Archives for posts with tag: ecology

by Mish Murphy

I was afraid to become green,
but glad to be reborn.

I sewed my torn self together
& waited for the cravings
to go away—
the urge to eat, procreate, shop–

I sewed myself inside a bucket, & you,
my favorite candy,
my voluptuous freckle,

I sewed you inside my bucket, too.

We were changing,
half-plant & half human.

We drank sunlight
through our hands

& slurped seawater
through our feet,

gradually releasing

all our thoughts




ACKNOWLEDGMENT: “Green” was originally published (with slightly different language) in the author’s collection Sex & Ketchup (Concrete Mist Press 2021) and in POETICA REVIEW (UK 2021).

PAINTING: Woman in a Green Dress in a Garden by Pierre Bonnard (1892).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What would happen if people who wanted to “go green” could become hybrid plants, replacing our stressed-out consumerist selves with simpler, eco-friendly selves? I think many would find that being transformed into a plant brought happiness, and if enough people “went green,” the Earth would heal. The speaker in the poem alludes to the fact that plants do not do a lot of thinking, and to become green, people must let go of thinking. This would turn out to be something positive and is one reason, in my opinion, that life as a plant might bring such peace.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mish (Eileen) Murphy is Associate Poetry Editor for Cultural Daily magazine and teaches English and Literature at Polk State College, Florida. She recently published her third book of poetry (fourth book overall), the collection Sex & Ketchup (Concrete Mist Press Feb. 2021). Fortune Written on Wet Grass (Wapshott Press April 2020) was her first full length collection. Her second book Evil Me was published August 2020 (Blood Pudding Press). She’s had more than 100 individual poems published in journals and zines, such as Tinderbox, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Thirteen Myna Birds, and many others. In the UK, her poetry has been published in Paper & Ink, The Open Mouse, Quarterday Review, and POETICA REVIEW. Mish also is a prolific book reviewer and visual artist; she illustrated the children’s book Phoebe and Ito are dogs written by John Yamrus (2019).

Witch Brooms
by Laurel Benjamin

Some of us will not make it, expire singing
the same chord with rattled tongues
but don’t worry, we’ve signed our wills
burned our love letters—

water locust
Texas walnut
chalk maple
pyramid magnolia
two wing silver bell

Rip out their lungs, the tree managers
and climate experts, then like us they cannot
breathe. Grate their fists to pink cardboard
strike a match to their hair.

Tell them to stop salting roads
whole towns of deformed buds
welting and drying off, stunted
branch tips, witch brooms.

We can make up for what is lost
like a waist cincher. Small branches hanging
don’t whittle us
black cape and pointed hat

raise us like your own children
peeling like paper
leaves greened then yellowed
arms reaching to gather sun

Previously published in Tiny Seed Literary Journal (April 2021).

PHOTO: Witch’s Brooms by Licht-aus.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Extinction is one of the topics I write about, in concert with nature metaphors overall. I read many journals about natural history and topical articles, including one that discussed the problem of salting roads in winter, in colder climates in the U.S. The only way to express the problem was in a persona poem, making the disturbance even more intimate.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laurel Benjamin is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she invented a secret language with her brother. She has work forthcoming or published in Lily Poetry Review, Black Fox, Word Poppy Press, Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s Poetry, South Florida Poetry Journal, Trouvaille Review, One Art, Tiny Seed, California Quarterly, MacQueens Quinterly, among others. Affiliated with the Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and the Port Townsend Writers, she holds an MFA from Mills College.

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.

Taking My Grandsons to the Forest Today
by Sharon SingingMoon 

“Teach (Y)our Children Well…” Graham Nash

Beneath the shower of golden autumn leaves
we talk of acorns & chicken of the woods
of the deer we know are there
but are too shy to show themselves

We sing made-up songs
along the trail to a nearby creek
kneel & find a wooly worm
rusty orange & black

We invent stories about where
she is going & why—we build
a fairy house beside some mossy stones
thinking she may move in

We talk of how the trees are magic
their lives & ours sharing breath
of how the birds & squirrels
foxes & raccoons are our relations

How we live among so many creatures
each with a life as special as our own
sharing space on this amazing
rotating rock we call Earth

