Archives for posts with tag: Art

Under the Ironing Machine
by Robbi Nester

All morning, my mother sits
before this rectangular monstrosity,
feeding it sheets damp from the washer.
I squat underneath, skinny knees
hugging my sides. The warm cotton
billows, becomes a tent where I sit
with my books and sketch pad,
singing to myself. The sun finds me,
and I feel all this will last forever,
even after the smooth sheets lie folded
into squares in the basket, and my mother
stands at the counter, kneading raw egg
into hamburger, offering me a bit
on the tip of one finger. Even after
the sun sags beneath the sill and
the moon opens her round silver eye.

This poem appears in the author’s collection Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019).

PAINTING: Woman Ironing by Edgar Degas (1869).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Most people have probably never seen the kind of enormous industrial pressing machine I am describing here. To my knowledge, they weren’t even that common, at the time, in the late 50s/early 60s, but this machine took up a sizable portion of the kitchen in the Philadelphia rowhouse where I grew up. My mother used it to iron large objects, like sheets, as well as shirts and slacks. It made an ideal playhouse.

nester 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and moved to Southern California in 1980 for graduate school. She has been here ever since. The author of four published books of poetry and as many as-yet-unpublished ones, she is an elected member of the Academy of American Poets, editor of three anthologies, and curator of two poetry series. Her poetry and reviews have appeared widely.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo, taken by my friend Jane Rosenberg LaForge, records a summer memory from last year–eating Italian ice in Southern California, a rare finding.

Earth Speaks: An Oratorio
by Joanie HF Zosike

1. Recitativo—Earth

“Our last chance to tackle the climate catastrophe.”
“How to heal the earth.”
“Our fight for the planet.”
Expressions like these curdle my molten lava.
They make me want to smash my surface with a mallet!
Instead of wreaking havoc, I sing:

2. Chorus of Fig Trees and Farmers

She fell in love with her
landlord Sam, a generous man.
They were agrarian lovers
who worked on the land.

Fig tree gave the woman
a root and branch of itself.
She dropped seeds in the ground.
Her patch of earth grew to sky.

It grew fiercer, too.
how its green fig eye spread
greater than a mountain.
Woman held her head high.

Fig twitched its leaves and
Shekere shekere IH! IH!
Ritual dance pounded Earth.

Well! Earth is in no mood
for bucolic solutions.
She doesn’t approve of naïve
resolutions. She needs more.

Earth seeks a new directive.
She’s maintaining her orbit
but must gain cooperation from
those who have injured her.

3. Duet: Earth and Human

EARTH: What makes you think you can save me?
HUMAN: I was born from the dust of your dust.
                I will prove that in me you can trust.
EARTH: What gives you this terrible power?
HUMAN: I’m your owner, your tamer, your plougher.
EARTH: You’ve never owned me and you never will.
HUMAN: What if I take you to dinner, pay the bill?
EARTH: All right, enough with the rhyming!
                We have to get down to the real nitty-gritty.
                You keep talking about a fight for “the planet.”
                Meaning me. Must it always be a fight?
HUMAN: That’s right, I can’t abandon you after I’ve done you such harm.
                And I swear, I did so out of innocence.
                I never meant to hurt you.
                I just didn’t know.
EARTH: So you’re saying you were ignorant?
HUMAN: Just like Eve fell prey to the snake’s manipulation,
                I fell under the spell of my own self-adulation.
EARTH: There you go, rhyming again. The editor specifically said…
HUMAN: Sorry, I have to reread the guidelines.
                What I mean to say is, I owe you a good old-fashioned healing.
EARTH: Get your grimy hands off me, infant.
                You think the only way to accomplish anything is by force.
                I’ve lost patience with your battle cries and wars!
HUMAN: Don’t go all semantic on me, Ma.
EARTH: It’s not just wrong words, you think wrong thoughts.
                Perhaps you should ask ME what I need.
HUMAN: Okay, what do you need?

4. Earth Aria

EARTH: Sprinkle me gently.
                Don’t grizzle my grit so that soil drains down the hillsides
                You are so sloppy, child, throwing your trash this way and that.
                You’ve burned away the ozone so you can’t go out without a                 hat.
                You’ve charred the forests and mountainsides, disgraced every                 place
                you’ve trod across the land in your mania to leave your mark.
                You’ve suckled the blood from my rivers, my streams.
                Cast your plastics, spit my oil into the ocean’s crust
                Put a flag on the moon! Good grief!
                I ask you now to press your face into mine.
                Sing to me ancient songs. Place your ear to the ground,
                hear the whispers from the bedchambers of my bowels.
                I’m built like a brick house, organic and mineral.
                Trees are my bones, don’t break them.
                We’re made of the same stuff—I’m just a little more round.

