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Stop It

A PSA - harsh but true.

By L.C. SchäferPublished 2 months ago 1 min read
Dead barn owl & paper lantern. Image: from Scottish Wildlife Trust (linked at the end)

Stop it.

Stop releasing paper lanterns

The flesh of your loved ones will never be warmed by the tiny flame

The mass of twinkling dots never reflected in their eyes

(What's wrong with stars, anyway?)

Their souls untouched by whatever message you sent up with it

As insubstantial as a breath, and gone twice as quickly

It is your soul the flickering candles warm

No one else's

Where do you think they go?


They stay right here

A nuisance, once your whispered love fades

As well to write "I LOVE YOU" on a plastic six pack beer can holder

And drop it in the ocean

The dead and dying sea life

A beautiful tribute

To the one you miss


Stop it

Stop releasing balloons

The bones of your loved ones will never see them

The latex doesn't go anywhere

It stays right here

Falls right back to earth

A waste

Garish rubber, besmirching this world

And never brushing the next


Just stop it.




Thank you for reading, and for not releasing balloons and paper lanterns! Please leave a comment so I can easily reciprocate.

Scottish Wildlife Trust - paper lanterns

social commentarynature poetry

About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Flexing the writing muscle.

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for "nudes".

I'm also on Twitter if you'd like to connect elsewhere.

I value feedback, and reciprocate reads and comments.

Also writing under the name S.E. Holz

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Comments (19)

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  • The Invisible Writer2 months ago

    Wow, I never realized this was happening. No worries though I've never released a paper lantern, a balloon, or dropped a plastic anything on the beach or the ocean. Fantastic prose you are a gifted poet.

  • Donna Fox (HKB)2 months ago

    OMG... I had no idea this was happening! I never really thought of what happened when people let go of the lanterns and now I'm horrified! This was eye opening and deeply saddening! Thank you for this L.C.!!

  • Novel Allen2 months ago

    The wasteful ways of humanity. I fear we will never learn. We find temporary joy in our actions, which do permanent harm to our world. Just write it on their tombstones where it is etched forever. So much truth written here.

  • Teresa Renton2 months ago

    This needs to be made into a poster and stuck on billboards, lamp posts, public loo doors! Great work x

  • The Dani Writer2 months ago

    THIS is the fire that's required! More heat please. And mega-thanks!

  • Lena Folkert2 months ago

    I’ve been wanting to write an article about this for a long while now but it just gets me too riled up. You did it so beautifully and succinctly with this poem. My husband and I don’t really go to movies or on conventional dates but we do have a tour of ducks that we see on our days off. Four parks in four different towns (up to 30 mins away) that are home to multiple flocks of ducks and geese. Normally I’d not feed ducks but they’re already fed so much bread by others… anyway, we show up and call to them and they all come running for the cracked corn, waterfowl scratch, and duck food melange we feed them. They love it and I like to believe they have affection for us as they trust us in ways they never trust the other visitors to their homes. Sometimes they disappear though. One here and one there. Once there was a mass kill off that started slowly at first. Classic signs of mold toxicity if you know what to look for. So often the feeders just dump the day old and expired breads and cookies or they feed them cat or dog food thinking it’s good for them. It’s not. But the worst part is the mold. Birds are so sensitive. And then there’s the bread bags they leave scattered around and littering the water and parks. The confetti from the gender reveals and sweet sixteen parties that are left on the ground and tell a tale of long since released balloons and lanterns and god knows what other horrific harm has been wrecked in the name of celebrations of life. Wow. See. Your poem says it all so much better. Well done. I applaud the message and your beautiful writing. 🫶

  • Leslie Writes2 months ago

    Important message. Poor animals!

  • That owl 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 I hope this reaches more people. Animals are on this planet for us to protect them. Not to kill. Not to eat. Not to torture 🥺

  • Not to mention, pick up your trash & recycle. Leave the place cleaner than you found it.

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    Hear hear 👏👏

  • Donna Renee2 months ago

    yep. Agreed. I get the idea of it but ugh... the consequences are just too great. I don't think my loved one would want an animal to die for a symbolic gesture.

  • Alexander McEvoy2 months ago

    Brilliant LC! Releasing balloons is terrible, but I had no idea paper lanterns were also a hazard! Not that I've ever released one myself, but now I know not to.

  • Sid Aaron Hirji2 months ago

    Even the plastic thing that holds soda cans together getting thrown in ocean. I am not an environmentalist but some things just have no purpose/place

  • Grz Colm2 months ago


  • Mariann Carroll2 months ago

    I think people do that to comfort themselves in sorrow. Just how we used writing to release our grief. Just like the pop up sensory toy does not cure the need for sensory but it’s there to manage the need for sensory. We human do a lot of unnecessary things but we always like any form of entertainment.

  • Brenton F2 months ago

    Such a cost for a moments fleeting joy. Moments like these make me despair for humanity - nice work LC!

  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    Here here. I got a pack of paper lanterns for my birthday about a decade ago. I so badly wanted to let them go, but I didnt. They sat in my shed for six or seven years and then went in the bin - just as wasteful, but safer. My soul deserves warming - my soul needs warming - but there are ways that cost others less I think.

  • Poppy2 months ago

    This is written so well, that's the only way I can explain it - talent!!

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    I love the message! Great environmentalism!

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