Archives for posts with tag: nature

grackles-and-angus-1974.jpg!Large
Waiting Out the Wind with Grackles
by Jessica Purdy

The wind that frightens me now
will quiet. So will the hours
spent waiting at the height
of fight or flight that do no good at all.

All those times you panicked
before crossing a bridge
or going through a tunnel have gone.
Your mother’s dying took years.

Now she comes to me in dreams
still alive and just the same
as she was, only now she’s
a piece that won’t fit this life’s puzzle.

I’ve packaged winter in a ziplock bag.
It leaves an imprint of toasted
bread and butter. Leftovers
and vestiges. The black

wings of a plague of grackles fling
up from the trees like a magician’s
sprung deck of cards.
They spin like a van Gogh sky
encircling the map of the world.

The wind made visible, they tilt and shift,
until their wings fold and their feet grip
the grass. Their squabble
of squeaks in chorus
sound for all the world like a warning
masked as exaltation.

And then I notice red-winged blackbirds too,
their epaulettes distinctive in the crowd.

I stand at the doorway looking out.
It’s for these inevitable
disappearances I am still waiting.

PAINTING: Grackles and Angus by Jamie Wyeth (1974).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I had been reading Galway Kinnell’s poem “Wait” when I saw the prompt for this series. The line in his poem: “Only wait a little and listen” gave me comfort. The lament in Ferlinghetti’s poem is borne of frustration and impatience with the world’s injustices, and I felt that too, while writing. Ultimately, comfort is what I am waiting for in this poem. The grackles experience of the wind was the opposite of mine. They embodied it, while I cowered. I found myself hoping for the fear to pass, but in the meantime previous and future traumas kept appearing. Like any strong emotion, the wind did eventually die down.

Bio pic for Telephone Game

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Purdy teaches Poetry Workshops at Southern New Hampshire University. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Her poems and reviews have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Gargoyle, gravel, The Plath Poetry Project, The Ekphrastic Review, The Light Ekphrastic, SurVision, The Wild Word, isacoustic, Nixes Mate Review, Bluestem, The Telephone Game, and Silver Birch Press, among others. Her chapbook, Learning the Names, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. Her books STARLAND and Sleep in a Strange House were both released by Nixes Mate Books consecutively, in 2017 and 2018. Visit her at jessicapurdy.com.

robin by a michael brown
Under Construction
by Kim Klugh

I watch a robin gather small sticks and stalks
from the rain-soaked garden. As she walks about
the muddy soil, she plucks up twigs in her beak
until her bundle is sticking out from both
sides of her bill. She flies to the juniper bush
and disappears into the thick cover it offers.
There she adds to her nest’s construction,
poking and nudging into place each new piece,
rounding out the cup she’s fashioned
with the wrist of her wing.
She’s built her nest from inside out,
adding dead grass and moss then soft mud
for underpinning. Then she sits and waits.
Her industry reminds me of my attempt
to build a different type of construct,
for like the robin preparing for her clutch, I root
and rummage among the muddle too, plucking
snippets of language overheard here and there,
found words and discarded phrases to arrange on my pages
I stretch and twist and mold these into place hoping
a vessel takes hold so that after breaking
through its pale blue shell, a small egg
of a poem, laid with care, hatches
and flutters its new wings like a fledgling lifting
off into air. And like the robin, I am still waiting.

PHOTO: North American Robin Building a Nest by A. Michael Brown, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Spring’s arrival is always welcomed, but particularly after this winter, I have been waiting to observe signs of life and renewal. Many times the chances come when I linger in a moment and snatch the opportunity to witness nature right before my eyes. One morning while watching my husband drive off to work, I caught sight of a robin collecting nesting materials from my flower bed. Before long, she was sitting on the nest, waiting. Her flurry of activity spurred this poem.

kim klugh

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Klugh’s poetry has appeared in two craft books edited by Diane Lockward and published by Terrapin Press: The Practicing Poet and The Crafty Poet II. Her work has also been published on Vox Poetica and Verse Virtual. Her haiku has appeared in her local paper in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In May 2020, she was a contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition community poem for Ahmaud Arbery “Running for Your Life.” She also enjoys writing silly short stories and poems for her four-year-old grandson.

mexico emma rogers licensed
On Bahía Concepción
by Jeff Ewing

A sign rusted to the wall crackles over my shoulder
where I’m waiting for the late stars to appear, raising
the hairs on my arms—electric, the night, this night
when the Sea of Cortés itself lights with the prisoned
charge of life rubbing against the shore it will break on.

