Archives for posts with tag: ecology

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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.

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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, extraordinarysunshineweaver.blog. Her poetry podcast, “Poetry: The Memoir of the Soul”. can be found at meelosmom.podbean.com.

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Sledding the Valley of the Shadow
by Laura Foley

We’re burning the Earth. We’re burning the sky.
                         —Deena Metzger

           I know the burning’s true,
so I won’t be throwing snowballs
in the halls of Congress.

           After today’s snowfall, I grab jacket, hat, mittens,
tear down the steep drive on my orange sled,
beaming a path through the night with a light

           I hold between my knees
under the spread of winter constellations,
as dogs lope alongside.

                          In this northern woods valley,
we’re more likely to hear geese
than airplanes overhead.

                          I sled and snowshoe through cold winter days,
I know will last through my lifetime,
but still act for the generations after, including my own family.

                          I compost, recycle, keep bees,
have forgone meat for thirty years, and wonder how else to please,
whether being the change I’d like to see

                          will be enough to ease the anxiety
spreading like wildfire from teen to teen, every Greta or Deena grieving
the oblivion yet to come.

PHOTO: After sledding by Severin Demchuk on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I enjoy living in rural Vermont, where we have long, snowy winters, and a steep, winding driveway for sledding in fresh snow; but I fear for future generations. I will continue to do my part to address climate change—solar panels for heating; composting food waste; growing vegetables; not eating red meat; recycling. I hope these ideas spread around the globe, soon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Foley is the author of seven poetry collections. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review and an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It’s This is forthcoming from Salmon Press. Her poems have won numerous awards and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac; appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont. Visit her at laurafoley.net.

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  A Sestina for the Well-Being of Mother Earth
  by Jeannie E. Roberts
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PHOTO:  Rush River, a 49.8-mile-long tributary of the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin. Photo by Aaron Gunnar.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My dad played a pivotal role in my upbringing; he introduced me to the wonders and the importance of the outdoor environment. He registered our home, the land near the Rush River, called Stonehammer*, under the state’s tree conservation program. Here, we planted hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of white pine and other coniferous trees. I recall our long hikes along the river, through the meadow, forest, and woodlands removing other people’s trash; as we’d wander the land, he’d identify the various trees, plants, and wildflowers. Though the Rush River property was sold years ago (in fact, its new owner recently bulldozed both the house and the garage), I’ll remember it fondly, though sadly, too, for it was the last place I saw my dad in this corporeal life. His knowledge of botany was impressive and it stuck with me. When I identify a tree, plant, or wildflower and when I retrieve roadside refuse, I can thank my dad. My sestina honors my beloved father, Donald E. Roberts, our natural world, and the beautiful fragility of Mother Earth.

*Stonehammer refers to the name of the Rush River property with rock cliff, near the unincorporated town of Martell, in Pierce County, Wisconsin, USA.

PHOTO:  The Rush River with rock cliff (Stonehammer) by Jeannie E. Roberts.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts has authored seven books, five poetry collections and two illustrated children’s books. Her newest collection, As If Labyrinth—Pandemic Inspired Poems, was released by Kelsay Books in April 2021. She’s a nature enthusiast, Best of the Net award nominee, and a poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. For more, please visit: Jeannie E. Roberts | Poets & Writers (pw.org).

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Jim Morrison and I Head to Standing Rock
by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Dakota Pipeline, North Dakota

When clouds form an eagle above a red sun,
and the Flint Hills and dried-up wheat fields
beckon us onward, we head east and north—

beyond the Great Plains and the narrow lanes
to which we’d become accustomed—after spinning
across sand in our chase for California dreams

of peace and love, still uncaptured. Here, police
shoot pepper spray and water cannons at 30 of us.
Security guards unleash dogs that maim six,

one a small child. Still, we clutch signs—black
crosses against a blue sky, where cirrus clouds
hover then become black knots of rain.

We clasp hands with the Standing Rock Sioux,
pray with them in a circle, and I ask Jim
if he wants to risk getting arrested.