5. Glorious Hallelujah!

HUMAN: And bigger.
EARTH:  And don’t you forget it!
HUMAN: Are you saying I’m star stuff, too?
EARTH:  More than you know.
HUMAN: Is my human body—
EARTH: The same as my celestial body.
HUMAN: I’ve always dreamt that I could talk with you, Mother Earth.
EARTH: I’ve dreamed about that too, honey.
                Yearned for the chance to make myself clear to you.
                Too bad I had to shout to get your attention.
HUMAN: You are kind of scary these days.
EARTH: I’ve always been scary. But I’m always benign.
HUMAN: Can I learn to think like a celestial body?
EARTH: Perhaps. If you really try.
HUMAN: I must fly away to distance stars to save the human race!
EARTH: What, to terraform and make the same mistakes all over again?
                You’re just not a one-trial learner, are you?
HUMAN: I guess not. But how do I learn to fix—tackle—heal—fight—
                I’m confused.
EARTH: No kidding.
                Follow your instincts, child, that’s all.
                Learn from the seasons and tides.
                They are my children, too. They’ll be looking out for you.
                There’s no need for apprehension.
                Did I forget to mention, we can stage an intervention together.
BOTH:    Glorious, glorious Hallelujah!
CHORUS: Glorious, glorious HEAVE-HO!
EARTH:  I don’t want you to leave so try not to heave
                and I urge you to think when you hoe!
TUTTI: Glorious, glorious Hallelujah!
             Arboreous glorious Hallelujah!
             Victorious synergy, Hallelujah!
             Green is the color of love!

PAINTING: Spring by Harmonia Rosales (2018).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The first thing I thought about when I saw the subject for this Silver Birch series was:

“What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn and
Tied her with fences and dragged her down.”
—The Doors, “When the Music’s Over”

I thought back to my solo theatre work written in the early 90s, All Right, So I AM the Earth! and realized this theme has been with me a long time. Then I remembered that with others of my generation, I screamed as if wounded about an imminent catastrophe since the late 60s. Flash forward to 2022. The catastrophe is here. The repercussions of war and injury done to the ecosystem are intrinsically related. It will take imagination, vision, resistance, and strategies we have yet to imagine to overcome what our careless treatment of life on earth and in the oceans has wrought. We are all responsible to a degree, so the best thing we as individuals can do is: educate ourselves, reduce our carbon footprint, and don’t forget how to dance, sing, and love. And, if all else fails, write an oratorio.

PHOTO: Joanie Fritz Zosike in All Right, So I AM the Earth!, solo theatre work written, composed, and performed by JHFZ, directed by Stephanie JT Russell, photo by Jeanne Liotta.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanie HF Zosike is the 2019 Writer’s Hotel Sara Patton poetry stipend recipient. Her upcoming work includes Jambu Press’s Light on the Walls of Life, an anthology dedicated to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Her chapbooks are Character Poems (Chez Chez) and Bliss, Not Weight, (Ides Anthology of Chapbooks, Silver Birch Press). Her poetry has been featured in a ranged of publications, including Alien Buddha, Home Planet News, Levure Literraire, Maintenant, Syndic, and The New Guard: Boom!  “Compassion,” a short story, appeared in Have a NYC 3 (Three Rooms Press). Joanie received an Albee fellowship for her play Inside produced at American Actors Theatre, a NYSCA regrant for 12 Steps to Murder produced at The New Theater, and Foundation for Jewish Culture grant for And Then the Heavens Closed, produced at The Jewish Museum (all in NYC).

To See the Big Picture, Look for the Smallest Clues
by Alarie Tennille

An electron microscope reveals
our red blood cells as rose petals—
while viruses resemble sci-fi monsters,
and pollens morph into medieval instruments
of torture. Apparently we’re not imagining
the way they spike through the citadel
walls, impale our sinuses.

What of the soul? Does it hide
in another dimension? Pose right
in front of us, a case of not seeing
what we don’t expect? Do scientists
wonder about an occasional shimmer
across the slide?

Would you dare to look at yours?

