Archives for posts with tag: nature

Death shared a picture on your timeline
by Massimo Soranzio

A turtle stranded on the beach today
Caused life to be suspended, then and there.
People crowded the shore on that spot, they
Took selfies, or looked sad—but did they care?

I watched the scene from a distance and saw
Its deep-sea green carapace spotted white
By harmless barnacles, whose only flaw
Is, they’ll move only if they hold on tight.

Well, I don’t really like corpses, you know,
And I felt kind of sick when I was told
It was missing one eye, a dreadful show
(Yet quite attractive to some) to behold.

A meaningful, long life suddenly ends—
What stays is someone’s picture shared with friends.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The same beach, with people concentrating on something else one summer later. This is Grado, on the northern Adriatic coast.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was participating in an online workshop a couple of summers ago, and I had a deadline to write a poem adhering to some metrical form. I have always been in love with the sonnet form, which is often present in my poems in some variation, even when I apparently write in free verse. Anyway, I had spent my day at the beach with my family, and I still had in mind this unpleasant episode, so I decided to write a sonnet about it. (The text has been revised a few times since.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He took part in the Found Poetry Review’s National Poetry Month challenges Oulipost (2014) and PoMoSco (2015), and in a virtual tour around the world with an international group of poets on

Creature Comforts
by Betsy Mars

If I could talk to the animals
I’d gather creatures all around me;
carrying them catlike in my mouth
softly communicating
through touch, telepathy, or teeth—

Or birdlike, feather my arms with amethyst
and join the formation with wings,
strung out v-shaped.
We’d band together safely,
each in our proper place, flying but not in flight.

I’d blow the top off my head and spout
my presence high into the air, grow gills
and breathe underwater … and slowly …
I’d practice bubble communication
and learn to whistle beyond human earshot.

On soft cat feet, my telltale tail swishing
and back arched, I’d raise my hackles
to warn predators and rivals
to keep their distance.
In a low growl, my throat would rumble my displeasure.

In a dog-eat-dog ass-sniffing world
my every inhale would be endlessly informative,
odors wafting through my synapses
triggering unarticulated volumes
received in a few twitches of a nose.

If I could talk to the animals
I could rest easy knowing that the Great Pink Sea Snail
would not be a-salted and the Pushmi-pullyu,
like me, would finally find its direction.
My kingdom would have no bounds.

PHOTO: Author at a young age in the habit of practicing her communication skills on a rabbit.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always been drawn to animals. I think “Let sleeping dogs lie” was one of the first idioms I learned, except that my parents meant it literally as I was always approaching strange dogs. My favorite TV shows were Lassie, Flipper, and Mr. Ed. I was entranced by Doctor Doolittle despite what a misogynist Rex Harrison turned out to be. I was very nearsighted and was convinced I would one day go blind. The only consolation was that I would qualify for a seeing-eye dog. I developed a passion for Labrador Retrievers, and that was in fact the first dog I got as an adult. I have never gotten over my suspicion that I have a special bond with animals and that they secretly understand what I am saying and just choose to ignore it (sometimes). I am obsessed with the videos of interspecies friendships and believe the world would be a happier place if we could just be more like the animals.

Mars (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a Connecticut-born, mostly Southern California raised poet, mother, and animal lover with a severe case of travel fever. Having spent part of her childhood abroad, she has always had an interest in language and its nuances. Her work has been published in two editions of A Poet is a Poet No Matter How Tall, Then & Now (Sadie Press), and by Silver Birch Press.

PHOTO: Author in a post-ride conference with her trusty steed.

mc escher
by Lee Parpart

To pluck words
from air like
winter grapes
shot through
with noble
rot, knowing
I’ll land every
line with the
clarity of a

To delight
party guests
with jaunty
ragtime riffs
when festivities
start to flag,
and to have
a good joke
ready in
Russian, or
in case of
or dull

To re-start
the wild
heart of a
over the
arriving at
a modest
hero, and to
cut a lean,
straight line
en pointe for

Only ten,
maybe twelve,
more turns
around the
and no more
lives spent
rolling karmic
dung across
an endless

IMAGE: “Scarabs” by M.C. Escher (1935).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It would take a lot of lives to master all of the skills I greedily imagined in response to this prompt [lumped together under the single skill “reincarnation”].  And although the dung beetle is depicted here as a low point for a human facing the possibility of reincarnation, dung beetles are hugely beneficial insects, reducing greenhouse emissions and helping farmers by burying animal waste. I could do worse than to spend a couple of lives rolling poo around the desert.

lee parpart

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Parpart won a typewriter in a Scholastic Inc. fiction contest in high school. It was a real workhorse, and she used it to write a bunch more poems and short stories, only to run away from creative writing at 18 after a guy in his forties who had published a couple of books invited her to lunch, insisted she try frog’s legs, and informed her that the prose sample she shared was “not great.” She recently returned to poetry and fiction after admitting both were central to her happiness and realizing she was insane to have listened to frog leg man in the first place. Her poems and stories have appeared in Hegira and Silver Birch Press, and her academic essays on cinema and TV have appeared in numerous books and journals. See

Talking with Trees, My Imaginary Skill
by Jeannie E. Roberts

Along our road, near the old man’s garden,
behind the patch of corn, the neighborhood oak

waits to greet me. I turn the corner, watch
for her crown, bouffant, bright with October,

and the mellow aura of fall. She motions my way,
“Here, come closer.” Her stance is grounded,

confident; her branches toned with the windswept
succession of years. “I feel your happiness,”

she whispers. “I gain energy from your visits.
Through the seasons, you’ve given me strength.”