On the square of a town walked away from by all but
the least curious, a cannon slick with dew rings under
a storm of butternuts, a wind-driven harvest staining
the sidewalks and car hoods, the time-shedding roofs
of closed storefronts. I will wait there in short sleeves

and pale arms for news of the living. There is a future,
I guess even then, in which others wait for me, in which
the gull-speckled arms of the opposite ocean gather close
handful on handful of penny shells, combed pinnas cocked
in guilty thrall to the wail and shatter of each falling wave.

There is a song on a radio, a window thrown open to let
what’s left of the night air in. Tinny and bone thin, the words
perch one by one on the limbs of the tree domed wide over
me. I am still waiting, as you must soon, when the first of the
storm comes ashore to shake the last of the firmament loose.

PHOTO: Star trails above an empty beach on the Sea of Cortés (Gulf of California), with the town of Loreto, Mexico, glowing in the background.  Photo by Emma Rogers.

ewing

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeff Ewing is the author of the poetry collection Wind Apples, published on May 26, 2021 by Terrapin Books, and the short story collection The Middle Ground, published by Into the Void Press. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in Crazyhorse, Southwest Review, ZYZZYVA, Willow Springs, Subtropics, Utne Reader, and Cherry Tree, among others. He lives in Sacramento, California, and can be found online at jeffewing.com.

texture-2118387_1920
All Things
by Jenny Bates

This year, everything seems to hang on the return of the Hummingbirds.

There have been neighborhood sightings. I think I heard…that small chitter

and squeak,

yet, none at the feeder.

          Last year, we named our first hummer, Hubble.
          She should come back, females are always first.

Once Hubble does arrive I will listen.

Stories of her travels, sadness and struggle.

As she sips the sugar water
I especially prepared.

Look up. I am still waiting for her return.

I’ll be silent amidst all death listening to her hum.

PHOTO: Hummingbird in the Rain by Coco Parisienne, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: All humans have learned about being human by what we have gained from observing our fellow animals. With a much longer history than humans, animals have learned not to accept, but to respect their differences. My poetry is based on this philosophy. I start with animal. To see the world through their eyes, and to understand it through their souls.

jenny bates

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenny Bates, born and raised in Michigan, is a poet from the foothills of North Carolina, and a member of Winston-Salem Writers, North Carolina, Poetry Society, North Carolina Writers Network. Her published books include Opening Doors: an equilog of poetry about Donkeys (Lulu Publishing, Raleigh, NC), Coyote with Coffee, a single poem fine craft volume (Catbird on the Yadkin Press, Tobaccoville, NC), and Visitations (Hermit Feathers Press, 2019). Her work has been published in Flying South, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Old Mountain Press, and Hermit Feathers Review. She is a consecutive contributing poet in Poetry in Plain Sight, and in 2017 she was a Top-10 Finalist in the Press 53 Single Poem Contest. Jenny’s poetry appeared in laJoie 2017-2019, a quarterly publication of Animals’ Peace Garden, dedicated to promoting appreciation for all beings. Her work also has been featured in Ought To Be Magazine, Poetry That Sustains Us, and Word Doodles Literary Magazine, 2020. In 2019, her poem “Fame Looks Both Ways” was included in the Walt Whitman Bicentennial Celebration for publication in Poets to Come. In 2021, her work was published in the inaugural issue of Self-Educating Poets Network, and her poem was First Prize winner in the “Love” Category in Pinesong, the premier journal of the North Carolina Poetry Society. In 2020, her latest book of poetry, Slip, was published by Hermit Feathers Press. In local circles, she is known as an animal whisperer to Donkeys, Coyotes and “Crow Folk.”

glory of the snow
The Season of Rebirth
by Hali Denton

Waiting, watching
winter’s lingering death,
the reluctant loosening
of its cold hands from
the throat of spring,
as white yields to green,
crisp edges of ice retreat,
reveal dark winter soil starred
with pink and blue blossoms
of Glory-of-the-Snow,
while crocus and narcissus
spear upward toward the sun.

Waiting as the sun’s track
daily arcs higher, stretches
further east and west,
still waiting as sunbeams
stroke dusty windows,
finger books and pens
abandoned on the table,
with stark white light not yet
warmed or filtered by
slowly unfurling leaves.

I am still waiting for
flickering leaf shadows
to thicken into solid form,
still waiting for a familiar
footfall, voice, touch.
Not everything
is reborn in spring.