We laugh when I slip in a muddy spot
place a finger to our lips—shhhhh—
a deer drinks from a sinkhole pond
we learn something new—karst topography

We sit in a sunny spot, pull fresh apple slices
& homemade muffins wrapped in cotton napkins
from a worn backpack, drink cool water
from reusable water bottles

We lie back to see how blue the sky is
how crunchy are the fallen leaves
we make a game of counting acorns
toss small stones into the creek

We breathe deeply, smell wet soil, forest life
choose a special leaf—one each
to press between the pages of our journals
write short poems & mark this day with hugs

PAINTING: Teaching Grandson by Norval Morrisseau.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I find solace in the natural world as well as the inspiration to share with others through poetry, short fiction and the visual arts.  We are facing a crisis of our own making and it is imperative that we teach future generations to respect all living being who share this Earth with us. As our own indecision and hubris inhibit progress, the children and grandchildren are calling for action.  They will need a firm foundation of respect and care for the Earth. It is our profound duty to nurture their innate joy in & love for the natural world.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon SingingMoon is a poet and visual artist living in mid-Missouri. Sharon draws inspiration from the natural world and our human struggle to balance mind/body/spirit in the face of our own hubris. In between long hikes and watching the fox family living under the neighbor’s carport, she dabbles in screenwriting and is working on a historical fiction YA novel. Sharon has a Master’s degree in Public Administration and worked as a lobbyist for social justice issues, spearheading several progressive advancements in Missouri before retiring to garden, write, and travel. Her recent poetry collection, Random Seed, is available at independent bookshops across Missouri and Kansas.

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

How to sum up how to save the Earth in a single poem
by Liza Wolff-Francis

The only thing I think to say is we can’t give up.
Maybe the answers would be better
sung from a mountaintop, or whispered
in a rainforest with the peel, teething
of a mango, its juice runny orange-yellow
down the chin, slick seed threads stick to teeth
and lips. Monkeys hover
near the fruit fallen on deep brown dirt
below scratch scrap strips of bark. Maybe
we just need to listen to the answers in plain speak
from melting glaciers, raging storms,
the missing rain. Scientists say
there are three things to do. Three is not a lot,
though they are three big things, but still,
we can’t give up.

First, they say, produce more food on less land
so large-scale agriculture doesn’t de-forest us,
pollute our water or drink it up,
doesn’t devastate habitats of bears, foxes,
wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, orangutans,
tigers, elephants, rhinos, the cheetah,
African wild dogs and hairy-nosed otters.
But also, not least, the monarch butterfly,
bees, moths, wasps, and flies. They say humans
would only survive a few months if all insects
were to go extinct. I think of all the ones
I have killed in my short lifetime. I will try
to do better. I can’t give up.
The way we farm, they say,
releases a lot of carbon. This
is mostly how we eat right now,
so even more so, we can’t give up.

Second, they say stop overfishing—
just stop it entirely. Only take
what fish populations can tolerate right now,
in this moment in time, so our oceans
are full of coral, of seaweed, of salmon,
of tuna, of swordfish, of octopus, of dolphins,
of seals, of whales, of turtles,
of my body and your body diving into cool clean
salt waters. Overfishing threatens food,
leaves ghost gear the weight of tens of thousands
of double decker buses underwater, net
upon net upon net lining the floors of our oceans.
Think of all the people who rely on seafood,
for livelihood, for nourishment.
For them alone, we can’t give up.

Third, they say, increase clean energy.
Shift world energy supplies
to solar, to hydrogen, to wind,
anything but fossil fuels. Reforest, they say,
capture carbon dioxide as if you were a child
with a golf course green net, waiting for magic.
Fossil fuels may seem like tradition, like identity,
like who we are comes from what we have known,
like life as we know it is threatened
at the disappearance of fossil fuels, but really,
life as we know it is disappearing
because of fossil fuels. We have used them
for so long, we trust them like brand loyalty,
but for the child I was, for the child I have,
for the child you have and the child you were,
for the children we know, and for the children
we don’t know, we can’t give up.

These three things are the main things.
They are three big things we need
people with big voices and power to change,
but we can make this better. If you love
being alive like I do, love the Earth, love
each sunset, each new moon, ocean water on toes,
wind over desert, river water on forehead,
changing colors of leaves, bears in the forest,
cardinals in snow, the caw of crows,
you also know, we can’t give up.

PAINTING: Jungle Songs by Jahar Dasgupta.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Sometimes when I look at the climate crisis I feel overwhelmed, but I also believe there are solutions. I believe as individuals we can do important small things to support a healthier planet and I also believe knowing what we can do as a world and what action our leaders need to take helps to make us stronger advocates for humanity, for the Earth, and for our future. I firmly believe we have to maintain hope and that even when we feel we might want to, we can’t give up.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College who served two terms as a member of the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program’s Selection Committee and continues on the organizing committee. She was chosen to write in Tupelo Press’ 30/30 poetry challenge for the month of September 2020. Her writing has been widely anthologized and her work has most recently appeared in the magazine El Palacio: Art, History, and Culture of the Southwest, Steam Ticket, We’Moon, among others. She has a chapbook out called Language of Crossing (Swimming with Elephant Publications, 2015).

Wild Goose Trail
by Jeff Burt

Burdock, buckthorn, white cormus,
rosehips, vaccinium, red edible currants,
white elderberry, arronia, chokeberries,
such abundant berries
reaching over and into the trail
begging to be brushed and knocked
to the earth to begin transformation
or picked and eaten to fall in scat
aided by bugs and erosion to plant
in the soft dark earth and yield.
I must not pull my coats
from their branches, avoid,
must wade deeply, rustle, touch.

PAINTING: Elderberry Bush by Konstantin Yuon (1907).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Staying on a trail and preserving habitat in its primitive form (as opposed to conserved form) is respectful, but at times you see items in nature begging to be touched and jostled as it is part of their renewing cycle.


Jeff Burt lives in the central coast of California. He has contributed to Heartwood, Williwaw Journal, Red World Journal, and many others.
Visit him at

This Changes Everything
by Cynthia Anderson

From time out of mind, calling a Deep Witness has been regarded as a last resort. Dressed in black, androgynous, they enter unobtrusively, eyes cast downward—yet no one present can escape their gaze. They stand silent, radiating lasers of truth, changing everyone around them. Feuds fall apart, poisoned lifeways dissolve, the tyranny of the familiar vanishes as though it never existed. Those affected are faced with starting over, finding a way to live without falsehoods, groping along the lines of their breath.

mountain path
just when we need it
a mercy seat

PAINTING: Cave Wall Guardians by David Chethlahe Paladin (1972).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It seems to me that all humans are being called right now to act as Deep Witnesses. Whether we heed the call or not is up to each of us. Greta is showing us how it’s done. Deep Witnesses are right here, right now, and they can be denied only at our peril. In this haibun, I’m imagining a world where everyone finally acknowledges that there’s no turning back. There’s no continuing to live the way we have been. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance we might get some unexpected help. The “mercy seat” refers to the Ark of the Covenant. I like to imagine spiritual forces coming to our aid on this long climb to save the planet. I was inspired by this line from the call for submissions: “We are looking for ideas (real or imagined) of ways to heal the earth.” And, “your poem can offer fanciful thoughts that defy the practical.” So, my haibun is different from a straight list of what I’m doing to save the earth. Like most everybody else who’s contributing, I’m changing the way I live—cutting back on waste, going solar, composting, etc. So, for this theme, I wanted to try something outside the box.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cynthia Anderson lives in California’s Mojave Desert, which is in the process of dying from extreme heat and drought due to climate change. The majority of Joshua trees are expected to perish in this century, but, more than that, all desert plants and wildlife are affected and the damage is visible now. Recognizing that there is no time to lose, she is changing the way she lives on this earth as fast as she can. Visit her at

I don’t know how to save the earth
by Scott Ferry

except for adults to study as hard
as children study for spelling bees
so that words like elucubrate
and eudaemonic don’t end up a victim
of vivisepulture (the act of burying alive).

