Archives for posts with tag: environment

howarth photo
The Walk to St Ninian’s Isle
by Stephen Howarth

Contrary currents and conflicting waves
have marked this place out: Saint Ninian’s sands,
dividing the water from island to island:

a beach that reaches across the sea,
a boyhood playground with multitudes of
memories, to be told another time —

Today, let me walk you to the thistle-bound isle
to show you the remnants of the ancient
chapel in which a Pictish silver hoard was found:

the feasting bowls, the dragon-headed brooches
used to fix the folds of a cloak, the sword-hilts,
the chapes and thimble-shaped mounts,

all buried here for St Ninian’s protection,
twelve hundred years ago in defence against
the horror of the Viking raids – which helped create

Hjaltland, Shetland. An easy walk through
a thousand years of this almost holy island,
this almost heart of Shetland, absorbing

the light, the wind, the bleating of the sheep,
the washing of the sea, and the whispering waves.
In the ebb lie flattened pebbles, stones

shaped for skimming in moments when
the sea is smooth. The waves say
Hush, this calm afternoon, take rest in

our music, we will play as you play. In this country,
this is unique, a sea-crossing sand, and we,
we are the eternal beach-makers.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo shows St Ninian’s sands, looking from St Ninian’s Isle to Mainland and the village of Bigton. Mainland is the name of the main island of the Shetland archipelago. Bigton was pretty much my Shetland family’s home there when I was a boy, with another vital set on the island of Bressay. I still have one aunt living there in Bigton, a Scrabble fanatic, whom I hope to see and play against in September. She is 88 and will probably win. Photo by Stephen Howarth (August 2019). 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am English by birth but only 3/8 English by blood: for the rest, I’m 1/8 Scottish and half Shetland. Shetland (the most northerly part of Britain) is officially Scottish, but geographically and emotionally the archipelago is as close to Norway as it is to mainland Britain. I am positively internationalist. I call myself British, identifying as European, and have active treasured friends in many countries – not least the USA, literally from coast to coast. In pre-lockdown years I loved to travel widely and hope to do so again. Meanwhile, I invite you to a tiny taste of Shetland.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Howarth has been an independent professional author of history all his working life. He served in the Royal Naval Reserves both on the lower deck and as an officer and wrote the official centenary history of the RNR – for which he was appointed an honorary Commander by HM the Queen. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Royal Geographical Society, and a Life Member of the US Naval Institute and The 1805 Club. He earned a Master’s degree (with Distinction) in creative writing at Nottingham Trent University.

Continent’s Edge
by Jeanine Stevens

Imagine a shoreline, its own salty foam.
Not by Muir Beach or Shelter Cove
but just beyond Red Hawk Casino—gold country:
scrub oaks and ghost pines.
Granite outcrops and below, ocean floor basalt,
marl‘s crumbly clay, shell fragments.
This is Wakamatsu Colony (1869), Japanese
farmers attempting to grow silk, tea trees, rice.
Where are the dwellings, bamboo groves?
Someone would know, perhaps
a grad student researching ancestry.
Near the trail, buttercups, vetch, Rat Tail radish
(a delicacy in Asia). I nibble spicy pods.
Streambeds dry, few miners’ flakes remain.
You may discover garnets in your shallow pan.
Over the foot bridge, simple joy
to walk planks: bounce, sponge, lift.
Tides, first sensory,
something of womb, suck
pull back—thrum tide.
Under a perigee moon, I wonder if bedrock
heaves, upends remains of shellfish?
Behind the electric fence, a Jersey mother has tender eyes.
Long time since I’ve been close to such
a large mammal, her heat shimmering,
dancing in amber sun.

Two identical calves recline,
slowly munching meadow grass.

PHOTO: Wakamatsu Farm in 2019, its 150th year, by Ken Mahar.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony was made up of a group of 22 samurai and one woman during the Boshin Civil War (1868–69) in Japan preceding the Meiji Restoration. This is believed to be the first permanent Japanese settlement in North America and the only settlement by samurai outside of Japan. The group purchased land from Charles Graner family in the Gold Hill region after coming to San Francisco in 1869. Though the group successfully displayed it produce during the 1869 California State Agricultural Fair in Sacramento and the 1870 Horticultural Fair in San Francisco, the farm as a Japanese colony only existed from 1869-1871. In 1969, the year of the colony’s centennial, it was proclaimed California Historical Landmark No. 815. The American River Conservancy purchased the 272-acre location, 50 miles northeast of Sacramento, in November 2010, with the National Park Service placing the site on the National Register of Historic Places.

PHOTO: Historical marker at Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony, Placerville, California.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I write in natural settings, it is usually a pattern of walk, stop, listen, and write, then begin again. This goes back to sixth grade and our bird walks every Friday afternoons. The poem “Continents Edge” was written in one afternoon, step by step, with periods of rest so I could to notice even smaller things like the ragged rattail radish and the bouncy footbridge. This pattern works well for me even in cities, say St. Mark’s Square in Venice. There is so much to take in just by sitting on a bench, watching people and pigeons, the Adriatic creeping over the stone steps.

PHOTO: The author and fellow travelers at Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony

Jeanines Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeanine Stevens is the author of Limberlost and Inheritor (Future Cycle Press). Her first poetry collection, Sailing on Milkweed was published by Cherry Grove Collections. She is winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt, The Stockton Arts Commission Award, The Ekphrasis Prize, and WOMR Cape Cod Community Radio National Poetry Award. Brief Immensity, won the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award. Jeanine recently received her sixth Pushcart Nomination. She has participated in Literary Lectures sponsored by Poets and Writers. Her work has appeared in North Dakota Review, Pearl, Stoneboat, Rosebud, Chiron Review, and Forge. Jeanine studied poetry at U.C. Davis and California State University, Sacramento.

licensed funnerusImmigrant Waves
by Lowell Murphree

They aren’t much, I know
so very little

coming and going like that
foreign and undependable

a little movement
at the tip of a long Cheatgrass stem

the string of them along
my canal go mostly unnoticed

but this stand alongside the neighbor’s
pasture fence

is the Pacific
subducting at the Coast and

rising in the body of a
Mongolian immigrant stem-waver two hundred fifty miles inland

just as did these hills twelve million years
before we tried to close the borders.

PHOTO: Pictured are Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley, the town of Ellensburg, the Yakama River, and the Manastash Ridge. Photo by Funnerus, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley is known for its frequent strong winds that sweep down the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains to the flat land across the Columbia River. Watching the Cheatgrass move in waves along a canal bordering my home was the inspiration for exploring how external forces shaped and continue to form and shape my homeland. Manastash Ridge is a long ridge extending eastward from the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington State. These ridges rose from the earth’s volcanic activity 12 million years ago as a result of the subduction of the Juan de Fuca Plate under the North American Plate which also pushed up the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges.  They are a spectacular part of the drive eastward from Seattle toward the Columbia River. Manastash Ridge forms the southern border of the Kittitas Valley where I live, a desert valley made verdant by irrigation canals constructed largely by immigrants who settled the valley with the coming of the railroad. Cheatgrass was introduced to the Western states from Eurasia, used initially as packing material and is considered an invasive species.

PHOTO: The author at home in Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley with Cheatgrass and the Manastash Ridge behind him.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lowell Murphree lives and writes in the Kittitas Valley near Ellensburg, Washington.  He works with local and regional early learning nonprofit organizations as a grant writer, board member, and volunteer.

20183892 - mount sneffels range, colorado, usa
Mount Sneffels
by Ann Christine Tabaka

The mountain stood before me,
staring me down,
with arrogance and pride.
I would conquer him today,
or die trying.
Ice axe in hand
I began my ascent,
one chilling step at a time.
Wind was his ally
as it forced against me,
fracturing my will,
blistering my flesh.
Sun beat down with vengeance,
blinding glare obstructing view.
Fighting for my hold,
creeping inch by inch,
I rose to new heights,
I had never reached before.
Had hours, or a lifetime passed
before I reached the summit?
14,158 feet of rock,
snow, and ice lay below.
Joy overtook exhaustion.
Outstretched arms towards the sky,
I stood above the clouds.
The mountain stood below me now!
Mountain was real,
mountain is a metaphor.
I have defeated my own fears.

Published by Impspired, January 2020

PHOTO: “Mount Sneffels (Colorado)” by Don Yanedomam, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Mount Sneffels is the highest summit of the Sneffels Range in the Rocky Mountains of North America. The prominent 14,158-foot “fourteener” is located in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness of Uncompahgre National Forest, 6.7 miles west by south of the City of Ouray in Ouray County, Colorado, United States. (Source: Wikipedia.)

PHOTO: The author (center) in 1992, when she and companions climbed Mount Sneffels (Ouray County, Colorado).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. Winner of Spillwords Press 2020 Publication of the Year, her bio is featured in the “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020,” published by Sweetycat Press. Internationally published and the recipient poetry awards from numerous publications., her work has been translated into Sequoyah-Cherokee Syllabics as well as Spanish. The author of 11 poetry books, she has recently been published in several micro-fiction anthologies and short story publications. She resides in Delaware with her husband and four cats. Visit her at and on her Amazon author’s page.

Petrouske_Front of Post Card copy
Cloud Peak
Lake of the Clouds, Silver City, Michigan
by Rosalie Sanara Petrouske

In an antique store, I find a 1952 postcard of Lake of the Clouds. The front shows a couple standing on the Escarpment looking down at miles of virgin timber and the ribbon of the Carp River winding 300 feet below. Today, most people observe this panorama from the opposite end where boardwalks make it easier for those of all stages of mobility to enjoy the scenery. In the 1950s, the vista stretched, immense and breathtaking, and the couple stood at its very edge. As the back of the card proclaims, “The view of untouched wilderness is magnificent.”

On a sunny day in May 2014, I hike to Cloud Peak with park naturalist, Bob Wild, as my guide to find the exact location where the couple stood sixty-one years ago. Instead of taking the marked path, we follow a sloping hillside covered with trillium and the speckled leaves of thriving blue bead lilies. When we reach the top, I step out. Beneath me unfolds Lake of the Clouds against a brilliantly green landscape, and a hyacinth blue sky that boasts streamers of cirrus clouds sailing across its surface. Nothing is more beautiful.

Contemplating that road less traveled and the postcard couple who followed it, I wonder what they would think of the changes technology has wrought in our world and the challenges experienced from climate change. They might have believed the verdant earth before them would remain untouched for many generations. In some ways, here in this slice of wilderness, it has. Yet, as we return, winding our way slowly down the mountain following the traditional path, I am more conscious of my environment and my role in keeping such treasures as Lake of the Clouds here for future generations and beyond, and wonder if the effort of those of us who care will be enough.

PHOTO: 1952 postcard from the L.L. Cook Co. Back text reads: “In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula…Located in the Porcupine Mountains State Park, the Lake nestles below a 450-foot escarpment, from which point the view of untouched wilderness is magnificent. The Lake of the Clouds is 1,080 feet above sea level. Numerous trails winding thru huge stands of virgin timber are available for hikers.”

Petrouske_Lake of the Clouds_Traditional View_2
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is located three miles west of Silver City, Michigan, on M 107.  It is home to 60,000 acres of wilderness that includes 35,000 acres of old-growth forest, numerous wild and beautiful waterfalls, miles of rivers and streams, as well as 90 miles of hiking trails, located along the Lake Superior shoreline. Some of its most popular tourist attractions include Lake of the Clouds (with an ADA accessible viewing area), the Summit Peak Observation tower and the scenic Presque Isle River corridor. ¶In 2008 and 2014, I served as Artist-in-Residence in the Porcupine Mountains AIRP program. The Artist-in-Residence Program is open to artists and artisans whose work can be influenced by this unique northern wilderness setting. It offers writers, composers, and all visual and performing artists the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the “Porkies” and express it through their particular art form.  For more information, visit or email  ¶This story is part of a longer piece “Lost in Solitude” that explores what it was like living for two weeks in a cabin in the wilderness without electricity or running water. On this particular day, I climbed up to Cloud Peak where I could see Lake of the Clouds from a different perspective. Years ago, this was the original path to the top.  Today, an ADA accessible area exists for tourists to enjoy the spectacular view.

PHOTO: The author at Lake of the Clouds, Silver City, Michigan.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosalie Sanara Petrouske received her M.A. in English and Writing from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.  She is a Professor in the English Department at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan, where she currently teaches Freshman Composition and Creative Writing.  She has had poetry and essays published in many literary journals and anthologies, including, Passages North, The Seattle Review, Red Rock Review, Third Wednesday, American Nature Writing, and Lunch Ticket. The author of three chapbooks of poetry What We Keep (Finishing Line Press, 2016), A Postcard from my Mother (Finishing Line Press, 2004), and The Geisha Box (March Street Press, 1996), she served as Artist-in-Residence in the Porcupine Mountains in 2008 and 2014.  Find her on Facebook and find her books at Finishing Line Press.

Author photo by Eric Palmer. 

city of albuquerque photo
the faux of July (Albuquerque, NM)
by Richard Vargas

this year the Rio Grande
is a brimming artery
pumping life into the
heart of this high desert land
where coyote scat dries
hard on a dusty dirt trail
in the late morning sun

at the water’s edge
i set to fire the bundle
of sage carried in my hand
gently wave sacred smoke
around me through me

i turn to the west
where an ocean almost
dead spews up whales
with bellies full of plastic
and fish with glow-in-the-dark tumors
as radiation from across the sea
drips into the water and
it’s old news

i turn to the north
hear the cracking of ancient
glaciers retreating while
floating ice caps break
into chunks clung to by
starving polar bears so lean
we can count their ribs
as we show our concern
by posting frowning emojis
on our Facebook

i face east where today
machines of war will be
displayed as a reminder
we are governed by those
who mock compassion
and good will towards
those in desperate need
governed by those who sow
seeds of hate and flaunt the sword
so the egos of the rich
can gleam and shine
like the golden calf
they worship

facing the south
i can only weep
seeing the floating corpses
of a father and daughter
holding onto each other
together fleeing the horrors
and atrocities taking
over their homeland
fleeing into the hateful
clutches of an ugly people
ruled by fear who rip children
from the arms of parents
locking them up in cages
of genocidal dreams
and the toxic gasps
of a dying empire

you can keep
your beer and hotdogs
your fireworks and
parades dripping
with phony flag waving
and citizens who don’t
know the words to
their precious anthems

today i will mourn
hang my head
heavy in shame
with tearful eyes
watch gray smoke
drift on currents
of wind rising into
an unforgiving sky

dropping the sage
into the brown water
asking the Rio Grande
to accept my humble offering

the river spits
it back

PHOTO: Rio Grande River, Albuquerque, New Mexico, with Sandia Mountains in background. (Courtesy of City of Albuquerque, NM, used by permission.)

vargasABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Vargas received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, 2010. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference’s Hispanic Writer Award, was on the faculty of the 2012 10th National Latino Writers Conference, and facilitated a workshop at the 2015 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. His three books of poetry are McLife, American Jesus, and Guernica, revisited. He edited/published The Más Tequila Review from 2009-2015. Currently, he resides in Monona, Wisconsin.

Licensed dreamstime photo
Windmills of Western Kansas
by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Like roods with revolving crossbars,
they line the flat horizon, roll on and on—
Grateful Dead concerts
tumbling through riffs that morph
into different melodies before you know
your mind’s flowing there—far beyond

Kansas and its flat pastures
that seem to never end, except
through the Flint Hills—but then,
they flow back into plains,
now mauve in the western sun.
And more windmills churn on

atop a round horizon
of brown-gold bluffs interlaced
with the green Northwest brush.
Its verdant hue lets you know
Kansas isn’t far enough away
from traffic you want to escape.

Published in Thorny Locust (2020).

PHOTO: Ellis County, Kansas, Windmill Park (Dreamstime photo, used by permission).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During the first decade of this century, we drove almost annually from the Kansas City area to Colorado to see our children. When we passed hills, primarily in Western Kansas, I was delighted to see the new windmills. By exhibiting an efficient method to create “clean” energy, those windmills give me hope for our civilization—and our planet. When we relocated to Oregon in 2018, we saw many more windmills farther west than Kansas, too. The Dutch were definitely onto something.

Lindsey en route Colorado Aug 2014

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 ReviewPhantom DriftEkphrastic Review (Egyptian Challenge), The Same, Tittynope ZineBare Root Review Rockhurst Review, Black Bear Review, 12 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.

Summer sun shining through the canopy, ecology background
Under the Arch of Elms
by Marilyn Zelke-Windau

The breeze would float elm leaves
like the little oval pancakes
we hoped for each Saturday morning
venturing out on a heat buttered griddle.

We’d lie on the grass in the front yard,
count as many as we knew numbers,
think of the serrated knife,
the bread knife,
try to slice pebbles
with elm leaves.

Summer heat trapped the upstairs
of a Chicago bungalow,
made us tired-cry
to sleep out under the arch
of elms.

We pedaled trikes, bikes
in their safe tunnel,
played hopscotch,
four-square, concentration
in the street
of their protection.

Summer green to fall yellow,
we blanketed our dollies
with elm warmth.
November gone, March emerged.
We followed their pattern
and grew, too.

I packed a suitcase
within their shadows,
moved my childhood to the suburbs,
heard they were ill.
Their dying did not open the sky.
Their dying did not open their limb-arms.
Their dying only offered emptiness, youth gone,
a grave under the arch of my elms.

PHOTO: “Elm leaves” by ST8, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Traveling back to a childhood home, on a street now empty of trees, was like going to a funeral. Gone were the beautiful elms of my childhood, their lives taken by Dutch elm disease. Gone also was my youth, but not my memories of it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marilyn Zelke-Windau is a Wisconsin poet and a former elementary school art teacher. She enjoys painting with words. Her poems have appeared in many printed and online venues including Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat, Your Daily Poem, Midwest Prairie Review, and several anthologies. Her chapbook Adventures in Paradise (Finishing Line Press) and a full-length manuscript, Momentary Ordinary (Pebblebrook Press), were both published in 2014. She adds her maiden name when she writes to honor her father, who was also a writer.

luis sinco
Returning with the Grays
by Jonathan Yungkans

they used to hunt whales
from here       row longboats
offshore as gray whales
migrated even the cliff
seems a beached leviathan
fossilized but crumbling

the Pacific reclaiming its
own       the stone-strewn
beach on which I teeter
turns ironic in my shoes
since off-balance brought
me here not to topple but

shift       the tectonic push
which governs this land
pulls       blackness clings
to me like congealed oil
toward it       the pitch
night leaves only sound

barely breath as a damp
chill leeches past bones
taps into the rip currents
lurking beneath silence’s
cliff edge       tide pools
despair’s crash in waves

which I can only ride till
the surf breaks and I turn
a stone smoothed by tide’s
constant caress into which
I settle       know like the
whales I had to return here

SOURCE: A much earlier version of this poem appeared in Snowglobe.

PHOTO: “Whale watching season, Palos Verdes Peninsula” by Luis Sinco, L.A. Times (Dec. 2012).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Partly from growing up nearby, partly from my mother having a business acquaintance in the area, I gravitated early toward the Palos Verdes Peninsula [Southern California] and drove to it whenever I could. Portuguese Bend, where this poem takes place, remains a strong draw, especially when I need its quiet and the ocean to lend me something approaching peace of mind.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Yungkans is a Los-Angeles-based poet, writer, and photographer. Growing up in Gardena, California, not far from the Pacific Ocean and at the time still predominantly Japanese-American, left him with three things—an intense love for the sea, a deep appreciation for cultures other than his own, and the outlook (and resulting questions) of an outsider aware that he didn’t quite fit into his surroundings. Subsequent years as an ESL [English as Second Language] teacher and a publications editor for a multi-cultural Christian ministry only added to the latter two of these. His works have appeared in Poet Lore, Poetry/LA, Twisted Vine Literary Journal, and other publications.

mc escher
by Lee Parpart

To pluck words
from air like
winter grapes
shot through
with noble
rot, knowing
I’ll land every
line with the
clarity of a

To delight
party guests
with jaunty
ragtime riffs
when festivities
start to flag,
and to have
a good joke
ready in
Russian, or
in case of
or dull

To re-start
the wild
heart of a
over the
arriving at
a modest
hero, and to
cut a lean,
straight line
en pointe for

Only ten,
maybe twelve,
more turns
around the
and no more
lives spent
rolling karmic
dung across
an endless

IMAGE: “Scarabs” by M.C. Escher (1935).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It would take a lot of lives to master all of the skills I greedily imagined in response to this prompt [lumped together under the single skill “reincarnation”].  And although the dung beetle is depicted here as a low point for a human facing the possibility of reincarnation, dung beetles are hugely beneficial insects, reducing greenhouse emissions and helping farmers by burying animal waste. I could do worse than to spend a couple of lives rolling poo around the desert.

lee parpart

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Parpart won a typewriter in a Scholastic Inc. fiction contest in high school. It was a real workhorse, and she used it to write a bunch more poems and short stories, only to run away from creative writing at 18 after a guy in his forties who had published a couple of books invited her to lunch, insisted she try frog’s legs, and informed her that the prose sample she shared was “not great.” She recently returned to poetry and fiction after admitting both were central to her happiness and realizing she was insane to have listened to frog leg man in the first place. Her poems and stories have appeared in Hegira and Silver Birch Press, and her academic essays on cinema and TV have appeared in numerous books and journals. See