Archives for posts with tag: nature

Jean Landry
Spring Storm Along the Yuba
by Robert Coats

Red osier dogwood over black water,
Each flaming twig rimed in white.
A ghost of snow lit by lightning flicker,
Dark clouds hasten on-rushing night.

Each flaming twig rimed in white:
A sudden unexpected gift.
Dark clouds hasten on-rushing night;
In deep shadow, the last remaining drifts.

A sudden unexpected gift
After a day in the woods, alone.
In deep shadow, the last remaining drifts,
Ahead, the long drive home.

After a day in the woods, alone
Wind-driven hail pummels the truck.
Ahead, the long drive home
Down highway carved through glistening rock.

Wind-driven hail pummels the truck,
A ghost of snow lit by lightning flicker.
Down highway carved through glistening rock:
Red osier dogwood over black water.

PHOTO: Red osier dogwood reflection in water looking like kissing lips by Jean Landry.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I believe that we are surrounded all the time by poems, but most of the time we do not see them.  I have been fortunate that my work often takes me to beautiful and amazing places, and provides opportunities to catch potential poems as they fly past. My submission describes the moment of catching some raw material that, with considerable sweat, eventually became a poem.¶ “Spring Storm Along the Yuba” was published with 10 other poems that together won first prize in a 2010 contest of the on-line journal Word Worth (apparently no longer accessible).  It won first prize in the “forms” category of the 2020 contest of the California Federation of Chaparral Poets, and is included in my book The Harsh Green World.

Coats photo for Silver Birch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Coats is a research hydrologist with the University of California at Davis. He has been studying climatic, hydrologic, and ecological processes in the northern Sierra Nevada—and writing poetry—for more than 40 years. His poems have appeared on the websites of Canary and Poetry and Places, and in Orion, Zone 3, Windfall, Song of the San Joaquin, in two anthologies (Fresh Water: Poems from the Rivers, Lakes and Streams and Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California), and in his book The Harsh Green World, published by Sugartown Publishing. He spent his childhood years in the deciduous forests of the Potomac River basin, and the summers of his teenage years in northern Elko Co., NV.  He lives now in Berkeley CA.

sycamore leaf Rich Herrmann
Mill Creek Hike During Covid-19
by Tina Hacker

A sycamore leaf. One leaf. But large
as a dinner plate, falls
right at my feet in early October
before the wetlands trail
turns into wallpaper patterns
of locust, oak, maple.
I stop, pick it up. This is new to me
or seems new after weeks in lockdown.

Swarms of marsh cattails line the route.
Their tall slender stakes sway
at the whims of autumn winds,
eclipsing smaller scrambles of prairie grass.
Algae spreads over a pond like a ‘50s
poodle skirt, wide swaths of green, smooth as felt
with a blue heron replacing the iconic symbol.

Walking through a tunnel, I am pressed
into a crouch when a train passes overhead.
Fun! I decide to wait for another train
then stroll until late afternoon shadows remind me
of the dark time I am traveling through.
But for a couple of hours on this lowland journey,
nothing more dangerous than a leaf.

First published in the Mockingheart Review (2021). 

PHOTO: Sycamore Leaf by Rich Herrmann,

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem reflects true events. My husband helped me identify the sycamore leaf and other plants we encountered throughout our hike. I scribbled down notes from our first steps till our last steps on the trail.

Hacker, Tina.jpeg

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Hacker, a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, was a finalist in New Letters and George F. Wedge competitions and named Editor’s Choice in two literary journals. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including The Whirlybird Anthology of Kansas City Writers, San Pedro River Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Fib Review, and I-70 Review.  Her two poetry collections, Listening to Night Whistles and Cutting It, have been joined by a new collection titled GOLEMS  (Kelsay Books).

skunk 1
The Importance of Water
by Martin Willitts Jr

I carry water from the well in an old wooden bucket,
swinging loosely from a metal handle,
my face swimming on the water’s surface,
whooshing side to side
like I’m disagreeing with someone.
The slosh-spill water music ripples with light.

I hurry — not shilly-shally —
because grandmother is waiting up for me.

She needs me to fetch this water
to pour into her black kettle pot
from the American Revolution.

She places that huge pot
on the wood-burning Franklin pot-belly stove.

