Archives for posts with tag: nature

by Roslyn Ross

Lost that grey kitten,
eyes like stars and
fur in silken clouds
of love, damp-nosed
and curious, so very
curious –

Found, that grey kitten,
eyes clouded, fur limp,
body curled in death,
sighing from the final
bite of the snake, as it
defended its babies
from curiosity

IMAGE: “A Kind of Cat” by Paul Klee (1937).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We live on a farm and in summer, the brown snakes are common and kittens are as ever, much too curious. We have lost three kittens in the past two years.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roslyn Ross has been writing poetry since she was a child. She was born in Australia and has lived around the world for three decades, but is now settled in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia.

Freshwater pearl mussel
by Mark Andrew Heathcote

It was better than any stupid gerbil
Yes, it sounds pretty cruel I now admit
I didn’t feed it, and I never once cleaned it
I had it 2yrs on the bedroom window sill.
But it did pretty well, and it was special
I prized it from the moment I found it;
And hoped it had taken in a bit of grit
I knew it would survive — it was primaeval.

I’d watch it for hours at night one-footing round
A plastic, oblong tank beneath the moonlight:
I collected earth and blanket weed poolside
Everything was fine in its little compound.
But that said one day I returned home from school…
And this silly fool threw it out to get at me.
“There’ll be no more of that it’s my rule
Being my stepfather, he set his decree
There are no more prized possessions here for me.”

PHOTO: Mussel.



Well, I was born in Withington, Manchester, one of three children; I was the eldest and the only boy. We lived in a three-bed terrace house with no bathroom or indoor toilet. I lived there until the age of nine and was a quiet and unhappy child, but that changed when the family moved to the countryside, where I then had the freedom to explore nature at first-hand. I spent much of my free time climbing trees and swimming in lakes and rivers, making rope swings, stuff like that. I was looked on as a kind of Tarzan figure, that’s how all other kids saw me. I was never academic and was years behind all the other children at school. I struggled badly in high school and didn’t learn a great deal. I left school at age 16, taking dead-end jobs on local farms and then in factories. I left home at age 17 —  by then, there had been a messy divorce and relationships weren’t good all round and haven’t improved all that much since. So I moved back to Manchester, where I’m still residing now and have done ever since. I’m a father of five and for the past 14 years I’ve be employed as a learning disability support worker. I write a lot of poetry in my free time and enjoy music and gardening.

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.


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.

peter tellone
The Movers
by Cynthia Anderson

Every ferryman has to start
somewhere. In the dog days
of August, young Charon
gets his chance: after six years
of packing the truck, they let him
drive it, before dawn, across the desert
to meet Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
Older, wiser in tomfoolery,
the two fast friends watch
that eager pup injure his paw
and bleed himself off the job,
leaving them free to unload
the way they wanted.
King G, tall, blond, and lean,
sings the furniture’s praises
to the lady of the house,
while Enki, a swarthy
stevedore, recites the litany
of local threats: fire ants,
scorpions, snakes, and worse,
the killer who descends
through the cooler duct
straight into the living room.
He grins with his parting shot—
You’ll have to deal with them
whether you like it or not.

PHOTO: “Sunset, Hidden Valley” (Joshua Tree National Park, California) by Peter Tellone. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 2008, my husband Bill Dahl and I moved from the California coast to the tiny Mojave Desert town of Joshua Tree—in August, the hottest month of the year. One young man drove the moving van all night from the coast to our new home. Two movers from San Bernardino joined him on site to unload. As the poem relates, the young man injured himself and the two San Bernardino men completed the job. One man in particular hated the desert and made sure to tell us why. As for us, our love for the desert—the climate, the wildlife, the wide open spaces, and the peace and quiet—continues unabated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Askew, Dark Matter, Apercus Quarterly, Whale Road, Knot Magazine, and Origami Poems Project. She is the author of five collections—In the Mojave, Desert Dweller, Mythic Rockscapes, and Shared Visions I and II. She frequently collaborates with her husband, photographer Bill Dahl. Cynthia co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.

by Bokyung June

Let me find love
like the
Foam laced waves
folding gently
envelope me into
a silk embrace.

Love, be the waves
and I the shore
return to me, always.

At night the
tide stronger
forcing me to hold on

onto love
like the

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The first time I felt beautiful walking on the beach. (June 3, 2014 at Hermosa Beach, California.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My creative process first starts with clearing my mind and noting the things that happened that day. Bad things, good things — then I minimize them into a single word and try to write a poem off that singular word. Sometimes nothing comes of it, but sometimes it just flows. Either way I always feel glad I picked up that pen.

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bokyung June, also known as Ryan Sally, is a Los Angeles poet. Currently living on the border of Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire, she has grown to love and enjoy and respect the various cultures that make up the area. She aims to continue honing her craft as a writer and a performer and finds tremendous inspiration from the City of Pomona as well as trying to get in touch with the roots she had left behind at a young age in Korea.

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.


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.

Slaughter Beach
by Sally Toner

The water turns tar dark. They
lumber and lull, a thousand
mounds of spiky mud. Do their
tails hold poison? I never knew
in childhood, seeing
their crackling shells discarded.

Then I saw the ocean, up
the coast and up the years, a
home to ancient, alien lovers.
Their claws are zippered; the wife
lays eggs in a drying bed
while her husband twists in counterpoint.

Crabs are black sand thoughts, two part
Inventions. Some go home, retreating
with the waves or nudged
upright by my flip flop. Still,
the ones on shore, deposited
too far for recovery—

They haunt me in the golden
mourning. Now, I walk,
silent along the scene—
a brined pile of failed rescue.
Their legs stiffen in the air, and
the stench makes me turn to take

a picture of a heron
on glass instead.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me, down the coast at Ocean View, Norfolk, Virginia (Easter, 1979). (Photo by Jim Huggins.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, right on the Chesapeake Bay, but I never experienced the horseshoe crab spawning that happens every year just up the coast on the Delmarva Peninsula. A few years ago, some family friends and I spent a day watching our preteen children in the water suddenly become quite freaked out when these prehistoric creatures came ashore by the hundreds, the smaller males and the larger females, as I say in the poem, “zippered together.”

Toner-Current Author Photo1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sally Toner has taught high school English in the Washington D.C. area for 20 years. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in The Delmarva Review, Clementine Poetry Review, Gargoyle Magazine, and Defying Gravity—a compilation of writing from Washington-area women. She lives in Reston, Virginia, with her husband and two teenage daughters.

AUTHOR’S BIO PHOTO CAPTION: Me, quite a few years later on my porch on the water in Norfolk, Virginia.

sylvia cavanaugh
Sky View
by Sylvia Cavanaugh

          “That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea”
                    From “Byzantium,” by William Butler Yeats

It was the Cape Cod tidal pool that
taught me I breathe air like the dolphins.
I had believed in my body before it was torn
from the sand floor by a fast rising tide that
tilted back my head in reflexive gasp, gong-
knell filling my brain. ‘Til a man saw my tormented
sky-bound eyes. He saved me from the salt blue sea.

PHOTO: The author, Cape Cod, Massachusetts (1966).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We used to vacation at the Jersey shore, and I always loved going to the beach. One year, we went to Cape Cod, which felt wild and exciting. There was a warm pool of ocean water on the beach, which was fun to play in. Suddenly, the high tide came in and I found myself unexpectedly lifted from the ocean floor and set adrift. My body reflexively assumed the drowning person’s stance, and I stared helplessly at the deep blue sky of Cape Cod, until I was rescued. I still remember the trip fondly, and am very happy, now, to be living near the shore of Lake Michigan. I used the line form Yeats to create a Golden Shovel poem, because I love the way in which that line depicts the sea as dangerous.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Originally from Pennsylvania, Sylvia Cavanaugh has an M.S. in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin. She teaches high school African and Asian cultural studies and advises break dancers and poets. She and her students are involved in the Sheboygan chapter of 100,000 Poets for Change. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have appeared in An Arial Anthology, Gyroscope Review, The Journal of Creative Geography, Midwest Prairie Review, Seems, Stoneboat Literary Journal, Verse-Wisconsin, and elsewhere. She is a contributing editor for Verse-Virtual: An Online Community Journal of Poetry.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

roseanne jordan
Blue Bodies Litter the Beach
by Michael Minassian

I stop my wife
as she is about to pick up the first jellyfish,
so blue and small it looks like a shell:
a dark mollusk or tiny anchor
from a long-ago wreck
the sea has thrown up.

