Archives for posts with tag: environment

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

crab pot (1280x851)
Elegy for a Small Island
    for JWP (1913-2006)
by Ann Howells

The blue crab sheds its pinching carapace,
and salty oysters breathe blue-grey water
in the exact spot where, in a one-room school,
you daydreamed waves. Your island,
less than one mile wide, three long, is gnawed,
silt spit into Great Shellfish Bay.

Cicadas drone a one-note dirge, dawn to dusk;
mosquitoes are roiling thunderheads.
Saltmarsh twitches with no-see-ums—ticks
and biting flies. It gulps down wanderers,
digests their bones. Archeologists
will someday find there was an island
beneath their shallow sea; they’ll display
primitive tools: dredge, seine, tongs,
ponder what forgotten deities you worshiped,
how you served them.

Nor’easters and hurricanes rage; waters rise.
You always knew water more powerful
than wind or fire, more powerful than man’s
tiny constructions. Nights are black molasses.
Days are beaded glass. The river is a polished
silver plate. And, this island is sand
that trickles from a flawed hourglass.

SOURCE: Originally published in Surrounded: Living with Islands (Write Wing Publishing, 2012).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The elegy was written for the island near the Chesapeake Bay where my father grew up. All of his children and grandchildren consider it their “ancestral home,” if such an unpretentious place can bear such a title. Our ties to the island are strong. But the tides are strong as well: erosion is stealing the land and environmentalists warn of rising oceans. We all understand that some day the entire island will vanish, and that only makes us cling harder. The poem is dedicated to my father, who lived and died there, who loved the land even more than we do. Though I no longer live there, the island is still my one and only home.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Island seen through crab pot” by Ann Howells.

Ann reads  for DPC 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ann Howells’s poetry appears in Crannog (Ire), Lunch Ticket, and Spillway, among others. She serves on the board of Dallas Poets Community, 501-c-3 non-profit, and has edited Illya’s Honey, since 1999. Her chapbooks are Black Crow in Flight, (Main Street Rag, 2007) and the Rosebud Diaries (Willet Press, 2012). She has been read on NPR, interviewed on Writers Around Annapolis television, and has four times been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

where the grass grows
by Mark Erickson

forever starling in the darkness
soaring high and settling for the low hills
fortunes eyes on the farthest
lands off the western slopes
in the gallery of the windmills,
five days spent in the wilds
almost half way there
lost in the savage memory of the sun
where she walks the streets
still graceful in her beauty,
along the shadowed light
it’s always been the same old story
in the coolness of the gray
and the frightful coming of night,
the last time I saw the birds
they were circling above
scratching for the words
that I could never think of

IMAGE: “Bird City,” mixed media on canvas (24″ x 24″) by Mark Erickson (2008), ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Artist/author Mark Erickson was born in Hollywood, California, and lives along the West Coast of United States. After growing up in Hollywood, his family moved to Germany and then onto Italy. Living in Europe for almost six years opened his eyes to art and words. On his return to the States, he settled in the Bay Area to study painting at the San Francisco Art Institute and the San Francisco Art Academy. Mark paints in his studio in Oakland and exhibits in galleries around the U.S. He continues writing poetry and short stories that often provide inspiration for his paintings. Mark has self-published numerous books on painting, photography and poetry in collaboration with Katy Zartl of Katworks Graphics in Vienna, Austria. He is presently working on a book, An Aviator’s Dream–The Man From Painted Woods, a tribute to his father’s Air Corp exploits in World War II. You can view Mark’s work at

IMAGE: Self-portrait by Mark Erickson, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

by Devshree Dubey

Gushing its way through seas
Meeting the swinging trees
Crossing the greener pastures
Violent wind dances in azure skies

Laden with thunder and storm
Many a shape it transforms
Upon the rivers and the valleys
In forests it enters stealthily

The boisterous wind in its might
Coursing its way delights
Violent wind, vibrant wind
Energizing lives, reviving mankind

Violent wind is never dulled
It breathes life in everything lulled
Violent wind moves and moves
Into the meadows and grooves

Fills insight with a rapture
Soothes spirit, sorrows capture
Fanning the fire raging
Reminder of seasons changing

Violent wind roars upright
Where are ye men of light?
In every temptation and trial
Unlike violent wind smile


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Devshree Dubey is studying for her Master’s of Computer Application from Jabalpur Engineering College (India), where her poetry has been published in the school’s magazine Abhiyaam. She has served as editor of the magazine released by the Department of Computer Science and Application, St. Aloysius’ College, Jabalpur, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree. Her poetry has been published in the college magazine The Aloysian.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem describes the spirit of the mighty wind. While flowing, it changes the course of the weather and seasons. In its rage it asks us to be full of energy, enthusiasm, and courage. Wind is afraid of nothing and urges  us to follow its steps. The wind is a harbinger of hope and breathes life into everything.

by Pablo Neruda

Green was the silence, 
wet was the light
the month of June
trembled like a butterfly. 

SOURCE: 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda

IMAGE: “Little Butterfly” by Angela Doelling. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was the pen name of the Chilean poet, diplomat and politician Neftali Ricardo ReyesBasoalto. He chose his pseudonym after Czech poet Jan Neruda. In 1971, Pablo Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Neruda often wrote in green ink because it was his personal symbol of desire and hope. Gabriel García Márquez called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.”

by Stanley Plumly

Some—the ones with fish names—grow so north
they last a month, six weeks at most.
Some others, named for the fields they look like,
last longer, smaller.

And these, in particular, whether trout or corn lily,
onion or bellwort, just cut
this morning and standing open in tapwater in the kitchen,
will close with the sun.

It is June, wildflowers on the table.
They are fresh an hour ago, like sliced lemons,
with the whole day ahead of them.
They could be common mayflower lilies of the valley,

day lilies, or the clustering Canada, large, gold,
long-stemmed as pasture roses, belled out over the vase–
or maybe Solomon’s seal, the petals
ranged in small toy pairs

or starry, tipped at the head like weeds.
They could be anonymous as weeds.
They are, in fact, the several names of the same thing,
lilies of the field, butter-and-eggs,

toadflax almost, the way the whites and yellows juxtapose,
and have “the look of flowers that are looked at,”
rooted as they are in water, glass, and air.
I remember the summer I picked everything,

flower and wildflower, singled them out in jars
with a name attached. And when they had dried as stubborn
as paper I put them on pages and named them again.
They were all lilies, even the hyacinth,

even the great pale flower in the hand of the dead.
I picked it, kept it in the book for years
before I knew who she was,
her face lily-white, kissed and dry and cold.

plumly ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stanley Plumly was born in Barnesville, Ohio, in 1939, and grew up in the lumber and farming regions of Virginia and Ohio. His work has been honored with the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award and nominations for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, and the Academy of Amerian Poets’ Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. He is currently a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of English at the University of Maryland. His poetry appeared in the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology (2013).

PAINTING: “In the Meadow” by Claude Monet (1876)

by Marge Piercy

The first lily of June opens its red mouth.
All over the sand road where we walk
multiflora rose climbs trees cascading
white or pink blossoms, simple, intense
the scene drifting like colored mist.

The arrowhead is spreading its creamy
clumps of flower and the blackberries
are blooming in the thickets. Season of
joy for the bee. The green will never
again be so green, so purely and lushly

new, grass lifting its wheaty seedheads
into the wind. Rich fresh wine
of June, we stagger into you smeared
with pollen, overcome as the turtle
laying her eggs in roadside sand.

SOURCE: “More than Enough” appears in Marge Piercy‘s 176-page collection Colors Passing Through Us (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), available at

IMAGE: “June Lily” by Paul Trunk. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet, novelist, and essayist Marge Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1936. She won a scholarship to the University of Michigan and later earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University. She has published fifteen books of poetry, including Colors Passing Through Us (2003), The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme (1999), Early Grrrl: The Early Poems of Marge Piercy (1999), What Are Big Girls Made Of? (1997), Mars and Her Children (1992), Available Light (1988), Circles on the Water: Selected Poems of Marge Piercy (1982), and The Moon Is Always Female (1980). She is also the author of a collection of essays on poetry, Parti-Colored Blocks for a Quilt (1982). Piercy lives with her husband, writer Ira Wood, in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

dear dusty moth
by Robin Blaser

dear dusty moth
wearing miller’s cloth,
Sophia Nichols’ soft
voice calls wings
at dusk
across railroads
and sagebrush
to lull me to sleep,
‘Come to these window corners,
come, rest on my boy’s dreams
and flight,
come tonight

SOURCE: “dear dusty moth” appears in The Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser (University of California Press 2006), available at

IMAGE: “An Afternoon in Fall” by Michele Cornelius. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin Blaser (1925-2009), with poets Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer, helped spark the Berkeley Poetry Renaissance in the 1940s that preceded the San Francisco poetry renaissance of the 1950s and 1960s. Blaser is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including The Moth Poem (1964), Cups (1968), Syntax (1983), and Nomad (1995). His poetry and prose has been collected into three volumes: The Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser (2007), The Fire: Collected Essays of Robin Blaser (2006), and Even on Sunday: Essays, Readings, and Archival Materials on the Poetry and Poetics of Robin Blaser (2002). In 2006, Blaser received the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry’s Lifetime Recognition Award. Two years later, The Holy Forest garnered the 2008 Griffin Poetry Prize.