PHOTO: Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii) by Chris Burrows. Prints available at art.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem had its origins in the Port Townsend Writers’ Group, a small group of poets that met at the annual Centrum Port Townsend Writers’ Conference. We have continued to meet weekly via Zoom during the pandemic, writing to prompts and providing critiques and support of one another’s work.

denton 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hali Denton lives and works in Juneau, Alaska, where the landscape and climate are constant sources of inspiration. She is a former government employee who is enjoying her retirement participating in the vibrant local arts scene, drawing and writing, and also drinking too much coffee.

EPSON scanner Image
Love Birds
by Jaya Avendel

Under the plum trees I stand
In the shivering light
The scent massages moisture into my skin.
One tree reaches toward the other
Blooms white, blooms pink
The color of my lipstick
Nudge of the wind and the branches kiss.

Under the plum trees I sit

Hands to the earth
I hold a marble and
Call it a pearl. Turning it
Slowly in the sun I watch the flat facets
Glitter and reflect my eyes back into me
Cutting.

Under the plum trees I linger
Six years of courting and
I am still waiting
Still waiting for your nuptial flowers to
Bear fruit.

If I do not look away
Do not blink, do not dare to dream
I will taste you on my salted tongue yet.

PAINTING: Pale Plum Tree by Okumura Togyu.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The peach and plum trees on my backyard hill are currently in bloom. They bloom brilliantly but have never given more than a handful of fruits over the years. Though I have never enjoyed the famously beloved streets of cherry tree blossoms unfolding in person, this year it has come unexpectedly to me in a mountainous form. As I taste spring, I honor it as I can in words to share what is more than experience.

author-photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jaya Avendel, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, is passionate about life where it intersects with writing. Her writing is published at Free Verse Revolution, Lamplit Underground, and Emotional Alchemy Magazine, and most recently in Heart Beats: An Anthology of Poetry. She writes creatively at ninchronicles.com.

salmon stream
Henrietta: A Summer Love
by Joe Cottonwood

I do not claim to own this creek
but it flows through my property
and perhaps I own each day’s gurgle
that wakes me, and beds me, alone
after a winter of slow goodbye.

Today, a new sound: splash and thrash.
A salmon the size of an otter
struggles upstream over gravel,
pool to pool where she rests, gathers strength
for the next leap and spurt
driven by a memory she does not remember.

Nine miles from the Pacific she stops
at this dark pool under my footbridge.
In a drought year, no farther. Henrietta,
I christen thee after my favorite aunt
who has your face.

I do not claim to own this fish
but all summer she hovers in shadow,
fins barely moving, facing upstream.
Water enters, water departs
too shallow each way for escape.

At the post office I happen to meet Debbie,
a biologist who knows salmon, who also knows loss.
Something compels me to bring her to my bridge.
A secret. In a town of anglers, we tell no one else.
Debbie says Henri is waiting for a lover.

Next day, and next, Debbie drops by.
I’m not sure why. Together, daily we watch.
Henrietta says little. Avoids eye contact.
Same with Debbie who says they often starve.
Waiting to spawn, they die.

One morning, October, I awake to the rush of rain.
I run to the bridge where Debbie is already waiting.
Her hand on my shoulder. Mine, hers.
Henrietta is gone.
Debbie says Henri might return next spring.
Please, she says, call me if and when.

I am still waiting.
Strange, the signs we miss.
The love. The fish.

PAINTING: Spawning Salmon by Julie, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The “I” of this poem is actually a good friend of mine whose creek became the summer rest stop of a fish that he named Henrietta. Taking weekly walks with my friend I always paused to visit Henrietta, so I am the Debbie of the poem. From such waters, the poem swam away and took on a life of its own. I am still waiting for my friend to chew me out about this.

Cottonwood Joe

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joe Cottonwood is a semi-retired contractor with a lifetime of repairing homes and writing books. He lives with his high school sweetheart under giant redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California where he dodges wildfires while caring for curly-haired dogs and straight-haired grandchildren. His latest book is Random Saints. More at joecottonwood.com.

iron trybex licensed
I Am Still Waiting for Spring
—a villanelle
by Jeannie E. Roberts

I am still waiting for spring on the lake.
Lesser scaup lands near merganser and loon.
Open water invites migration breaks.

Frozenness thaws into lunarlike shapes.
Surface reflections resemble the moon.
I am still waiting for spring on the lake.

Ruddy ducks dip and dabble with drakes.
Pelicans float as if primal pontoons.
Open water invites migration breaks.

Horned grebes trill to attract likely mates.
Geese honk alongside a cover of coots.
I am still waiting for spring on the lake.

Buffleheads shine like the icing on cake.
Mallards illumine in plumage platoon.
Open water invites migration breaks.

April arrives to dissolve winter’s weight.
Birds nod in respite on warm afternoons.
I am still waiting for spring on the lake.
Open water invites migration breaks.

PHOTO: Duck in a mystic morning light by Iron Trybex, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am still waiting for spring! Aren’t we all after this long, unusual winter? Living near a lake, I feel lucky to be able to experience the spring migration. We’ve already seen a few lake gulls. In 2018, our first year on Lake Wissota, I created a list of waterfowl arrival times. Though it varies, typically, the loon, mallard, osprey, bufflehead, pelican, blue-winged teal, lesser scaup, and American coot arrive in the third and fourth weeks of April. May brings the horned grebe, greater scaup, ruddy duck, hooded merganser, Northern shoveler, and others. They rest on the open water for a few days and then continue on their way; however, the osprey stay and return to their nearby nest, and geese are a year-round fixture. Also, depending on the snow level, the air temperature, and, of course, the amount of sunshine we receive, the lake ice melts between the end of March and the end of April. Lastly, I’ve been on a villanelle roll, so this poem follows that form. For more, here’s a link to the rules and history of the villanelle: Villanelle | Academy of American Poets.

Roberts1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts lives in an inspiring setting near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where she writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. She’s authored four poetry collections and two children’s books. As If Labyrinth – Pandemic Inspired Poems is forthcoming in May 2021 from Kelsay Books. She’s listed in Poets & Writers and is poetry reader and editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. To learn more, visit jrcreative.biz and Jeannie E. Roberts | Poets & Writers (pw.org).

flower-garden-1907.jpg!Large
How to Squander a Sunny Day
by Jennifer Lagier

“Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.” ~ Annie Dillard

Sunlight steams away nighttime drizzle,
flings coins of golden poppies
among lavender lupine.
Honeybees flaunt stockings of yellow pollen.
Blue jays spear slugs and snails,
glean pests from awakening garden.

A poet ignores dirty laundry,
abandons vacuuming, mopping.
Surrounded by primroses,
she props feet against oak barrel,
squanders warm afternoon,
scribbles on notepad.

Self-indulgent indolence seduces
hibernating muse from her shelter,
jump-starts imagination held hostage
by months of pandemic winter.
Spring revives taciturn earth
with lyrical hyacinths, cheery daffodil stanzas.

PAINTING: Flower Garden by Gustav Klimt (1907).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This past year has provided a restorative time out within which to appreciate our natural surroundings and has taught me how to put more satisfying routines into place.

2021JenniferLagier copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published 19 books, her work has appeared in a variety of anthologies and literary magazines, she has taught with California Poets in the Schools, edits the Monterey Review, and helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Her recent books include Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress (Blue Light Press) and COVID Dissonance (CyberWit).

a-black-bird-with-snow-covered-red-hills.jpg!Large
How to Identify a Bird
by Laurel Benjamin

Focus on the orange beak, a crusher,
take your time, turn the nobs
oriented left to right—
see the racing stripe head, a bullet,
puff of white black white
flight action.
Zoom out from the golden
morning tree among white corollas
to bird frock a holiday suit,
dive and land.
I’ve studied the dynasty of devotion
among bird families,
a queenship of no solitary taste.
Now look from the side,
narrow as a finger, almost
disconsolate, almost tearful,
like a bride without like flesh,
without sugar breath.
From the front, view the open eyes,
too dilated, streaked neck,
hints of wing stripes, tan breast
no one can contest.
Or are there too many details
like a Victorian instruction book?
I set my eyes forward
to meet the bird’s as if
I the mother
eggs underneath, a little boudoir
with a dainty chair, house
with many breasted chicks.
Kneel down greenly
hour to hour,
employ a knowingness.
Like a fruit fully ripe, never rotting
on the vine, the feathered fabric,
not musk nor silk,
never peels back.
Tail flicks, throat opens,
verse a whistle followed by
a sharp explosive
chink.

PAINTING: A Black Bird with Snow-Covered Red Hills by Georgia O’Keeffe (1946).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Since the pandemic, I have gained a higher level of birdwatching, something that’s both intellectual and emotional, connecting with the birds, as never before.

1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laurel Benjamin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s PoetryCalifornia Quarterly, The Midway Review, Mac Queens Quinterly, Poetry and Places, WordFest Anthology, Global Quarantine Museum Pendemics issue, including honorable mention in the Oregon Poetry Association’s Poetry Contest 2017 and 2020, long-listed in Sunspot Literary Journal’s long list, among others. She is affiliated with the Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and the Port Townsend Writers. More of her work can be found at thebadgerpress.blogspot.com.