PAINTING: Accent on rose by Wassily Kandinsky (1926).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At age four and a half, my parents learned that I was severely visually impaired. The world didn’t exactly come into focus with my first glasses, but it was so much brighter and more beautiful than I’d imagined that I’ve been sneaking as close as possible to see every detail ever since. I’ve merged my love of art and what I see with my writing. I’m especially fond of microscopic views and the miniatures in dollhouses. Since writing a poem about the differences between happy and sad tears under microscope a few years ago, I sometimes go rummaging through the internet for more astonishing mini worlds on slides.

Tennille 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alarie Tennille was a pioneer coed at the University of Virginia, where she earned her degree in English, Phi Beta Kappa key, and black belt in Feminism. Now retired, she’s lived over half her life in Kansas City, Missouri, where she serves on the Emeritus Board and Programming Committee of The Writers Place. Alarie’s latest poetry book, Three A.M. at the Museum, premiered in June 2021. She hopes you will visit and subscribe (for free) to her website at There you can find sample poems, her blog, and links to all her poetry books.

by Sheikha A.

for Aine MacAodha

We are nowhere near higher knowing —
the planes of the earth’s aura — mounds
of rise and fall of land and water, we travel
towards an oasis through mazes of carbon;
and we plant for trees to save our migration —
the mountains to stop breaking. Falling birds
and floating fish have traversed the desperate
colours exuding gradient of black and grey —
while our hairs turn white; we age like fruits
plucked off trees raw, further from knowing.

We are close to knowing — our feet edge
inwards to the choked trilling of silence —
our habitat converses and winds carry
their whispers telling us to wake up
from the lore of complacency; the wild
bushes’ receding glimmer. There will be
an end some day, everything up in smoke;
but at this time that hasn’t begun ceasing
and auras keep pulsing, we need to save us
an energy to return to long after we are over.

PAINTING: Nature of Nature by Jeremy Henderson (2004).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I believe all beings on this planet are connected somehow, whether tangibly (in the sense of physical proximity) or telepathically (with people we’ve never met). Just today, I learnt of the demise of someone I knew on social media as a brilliant poet. From a favour this person did to me without even knowing who I was, out of nowhere, the thought of her crossed my mind leading me to check her profile to learn of her passing away. Point being, as we age there is a craving for superior knowledge that takes over us — the wanting to know the beyond. And, in seeking, we realise the answers are right here in the environment, be it people or flora or fauna or plain nature to which we never paid any attention, and if we had, we’d realise how much of what’s inside us doesn’t find healing because what’s outside of us — the air and water and land and food, etc. — is clogging and suffocating. Ultimately, we’ll be facing threats greater than what we aren’t perceiving right now. Our future generations may be forced to morph with the speed of anthropological advances depriving them the beauty of slow momentum — they probably won’t know of the beauty of nature we experienced because the earth will have probably changed by the time they exist, and through them we’d have lost the thread of post-existing too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her work appears in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Recent publications include Strange Horizons, Pedestal Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Silver Birch Press, and Abyss and Apex. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, Greek, Albanian, Italian, Arabic, Polish, and Persian. She is the co-author of a digital poetry chapbook entitled Nyctophiliac Confessions available through Praxis Magazine. Find more of her work at

Raul Golinelli
by Joe Cottonwood

My neighbor Ellen a single mom
operates an organic farm
nonprofit, the nature of farming,
sells veggies roadside, tractors her field,
comes to church perspiring through dirt,
shows up one day on the restaurant wall
where you can buy burgers and pizza
plus Ellen posed discretely nude, nothing rude,
clothed by corn and kale.

Her paintings won’t win awards
except for courage.
Sales benefit her toil, the soil,
embarrass her preteen son.

Now the whole town sees her astonishing tan lines,
bright stripes on a body stout,
folds of mom chub like ribs on a carrot.

A man of peppery beard out for a mountain drive
in a Ferrari bright red, the midlife car of Silicon Valley
with his preteen daughter looking bored
parks for a pizza, buys one painting.

Next day he returns alone, buys five more,
asks where to find the folk-artist.

Ellen is healing the earth. He is digitizing it.
We hesitate to judge prospects
for art or love, but tell.
May it please go well.

PHOTO: Woman harvesting carrots grown organically in the Bahian backlands in Irece, Bahia, Brazil. Photo by Raul Golinelli

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem inspired by true events but see now it’s also an allegory. Can the sterile algorithms of Silicon Valley help to heal the earth? I hope so.

Cottonwood Joe

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joe Cottonwood has repaired hundreds of houses to support his writing habit in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. His latest book of poetry is Random Saints.