She will pour the near-hot water
on grandfather’s naked body in the wooden bathtub
because he was on the wrong side of a discussion
with a skunk, and stinks so bad,
God complains.

IMAGE: Skunk ceramic tile, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Some of my poems could be considered memoirs, but I am also writing about a time period where some people still used well water, large pots in a fireplace, and wooden bath tubes. My Amish and Mennonite grandparents are a great source about that time period, farming the old way with hand plows, nature, sunrises and sunsets, working with animals, and their silent ways. They are also a great source for my more prayerful poems. This is one of my funny memories. I called it “close encounter with a skunk.” It reminds me that no matter how attentive we are to the land, the land has it own rules. Being ambushed by skunks is one of those hard-to-avoid rules.

Msrtin Willitts Jr

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Willitts Jr edits the Comstock Review. He has been nominated for 17 Pushcart and 14 Best of the Net awards. His awards include: Winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2015, Editor’s Choice; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Artist’s Choice, 2016; Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, 2018; and Editor’s Choice, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2020. His 25 chapbooks include the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 21 full-length collections, including 2019 Blue Light Award The Temporary World.  His latest release is All Wars Are the Same War (FutureCycle Press, 2022). Find his books at

by Jenny Bates

You came so close, Crow.
The empty branch surrendering
to your grip, shuddering in still
minutes after liftoff.
I suppose I live in an idiot’s
false security. Dreaming of Crow
flying to my hand. When really,
all the wild things want or expect
is to be left alone. Live their own
lives the way they were intended
to be lived. If I extend them this
courtesy, they would reciprocate
in kind. Both of us could have
clear conscience.
Shame though. I’d like to spend
the day with Crow. One of ramble
and mischief. Bad manners takes
over — I can’t help sounding out
Instead, I’m tossed out flopping
back to my natural element.
Then the whole thing has to start
all over again.

PAINTING: A Murder of Crows by Mildred Anne Butler (1858-1941).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Forestall” the poem came out my emotional indulgence for my local Crow family. Knowing my house may be considered by them a giant “Crow’s nest” in our forest. Longing to communicate with them on the highest level, yet knowing I may just be as close as I’ll ever get. Emerson said, “…nature’s secret is patience…” perhaps that is the greatest friendship lesson Crows teach.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenny Bates lives in North Carolina. She is a member of Winston-Salem Writers, NC Poetry Society, and NC Writers Network. Her published books include Coyote with Coffee (Catbird on the Yadkin Press, NC 2014), Visitations (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2019), Slip (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2020). Her newest collection is Where the Deer Sleep (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2022). She is known as a local animal whisperer to Donkeys, Coyotes, and “Crow Folk.”

by Katrin Talbot

Where I’m staying,
you can’t see neighbours,
just piñons, mountains and
the distant shimmer of
a city below in the evenings

Here, expansive solitude,
song of high desert finches,
ravens ripping through
the soundscape,
a gentle breeze cooling
you in the shade

So where do you put
the surprise of a
whinny next door?
A simple and astonishing
declaration of

After the startle,
this equine delineation,
worthy of
a gilded frame,
hung in memory’s
grand hall

PAINTING: Blue Horse by Franz Marc (1911).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I spend quite a bit of time in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as photographer for the International Shakespeare Center-Santa Fe, where my daughter is the artistic director. Every visit yields new experiences, poems, memories. This poem is from an unforgettable first morning at the gorgeous house my daughter was housesitting last summer. All I could see in my poetry head was a frame around the moment.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Australian-born Katrin Talbot’s collection The Waiting Room of the Imperfect Alibis was published by Kelsay Books in October 2022. Her collection The Devil Orders A Latte is forthcoming from Fernwood Press,. Her seven chapbooks include The Blind Lifeguard and Freeze-Dried Love (Finishing Line Press), Attached: Poetry of Suffix, The Little Red Poem, and noun’d, verb (dancing girl press), and St. Cecilia’s Daze (Parallel Press). Wrong Number is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. She has two Pushcart Prize nominations and quite a few chickens. Visit her at

two fawns1
What Shall I Say?
by Penny Harter

What shall I say to the two tiny fawns
grazing on soft grass along the roadside
until startled by my slowing car?