I thank her and reply, “You’re the reason for my
happiness. Your friendship and example have

given me courage. You’ve shown me that change
is the only constant, and the consistency of change

is rooted in the power of perseverance, right down
to the pith of it―in the cycle of birth and rebirth.”

We say goodbye. I bow. She bends. “Until
tomorrow, My Friend.”

I walk away smiling, knowing my imaginary skill
is not imaginary at all.

PHOTO: The Neighborhood Oak in October, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin (Photo by Jeannie E. Roberts.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Living midst the natural beauty of Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley, it’s easy to lose oneself within its bounty. When I walk and explore the area, I’ve found that I not only greet the birch, oak, and pine, but also catch myself chatting with the critters along the way. Season after season, I stand in awe of our trees, forests, and woodlands. Henry David Thoreau said it best, “I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.”

Roberts (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts‘s fourth book, Romp and Ceremony, a full-length poetry collection, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. She is the author of Beyond Bulrush, a full-length poetry collection (Lit Fest Press, 2015), Nature of it All, a poetry chapbook (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and the author and illustrator of Let’s Make Faces!, a children’s book (2009).She writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings.  Learn more about Jeannie at

Author photo by Bruce Pecor. 

I believe I have it in me to become a leaf
by Jane Burn

I believe I have it in me to become a leaf.

I feel the idea of me moving, through
        the heft
        of trunk,
        from the
        of the core,
the tapering branch, through living wood,
seeping germ of unborn vein and green.

On, through the fine bone of twig-end, on ’til
I break my bud’s head, birth myself to light,
keep time with spring. I am curled as a fresh-hatched
moth’s uninflated wings — the air is my hemolymph,
the sky welcomes my eclosion. I make my green —
eat the light, feed the tree with sun-spun sugar,
swell it, nourish it, sing while I soak the summer.

Growgrowgrowgrowgrow. I change my skin —
can wear the change of seasons, loose the verdant
cloak of youth, age to autumn’s fire, become
the mute of winter’s brown. I imagine my grip,
loosened from cold bough — I have no fear
of    f
Not when I am less than the weight of breath,
landing bed soft with already unfastened kin.

Somewhere in me is the skill to be born,
grow, live, nurture, feed, adorn,
drink, make, fade, curl, dry. D
Look at the sky from where I lie,
waste to my inner f r a i l. Rot, soak, nourish,
be taken to heart by lateral, sinker, tap.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Here is Jane, beginning to blend in with trees and flowers. Her tattoos are her camouflage.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There are so many abilities I wish I had, or have but could do better! If I had to choose a set of skills I admire the most, it would be the quiet life of trees. Their strength, their durability, their secret and complicated inner life — their ability to survive, year in, year out. The way they almost seem to die for a season, then blaze back into life. I love that they take nothing but the nutrients they need to live, yet give back cleaner air and beauty to us, who seem as a species to give so little back in return. In my poem, “I believe I have it in me to become a leaf,” I pushed this idea further, imagining how it would be to have many lifetimes, reincarnated as such a small but vital part of nature. I also tried to add a visual representations of this within the poem, with the actual placing of letters — to try to make the poem more than just words.

Current Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jane Burn is a writer and illustrator based in the North East of England. Her poems have been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. She is also the founder of the online poetry site, The Fat Damsel.

AUTHOR PHOTO: When Jane is not working or writing, she finds happiness with horses.

The Falconer
by Sylvia Cavanaugh

     After Gerard Manly Hopkins

I refuse to be ground-bound like some king
rooted by weight of castle stone, riding
some cartographer’s stilted latitude, striding
through illusion. I will take wing,
soar as if on skyward wooden swing,
arm outstretched; my eyesight upward gliding.

There will be no more malevolent hiding
of small-drone military-industrial things.
My falcon will deliver them broken, here.
A million aluminum eyes, titanium lies; a billion,
spy flies, shattered at my feet. I, Luddite Chevalier,
forge only the shimmering sheen of sillion.

O, the rip and tear of beak and talon, dear;
and my closed fist, firm wrist, against imperial gates vermillion.

