Archives for posts with tag: environment

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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 annchristinetabaka.com 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.”

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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 www.porkies.org or email AIRP@porkies.org.  ¶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.

Rosalie

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
7/4/19
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

rotating
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.)

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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.

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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.

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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
Reincarnation
by Lee Parpart

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

To delight
party guests
with jaunty
ragtime riffs
when festivities
start to flag,
and to have
a good joke
ready in
French,
Russian, or
Cantonese
in case of
bored
Péquistes
or dull
visiting
diplomats.

To re-start
the wild
staccato
heart of a
struggling
passenger
somewhere
over the
Atlantic,
arriving at
Heathrow
a modest
hero, and to
cut a lean,
straight line
pirouetting
en pointe for
assembled
fans.

Only ten,
maybe twelve,
more turns
around the
board,
assuming
steady
forward
momentum
and no more
lives spent
rolling karmic
dung across
an endless
Serengeti.

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.

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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 leeparpartpoems.wordpress.com.

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.

BirdCity
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.

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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  markerickson.com.

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