Archives for posts with tag: national parks

Mikhail Dudarev
Sunlight Seas
by Robert Walton

Ripple and surge
Across nylon walls,
And pine-shadow clouds
Drift there, too —
Swaying, soothing —
Just before I doze.
Both sons sleep already,
Free to slow down
In our tent’s dappled warmth,
Free from the cell phone scatter
Of young lives.
Just once
In this year of Covid
We share a nap
In Tuolumne.

PHOTO: Camp in the coniferous forest of the Yosemite National Park at night. Photo by Mikhail Dudarev.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I took my sons to the mountains, especially Yosemite’s mountains, to share beauty and adventure with them. We found more than I can ever say.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Walton retired from teaching after 36 years of service at San Lorenzo Middle School. He is a lifelong rock climber and mountaineer with ascents in Yosemite and Pinnacles National Park. He’s an experienced writer with published works, including historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy and poetry. Walton’s novel Dawn Drums won the 2014 New Mexico Book Awards Tony Hillerman Prize for best fiction. Sockdologizer,  his dramatization of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, won the Saturday Writers 2020 Everything Children contest. Most recently, his “Mansa Musa’s Wisdom” was published in Cricket Media’s February, 2022 issue of Spider magazine. Visit him at

PHOTO: The author near the summit of Lembert Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (July, 2009).

What We Beheld, Yosemite, 1963
by Mary Langer Thompson
                         For Camille

That summer morning we set out from the cabin
fresh from a night’s sleep in the top of the A-frame
after a long drive with my lovesick girlfriends in the back seat,
Camille’s parents in the front, her dad driving
most likely thinking never again as we chattered about our latest flames.

That afternoon we reached the summit
after our seven-mile hike and a stop along the dusty trail
to eat the lunch Camille’s mom had packed us.
Our legs were sore and the eyes of our hearts filled with granite peaks
and ancient stately Sequoias, Half-Dome in the distance.

Camille, with her Coloratura voice softly began to sing:
Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder. . .
giving even strangers on that cathedral mountain more reason to pause.
By the time she reached the final How great thou art,
it wasn’t mist from Bridalveil Falls that sprayed our faces.

That evening at exactly 9:00 p.m., someone started the
“The fire is ready.” Then, “Let the fire fall!”
Hot embers spilled from Glacier Point’s cliff and a waterfall became a
as the Indian Love Call made us hope to one day return
with that week’s love of our lives, or maybe, just each other.

Previously published in What I Beheld (Local Gems Poetry Press, 2021).

PHOTO: Yosemite National Park, California (July 5, 2019) by Mick Haupt on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “What We Beheld, Yosemite 1963” took place with my two best friends, Diane and Camille. Diane passed away in 1980 but Camille and I have remained good friends throughout the years. Camille still sings and has a beautiful coloratura voice.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Langer Thompson’s is a contributor to two poetry writing texts, The Working Poet (Autumn Press, 2009) and Women and Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching (McFarland, 2012). She was the 2012 Senior Poet Laureate of California, and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

yosemite adams
Duplex: Where Everything Gets Unraveled Just Right*
by Jonathan Yungkans

The lake glittered as if weightless and we laughed.
Birds rested and twittered on the tree of me.

          Foliage shattered, the perched flock startled.
          Bird flights like mountain roads—soaring curves and bends.

Mountain road climbed, twisted toward Yosemite.
I was seven. The ocean heaved out of me.

          The ocean heaved. Dad eased our camper truck down.
          Side road, thick with pines, led to a riverbank.

Walls of thick pines to a fabric skein of water.
Sun shone through loose strands, sparkled through the weave.

          Sun pulled loose as it sparkled through the weave.
          Its reflection flashed, a grin in the water.

The water washed a smile into me.
Weightless, the lake glittered as we both laughed.

*Title taken from the poem “From Palookaville,” in the collection Hotel Lautréamont by John Ashbery. 

An earlier version of this poem appeared in MacQueen’s Quinterly, Issue 10 (October 2021).

PHOTO: Mirror Lake, Morning, Yosemite National Park, California by Ansel Adams (1928).

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE FORM: Jericho Brown combined aspects of the sonnet, ghazal, and blues poem to create the duplex form in 2018. It is a 14-line poem written in two-line stanzas, in which the second line of one stanza is echoed in the first line of the following one. Each line runs between nine and eleven syllables and is meant to stand, in the strictest use of the form, as an independent entity. The opening line is repeated, or at least echoed, at the close to bring the poem full-circle. While I have treated the form somewhat more loosely in several of my other duplexes, I have tried to remain on better behavior here. I have also written a craft essay on my use of the form, which appeared in MacQueen’s Quinterly.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is the one memory of family vacations which has stayed with me consistently. (Since my mom raised and showed collies and Shetland sheepdogs for about 20 years while I was growing up, many of our weekends were taken up with dog shows and other business-related activities.) We were on our first vacation, on the outskirts of Sequoia National Forest in Central California. I got violently carsick while riding in the upper bunk of our cabover camper through a winding mountain road. Mom walked my brother and me down to the lake while Dad took care of the mess. I was scared and felt guilty. It didn’t help that I wasn’t a happy kid in general—I was mainly quiet, afraid to say peep. Maybe it was the sight of another family splashing and having fun just offshore, or maybe the river really seemed to laugh and smile to cheer me up. Regardless of why, it worked.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Yungkans continues to write while working as an in-home health-care provider. This gives him time to catch his breath and imbibe copious amounts of coffee while staying connected to humanity in something approaching a constructive manner. His writing and photography have appeared in MacQueen’s Quinterly, Panoply, Synkroniciti, and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, was published by Tebot Bach in 2021.

wolf yellowstone
The Wolf Story
by Nancy Lubarsky

The Brothers Grimm killed the
wolves of Yellowstone. They
transformed the solemn beasts

into greedy and gluttonous predators.
The story-wolves, often in disguise,
knocked down houses, ate red-hooded

girls or boys who cried the same word
too many times. Soon explorers and
well-to-do headed west, with the

illustrated tales tucked in their vest
pockets, rifles across their shoulders.
They didn’t know that with each wolf kill,

more elk thrived, who then ate the mountain
willows that beavers used for dams. The
banks collapsed, the rivers warmed, fish

couldn’t survive. Eagles and other fowl flew.
Yellowstone was dry, lifeless, nothing but
scat and bones. Years later, another story.

Mist rises as our raft pushes through. We
part silent waters, pass snowy peaks. Eagles
return to their nests. Otters repopulate

abandoned beaver dams. Elk appear from
nowhere. Their soft eyes on alert. The
wolves have returned, camouflaged

in new growth that now reaches the
great mountains’ edges. They persist as
sentries in this tale of survival and repair.

PHOTO: A wolf rests in the snow at Yellowstone National Park (Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I researched a lot about wolves before my visit to Yellowstone National Park. I was astonished to learn how simple fairy tales about fictional wolves misled educated people and, over time, had such a devastating, long-term impact on the ecosystem. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of many environmentalists, the gradual reintroduction of wolves has returned Yellowstone to its former beauty.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nancy Lubarsky writes from Cranford, New Jersey. An educator for over 35 years, she retired as a superintendent. Nancy has been published in various journals, including Exit 13, Lips, Tiferet, Poetic, Stillwater Review, and Paterson Literary Review. Nancy received honorable mention in the 2014 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards and again in 2016 and 2018. She is the author of two books—Tattoos (Finishing Line Press) and The Only Proof (Kelsay Books, a Division of Aldrich Press). Nancy received honorable mention from The Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Contest (2018). She also has had three Pushcart Prize nominations.

bears ears
Wild Places
by Janet Banks

Wolves hunt, elk rut, rattlers slither under
boulders, searching for shade
thunderclouds roil across mountains
miles away, curtains of rain to the west
sun blazing above useless fences
creatures wander, leave them be.
Wild places. Keep them free.

Drive, drive another hour, drive, keep driving
across the high desert plain, no services
next hundred miles: stop, turn back
survival not assured, no water jugs, provisions
spare tires, no place for strangers taking
chances, best heed the rules.
Wild places. Keep them free.

Uranium miners, hungry for treasures
lobby an assault, deregulation eviscerates
desert sand and rocks not worth much
money in the bank, oil-diggers covet
wildlife refuge on the northern coastal plain.
Wild places. Keep them free.

Lovers of wilderness, preserve
conserve, join caretakers of sacred lands
where generations of elders lie buried
deep, heroes to whom debts can
never be paid, their spirits rule.
Wild places. Keep us free.

PHOTO: Stars Over the Butte (Valley of the Gods, Bears Ears National Monument) by John Fowler.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poem celebrates that on October 8, 2021, President Biden signed Proclamation 9558, restoring the boundaries of the spectacularly beautiful Bears Ears to 1.36 million acres, and Grand Staircase-Escalante to 1.87 million acres. These two national monuments in southern Utah were established by President Obama shortly before he left office. They were downsized by 85% and 50% respectively, by executive order from then-President Trump. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland called Biden’s action to restore the land “profound,” saying, “Bears Ears is a living landscape. This is a place that must be protected in perpetuity for every American and every child of the world.”

PHOTO: The author at Bears Ears National Monument in May 2017, five months after President Obama designated the area a national monument. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Janet Banks is a Boston-based writer actively exploring the joys and challenges of aging in real time. Her personal essays and poems have been published by Cognoscenti, The Rumpus, Entropy Magazine, Silver Birch Press, Persimmon Tree, Poetry and Covid, a project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, Poetry and Places, as well as other online sites. Shortly after retiring from a corporate career, she was published in The Harvard Business Review. The essay was reprinted in HBR’s Summer 2020 Special Issue: “How to Lead in a Time of Crisis.”

At the South Rim
by JC Sulzenko

A blind man goes to the Grand Canyon. NO, it’s no joke.
He really travels there, asks his friend, What do you see?
He turns toward her, toward her reply.

She looks past him across long shelves of rock,
down, down, down to a mud-brown river.
She does not answer.

No wind, no rustling leaves rescue her
from the penury of her words.
What’s it like? he insists.

She squares her shoulders, picks up a rock,
a slice of shale. Puts it in his palm.
What’s this?

She closes her hand around his. Hold it tight.
Feel the ridges, the cracks, the rough edges.    
That’s the canyon in your hand.

Yes, yes. But so what? He leans forward,
two steps away from a drop of 2000 feet.
She pulls him back.

He grips her wrist.
I need to know. I NEED to know
what it looks like.

She tries again. Cliffs and plateaus contour down,
layer upon layer, ledge upon ledge,
to the river, thin as a ribbon from up here.

How far down, how deep?      
She squints at the staircase befitting giants and myths.
Stand 1000 men, each six feet tall,

shoulder-on-shoulder. That’s how deep.
He nods. Are there colours?
What colours?

She frowns, has never asked
if his eyes remember
mortal colours or know only shades.

Think of scales on a piano: the treble— 
high and sharp, cold and brittle
as the limestone below the rim.

Lower in the chasm, think of bass chords,
warm as the lava-red rocks that catch,
hold the desert sun.

The canyon, a concerto—its movements
aligned with the fanfare of dawn,
with the coda of dusk.     

She smiles, turns to her companion.
He nods his head.
I see, I see.

PHOTO: The Grand Canyon, Arizona, by JC Sulzenko.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My only visit to the Grand Canyon almost a decade ago led me to write “At the South Rim” years later. I had approached the lookout with eyes downcast. When I raised my head, I could barely take in the spectacle it was my privilege to see. I was not prepared for how this wonder’s scale and beauty would affect me and stay with me to this day.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JC Sulzenko’s poems appeared on Arc’s Poem of the Year shortlist, and have been featured in Vallum, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Oratorealis, Naugatuck River Review, and online — either under her name or as A. Garnett Weiss. The Light Ekphrastic and Silver Birch Press have published her work. In 2019, she won the Wind and Water Writing Contest and WrEN Award (Children’s Poetry), and judged poetry for the National Capital Writing Contest. In 2018, Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press) as well as the Poet’s Pathway and County CollAboRaTive projects featured her writing. Point Petre Publishing released her South Shore Suite…POEMS in 2017. Her centos took top honours in The Bannister Anthology (2016, 2013). She has presented workshops for the Ottawa International Writers Festival, the Griffin Trio, MASC, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the Ottawa Public Library, and a number of Alzheimer societies, among others. She co-authored chapbooks Slant of Light and Breathing Mutable Air with fellow Canadian Carol A. Stephen, and currently curates the Glebe Report’s Poetry Quarter, plus serves as a selector for Visit her at

etsy yellowstone
Sometime in Yellowstone
by Karla Linn Merrifield





If I do not subside
in Earth’s grand quake
I will become the vapor.

PHOTO: “Sunset, Lower Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming” by SolsticePhoto. Prints available at

Karla Linn Merrifield at Yellowstone
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this gestalt-form poem in situ during a visit to Yellowstone National Park with my late husband in 2009. It was our second visit to the park.

PHOTO: The author at Yellowstone National Park.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karla Linn Merrifield has had 800+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 14 books to her credit. Following her 2018 Psyche’s Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the 2019 full-length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press. In early 2021, her Half a World of Kisses will be published by Truth Serum Press (Australia) under its new Lindauer Poets imprint. She is currently at work on a poetry collection, My Body the Guitar, inspired by famous guitarists and their guitars; the book is slated to be published in December 2021 by Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications Holograph Series (Rochester, NY). Find her on Twitter @LinnMerrifiel and on Facebook @LinnMerrifiel.

by Sophie Cabot Black

Day and night, the lake dreams of sky.
A privacy as old as the mountains
And her up there, stuck among peaks. The   whole eye
Fastened on hawk, gatherings of cloud or stars,
So little trespass. An airplane once
Crossed her brow; she searched but could not find
A face. Having lived with such strict beauty
She comes to know how the sun is nothing
But itself and the path it throws; the moon
A riddled stone. If only a hand
Would tremble along her cheek, would disturb. Even the elk
Pass by, drawn to the spill of creeks below—
How she cannot help abundance, even as it leaves
Her, as it sings all the way down the mountain.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Raised on a small New England farm, poet Sophie Cabot Black received a BA from Marlboro College and an MFA from Columbia University. Black’s collections of poetry include The Misunderstanding of Nature (1994), which won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and The Descent (2004), which won the Connecticut Book Award. Black’s poetry has been anthologized in Best American Poetry and Never Before: Poems About First Experiences (2005).  Her honors include the Grolier Poetry Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s John Masefield Memorial Award.

PHOTO: “Evening, McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park (Montana)” by Ansel Adams (1942).

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”

 NORMAN MACLEAN, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

PHOTO: “The Tetons and the Snake River” (1942), Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, by Ansel Adams. National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the National Park Service. (79-AAG-1)

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”  NORMAN MACLEAN, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

PHOTO: “The Tetons and the Snake River” (1942), Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, by Ansel Adams. National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the National Park Service. (79-AAG-1)