PHOTO: “Evening Hunter” by Buddy Mays. Prints available at (A falconer holds her red-tailed hawk as the full moon sets over the red mud of John Day Fossil Beds in central Oregon.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always loved the poem, “The Windhover,” by Gerard Manly Hopkins. My mother used to recite the poem to me when I was a child. Hopkins was a nineteenth century poet who pioneered the use of “sprung rhyme.” I recently read H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, and was quite captivated by her description of training a goshawk. It made me want to become a falconer. Finally, I read in the news, recently, that trained eagles are being used to capture and destroy small drones. The technique used in writing the poem is called “The Golden Shovel.” The final word in each line in my poem is the exact same ending word as in “Windhover.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Originally from Pennsylvania, Sylvia Cavanaugh has an M.S. in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin. She currently teaches high school African and Asian cultural studies. She is the faculty advisor for break dancers and poets. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have appeared in An Arial Anthology, Gyroscope review, The Journal of Creative Geography, Midwest Prairie Review, Stoneboat Literary Journal, Verse Wisconsin,and elsewhere. She is a contributing editor for Verse-Virtual, and a member of the board of the Council for Wisconsin Writers. Her chapbook, Staring Through My Eyes, is available from Finishing Line Press.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Striking the pose in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always thought of the ending of The Great Gatsby as one of the perfect endings in literature, and rereading it in the age of climate change, I wondered how much of Fitzgerald’s “green breast of the new world” would be left above water if the oceans continue to rise. I imagined Nick Caraway as the rueful, elegiac recorder of the last days of humanity.


Kathryn Kulpa
has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen — actually, a crayon. She has work featured or forthcoming in The Great Gatsby Anthology, Smokelong Quarterly, KYSO Flash, and Saranac Review. She is flash fiction editor for Cleaver magazine and she teaches fiction workshops for teens and adults in the smallest state in the union.

Photo: Kathryn Kulpa at age 13 in Massachusetts with her dog Toto.

by Vijaya Gowrisankar

My wings spread in delight
to obstruct rays from clouds;
Enjoy ride that spans miles
on shapeless, silky white

To fly effortlessly on thermals
guided by lightweight feathers;
I rule as master of skies with
onlookers envying my flight

Scan wide with sharp sight
to spot an innocent prize;
Who enjoys assured life ––
unaware of turbulence in store

Waves splash as I swoop deep
disturbing smooth reflections;
I extend my claws into cool
ocean and capture unaware prey

My talons tighten hold as kill
struggles to survive; I feel
its stunned surprise as life
transforms from joy to fight

Soar in air towards majestic
sun, as quarry breathes its last
Sudden snatch destroys prey’s world
as I succeed in my silent hunt

IMAGE: “Eagle in flight against snowy sky” by Ohara Koson (1933).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  Since childhood, eagles have always fascinated me. I took this this opportunity to get a glimpse into an eagle hunting for its food.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vijaya Gowrisankar released her first book of poems Inspire in 2014. The book features more than 100 poems on topics such as Nature, Life, Positivity, and Change. She is passionate about writing poems from childhood. Her poems have been submitted in various publications.

by Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr.

This morning, I am the bee in the garden
flitting from flower to flower, searching

each fold of petal for a drop of nectar.
Bumblebee with supersonic vision,

tracking every tremor of color,
flickering light, fast-flying birds.

Bee whose iridescent wings beat faster
than a fruit fly’s, hovering gingerly

over orchids with furry lips and stuck-
out tongues. For direction, consider

our language: the waggle dance, how it guides
the hive’s ceaseless labor of foraging

under the glare of a one-eyed god.
We make honey from what we can gather.

IMAGE: “Catalpa pods and bee,” woodblock print by Watanabe Seitei (1916).

Dela Pena

Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr.,
is a Filipino poet who has been living in Singapore since 2011. He is the author of the chapbook Requiem. His poems have been published in the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Kartika Review: An Asian American Journal, The Guardian, and Singapore-based anthologies such as A Luxury We Can Not Afford and The Curious Fruit. He is a recipient of the Palanca Award for Poetry from the Philippines, as well as numerous awards from British Council Singapore’s Writing the City.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at the Imbiah Nature Walk in Sentosa, Singapore.

Summer Dears
by Don Kingfisher Campbell


I’m driving us
Around Crater Lake
We’re surprised to see
Small banks of snow

Daughter Emily yells
“Stop, there’s a beer”
I pull over
We stumble out

She stealthily steps
On soft white slush
There it is… a deer
All shoot…pictures


As we leave
The road starts winding
Again, this time
I spot a doe

On the driver’s side
We don’t even get
Out of the car
My cell phone is dead

My wife leans over me
Gets several shots
With her digital camera
Before the hind crosses


Now the Cube is rolling
On Highway 62
Starting to make minutes
Doing 45 miles an hour

Jenny completes
The lucky trio
Screams and pinches my arm
I stomp on the brakes

A mother and two fawns
Split up across
The shady asphalt
Six hearts beating fast

deer oregon

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During our 2012 trip to Crater Lake in Oregon, we were very surprised to find some snow in August, but then again, we’re talking an elevation of 7,000 feet here. And she did actually say “beer.” She’s my stepdaughter and had just arrived from China.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Don Kingfisher Campbell, MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, has been a coach and judge for Poetry Out Loud, a performing poet/teacher for Red Hen Press Youth Writing Workshops, Los Angeles Area Coordinator and Board Member of California Poets In The Schools, publisher of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, leader of the Emerging Urban Poets writing and Deep Critique workshops, organizer of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival, and host of the Saturday Afternoon Poetry reading series in Pasadena, California. For publication credits, please go to: