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Elegy for My Trees
by Feroza Jussawalla

The weather is turning;
not, as it usually does,
when liquid gold
comes and goes,
dripping from amber branches
that shed their emerald ear drops.

This year there is no crunch
to the gold dried to airy thinness.
It is soggy damp. Slippery and sliding,
causing falls.

The skies have been weeping,
Filling the ever-overflowing rain barrels.

The continuous damp chill,
has wilted my Afghan pines
traumatized by the drought
in and around me, unready for this
bounty of water.

Many years of dry drought
have not prepared, desert sand or bark,
to absorb
what should be a gift of rain.

Instead, damp bark leeches water
releasing pine beetles, for
busy woodpecker heads to
peck, peck, peck,
tap, tap, tap.

It is a wonder their little heads don’t
fall off,
similarly making them fodder
for the lone hawk that sits
on his dying throne
a throne that I must soon have felled
before it tumbles and crumbles.

No, this water has not been a blessing,
as it breaks the banks of rivers
used to dry edges:
“This is how we were meant to be,” they say,
“to be streams in a desert,
For, when we are full and flush,
greedy gold diggers, mistaken mine cleaners,
break veins, that loose
poison into our life blood.”

Petrichor turns to putrifaction,
as drowning roots, lose loose soil
threatening to topple
stately majestics that must be felled
before canyon winds blow them over.

No, we have abused mother earth too long,
and now she lets loose wind and weather,
tides that bring in the amakua, as sharks
that bite children by the seaside.
This niño does not bring a blessing,

Santo Niño, can you save us with your rebirth?

PHOTO: New Mexico storm (Sept. 30, 2017). Photo by John Fowler on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is an elegy for MY eight big Afghan pines that had to be felled, a couple years ago, in 2015, when our desert environment received and excess of rain. In 2015, the gold King mine waste water spilled into our rivers, in the one year that we had an excess of rain and the rivers were full. Thus, the water could not be used.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Feroza Jussawalla, is Professor Emerita, of English, at the University of New Mexico, Albuqueruque. She has taught for forty plus years and published several works of criticism on Postcolonial Literatures. Her collection of poetry, Chiffon Saris, was published by Toronto South Asian Review Press and The Writer’s Workshop, Kolkotta (2002).

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Buddhist Chants to Heal
by Shirani Rajapakse

The rains retreats are ending
this month. Tonight monks
in the neighborhood temple
will assemble in the audience hall
to chant pirith — Buddhist sutras, words
ancient as the hills, but wiser than all
the knowledge that has been.
They will take it in turns
throughout the night
to chant the words of the Buddha,
just like they’ve done
many countless times before and will continue
into the future.              A large water-filled
                          earthenware pot
sits on the table
in front of them
as they chant.

In the morning
                          they will distribute the pirith
                          water to all present. People
will collect them in hands outstretched,
joined together, cupped
to receive the blessing.

There is a belief, older than time,
that water retains memory.
Water that holds
the vibrations of Buddhist chants heal
and we take in this water, let it course
gently down our throats
in the conviction
it will soothe us, bring us inner peace,
even momentarily.

             I’ve grown up
             with this belief
             just as I’ve
sipped on the vibrations of chants
a hundred million times
                          or more.

Its pouring again and I don’t
want to venture outdoors.
I take out my book of sutras and      chant,
first for myself, then for my family
and friends,
for all beings
seen and unseen that inhabit
the earth and the planets —
the entire universe.

I chant for the world
that is in need of healing,
I chant for the trees
                          swaying outside,
                          the birds
                          sheltering under leaves,
             lonely stray dogs howling with winds,
             animals trying to survive
                          in the wild,
people all over.

I have no pot of water,
but that doesn’t matter. The rain
thundering outside will
lift the positive vibrations of the sacred chants
and carry them to wherever
rainwater flows,
to wherever
healing is needed.

PAINTING: Miracles of Each Moment by Kazuaki Tanahashi (2003).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What immediately came to mind as I began to write a poem for this prompt was the connection between water and healing. Many cultures practice water therapy. In Sri Lanka where I come from, water has been used for centuries as a vehicle to transfer the positive effects of Buddhist chants. We do this regularly. However, November, as I write this, is extra significant in the Buddhist calendar, as it marks the end of the rains retreat for the monks who have been temple-bound for the past three months. The last day is marked by all-night chanting. The offering of this poem is my way of transferring positive thoughts to the world and bring it some healing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shirani Rajapakse is a poet and short story writer from Sri Lanka. Her publications include the award-winning Chant of a Million Women and I Exist. Therefore I Am. Rajapakse’s work appears in Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry, Litro, Linnet’s Wings, Berfrois, Flash Fiction International, Voices Israel, About Place, and Mascara. Find more of her work at shiranirajapakse.wordpress.com. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

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Sea Change
by Robin Cantwell

I turn off my phone,
tune out the news,
adjust my eyes
to three dimensions
to memory
to the shapes and sounds of life
a life beyond a touchscreen’s glare
a life that no longer needs data
data that breeds anxiety
anxiety that leads to response
response measured
in artificial urgency
in the mania
of all those feeds
feeds that tell me
get on that plane
refresh that page
toss that straw
into the sea
consume
consume
consume.

If I can make my difference
in habit alone
perhaps I can create a state of mind
that lasts a lifetime
a state of mind that takes me
outside the danger zone
the danger zone that whispers
who cares about icebergs
when they’re so far out of sight
so what if you take an uber
when you’re only a bike ride away.

Before I turn my phone back on
before I plug back in
let me take this feeling
unspool it
like an ancient tapestry
and in that tapestry find
a tectonic shift
a new chapter

a sea change.

PHOTO: Arrangement in Blue and Silver: The Great Sea by James McNeill Whistler (1885).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem during a power cut. Picking up a pen and writing in a notebook, away from the keyboard and screen, was a moment of revelation. It made me think: if we can remove ourselves, if only momentarily, from the updates and feeds that create such urgency within us, then perhaps our anxiety to consume will gradually go with it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin Cantwell is a London-based graduate of the National Theatre and Theatre503 playwriting programmes. A lover of monologues, his writing for the stage has been showcased at the likes of Southwark Playhouse, Green Curtain Theatre and Anthroplay Theatre. Themes range from James Joyce’s writer’s block to the fear of your friends getting blue ticks on Instagram. His comic poetry has appeared in several UK and US anthologies, while he’s also a regular short fiction contributor to Pure Slush in Australia. He’s currently on the Faber & Faber Writing Academy, where he is writing his first novel.

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Ode to Hōkūleʻa 
by James Schwartz

She glides across the globe,
Over oceans, under stars:
The Hōkūleʻa: Star of Gladness,
Reminding us
Of nearly lost knowledge:
How to navigate as the ancestors,
With the wind and the waves,
I meet her in Hilo,
Joining the tourists,
To board her,
Marveling,
At her majesty,
& grinning at the cupboard,
Containing the coffee pot.

ILLUSTRATION: Hōkūleʻa (hokulea.com)

NOTE: Hōkūleʻ a  is a Polynesian double-hulled canoe. Launched on March 8, 1975 by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, she is best known for her 1976 Hawaiʻi to Tahiti voyage. The voyage’s primary goal was to explore the Asiatic origins of Polynesian and Hawaiian natives, showing that they traveled via purposeful trips through the Pacific, as opposed to passive drifting on currents or sailing from the Americas. A secondary goal was for the canoe and voyage to “serve as vehicles for the cultural revitalization of Hawaiians and other Polynesians.”

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This text from the Hokulea website provides context for my poem: “Over the next five years, we will plot a course for the future by circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean, covering 41,000 miles, 345 ports, 46 countries and archipelagoes, 100 indigenous territories, starting first in our home islands of Hawaii. Our goal is to inspire, educate and elevate a new generation of 10 million navigators by the end of the voyage in 2026. These young people can lead the many different kinds of bold voyages our Earth needs now, with the mindset, preparation, and courage to face the coming storms, and the resilience to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.”

PHOTO: Hōkūleʻa (January 22, 2009).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Schwartz is a poet, writer, slam performer, and author of The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America and Punatic.

PHOTO: The author stands before the Hōkūleʻa in Hilo, Hawaii.

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After the burning
the forest returns
by Kelley White

—for Dr. Al Shigo, May 8, 1930-October 6, 2006

“Trees as a group are intelligent. Intelligence
means the ability to connect information
in ways that assure survival.”

past seared hemlock, split beach, scarred maple,
I am waiting by the damp places for the thick amazement
of berries, brave through the squalling mosquito clouds,
the tearing tartness of red, raspberry, thick confusion, of black,
berry, hard ticking of grasshopper and bee as the sun climbs
noon through new green aspen saplings, moose
maple, stinkwood, black birch cotyledons, choke
cherry, ash, —pushing two-leaved through low growth—
creepers, princess pine, ground pine, mosses, whip fork
and broom, powder gun, hairy cap, succulent snow-
berry, wintergreen, fierce climbing snapdragon,
thrust through fecund droppings, bear, moose, deer
sign, rabbit scat, new green touch-me-not, honeysuckle,
wild grape, strangling bittersweet, and your own, your fungi,
destroying angel, puff ball, witch’s butter, morel,
staghorn, in scrub brush, sumac, elderberry, in liminal
cattail, pussy willow, prickly wild rose; white light
on the ledges, the granite mountain, past tree line,
hot crow call on sun-burned shoulder, cracked paper
birch, wind-burned pine in the place of eagles,
pail thump of rock blueberries in lichen dry desert
(lush moss-worlds after rain,) checkerberries, trillium, Indian
pipe, ladyslipper, one shaft of sunlight, and dark
owl-pellet damp, cool waterfall thrush; trees may not heal,
but the forest does, seeks fingerling strawberries
in low burning grass, sand tunneling bee hiss, skitter
ant, quick knee prickle through juniper sharp branches—
read the runes, beetle-track beneath bark, dragonflies
in coupled flight, ballooning spiders, sugar maples scarred
by drunk sapsuckers, and ashes, noon hot bird sky, you, rising
ash, smoke, pollen, snake in hawkgrasp, seed, falling—my
startled hand seizing all, red tipped and eager, pushing
into the heart of brambles, transfixed by thorns—
almost worth the fire, the blackened stumps

PAINTING: Fires in the Forest by Laszlo Mednyanszky (1910).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Renowned plant pathologist Alex Shigo lived across the street from me as I was growing up in a small New Hampshire town during the 1960s. I remember many hikes with Dr. Shigo and my best friend, his daughter Judy, and learned much about insect life and fungi and something about the many layers of life in a forest. (To quote his story in Wikipedia, he was “a biologist, plant pathologist with the United States Forest Service whose studies of tree decay resulted in many improvements to standard arboricultural practices.”) Judy now oversees his archives and handles requests for his publications, including Modern Arboriculture—Touch Trees. I was very excited to hear him quoted a few years ago in a workshop I attended in Philadelphia about tending “urban trees.” His work, and my remembrance of his teaching, give me some hope for our multi-species planet, even for one of his special areas of expertise, the lowly yet vital fungi. (Let me mention here a book he guided me to: Lucy Kavaler’s 1965 Mushrooms, Molds, and Miracles, as fascinating now as when I read it in fourth grade.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent collection is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine.

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In the Beginning
by Margaret Dornaus

Start with a prayer.
It might contain just one word.
Or many—

Length doesn’t matter so much
as intention. Rest assured
words can propagate

exponentially . . .
like the seeds you plant
in early spring

when the wind is still
at your back. When hope holds
scarcely long enough

to keep you and the future
together for at least another
season of growing

your own version of a victory
garden, filled with tomatoes
and eggplants and other humble

members of the nightshade
family. Without ever fearing
extinction. Without feeling even

the tiniest threat of devastation. Start
before the work commences—the hoeing,
the weeding, the careful cultivation of

sun and shade, the gentle
layering of compost and leaves,
the tender tamping down,

the turning of the earth in need
of additional nutrients and endless
watering. Start with a prayer,

then begin again.
And again— Don’t stop!
Start with a prayer:

In the beginning . . .

PAINTING: Thankful Harvest by ArtsyBee.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The past two years have brought so many crises to light, not the least of which is climate change. I often wonder how one person can begin to make a difference in this pandemic world of ours. I’m not sure, but I do know that indifference and inaction are beyond contemplation. Better to use whatever tools we have at hand to try to heal ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and the earth. For me, that means raising my voice, passionately, prayerfully, deliberately, as often as I can.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Dornaus holds an MFA in the translation of poetry from the University of Arkansas, and recently received recognition as a semifinalist in Naugatuck River Review’s 13th Annual Narrative Poetry Contest for her poem “First Sleepaway.” Her first book of poetry, Prayer for the Dead: Collected Haibun & Tanka Prosereceived a 2017 Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America. In 2020, she had the privilege of publishing a pandemic-themed anthology—behind the mask: haiku in the time of Covid-19—through her small press, Singing Moon, and received a Best of the Net nomination from MacQueen’s Quiinterly. Other recent work appears in Global Pandemic, MockingHeart Review, Silver Birch Press’ I AM STILL WAITING seriesThe Ekphrastic Review, and The Lindenwood Review. 

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The Lilac Bushes and the Forest-Tent Caterpillars
by Martin Willitts Jr

Lilacs grew on our boundary.
My window opened to a whiffed aroma of lilacs.
Light-purple light would wake me.

There was a thin spider-web nest of caterpillars.
In the weight of their nest squirmed black larvae,
begging for mercy. The larvae moved together single file.
Silken treads were laid down by leaders.
They knew they were going places
and they were destroying things in the way.
Buff-colored moths emerged about 10 days later.
They searched the solitude of streetlights.
The neighbors tried smoking the nest to kill it.

I could hear the caterpillars dying.

Everything is a by-product of disagreement.
Everything that was is gone.
Everything that will be is not possible anymore.

And in the end, nothing survived.
The neighbors passed on.
My father turned purple as a lilac, and died.
There are no more moths hovering on streetlights.
There are no lilacs neighborhoods.
There is nothing left to argue about.
Some army follows a blue line over boundaries.
Some moon is disjointed in the darkness of larvae.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem will appear in my next full-length collection, Not Only Are the Extraordinary Entering the Dream World (Flowstone Books, 2022).

PHOTO: Lilacs, lighting, and lens flare by MattysFlicks (2014).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Willitts Jr, edits the Comstock Review and judges the New York State Fair Poetry Contest. His work has been nominated for 17 Pushcart and 13 Best of the Net awards. His awards include: Winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry ContestRattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2015, Editor’s ChoiceRattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Artist’s Choice, 2016; Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, 2018; and Editor’s Choice, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2020. His 25 chapbooks include the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award winner The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 21 full-length collections, including Blue Light Award winner The Temporary World. His most recent book is Harvest Time (Deerbrook Editions, 2021). Find him on Instagram and Facebook.

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Transformation
by Sheila Hailstone

The drum of the realization of the promise is beating.
We are sweeping the road to the sky.
Your joy is here today. What remains for tomorrow?
                            Rumi, translated by R.A. Nicolson

The Earth’s tectonic plates collided,
thrusting upwards
and crinkled this land like a potato chip.
Born from the ring of fire,
volcanoes vomited lava.
Molten magma overheated,
oozing over the landscape.
Pustulant boils remained.
The drum of the realization
of the promise is beating.

The ground rose up from the sea.
Mountains formed, capped in ice.
Rain forests covered the earth
and drew sweet, clear, water
from the depths.
Birds flew and lost their wings
and foraged on land for *kai.
The children born in the safe cocoon
of sky and earth prised open
Papa and Rangi—breaking the tie,
sweeping the road to the sky.

Now I live upon this land as if it is forever,
while the sea rises, as the glaciers melt.
I denude the trees, scrape the ocean beds,
I exploit the wild lizard rivers.
I feed out palm kernels
I pour chemicals on the land
to help grasses grow,
to make milk to sell,
to buy cars and aeroplanes.
I poison the bees with Neonicotinoids
without sorrow.
This, my Joy is here today, but
what remains for tomorrow?