He shakes his head. “We’ll help. But this is their
Wounded Knee. It isn’t to be fought by you—by me.”
He pulls out three fifties to leave for munitions.

I nod to agree, it’s the natives’ call. Even if it’s for all
of us, they must win it in these unaligned times
when the eagle cloud rises high on the horizon.

Previously published in (Tittynope Zine 2017). Forthcoming in the author’s collection Cashing Checks with Jim Morrison (redbat books 2023).

PHOTO: Native Americans demonstrate against the Dakota Access Pipeline in May 2021 at the Standing Rock Reservation, which straddles the border of North Dakota and South Dakota. Learn more at standwithstandingrock.net.  Photo by Jolanda Kirpensteijn on Unsplash. 

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Years ago, when I (my persona) screamed down asphalt through mauve Kansas fields and the Flint Hills, rock shaman Jim Morrison crawled out of my car stereo while a yellow hornet on the windshield danced like a Kachina in a sand painting. It was magic. Perhaps. I still don’t know. Yet poems resulting from this encounter resulted in my third poetry book, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison. In it, Jim comes with me to find La Loba*, in hopes she’ll resurrect his bones. But the wolf woman refuses, and we go to Paris and the Père Lachaise Cemetery. There, Jim’s dark monument, wrought with graffiti, commemorates him. I’d thought this story had ended when I left him there. But I was wrong. He won’t leave me alone. He pushes into poems and ignoring his burial, often joins figures from everywhere—ancient Greece and Eleusinian mysteries, wild and wooly creatures in my “frenzies” poems, and post-modern philosophers. Even today, he whispers to me when I stare at a waffled, red-lace sky filled with popcorn clouds looming above our foothills.

*Wolf woman. Bone woman. According to Southwest legends (from various tribes and Mexican cultures), La Loba works with angels to gather bones of humans and wolves, then resurrect them. 

Photo of Jim Morrison, found in The Collected Works of Jim Morrison (June 2021). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pushcart and Pulitzer nominee Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s fourth poetry collection, Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017), contains a poem named an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 85th Contest. Her third, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison, won Kansas Authors Club’s 2017 “Looks Like a Million” Contest, and was a finalist in the QuillsEdge Press 2015-2016 Contest. Her Inside Virgil’s Garage (Chatter House) was a runner-up in the 2015 Nelson Poetry Book Award. McClatchy Newspapers named her Standing on the Edge of the World  (Woodley Press) one of Ten Top Poetry Books of 2008. Her poems have appeared in New LettersI-70 ReviewThorny LocustFlint Hills ReviewSilver Birch Press, Amethyst ArsenicCoal City Review, Phantom Drift, Ekphrastic Review (Egyptian Challenge), The Same, Tittynope ZineBare Root Review, Rockhurst Review, Black Bear Review, 15 anthologies, and other lit zines. Three of her seven novels have been published. Poetry is her way of singing. She taught writing and literature at UMKC for 18 years, MCC-Longview, and teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and other criminal justice classes for Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, Oregon. Visit her on Facebook and on Amazon.

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Green Guerrilla
by Jennifer Lagier

Revolution upends kitchen and garden routines.
I embrace healthy alternatives, eliminate plastic,
substitute glass bowls for baggies.
Kitchen scraps no longer swell garbage.
Instead, I add fruit rinds, peach pits,
wilted lettuce to recycling bin.

Coffee grinds enhance landscaping.
Shower water is collected with a bucket,
used to hydrate tree roots,
potted roses, azaleas.
At the grocery store, I rely on my stockpile
of conference give-away totes
to transport locally grown produce, the staples.

I have become a geriatric activist,
invest in solar panels, hybrid car, low-flow toilets.
As climate change accelerates,
I reduce my carbon footprint,
do my part to heal the earth,
restore our beleaguered planet.

PHOTO: A small compost heap in a garden. Photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? I have shifted from being a consumer to a more thoughtful, less destructive way of existing, reducing consumption and waste, finding imaginative ways to live within my ecological means.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier lives near the Pacific Ocean with two rescue dogs. She has published in a variety of anthologies and journals, edits Monterey Poetry Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Recent books include Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress (Blue Light Press), COVID Dissonance (CyberWit), Camille Chronicles (FutureCycle Press).

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How to Be a Malacologist
by Stephanie L. Harper

Remember when
your child’s heart led your head
like a garden snail’s head leads its footed belly.

Think back to when you were seven
& your adopted pet / school project, Kiddo,
gnawed away at a slice of banana on a glass slide
as you watched, thunderstruck, from beneath him
(find out on Wikipedia that he was using his radula
a structure akin to a tongue used by mollusks to feed).

Recall how proud you were of Kiddo when he not only lost
the school snail race, but redefined it, by turning around
at the half-way point, staying in his own lane, & crossing
the start-line before any of the other snails reached the finish.

Wonder why your teacher didn’t mention anything about Kiddo
& his compatriots being hermaphrodites, or how (if they chose)
they could all be both father & mother to their tiny-shelled progeny,
& realize how simple it would have been for her to call a snail’s powerful,
innate mechanism of retracting its tentacles into its head for protection
by its technical name: invagination.

Then, understand, finally, that if you’d been born with the ability
to operate yourself like a puppet, & pull yourself outside-in
by drawing your head down into your belly & out
through your foot, to invert your once-vibrant
body into an empty sock, how many times
you would have done exactly that.

First published in Panoply.  

Photo by Katarzyna Załużna, used by permission. Read about the photographer’s portraits of snails at mymodernmet.com

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When a friend and fellow poet asked me in a recent interview, “From where or what do your poems sprout?” I experienced this question viscerally. Poems really do sprout, don’t they? I mean, for me, whether they come up silently or explosively, and whether they arise all sallow and reedy, vivid and sweet, or tender, or sour, or even barely perceptible—at some point prior to their births, they are pollinated by my virtue of my orientation toward Life and how I apprehend, synthesize, store and/or ruminate on every experience—of my former and current human relationships; of all that being a mother means; of my interactions with animals, mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, oceans, rocks and sand, the sky and its heavenly bodies, manmade physical/technological and social infrastructures, literary, visual, and performed arts . . . Each one then germinates beneath the soil until something incites it to erupt: Whether the something is a disquietingly still and protracted fallow interlude, an intense or even haunting dream, an epic bout of insomnia that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, or one of the millions of much more innocuous ways I might be moved in the course of a day, what it never is, is predictable. In the whole scheme of things, though, it’s become dependable.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie L. Harper is a recently transplanted Oregonian living in Indianapolis, Indiana. Harper is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of two poetry chapbooks: This Being Done and The Death’s-Head’s Testament. Her poems appear in Slippery Elm Literary JournalPanoply, Isacoustic*, Cathexis Northwest, Riggwelter Press, Moonchild Magazine, Dust Poetry, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Visit her online at slharperpoetry.com.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always thought of the ending of The Great Gatsby as one of the perfect endings in literature, and rereading it in the age of climate change, I wondered how much of Fitzgerald’s “green breast of the new world” would be left above water if the oceans continue to rise. I imagined Nick Caraway as the rueful, elegiac recorder of the last days of humanity.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kathryn Kulpa
has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen — actually, a crayon. She has work featured or forthcoming in The Great Gatsby Anthology, Smokelong Quarterly, KYSO Flash, and Saranac Review. She is flash fiction editor for Cleaver magazine and she teaches fiction workshops for teens and adults in the smallest state in the union.

Photo: Kathryn Kulpa at age 13 in Massachusetts with her dog Toto.

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“Morning brings back the heroic ages. There was something cosmical about it; a standing advertisement, till forbidden, of the everlasting vigor and fertility of the world. The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night.”  From Walden, Or Life in the Woods by HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Photo: “Walden Pond, Beautiful Day” by machris, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” From Walden, Or Life in the Woods by HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Photo: “Walden Pond” by Gary Lerude, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” From Walden, Or Life in the Woods by HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Photo: “Walden Pond at Sunset” by Meridith Louise, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED