Archives for posts with tag: gardens

Wedge Acres
by John Charles Ryan

in the long claggy days
of summer my father
cleared oaks and pines
from the triangle of sand
that on a shellacked sign
under the front lamppost
he named Wedge Acres

sweat and dust caked his dark
blue dungarees as he wrestled
into Archimedean alignments
a series of pulleys and winches

I sat on the splintering
rim of a newly cut stump,
its concentric twirls burnished
by the hot steel blade—
time-rings gnashed
into a sawdust pile,

cerise with chain grease.

Photo by Redd F on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poetry explores human-botanical relationships through the possibility of plants having an innate form of intelligence. My writing also aims to reveal the ways in which human beings mind plants through acts of caring, attachment, and affection. The idea of “the intelligent plant” has enjoyed a revival of late in popular culture. The co-authoring of poetry with plants—and with non-human beings more generally—presents exciting possibilities for better understanding and appreciating the natural world. Viewing poetry as medium of exchange between intelligent beings, I continue to probe the question of collaboration with nature through writing techniques based on sensory immersion and memory provocation. “Wedge Acres” is an outcome of this poetic interest in how plants mediate human recollection.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Charles Ryan is a writer of poetry, nonfiction, and research with an interest in plants, fungi, lichens, and human-nature relationships. Between 2008–20, he lived in Western Australia and New South Wales. His recent work includes the poetry collection Seeing Trees: A Poetic Arboretum (with G. Phillips) and the prose anthology The Mind of Plants: Narratives of Vegetal Intelligence (with P. Vieira and M. Gagliano). In May–June 2022, he was Interdisciplinary Writer-in-Residence at Oak Spring Garden Foundation in the United States. He is also an adjunct associate professor at Southern Cross University, Australia, and adjunct senior research fellow at the Nulungu Institute, Notre Dame University, Australia.

by j.lewis

the bricks along the flower bed
still want straightening
a daily reminder
they should have been set deeper
or in cement

the grass pretends
that bare spots
are beauty marks
and goes about being greenest
under a flowering crabapple tree

the hollyhocks
once purposeful and confined
have jumped the bricks
and stubbornly refuse
to be restrained

sweet peas wave their frail pastels
in a shy hooray, hurrah
just enough of them
to bouquet our sunday table

chrysanthemums have been replaced
by yellow crook-neck squash
more plant than produce
spreading leaves large and proud
against the dull gray cinder blocks
that keep them from our neighbor

the backyard of my childhood
slips into my mind
in quiet times
when i need the innocent laughter
of running barefoot ’round the tree
while mother hung out clothes

Photo by Carly Mackler on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Like many aging people, I find that childhood memories have become more intense and more important with each passing year.

Jim Lewis

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, nurse practitioner, and Editor of Verse-Virtual, an online journal and community. When he is not otherwise occupied, he is often on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California. He is the author of four full-length collections and several chapbooks. More information is available at

Second Cutting
by Amy Nemecek

My dad surveys the south field
from the seat of his Farmall C.
With one eye he watches the west,
where a fist-sized pewter scruff
threatens rain. With the other eye
he gauges a row of cut, crimped
stalks crisping in the heat and rakes
them into sage-gold windrows. The
sun is setting as he hitches the rusty
baler to begin a steady sweep-push-
sweep-push-sweep-push-knot, and
prickly slick squares slide from its
chute to land on dusky stubble. I drive
our smoke-blue Ferguson in low gear
with an empty wagon jouncing behind.

My brothers walk to either side,
heft bales by the twine and pitch
them onto the weathered flatbed.
After each row I depress the clutch,
pausing so they can climb aboard
and order the jumble into solidity.
Chaff coats their tanned torsos,
bootcut Levi’s, and tousled hair,
but above red bandanas that shield
mouth and nose, their itchy eyes
glimmer youth. A sweaty scent
mingles with clean alfalfa, tractor
exhaust, and an August moon that
rises amid cicadas’ crescendo
to silver our lives with its smile.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a snapshot of a summer evening from my childhood, which I spent roaming every acre of our family’s small hobby farm. Summers were spent either in the vegetable garden growing food for ourselves or in the hayfields growing food for our small menagerie of cows and horses and goats. It was hard work, but it was work we did together, and it gave us all a sense of satisfaction and delight. Those summer nights spent in the fields with my dad and brothers are some of my fondest memories, and being able to convey that joy through these lines brings me joy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amy Nemecek was awarded the 2021 Paraclete Poetry Prize for her forthcoming book The Language of the Birds (Paraclete Press, 2022). Her poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals, including Presence, Relief Journal, St. Katherine Review, and Whale Road Review. Amy lives in West Michigan and works as a book editor. When she isn’t crafting words, she enjoys taking long walks in nature and spending time with her husband and son.