FOOTNOTES:
*Kai – food in Te Reo Maori.
*Papatūānuku ( Earth Mother) Ranginui ( Sky father).

PHOTO: Milford Sound, New Zealand. Photo by Jasper van der Meij on Unsplash.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: From Aotearoa (New Zealand), Sheila Hailstone sends poetry out into the world. In 2020, her work Waiting for an avalanche when you live by the sea, was awarded first prize in NZ Micro Flash Lockdown competition. She is the author of children’s stories and a memoir, Dancing Around Cancer. Visit her at cancer-cancan.com.

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Sprinklers Underground
by Tina Hacker

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Previously published in The Fib Review (June 20).

Photo by kim giseok on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a Fibonacci poem, a form that gives me a sense of freedom. The pattern of words opens up a world of ideas that both follow the word count and work as a poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Hacker is happy to announce that 33 golems have joined the literary community in her book titled GOLEMS, released by Kelsay Books in June 2021. Hacker’s poems about these magical creatures from Jewish folklore were first published and, because of their popularity, then serialized in the online journal Quantum Fairy Tales. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online journals and anthologies. And a golem added that her other poetry collections are Listening to Night Whistles (Aldrich Press) and Cutting It (The Lives You Touch Publications). GOLEMS is available on Amazon.

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Poppy
by Attracta Fahy

There she was with her ovary nose
all in a blush when I opened the door.
Her pupils splashed on tissue pink
petals, gushing under a star

stigma, lemon and lime carpels
exposed to the sun, precariously
ready to scatter her young.

One ivory, silvery leg rooted in a crack
on the pavement, the smokey scent of seed
in the breeze. Her leaf skirt in a swirl,

arms, two shoots raised into the air,
hands, two heads in a swoon, ready to burst
into bloom.

Like my daughter, how could I not love her?
Oh, the things I told her

PHOTO: Poppy (Galway, Ireland) by Attracta Fahy.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Sometimes it’s overwhelming to witness what’s happening in the world in terms of not just climate change, but humanity itself. It is very hard to experience the helplessness one feels at the enormity of difficulties. The question of how to make necessary changes to heal ourselves, and our planet can feel too big, but I’ve learned that to keep focused on what I can do, regardless of how small it may seem, lifts me out of the fear and sadness. ¶ I live in the countryside and have a half-acre garden, which I have maintained for over 26 years. I never use chemicals, which means there is much more labour, but the reward is that my conscience is clear and I feel good. I have a huge compost heap at the end of my garden, which I call bug hotel, so much is happening there in terms of ecology. The trees and hedgerow I nurtured from when I came here have matured, and there is an abundance of wildflowers, hybrids, herbs, fruit, and always something new. I love to see natural habitat, hares, rabbits, frogs, and a variety of birds visit here. Every year it is the same and different. I live my life according to its rhythm, and know almost to the day when a flower or shrub will appear and when migrating birds will arrive. ¶ For me, much of the issue in terms of our self-destruction seems to be a deep-rooted fear of the feminine, the soul, and the anima mundi. When I saw the submission call on “How to Heal the Earth,” I thought of the morning I went out the back door of my house and saw a beautiful pink poppy looking up at me from the pavement. What I saw was a little fairy girl bringing blessings. Of course I knew her name was Poppy. This is how nature communicates: to our intuition. I felt a very deep love for her. This is how we heal the earth. Love of all things, but start with one. What returns is immense. Then I wrote this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Attracta Fahy is a Psychotherapist living in Galway, Ireland. She is the Winner of the 2021 Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition. Her work has been published in Irish Times, New Irish Writing 2019, and many other publications at home and abroad. A Pushcart and Best of Net nominee, she was shortlisted for the OTE 2018 New Writer, Allingham Poetry competition (2019 and 2020), Write By The Sea Writing Competition (2021), and Dedalus Press Mentoring Programme (2021). In March 2020, Fly on the Wall Poetry published her bestselling debut chapbook collection, Dinner in the Fields. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.