How can I follow them as they dart away
into a dense green cathedral? Although
they are old enough to be out here alone,

their mother is probably nearby, hidden
among thickets. Reading Bambi’s Mother
as a child, I cried, learning early the sudden

pain of virtual grief, though not yet the anguish
of real loss. If I could follow these fawns, I’d
tell them they are blessed to have been born,

blessed to be bound by a protected woods
bordering a seldom-traveled road, blessed
to join the family of deer.

Yesterday, some among the five distant deer
I saw together in a deer heaven—that endless
grassy lane bordered by another protected woods

out of some long-ago fairytale—knew when I had
stopped to view them, lifted their heads to stare
back at me until, sensing no danger, they resumed

peaceful grazing. Would we could be like those
deer—face what might harm us, then find within
ourselves a grassy lane where we can safely graze.

Previously published in the author’s collection Still-Water Days (Kelsay Books, 2021). 

PHOTO: Two fawns by EX2218.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During the endless lockdown days of the pandemic, I took daily rides out along the country roads meandering through Atlantic County here in South Jersey. On many of these rides, I  encountered deer. I have always felt deer to be one of my spirit animals. This poem was a result of one such ride.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Penny Harter lives in the southern New Jersey shore area. Her most recent collections are Still-Water Days  and A Prayer the Body Makes (Kelsay Books, 2021; 2020). A new collection, Keeping Time: Haibun for the Journey, is forthcoming in 2023 from Kelsay Books. Her work has appeared in Persimmon Tree, Rattle, Tiferet, and American Life in Poetry, as well as in many journals, anthologies, and earlier collections. An invited reader at the 2010 Dodge Festival, she has won fellowships and awards from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Dodge Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Poetry Society of America. To access her books and more, please visit

Raccoons in the Attic
by Ann E. Wallace

When Abby was four, or maybe five, she suggested
we create a raccoon sanctuary in the attic,

so raccoons on the street would know to come in
and be safe, but of course the raccoons on the street,

and in the garden, and on the cliff side, already knew
to shimmy up the side of the house, to the porch roof,

up the wall, past the second floor, squeeze through
an invisible fissure under the eaves, and find safety.

I think she knew this too and was simply asking me
to leave them alone.

Photo by Yannick Menard on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For many years, raccoons made a home in the attic of my narrow, three-story city home, finding their way in under the eaves, hissing and fighting with each other through the night, and shredding the heating system ductwork to make cozy beds for their kits. They were territorial and destructive, and as often as I would catch them and seal up any openings under the roofline, they would find their way back in. I often felt like Bill Murray in Caddy Shack as I futilely tried to keep the raccoons away, but my young daughter felt a keen sympathy for the animals nesting in the attic. Eventually they moved on from my house, and I now think back on my daughter’s tender concern with a smile.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ann E. Wallace, a poet and essayist from Jersey City, New Jersey, is author of the poetry collection Counting by Sevens (Main Street Rag). She has previously published work in Silver Birch Press, as well as Huffington Post, Wordgathering, Halfway Down the Stairs, Snapdragon, and many other journals. Follow her on Twitter @annwlace409 and Instagram @AnnWallace409, or read her work at In November 2022, the City Council of Jersey City, New Jersey, passed a resolution naming her the city’s Poet Laureate for 2023-2024.

Adirondack Morning Meditation
by Gloria Heffernan

Eight women tread a late summer trail.
Pine needles and moss muffle our steps.

We have made a pact.
No talking for this one sacred hour.

In the distance the burble of a stream
penetrates the thick-barked bank of trees.

A woodpecker taps out his own Morse Code
while a red squirrel translates from a birch branch.

We tap each other’s shoulders pointing mutely at
a bouquet of red-tinged mushrooms blooming

in a twist of pine roots like a fist full of peonies,
poisonous probably, but lovely in the morning light.

At a bend in the trail, we linger on a footbridge
listening to dragonflies darting past our ears.

How hard it is to swallow the sound of awe
as it rises in our throats.

Originally published in Nine Mile Magazine, Fall 2018

PHOTO: Two dragonflies by dreamstime.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote “Adirondack Morning Meditation” after leading a poetry retreat for a group I lead called Poetry as a Spiritual Practice. It was a joyous challenge to simply take in and be present to the beauty that surrounded us without comment or distraction. Six years later, we still meet regularly to write, read, listen, and explore.

gloria h

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gloria Heffernan is the author of the poetry collection, What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List (New York Quarterly Books), and Exploring Poetry of Presence: A Companion Guide for Readers, Writers, and Workshop Facilitators (Back Porch Productions).  Her two chapbooks are Hail to the Symptom (Moonstone Press) and Some of Our Parts (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in over 100 publications, including Columbia Review, Stone Canoe, and Yale University’s The Perch. Visit her at

Fishing Trip
by Tom Lagasse

Packed and wearing our best behavior we take flight in our fern-colored Buick Skylark.

‘Look for a dirt opening,’ my father says, as he points to the river side of the road. There
is no sign to greet you when arriving at Satan’s Kingdom.

Carrying fishing gear, blankets, and a picnic lunch, we careen through a narrow path, as though through an eye of needle, that leads us to a clearing along the river.

The air, moist and sweet, is released from the steady current that sluices over glacial rocks and fallen trees. It caresses us as though welcoming us home.

We breathe deeply and give our tension to the river.

My sister and mother unfold thin blankets and spread them over packed dirt. My father and I bring the fishing gear to the river’s edge.

Like always, my mother sacrifices the most for this day to be possible. She prefers
the safety of four walls and the predictability of Top 40 radio to the outdoors.

Quickly, birdsong and our laughter open her heart like her favorite song.

My father, this was all he ever wanted: to pull his family close and be free
of his sisters, his work, the honey-do list, and his past.

The insouciant river washes over him until he is a trout lifting from the water to find a world existed beyond his own.

Our home is intact, although my sister and I are often divided by specific gender roles.
This was an androgynous day.

She proves to be the better son when she cast her line into the heart
of the river and reels in a trout as she shrieks with delight.

And me? There is no peace that needs to be brokered that day. We eat
bologna sandwiches and watch a metaphor-free river flow.

We never return.

In the half century since, time has stretched this day in all directions,
and I float along it. Unable to help myself, I nibble at this sweet bait.

PAINTING: Two Trout & Reflection by Neil Welliver (1994).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For over half my life now, I try to write at least five days a week. Inspiration may be immediate whether it’s at a desk or driving, come from responding to poems I read, or ideas that take time to develop and craft. I tend to keep notes and ideas. While I may not use them, it keeps me in a creative frame of mind.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Lagasse’s poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies and publications, including three Silver Birch Series. Most recently, a poem appeared in the New Generation Beats Anthology  By day, he writes.  By night, he works with spice. He lives in Bristol, Connecticut. Visit him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as his website,

Jose Camilo Lopez
Over Earth My Distant Fingerprint
by Craig Thompson

My hair feels so much better washed clean
after all that work, I probably stink less
with a good shower and the miracle of soap,
now the dogs will stop cozying up to me,
showing their bellies, rolling on the scent
of chicken and steer manure, compost, dirt
irresistible to the canine persuasion
licking my face, afternoon into evening.
I saw the International Space Station
after midnight, its wings caught the sun,
orbit skirted the atmosphere on gravity,
solar panels lit up, clipping along
in the dark sky crossing Orion’s belt
right fast between Rigel and Betelgeuse.

PHOTO: Stars in the night sky and trails of the International Space Station by Jose Camilo Lopez Perez.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In my freeform sonnets, I often balance pieces from different times and settings. Here, after a deep dive of winter gardening, I was swarmed by my dog, Bud, and his visiting best friend, Otto. They turned on another memory, when I saw the International Space Station one night. I worked on a project for Boeing that contributed to the ISS, and witnessing it in flight was as joyful as those two dogs. This is the lead off piece in A Singular Bestiary, a now 160-page sonnet sequence that is a novel of sorts, though interspersed with pieces, like this one, grounded in my life. Some of my work gets pretty dark, so I try to make sure there’s a balance.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Craig Thompson lives with spouse Ariel, feline Pixie, and Bud the Wonder Dog. Recently published poems are in Terror House, The Locust Review, Spread, and Pontoon Poetry. His artwork has appeared in Surreal Salon/The Baton Rouge Gallery and Mind Maze/Gallery 118. Craig has received Seattle’s prestigious Denny Award and other civic honors for the Jungle Project, a public safety and environmental program he’s led since 2005.