we’ve planted.
The new world will be written counter-clockwise around the campfire, always to be continued tomorrow evening.
It will not “rise like a phoenix from the fires of Revolution,”
but flee choking from the wildfires of California
and the smogs of Hong Kong,
rise gasping from the flood waters of Carolina, New Orleans,
We will not build it because we decide to,
but because we have no other option.
The new world will be a conspiracy
Between us and the fungi,
the fish and the dandelions,
the deer and the elm trees.
Its first language will not be human.
The new world will be carried to each new generation
in lullabies and fairy tales,
science fiction and fantasy.
It has already begun.
We awake each morning with our children’s longing
in our ears,
and sleep each night sheltered by the sukkah
of their wild dreams.
The red star
More than just a club
more than just a song
fight, fight, fight
always left always red
the communist star
to illuminate humanity’s
One day Palestine will be free
dome of the rock
the people of the world will stop
from the river to the sea
isn’t what you think it means
they just want peace
this I want to believe
it is my hope
in this I’m not alone
I chose you or you chose me
but who cares who chose who
and where and how we met
the answer’s there
besides it doesn’t matter
as it’s all absurd
You’re here and I’m there
Backwards works just as well
I mean the past is the past
And the dead should rest
But for a castle where eternity dwells
the mosquitos hide among the fireflies
as night hides among the stars.
sins washed away with holy hard water;
there’s coal dust in the soil,
there’s coal dust in the soul.
the cold preens the woods like a carcass
and our roots jut from the dirt
like ribcages and cheekbones.
here, the silver spoon is licked
only by the flame of a butane lighter.
here is venus’ oyster, frozen shut.
lovers’ arteries freeze like pipes.
here the earth has been loved to death.
- “Isn’t Cali in a drought?” the taxi driver asks. “I’m not sure,” you reply. Who is Callie? Is she okay?
- In your junior year of high school, a girl disappeared. They said it was because she took too long of a shower.
- “The water police aren’t real!” the boy in the third row of your geometry class asserted. Two days later, he was gone too.
- There are only two seasons here: Fire and Damp. Your pen pal from New York posts on Instagram that she loves winter. What is winter?
- “It’s a dry heat!” the woman at the Lollicup register says when you enter. “It is,” you reply. You hand her $5. She gives you your receipt.
- You’ve just shaved your right leg when your 9 minute timer goes off. You consider risking it, but you swore you saw the water police in your neighborhood earlier. You resign yourself to dry-shaving your left leg. Better safe than sorry.
- “I love snow!” you tell your friend. “Me too!” she says. You’re talking about your favorite type of drink at Lollicup, of course.
- The season right now is Fire. Everything is on fire. You are on fire. At least it’s a dry heat.
- There are rumors that it may rain next week. Schoolchildren eagerly await the announcement of school cancellations. It’s too dangerous to leave home when it rains.
- You visit your friend in New York. You’re sweaty and your hair is frizzy. Your friend wears hers in a ponytail and complains about the humidity. “What is humidity?” you ask. She laughs. “I always forget you don’t have this in Cali.” “It’s a dry heat,” you reply. Who is Callie? You never find out.
By Square Foot
James P. McNamara
The responsibility of the lawn
is to be one at a glance
and to haunt with inferred data.
The marriage bed of
the of the expanse’s communique.
The source code of extraction; besides, who can be blamed for want?
Deep thick woolie green,
Saturday morning esoterics at play in the cul de sac,
a great works of power: a king’s leisure. The feeble promise of barley and onions conquered by purchased time.
Made needless, but
who can be blamed for want?
The drive to the store tethered to the fracking grounds outside the woods.
The plastic packs in the cooler bound to the hog farms spraying shit into the air.
It’s all handheld, a stone on the waters surface resting on a trash heaps underneath.
Only born here and nothing more, and who can be blamed for want?
A million seeded vanities as one mat, by square foot,
barely worth a glance, built to be occupied and made to be maintained.
The grand machinery of our little wastes.
It wasn’t our decision to make, but who can be blamed for want?
The Last Decade
James P. McNamara
It’s always time time time
The Last Decade pacing in its cage looking for its herd.
It was raised and made here.
Chimeric with its wires and hair,
wheel spokes as big as day light
teeth like hammers, in a cell on a oneway track.
But its always time time time
The last decade is kicking at the gate.
The tension belts are snapping.
The workmen are flung from the platform, ratchets and scalpels eruptfrom toolbelts, as the engine bucks.
Vibrating in time time time
The last decade,
tense muscles taking its armor plates,
aimed straight at the lightness tunnel—that known expected darkness— is shaking loose.
Jumping the track into the limitless green,
And for a time time time
It is beached on its side
until the ivy takes it back
for the pollinators.
One Word Poem for the IPCC Report Zine
Saint George Probably had to Kill Dragons All Day
Nooo, I don’t believe in Ra or the other
birds and crocodillos of the Brendan
Fraser Egyptian Pantheon. It just
it makes sense. We beat the… what
was the one with refrigerators? Death
jargon: hydrocarbons, lymph nodes,
credit default swaps. Raw vengeance
of the Jungle II… the face of the
Mummy in the sand. Can you
believe the Pharaoh’s wife? It rained
frogs over some stupid stuttering baby.
Let’s say, you get out. You
make it. You’re going to Mars
on the Tesla Space Yacht, watching
with the rest of the billionaires
the orange magma flood
the Earth and cool into
a crisp obsidian shell,
and Elon says, “look—
like a candied apple.”
on the Red Planet? How
long ’till you’re outed
as worker, or worse:
how long till the worker
the automated atmosphere
oxygen processor takes your breath
hostage? Earth in the rearview,
Executor Musk, again,
“you know we won
the space race.”
The panicked air is slaughtering itself and the white earth is still as the dead. When we join them it will be an expensive dying. Tombstone costs through the roof. Cars buried in fire on the street. This is the wild hope we hold against the sky. This is the book we open every morning when another martyr wraps herself in a red scarf. If we must rest, let us earn it.