A translucent mass tinted pink, blue, & purple,
beckoning even in death’s disguise:
like drowned dirigibles,
or an organ removed
from the body of the sky
without muscle or bones,
blood red tentacles trailing behind.

I do not know
what that inner atmosphere is like,
or if I could breathe the air within;
would it smell as sweet
as the serpent’s kiss,
or taste like the ocean bottom:
sand and salt and sunken skeletons.

Could I look up and launch
the pink ridge of sail,
would I see stars
or stones of tropical reefs,
the shark’s tooth’s glint
or the sun’s glare?
Could I spare the sharp sting
of venom on my wife’s skin –
would I beach myself,
would I dream of ships
with sails falling off the edge of the earth?

PHOTO: “Blue jellyfish” by Roseanne Jordan. Prints available at

SOURCE: Originally published in Iodine Poetry Journal, Fall/Winter 2011/2012: 55. Also appeared in Verse-Virtual, February, 2016.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after visiting  Ft. Lauderdale Beach [Florida] with my wife who had just moved from Germany to our home in Florida. It was her first time seeing jellyfish of the type I described and I had to stop her from touching one because she thought it was a seashell.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Minassian lives in San Antonio, Texas. His poems have appeared in such journals as The Aurorean, The Broken Plate, Exit 7, The Galway Review, Third Wednesday, and Verse-Virtual. He is also the writer/producer of the podcast series Eye On Literature. Amsterdam Press published a chapbook of poems entitled The Arboriculturist in 2010.

karen wiles
by Emily Hockaday

I lost the first few
pulling too quickly
or not quick
enough. You reached

for the string
over my shoulder
trying to man both
string and net

at once. We were left
with empty lines—the rags
of flesh less and less
attached to the bone.

I had helped
you secure that string
around the raw chicken,
fat puckering up

over the knots before
dropping it down
into the dark water.
When I first asked you

to take me crabbing,
you took it as
a joke, maybe, said
the season starts

in August, at dark,
so day-lit May
was improper.
I took your information

rolled it between my
fingers to feel around for pieces
of your childhood
amongst the knowledge

you’d gained living on the shore
of an island.
You were right.
To go crabbing

when there aren’t any crabs,
it doesn’t make sense.
I wanted to see
one crab. It’s what I said

at dinner that night—
chicken legs—over the stiff
plastic tablecloth
saturated in ugly floral

print, Alzheimer’s, your
familial ghosts. I promised
your mother a poem
so here it is:

the dock jutted out
into a bay
which I called the ocean
because really

if A touches B touches
C—it smelled
like the ocean. The salt stuck
to my lips and pores,

the spray misleadingly gentle,
and I crossed the dock
in the deliberate and
exploratory way

a child picks apart
veins in an oak leaf
by ripping out
the papery and meaty insides.

The slats of wood, crusted
with salt, speckled and stained
with worm carcasses, bird excrement
and burns

led out into the water
like a long tongue.
Posts and hooks
with grimy bits of string

sticking up. The equipment
made it an expedition. You,
shaking the spiders
off the plastic bucket, net

held like a lacrosse
stick, were in
command. The crabs came
early that year,

would probably come again,
too, a second wave. It was
abnormal (though to be
expected). You and I

have precarious timing.
We threw each
crab back; all
runts but the same

pregnant female,
so hungry, again and

SOURCE: Previously published in Go Places (2012).

PHOTO: “Why Men Fish” by Karen Wiles. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is about a crabbing excursion I took with my now-husband (then-friend) and other friends out in Patchogue, Long Island. The trip came after a lot of begging and nagging on my part (because this was off-season). We started too early (dusk) and apparently had missed a wave of crab and were destined to miss the next as well. We’ve since had more luck, but even though we left empty-handed I remember the trip fondly.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emily Hockaday is author of three chapbooks: Ophelia: A Botanist’s Guide (Zoo Cake Press 2015), What We Love & Will Not Give Up (Dancing Girl Press 2014), and Starting a Life (Finishing Line Press 2012). Her work has appeared in a number of journals including the North American Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Newtown Literary, Amazon’s Day One, and, most recently, Qu. She can be found on the web at and on Twitter @E_Hockaday.