Archives for posts with tag: environment

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Grey (doesn’t always) Matter
by Jacque Stukowski

G is for this dull grey April day.

The blanket of solid clouds as far as the eye can see, dampens my mood severely. Even just a thought of small ray of May sunshine gives me the tiniest glimmer of hope that my grey-matter is so desperately in need of now.

As I sit staring out at the frigid, icy waters of the Fox River, the ducks seem immune to the dark slate skies. The Mergansers are back in town, and as the dive and duck under the cool semi-flowing waters, they seem glad to be back to this river they call home. Their quacks tell me that spring is coming soon-but not today.

The horizon speaks of what looms, yet those dark gloomy storm clouds can’t suppress the many signs that spring is near.

The ducks arrival on the river, small buds forming on the trees, birds chirping happy sounds, the cool crisp Northern air smell sweet like spring dew.

Even while my mood is somber from the blanket of grey overhead, I wrap myself up in these other signs of spring, knowing that even the forecasted winter storm can’t get me down!

The signs are clear SPRING IS NEAR!

Signs of hope, but only if we look and listen quietly to see the signs…

Today, my hope came in the form of a quack, quacking!

Thanks to the playful splashing of Merganser ducks, I’m smiling
those clouds of
 grey away because May is almost here!

PHOTO: “Common Mergansers, Fox River, Illinois” by JPatR, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacque Stukowski‘s blog God[isms] is her personal space to vent and share stories of growth through life’s ups and downs living with BP and ADHD. It’s a place where her writing and photos collide with spirituality, a dash of 12 steps, and a sprinkle of the daily trials of being a Christian wife, mother of two boys, and a full-time graphic designer. She frequently uses metaphors and symbolism to connect the reader to real life things in nature to convey the message she’s writing about.

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WHAT WE NEED IS HERE
by Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

SOURCE: “What We Need Is Here” appears in The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982 (North Point Press, 1987), available at Amazon.com.

PHOTO: “Geese in Flight, Oregon” by Catia Juliana. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wendell Berry is a novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. A prolific author, he has written dozens of novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry has been named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.

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REMEMBER
by Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is. I met her
in a bar once in Iowa City.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe. I heard her singing Kiowa war
dance songs at the corner of Fourth and Central once.
Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.
Remember that you are this universe and that this universe is you.
Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember that language comes from this.
Remember the dance that language is, that life is.
Remember.

SOURCE: “Remember” appears in Joy Harjo’s collection How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems: 1975-2002 (W.W. Norton, 2004), available at Amazon.com.

PAINTING: “Meditations on the Night Sky” by Akvarel.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joy Harjo is a Native American poet, musician, and author. Known primarily as a poet, Harjo has also taught at the college level, played alto saxophone with a band called Poetic Justice, edited literary journals, and written screenplays. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Cherokee descent, she is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. In 1995, Harjo received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. In 2002, Harjo received the PEN Open Book Award for A Map to the Next World: Poetry and Tales. Harjo joined the faculty of the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in January 2013. (Read more at wikipedia.org.) Visit Joy Harjo at joyharjo.com.

Author Photo: Joy Harjo, Albuquerque, 1975, by LaVerne Harrell Clark, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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CAPTION: And no one ever heard from the Anderson brothers again.

Credit: The Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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THE BEAR
by Susan Mitchell

Tonight the bear
comes to the orchard and, balancing
on her hind legs, dances under the apple trees,
hanging onto their boughs,
dragging their branches down to earth.
Look again. It is not the bear
but some afterimage of her
like the car I once saw in the driveway
after the last guest had gone.
Snow pulls the apple boughs to the ground.
Whatever moves in the orchard—
heavy, lumbering—is clear as wind.

The bear is long gone.
Drunk on apples,
she banged over the trash cans that fall night,
then skidded downstream. By now
she must be logged in for the winter.
Unless she is choosy.
I imagine her as very choosy,
sniffing at the huge logs, pawing them, trying
each one on for size,
but always coming out again.

Until tonight.
Tonight sap freezes under her skin.
Her breath leaves white apples in the air.
As she walks she dozes,
listening to the sound of axes chopping wood.
Somewhere she can never catch up to
trees are falling. Chips pile up like snow
When she does find it finally,
the log draws her in as easily as a forest,
and for a while she continues to see,
just ahead of her, the moon
trapped like a salmon in the ice.

SOURCE: “The Bear” appears in Susan Mitchell‘s collection The Water Inside The Water (Wesleyan University Press, 1983), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Do you mind if I have an apple?” by Thomas Phillips. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Mitchell is the author of three collections of poetry: The Water Inside the Water (1983); Rapture (1992), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and a finalist for the National Book Award; and Erotikon (2000). Her poems have appeared in magazines and journals, including New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and Fence. The recipient of three Pushcart Prizes, Mitchell’s other awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lannan Foundation. Mitchell lives in Boca Raton and teaches at Florida Atlantic University, where she holds the Mary Blossom Lee chair in creative writing.

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TREAT EACH BEAR
by Gary Lawless

Treat each bear as the last bear.
Each wolf the last, each caribou.
Each track the last track.
Gone spoor, gone scat.
There are no more deertrails,
no more flyways.
Treat each animal as sacred,
each minute our last.
Ghost hooves. Ghost skulls.
Death rattles and
dry bones.
Each bear walking alone
in warm night air.

SOURCE: The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America, Edited by Karla Linn Merrifield and Roger M. Weir (Foothills Publishing, 2006), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Black Bear, Maine” by Mark Silk. Prints available at finartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gary Lawless lives the literary life — literally surrounded by books in his Gulf of Maine bookstore. He also runs a small press and teaches poetry to underserved populations, including recent immigrants and Iraq War veterans. The environment looms large as a theme in his poems – the natural world is sacred. Animals of the world are populations, cultures, and beings as much as we are. Gary Snyder, Ted Enslin, and James Kohler are his mentors. His poetry collections include Poems for the Wild Earth (1994), Caribouddihism (1998), In Ruins (2002), and Behind the Wall (2005).

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YOU ARE IN BEAR COUNTRY
by Maxine Kumin

 Advice from a pamphlet published by the Canadian Minister of the Enviroment

They’ve
been here
for thousands of years.
You’re
the visitor:
Avoid
encounters. Think ahead.
Keep clear
of berry patches
garbage dumps, carcasses.
On woods walks bring
noisemakers, bells.
Clap hands along the trail
or sing
but in dense bush
or by running water
bear may not hear your clatter.
Whatever else
don’t whistle. Whistling
is thought by some to imitate
the sounds bears make when they mate.
You need to know
there are two kinds:
ursus arctus horribilis
or grizzly
and ursus americanus
the smaller black
said to be
somewhat less likely to attack.
Alas, a small horribilis
is difficult to distinguish
from a large americanus.
Although
there is no guaranteed life-saving way
to deal with an aggressive bear
some ploys
have probed more
successful than others.
Running’s a poor choice.
Bear can outrun a racehorse.
Once you’re face to face
speak softly. Take
off your pack
and set it down
to distract the grizzly,
Meanwhile back
slowly toward a large
sparsely branched tree
but remember
black bears are agile climbers
in which case
a tree may not offer escape.
As a last resort you can
play dead. Drop
to the ground face down.
In this case
wearing your pack
may shield your body from attack.
Courage. Lie still. Sometimes
you bear may veer away.
If not
bears have been known
to inflict only minor injuries
upon the prone.
Is death
by bear to be preferred
to death by bomb? Under
these extenuating circumstances
your mind may make absurd
leaps. The answer’s yes.
Come on in, Cherish
your wilderness.

SOURCE: The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America, Edited by Karla Linn Merrifield and Roger M. Weir (Foothills Publishing, 2006), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Black Bear Has a Gentle Look” by Richard Wear. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maxine Kumin (1925-2014) was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award. She was the poetry consultant for the Library of Congress in 1981-1982, and taught at many of the country’s most prestigious universities, including MIT, Princeton, and Columbia. Kumin’s poetry collections include Nurture (1989), The Long Approach (1986), Nurture, Looking for Luck (1992), Connecting the Dots: Poems (1996), The Long Marriage (2002), Inside the Halo and Beyond (1999), Jack and Other New Poems (2005), Still to Mow (2007), and Where I Live: New and Selected Poems (2011).

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“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” Excerpt from Travels with Charley: In Search of America, memoir by JOHN STEINBECK

PHOTO: Jon Von Neumann, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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EVENING HAWK
by Robert Penn Warren

From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak’s black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.
His wing
Scythes down another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fall of stalks of Time.

The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.

Look! Look! he is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
Into shadow.

Long now,
The last thrush is still, the last bat
Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics. His wisdom
Is ancient, too, and immense. The star
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.

If there were no wind we might, we think, hear
The earth grind on its axis, or history
Drip in darkness like a leaking pipe in the cellar.

PHOTO: “Evening Hawk” by Tony Hisgett

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END OF APRIL
by Phillis Levin

Under a cherry tree
I found a robin’s egg,
broken, but not shattered.

I had been thinking of you,
and was kneeling in the grass
among fallen blossoms

when I saw it: a blue scrap,
a delicate toy, as light
as confetti

It didn’t seem real,
but nature will do such things
from time to time.

I looked inside:
it was glistening, hollow,
a perfect shell

except for the missing crown,
which made it possible
to look inside.

What had been there
is gone now
and lives in my heart

where, periodically,
it opens up its wings,
tearing me apart.

SOURCE: “End of April” appears in Phillis Levin’s collection The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995), available at Amazon.com.

ILLUSTRATION: “Opus No. 122″ by Kazue Shima

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phillis Levin is the author of four poetry collections, including May Day (Penguin, 2008), and editor of the Penguin Book of the Sonnet (Penguin, 2001). She teaches at Hofstra University.

Author photo by Sheila McKinnon