Autumn Leaves O'Keeffe
Letting Go
by Anne Walsh Donnelly

It is cold and dry in Raheens Woods,
trees stretch their half-clad limbs
towards a patchy blue sky.
I look up and try to clear my mind
of the briars that steal September’s light.
I pluck a holly leaf from its bush,
run my finger along the smooth surface
until I reach the tip and blood drips.

Further into the woods, blankets of dense moss
hang from dank black branches.
I pick a sycamore leaf, the colour of an aubergine
from the stony path, put it in my pocket,
as I would a relic, comfort between my finger
and thumb, until ground into purple dust.

A breeze blows a mustard-coloured beech leaf
into my face, tears follow it to the earth.
I close my eyes to the heaving,
my breath a wave of silent wails.
I wrap my arms around the trunk of an oak,
press my heart against the dark bark,
and ask it to help me let go of the withering
leaves littering the floor of my Autumn heart.

PAINTING: Yellow Leaves by Georgia O’Keeffe (1928). (Copyright, Brooklyn Museum, 2006)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I go to the woods for comfort and guidance and I trust the healing power of nature. I watched Autumn leaves fall from the trees and realised that trees willingly let go of that which is withering to make way for new growth. I wrapped my arms around an oak asking it to take from me what I don’t need any more and give me what I do need. I went home to write this poem and realised how nature and humanity are interconnected and how we both have the potential to heal or destroy each other.

WalshDonnelly copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Walsh Donnelly lives in the west of Ireland. She was recently appointed as Poet Laureate for the town of Belmullet in County Mayo. Her full-length poetry collection, Odd as F*ck, was published in May 2021 by Fly on the Wall Poetry Press, which also published her poetry chapbook, The Woman With An Owl Tattoo. To find out more, visit

Sonnet from Ecclesiastes:
            Ecclesiastes I:9
by Barbara Crooker

There’s nothing new under the sun,
says the prophet, the leaves turning
brilliant colors right on time, one
of the things I love about the fall, this burning
without fire. Unbroken blue skies, home
of harvest, of plenty, combine blades churning
out rivers of golden corn. Our sojourn
on this earth, so brief. But I cannot play dumb,
Storms are more violent, thousand-year floods
more frequent, and the government turns
a blind eye to misery and need. How can we let
it all slip through our fingers? Whiplashed by the moods
of politicians, their fistfuls of cash. Winter will return.
Will we see another spring? I will not be silent.

First published in Relief, 2020

PAINTING: In the Autumn Mist by Tetyana Yablonska (1989).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’d been asked to write something on Ephesians for a specific project. The day I started this poem, my mind must have been off with the fairies, as they say in Ireland, because I went to Ecclesiastes instead. All of the other concerns in the poem were swirling around my mind , large concerns that emerged within the confines of this sonnet. I use “emerged” loosely, as it went through twenty or more drafts. In terms of healing the world, I’m hoping, with this poem, to invite  readers to pay close attention to the natural world, to raise awareness about climate change, and to encourage everyone to speak up (and vote) to keep our beautiful planet going.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Crooker is the author of nine books of poetry:  Radiance, winner of the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance ( 2008), winner of the 2009 Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature; More (2010); Gold (2013); Small Rain (2014); Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems (2015), Les Fauves (2017), The Book of Kells (2018), winner of the 2018 Best Poetry Book Award, Poetry by the Sea; and Some Glad Morning (2019), Pitt Poetry Series, University of Pittsburgh Poetry Press. Her writing has received a number of awards, including the WB Yeats Society of New York Award (Grace Schulman, judge), the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award (Stanley Kunitz, judge), and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. Her work appears in journals and anthologies, including Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania and The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Her work has been read on The Writer’s Almanac, and she has been an invited reader at The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Poetry by the Sea, the SoCal Poetry Festival, Poetry @ Round Top, The Festival of Faith and Writing, and the Library of Congress. Visit her and find links to her books at Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Heaven on Earth
by Euline Joseph

For what it’s worth
Heal your inner self first
Organic foods from the soil
Early land plant evolution
Eat pods and seeds when they are young
Leaves and fruits from trees all around
Let the fish in the ocean swim
Please, set the forest animals free
No more processed carcasses
No more tons of garbage
Chant for rain
Do a snake dance for rain to come again
Wireless device
Generates toxic waste
Embrace the power of prayer to communicate
Sounds from your soul inspire, heal
Cherish our Garden of Eden
You are the lifeforce
Energy field
Heal yourself
In order for the earth
to heal
Heal Heal Heal

ठीक होना

PAINTING: Animals in a Landscape by Franz Marc (1914).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Healing the earth begins with ME. Only when I have a deep appreciation for WHO I AM, then I can appreciate my physical home. In my poem I highlight the physical and spiritual aspects of healing and how it impacts the earth.

Joseph copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Euline Joseph seeks refuge in a pen and paper to calm her raging spirit from an abusive relationship. The passionate bond with words compelled her to enroll with Writers’ Bureau of England. She is feverishly working on her autobiography and has published articles for SweetTNT magazine. When opportunity presents itself, she embraces singing, dancing, music, art, cooking, and baking. She hopes to inspire others by encouraging them to take ONE STEP FORWARD! Visit her on Instagram and find more on her website.

by Kimberly Esslinger

If I loved the Earth like I love my body,
like I love being in my body, or if
I love Earth like I loved my mother
who carried me in her body,
or her mother, or if I cared for its diet
more than my diet or gave it soft clean
sheets every night, and if I gave gifts
on its birthday, a card on its special
day, or a telefloral bouquet if I forget,
if I thought of it like my mother
could I heal it?
Or what if I thought of Earth as my baby,
the baby I will never carry in my belly
but would sing to every night, gently
rocking it to sleep, soothing and cooing,
and what if instead of a baby
I treated it like a friend or a sister,
or what if I treated Earth like a lover
and every night I lay next to it
like a spoon, finding ways to delight it.
And what if I were to love Earth
like I was a healer with a feather,
wave my arms above as below
and around like rings on Saturn
smudging orbits of protection.
And if I were just a monkey
preening and grooming Earth
leaning in to get down deep
in the hairy brush of it, to collect the cans
and masks, and plastic, I would chew them
to little bits and they would nourish me.
But if I were only an ordinary citizen,
a citizen of the world, and if I were to love
Earth as much as I love striding
across the large land mass of us,
straddling subduction zones,
marveling at all the minutiae people have built
on her thin mantle, I would ask for less,
I would always ask for less. And I would kiss
Earth’s beautiful face before it disappears,
and I would kiss it and kiss it
and kiss it and kiss it …

PAINTING: Cloud Madonna by T.C. Cannon (1975).

kimberly copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimberly Esslinger’s poems have been accepted by Spillway Magazine, Thrush, Chiron Review, Artemis Journal, Saga Literary Journal, and Incandescent Minds Journal. She is currently finishing her MFA in Poetry at CSU Long Beach. Her current obsessions are videohaikus, drumming, and her little dog, Zuma. Visit her at

by Paula J. Lambert

Once, I left a bouquet of flowers on the back seat
of my car, forgotten entirely till the next afternoon

when, out of nowhere, I heard myself shout OH!
and then, Ohhhhh, oh no! It was as if my body had

remembered, before my brain did, what was lost.
I was just that tired, after a week just that busy.

My husband followed me as far as the front door
as I ran for the car, watched me flounder when I saw

the bouquet was gone. I found them this morning,
he said. They’re dead. I put them in the garbage

out back. I went to the barrel and reached for them,
withered, brown, almost certainly gone for good.

I brought them inside and trimmed the stems,
my husband incredulous as he watched: my coo

of encouragement, litany of apology, soothing
fuss over their arrangement in a vase full of water.

I wanted to look at them. That was all. To slow
down the day. To remind myself there was so much

to remember, so much that had been abandoned.
By evening, the stems had strengthened, the flowers

had brightened, and by morning, the bouquet had
come back to us, gorgeous, fragrant, full. My husband

saw them and looked at me, afraid. What had I done,
really, but pay attention? Atone. What had I done

but believe that small things matter, that love might
help a sick and frightened thing to rise, to bloom?

PAINTING: Girl in White with a Bouquet by Henri Matisse (1919).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paula J. Lambert of Columbus, Ohio, has authored several collections of poetry including The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing (FutureCycle Press 2022) and How to See the World (Bottom Dog Press 2020), a finalist for the 2021 Ohioana Library Book Awards. Lambert has been awarded two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards and two Greater Columbus Arts Council Resource Grants. She has twice been in residence at Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She owns Full/Crescent Press, a small publisher of poetry books and broadsides specializing in hand-stitched, art-quality chapbooks. Through the press, she has founded and supported numerous public readings that support the intersection of poetry and science. Learn more at and