Or for adults to study the Aye-aye the Axolotl
the Amazon River Dolphin all the way around
the shrinking alphabet to the Vaquita
the Vicuña and the Western Lowland Gorilla.
For adults to not bury themselves in the

carcasses of lost species like a reverse
Noah stacking pairs of corpses in an ark
to send into the ocean with the rest
of the plastic skins of dead refreshment.
There are no words for the smell

of our own children burning
in the pyre we have fashioned
with a caption and a rebate.
Our grandchildren will read about
our grave insouciance from under


PAINTING: Mother Earth as a Young Woman by Norval Morrisseau.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I tried to write a positive poem about this subject but I could only think to scare the adults straight with a cautionary tale. I thought about how many words children put into their heads preparing for spelling bees and how vast our potential for learning and progress. Yet, these abilities are squandered on advertising and profit for the most part. Like I said, I tried to be positive but the push for money is so strong that it just blows me over. I hope at least this dark poem may cause some of us adults to look into how to help and heal and fund what is necessary to save species from leaving us like most of our vocabularies into the graveyard of texts and memes.

ferry photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as a RN in the Seattle area. His most recent book, These Hands of Myrrh, is now available from Kelsay Books. You can find more of his work at

Instituto Terra
by Barbara Leonhard

“Nature is the earth and it is other beings and if we don’t have some kind of spiritual return to our planet, I fear that we will be compromised.” Sebastião Salgado

All of nature, our neighbors.
Our yard, prolific with dandelions, plantain,
clover, violets. Even the unnamed white blossoms
embellishing the lawn each spring, allowed their display.
Our tall grasses trimming the yard
call in the fireflies. Butterfly gardens close by bloom
& groom Monarchs. Life forming. Transforming.
Flying free.

Our organic garden,
shared with a box turtle, birds,
deer, rabbits. A host
to our neighbor’s bees.
Our summer bounty, their honey.
The moles do their job, aerate the soil.
Possums eat the ticks. Bats & swifts, the pesky
mosquitoes. Coons, the small rodents
& wasp larvae. Balance, maintained
with reciprocity.

The ants swarming the kitchen each spring.
Tolerated. Our patio, a diner for doves,
cardinals, wrens. The fence, a highway
for squirrels & coons.
No need to fill tree hollows with Styrofoam.
The trees welcome guests. No need to trap
& release. We simply closed off the chimney.
Secured the trash barrel lid. Loving the furry
& the winged, the big & the small, our passion.

We don’t clear our land, uprooting the natives,
preening the view of our estate.
Management, a false sense of control.
Ivy sneaks through fence slats
across the stone patio floor
up the sides of the house.
A discarded pot of old dirt
sustains an oak sapling.
Gaia rebounds. Reclaims her grounds.

The cellular connection
between us and Gaia
doesn’t elude us. We don’t spray with pesticides
for the perfect lawn. Douse our garden
with toxic compounds to ward off insects,
increase yield.

We are Gaia. She, us.
What she eats, we eat.
We pollute her cells, we poison
our own. Contaminants seep deep into her soul
& our graves.

Her healing is our life.

PAINTING: Deer in the Forest by Franz Marc (1913).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The story of the Brazilian couple who regrew a forest from arid land inspires me because it shows how the depth of their love for earth healed the depleted soil and themselves. Although I have never regrown a forest, my husband and I live in peace with spiders, coons, slugs, and squirrels. We coexist with Mother Nature, feeding her birds and keeping poisons off our lawn and garden plants. We understand the balance of nature and cooperate with all living things because we realize that we are all connected. Disruption of our biological connections to all living things creates imbalance and illness, not just for Mother Earth but also for us. If the damage is reciprocal, so too is the healing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Leonhard’s work is published in Spillwords, Anti-Heroin Chic, Free Verse Revolution, October Hill Magazine, Vita Brevis, Silver Birch Press, Amethyst Review, among others. This year Barbara earned both third place and honorary mention for two poems in Well Versed 2021. She is currently marketing her first poetry collection about her relationship with her mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. From that memoir collection, her poem “Cooking a Life with a Wire Spine” was nominated for Publication of the Month on Spillwords in August 2021, and Barbara was voted Spillword’s Author of the Month in October. You can keep up with her journey on her blog site, Her poetry podcast, “Poetry: The Memoir of the Soul”. can be found at