Archives for posts with tag: gardens

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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.

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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. 

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Poppy
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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Sharing
by Tom Lagasse

I
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.

II

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.

III
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.

IV
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.

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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.

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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.

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Green
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,
evolving,
becoming
half-plant & half human.

We drank sunlight
through our hands

& slurped seawater
through our feet,

gradually releasing

all our thoughts

into

the

May.

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.

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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).

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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.

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My Mistake
by Mary McCarthy

When an army of hungry
orange and black caterpillars
stripped bare half
my passion flower vine
almost overnight
I saw nothing but
their ravenous appetite
their warning armor
of black spikes.
I pulled them off
one by one
the way I would pluck
big green hornworms
from my tomato plants,
and crush them with
a booted foot.

Too late I learned
these were the larva
of the Gulf Fritillary
butterfly, a beauty,
and passion flower vine
not merely its favorite
but its only host.
How could I refuse them
their necessary food
after planting milkweed
for the monarchs,
shunning pesticides
and fertilizers,
learning to love
those humble plants
whose virtues go unnoticed
because they are not showy?

I had no excuse
for extermination,
doubly wrong
because even this hungry army
can only curb, not end
the rampant growth
of its chosen host
limiting its kudzu ambitions
enough to allow recovery–
While my murderous efficiency
could upset the essential
balance, worm and vine,
lives so absolutely
intertwined.

PHOTO: Gulf Fritillary butterfly feeding on Passion Flower. Photo by Gwillhickers.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Thinking about healing the earth often seems like an impossibly big job, but must be preceded, I think, by a shift in attitude. Treating nature as only as it can be used for our needs and desires is a lopsided perspective, that leads to destructive acts on the smallest and most personal arenas. I regret killing all those caterpillars, and realize they would not only have become beautiful butterflies, but would have helped with all the pruning their host vine needs, keeping it reasonably under control.

PHOTO: Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar on Passion vine leaf. Photo by Filo gen.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy is a retired Registered Nurse who has always been a writer. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, most recently in The Plague Papers, edited by Robbi Nester, The Ekphrastic World, edited by Lorette Luzajic, the latest issue of Earth’s Daughters and Third Wednesday. She has been a Best of the Net and a Pushcart nominee. Her digital chapbook is available as a free download from Praxis magazine.

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Seed Guardian
by Kim Whysall-Hammond

I joke that he is now a bean counter
as, indeed, he kneels to count his beans
small white capsules of DNA
strung up on life-giving proteins

He needs to send a minimum of two hundred
to a seed bank upcountry, for these beans are rare
a variety that may die out soon if not cherished
grown, saved, stored

A variety that may feed us when times are hard
but only if we keep it, saving for a rainy day

PAINTING: Green Beans by Claudia Bianchi. Prints available at etsy.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My husband and I are both keen gardeners and grow much of our own vegetables and fruit. This year, my husband has become a Seed Guardian for the UK Heritage Seed Library, saving seed from a rare variety of French beans that will became part of their stock. Different crop varieties have different strengths. As our climate changes, the usual varieties are more likely to fail us. We need seed guardians, and I am proud of him.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Whysall-Hammond grew up in London but now lives where the skies are much darker. She has worked in Climate Research and in Telecommunications. Her literary poetry has appeared in Alchemy Spoon, North of Oxford, Allegro, Marble Poetry, Blue Nib, Total Eclipse, Snakeskin, Amaryllis, Amsterdam Quarterly, American Diversity Report, Littoral, Crannóg, and other publications. Her speculative poetry has been published by Kaleidotrope, On Spec, Star*Line, Andromeda Spaceways, The Future Fire, Utopia Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, Sciencefictionery, and Frozen Wavelets. Her poems have appeared in anthologies published by Wild Pressed Books, Milk and Cake Press, and Palewell Press. She also shares poems at thecheesesellerswife.wordpress.com.

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Pandemic Pumpkins
by Barbara Quick

Yesterday I saw the first paddle-like
pale-green leaves of the Cinderella pumpkin
pushed up from the hilly mounds I made
as graves for one of last year’s gourds
that went to rot before it could be used.

The English peas I’d planted on top
had come up first,
as delicate as pen-and-ink fairies,
tendrils blindly curling forth to find
support for their climb.

On my hands and knees,
I cleared the ground of weeds—
and added a row, along the fence,
of sunflower seeds.

Though their fruit and flowers
are still months away,
my pumpkins are already
fat and dazzling orange
in the mind’s eye,
the sunflowers yellow
against the late-summer sky.

Seeds are hard to come by now;
the sunflowers long past
their use-by date.

But still, any time a dried-up seed
manages to germinate and grow,
flower and thrive, it’s truly a miracle.
Who’s to say a seed won’t wait
three years or even ten?

Seed banks count on some of them
possessing the biological patience
to stay viable, on pause,
till they’re embraced by dirt again,
licked to life by water,
and awakened from enchanted sleep
by sunlight and heat.

I’m witness to this resurrection
every day of my gardening season.
How can I not believe
that life will triumph
over lockdown and decay?

PAINTING: Pumpkin (Chinese SuZhou Art), available at ebay.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Pandemic Pumpkins” is one of more than two dozen poems I found in the garden during my year of lockdown with my husband, violist Wayne Roden, at our little farm and vineyard about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. Half the poems in this as-yet unpublished chapbook are about gardening. The other half are about the particular interpersonal challenges imposed on people everywhere by the pandemic.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Award-winning poet and novelist Barbara Quick, a native Californian, has been a practitioner of organic gardening since the age of 14, when she dug up the ice-plant at the roadside fronting her mother’s house in Los Angeles to plant tomatoes and Swiss chard. Her fourth novel, What Disappears, will be published in May 2022. Her second novel, Vivaldi’s Virgins—published in 12 translations since it first came out in 2007 (and still in print) is available as an audiobook and was optioned this year as a mini-series. Barbara’s poetry has been included in half a dozen anthologies, including the two that published “Pandemic Pumpkins” this year: the 2021 Farmer-ish Print Annual and Pandemic Puzzle Poems. She has a poem forthcoming in Scientific American. Her just-published chapbook, The Light on Sifnos, won the 2020 Blue Light Press Poetry Prize. Five of her poems were recorded this year by Garrison Keillor and featured on The Writer’s Almanac. Visit her at BarbaraQuick.com.

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Freesia In Winter
by Suzanne O’Connell

Trouble can’t find me here.
Stars, the dogs of ice,
shine down on the smooth
blackness of my earthen bed.
Muffled by dirt, I hold my breath,
waiting for change.

Shivering in my brown fur overcoat
and my sprouted night cap,
I wait like a mole.
I have no vision.
Is anyone there?

Tendrils of root reach out
like a blind man reaches out
with his white cane.

The rain falls like big shoes
walking overhead.
I am a cemetery.
I survive on earthworms,
bits of shell and remembered songs.

I wait for change.
Was that warmth?
Was that light?
Was that birdsong?

At last I push aside my coverlet of leaves
and stretch my stems,
stretching them to the sun.
Soon there will be a celebration,
a homecoming.

In appreciation,
I will bring fragrant white
blossoms to share.

Previously published in 2016 in Westview (A Journal of Western Oklahoma) and in the author’s first poetry collection, A Prayer for Torn Stockings.

PHOTO: Freesia Buds by Anrita 1705.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: From the perspective of a flower bulb, what it’s like to grow up underground.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Suzanne O’Connell is a poet living in Los Angeles. Visit her at suzanneoconnell-poet.net.