E. meets the Virgin Mary
by Kelley White

for the first time. We’re in the garden
center, looking to replace the faded
pansies with something suitable for fall
and they’re off at the edge of the parking
lot, at least a dozen, squeezed in between
bearded gnomes and anthropomorphic frogs,
some as small as eighteen inches, others
a good six feet in their pearlized grottos;
she asks, “who’s that” in her squeaky preschool
voice and you say, “the Blessed Mother.”
I was never Catholic enough to call
Mary that, but I say to her, “Jesus’s mother, the girl
in the Christmas play, remember, when you
were a sheep, and a queen, and the star?” “Yes,”
Evy says, “you had a play set of it,
and there were animals too.” I tell her,
“when I was a little girl like you I
said a prayer to her for help when I was
sad or hurt, and sometimes I even say
it now.” She is serious. “May I know
the prayer?” And so I am reciting it
to this child who has almost never heard
of God, except when her grandmother drops
a cup or slams the brakes when a squirrel runs
in front of the car, “Hail Mary, that’s Hail,
like hello, like hi to someone really
special, full of grace” and the words tumble
forward, difficult, unexplainable,
a vocabulary far beyond age
four, “Lord, Blessed, Womb, Jesus, Holy, God,
Pray, Sinners, Death,” and Evelyn says “May
I say it?” so we do, line by line, me
beside you, my former altar boy, tears
streaming down your face ‘til I start to laugh,
and Evelyn is pleased with it, and with
Mary’s blue dress and quiet smile; I point
to a dogwood tree with red red berries
ripening and lead her off to the rows
of pumpkins before she spots the trampled
snake beneath the statue’s dainty feet.

IMAGE: 12-inch Blessed Virgin statue, available at Amazon.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece was inspired by my granddaughter who is an avid reader and started kindergarten recently.

2016 Evelyn and Kelley 11-16

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent collection is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine. Her newest collection, No. Hope Street, was published by Kelsay Books in August 2022.

PHOTO: The author with her granddaughter Evelyn in 2016.

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In the Beginning
by Margaret Dornaus

Start with a prayer.
It might contain just one word.
Or many—

Length doesn’t matter so much
as intention. Rest assured
words can propagate

exponentially . . .
like the seeds you plant
in early spring

when the wind is still
at your back. When hope holds
scarcely long enough

to keep you and the future
together for at least another
season of growing

your own version of a victory
garden, filled with tomatoes
and eggplants and other humble

members of the nightshade
family. Without ever fearing
extinction. Without feeling even

the tiniest threat of devastation. Start
before the work commences—the hoeing,
the weeding, the careful cultivation of

sun and shade, the gentle
layering of compost and leaves,
the tender tamping down,

the turning of the earth in need
of additional nutrients and endless
watering. Start with a prayer,

then begin again.
And again— Don’t stop!
Start with a prayer:

In the beginning . . .

PAINTING: Thankful Harvest by ArtsyBee.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The past two years have brought so many crises to light, not the least of which is climate change. I often wonder how one person can begin to make a difference in this pandemic world of ours. I’m not sure, but I do know that indifference and inaction are beyond contemplation. Better to use whatever tools we have at hand to try to heal ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and the earth. For me, that means raising my voice, passionately, prayerfully, deliberately, as often as I can.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Dornaus holds an MFA in the translation of poetry from the University of Arkansas, and recently received recognition as a semifinalist in Naugatuck River Review’s 13th Annual Narrative Poetry Contest for her poem “First Sleepaway.” Her first book of poetry, Prayer for the Dead: Collected Haibun & Tanka Prosereceived a 2017 Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America. In 2020, she had the privilege of publishing a pandemic-themed anthology—behind the mask: haiku in the time of Covid-19—through her small press, Singing Moon, and received a Best of the Net nomination from MacQueen’s Quiinterly. Other recent work appears in Global Pandemic, MockingHeart Review, Silver Birch Press’ I AM STILL WAITING seriesThe Ekphrastic Review, and The Lindenwood Review. 

poppy 1
by Attracta Fahy

There she was with her ovary nose
all in a blush when I opened the door.
Her pupils splashed on tissue pink
petals, gushing under a star

stigma, lemon and lime carpels
exposed to the sun, precariously
ready to scatter her young.

One ivory, silvery leg rooted in a crack
on the pavement, the smokey scent of seed
in the breeze. Her leaf skirt in a swirl,

arms, two shoots raised into the air,
hands, two heads in a swoon, ready to burst
into bloom.

Like my daughter, how could I not love her?
Oh, the things I told her

PHOTO: Poppy (Galway, Ireland) by Attracta Fahy.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Sometimes it’s overwhelming to witness what’s happening in the world in terms of not just climate change, but humanity itself. It is very hard to experience the helplessness one feels at the enormity of difficulties. The question of how to make necessary changes to heal ourselves, and our planet can feel too big, but I’ve learned that to keep focused on what I can do, regardless of how small it may seem, lifts me out of the fear and sadness. ¶ I live in the countryside and have a half-acre garden, which I have maintained for over 26 years. I never use chemicals, which means there is much more labour, but the reward is that my conscience is clear and I feel good. I have a huge compost heap at the end of my garden, which I call bug hotel, so much is happening there in terms of ecology. The trees and hedgerow I nurtured from when I came here have matured, and there is an abundance of wildflowers, hybrids, herbs, fruit, and always something new. I love to see natural habitat, hares, rabbits, frogs, and a variety of birds visit here. Every year it is the same and different. I live my life according to its rhythm, and know almost to the day when a flower or shrub will appear and when migrating birds will arrive. ¶ For me, much of the issue in terms of our self-destruction seems to be a deep-rooted fear of the feminine, the soul, and the anima mundi. When I saw the submission call on “How to Heal the Earth,” I thought of the morning I went out the back door of my house and saw a beautiful pink poppy looking up at me from the pavement. What I saw was a little fairy girl bringing blessings. Of course I knew her name was Poppy. This is how nature communicates: to our intuition. I felt a very deep love for her. This is how we heal the earth. Love of all things, but start with one. What returns is immense. Then I wrote this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Attracta Fahy is a Psychotherapist living in Galway, Ireland. She is the Winner of the 2021 Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition. Her work has been published in Irish Times, New Irish Writing 2019, and many other publications at home and abroad. A Pushcart and Best of Net nominee, she was shortlisted for the OTE 2018 New Writer, Allingham Poetry competition (2019 and 2020), Write By The Sea Writing Competition (2021), and Dedalus Press Mentoring Programme (2021). In March 2020, Fly on the Wall Poetry published her bestselling debut chapbook collection, Dinner in the Fields. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

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by Tom Lagasse

I will again press, with hope and promise,
seeds into the moist spring soil. Tenderly

Tamping Mother Earth so they will connect
with her and bring new life. Bent in

Supplication, I make my small offering,
nearly as old as humanity itself, to

the gods or goddesses of the three sisters,
the onion, the kale, the lettuce, and the tomato.

Accompanied by birdsong as if
they knew what was held in my heart.


The tender shoots rise
from their made beds.

There is enough for all—
rabbits, mice, beetles

And the few humans
have taken bits

To appease the driving
hunger that animates life.

Crows watch from atop
the dead ash tree.

I tear a few slices of the day-
old bread and toss them

Into the air like confetti:
a celebration of crows.

Enough has been taken
to feed us through spring.

The land and I are tired.
We welcome the shorter days

To lie fallow, to witness silence.
The garden, dun and brittle,

Has frosted into a boneyard
where spent sunflower heads,

Drooped like shower heads drip-
ping seeds. Dried bean pods twirl

On a trellis: A piñata awaiting
the strike of a sparrow’s beak.

Snowy wasteland, the wind
whips crystals across the garden

which peck at my face. Lengthening
light: a time for hope against a stark

Reality. What appears as neglect
and insouciance: the unmade garden

Beds and alone the property’s boundaries,
the rolling woody bramble with dried berries,

Encrusted with ice and snow give a taste
of the wild for juncos, chickadees, rabbits

And squirrels. Mounds of bird seed piled on
cardboard are my widow’s mite for everything

Taken so this menagerie may survive in this
manscaped, denuded warming world.

My mother said if you want to love
the world, feed it.

PAINTING: Garden of Eden by Martiros Sarian (1904).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am never sure what will spark a poem—a journal entry, whatever I am reading, or what I see from the window near my desk. I have learned to trust an idea will come to me if I am open and patient enough. My commitment is providing discipline to the process, so I will try to spend an hour or two every day at my desk.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Lagasse’s poetry has appeared in Poetically Magazine, The Feminine Collective, Black Bough’s Poetry Freedom & Rapture and Dark Confessions; Faith, Hope, and Fiction; Silver Birch Press Prime Movers Series, Freshwater Literary Review, Word Mill Magazine, The Monterey Poetry Review, a half dozen anthologies, and more. He lives in Bristol, Connecticut.

My Backyard
by Lynn Norton

Swollen seeds struggle
to embrace the thawing loam.
Birth canal opens.

Dawn streaks through pickets.
Tender blades lean into warmth.
Mower purrs to life.

Fencing post and rail
stand guard against invaders.
Laughter from rabbits.

Night sings to the owl.
Talons caress the crooner.
Hush becomes lyric.

Summer’s open hearth
demands dew from every pore.
Cactus drinks its fill.

Birds taunt the bellows
of wind and tear-filled thunder.
Squirrels feather nests.

Mice scurry through turf,
gather the harvest of light.
Snakes hiss approval.

Trees mourn lost clothing,
shiver in naked horror.
The axe doesn’t judge.

Earth grows icy skin,
foretells the end of breathing.
Birth canal closes.

PAINTING: Flowering Garden by Vincent van Gogh (1888).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As a career sculptor, I’ve become intimately familiar with tools that give shape to my vision. Pen and tablet have recently been added to my toolbox alongside chisel and rasp.  To my delight, the creative process of writing revealed itself to be markedly similar to that of sculpting.  Develop a compelling concept. Make preliminary sketches. Render raw materials until they emerge as images.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Lynn Norton is a poet and a sculptor. His work reflects a fascination with detail, whether it is seen in images or dimensional patterns. He has been published in Veterans’ Voices magazine and, most recently, in Thorny Locust. The numerous Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments he has created dangle from Christmas tree branches during the holidays and stand on shelves and mantels throughout the year.

by Mish Murphy

I was afraid to become green,
but glad to be reborn.

I sewed my torn self together
& waited for the cravings
to go away—
the urge to eat, procreate, shop–

I sewed myself inside a bucket, & you,
my favorite candy,
my voluptuous freckle,

I sewed you inside my bucket, too.

We were changing,
half-plant & half human.

We drank sunlight
through our hands

& slurped seawater
through our feet,

gradually releasing

all our thoughts




ACKNOWLEDGMENT: “Green” was originally published (with slightly different language) in the author’s collection Sex & Ketchup (Concrete Mist Press 2021) and in POETICA REVIEW (UK 2021).

PAINTING: Woman in a Green Dress in a Garden by Pierre Bonnard (1892).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What would happen if people who wanted to “go green” could become hybrid plants, replacing our stressed-out consumerist selves with simpler, eco-friendly selves? I think many would find that being transformed into a plant brought happiness, and if enough people “went green,” the Earth would heal. The speaker in the poem alludes to the fact that plants do not do a lot of thinking, and to become green, people must let go of thinking. This would turn out to be something positive and is one reason, in my opinion, that life as a plant might bring such peace.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mish (Eileen) Murphy is Associate Poetry Editor for Cultural Daily magazine and teaches English and Literature at Polk State College, Florida. She recently published her third book of poetry (fourth book overall), the collection Sex & Ketchup (Concrete Mist Press Feb. 2021). Fortune Written on Wet Grass (Wapshott Press April 2020) was her first full length collection. Her second book Evil Me was published August 2020 (Blood Pudding Press). She’s had more than 100 individual poems published in journals and zines, such as Tinderbox, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Thirteen Myna Birds, and many others. In the UK, her poetry has been published in Paper & Ink, The Open Mouse, Quarterday Review, and POETICA REVIEW. Mish also is a prolific book reviewer and visual artist; she illustrated the children’s book Phoebe and Ito are dogs written by John Yamrus (2019).

The Gardener as a Lover
by Uma Gowrishankar

Seeds travel all over, sprout
from cracks in walls. Different plants
cohabit in a tub: basil with jasmine,
butterfly pea with honeysuckle.

The inflorescence of the mustard
leaves a scar on the retina,
blazing hours after I remain
blindfolded in jaundiced darkness.

He never trims a tree,
the branches awkwardly
crisscross, arms twist
like an amateur yoga practitioner.

He taught me how to lie
in a patch of dead marigolds:
the smell of seeds masculine,
trapping the pores in my skin.

The morning glory soaks in
the blue of the sky till
all that is mirrored in his eyes
is the blinding light of desire.

PAINTING: Flower Garden by Gustav Klimt (1905-1907)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In a crowded city, one of the ways to be a nurturer is to let the terrace garden grow wild—not prune the plants, let the seeds wedge in the cracks of walls, invite betel vine to hug the Plumeria tree.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Uma Gowrishankar is a writer and artist from Chennai, South India. Her poems have appeared in online and print journals that include Poetry at Sangam, CityA Journal Of South Asian Literature, Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English, Qarrtsiluni, Vayavya, Hibiscus: Poems that Heal and Empower, Shimmer Spring, Buddhist Poetry Review, Entropy, Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, and Curio Poetry. Her full-length collection of poetry Birthing History was published by Leaky Boot Press.