Archives for posts with tag: nature

johnston front door

The Onslaught at my Front Door
by Joseph Johnston

It wasn’t a rapping so much as it was an occasional flutter, a squeak from the hinges, a whisper of pressure on the storm door.

I noticed it during the first week of quarantine but chalked it up to the wind. Maybe.

Second week it was more persistent. Harder to ignore. A regular crashing at the front door. Convince myself it’s the pestilence.

Should I see who is there? Do I break the fourth wall? Let the disease in?

Much easier to just camp out in the basement and ignore the obvious. Maintain my controllable dimensions.

I hauled a tiny fridge down there and the coffee pot and the TV and the litter box and the best blankets. And the good rocker/recliner.

Third week I made it all the way to Wednesday completely ignoring the onslaught at my front door. I still don’t know how.

My fingernails were worn down to nubs, embarrassing versions of their former selves. And I couldn’t manage any TV. I was just sitting there. Rocking. Remembering.

Defending castle from disease. Hands over ears, hearing nothing.

Thursday. Thud. Crash. THUD. CRASH. And repeat. The storm door coming off the hinges. And no wind to speak of. The point of no ignoring.

I don’t want to investigate. I’m tired of investigations and ruminations and interrogations and suspicions. I’m tired of masks and their accusations.

I’m so tired. But I can’t make the noise stop. I have to answer the door. I have to face disease and death.

I wrap a novelty bandanna around my face and rack the deadbolt wide open. Turn the knob. Expecting zombies, I unleash the outside, in.

But it’s just a deer. Maybe six months old. Crashing into its reflection, in my direction.

I tape a drape over the storm glass and breathe.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It’s astonishing how quickly my mistrust of others has grown since the pandemic began. This is probably what I hate most of all these days. I don’t want to mistrust others, but I can’t help but feel like my life is on the line whenever I have to interact with someone. With this prompt, I tried to tell the story of how this new paranoia turned my front door into an airlock at some infectious disease germ lab.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Writer and filmmaker Joseph Johnston made his first movie at the age of 11, an industrial espionage thriller that continues to play to excited crowds in his parents’ living room every Christmas. His prose, poetry, and video literature have appeared in Atticus Review, Matador Review, and Iron Horse Literary Review. He currently resides in Michigan, where he is working on a feature-length play about a dystopic suburban road rally.

Ode to Spring
by Jo Taylor

Open the door to springtime
to strawberries debuting
in raised beds of earth,
their red heads peeking
from under tender foliage.
Greet show-stopping tulips,
chins up and chests out,
standing at attention, ready
to salute the sky. Throw the
gate wide to mockingbird’s
early morning trill, to tender
Zephyr winds and caressing sun
and April’s rain on clothes and
eyelashes. Hail the budding
birches, skint from winter’s
abuse, birds’ nests nestled high
on naked branches, moss
embedding trunks like inkblots.
Welcome, Ruby Reds and Pink
Lace and ornamental dogwoods,
their blood-stained flowers
and crown of thorns acclaiming
another spring, another open door.
O grave, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jo Taylor is a retired, 35-year English teacher from Georgia. Her favorite genre to teach high school students was poetry, and today she dedicates more time to writing it — her major themes focused on family, place, and faith. She says she feels compelled to write, to give testimony to the past and to her heritage. She has been published in The Ekphrastic Review,  Silver Birch Press, Heart of Flesh Literary Journal, and Poets Online.

Roberts_front door
Even Now
by Jeannie E. Roberts

with distancing rules and stay-at-home orders —
finch, grackle, blue jay still thrive,

launch from branch, flit to feeder as crow lands
and wren awakes window, sways, swerves,

survives. Even now, with masks and safety gear
guidelines — mink, muskrat, otter still thrive,

glide atop pond, swim across water as frog
leaps and bass eludes snapper, sways, swerves,

survives. Even now, with mandates enforced
and protocols applied — art, beauty, luster

still thrive, weave atop walls, dance across
surface as sun streams and light dabs design,

sways, swerves, survives. Even now,
in uncertain times, with sweeping contagion —
care, courage, kindness still thrive.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In conjunction with the front door theme, I thought it timely to reference humanity’s coronavirus pandemic — how our natural world thrives, survives, how beauty still exists, how people pull together in times of uncertainty. Our front door is lovely, especially when evening light streams through its beveled glass panels — the patterns dance, feel buoyant, joyful. I try to be aware of my surroundings; there’s ever something beautiful to embrace, however small, fleeting. Like the cycle of life, my poem, an anaphora, uses the repetition of words and succession of lines to create a rhythmic, sonic effect.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts has authored six books, including The Wingspan of Things (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Romp and Ceremony (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush (Lit Fest Press, 2015), and Nature of it All (Finishing Line Press, 2013). In 2019, her second children’s book, Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children, was released by Daffydowndilly Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books. She is poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. When she’s not reading, writing, or editing, you can find her drawing and painting, or outdoors photographing her natural surroundings. For more, visit her at

Anderson front door
At First Sight
by Cynthia Anderson

We’d spent the day with our realtor,
planned to make an offer on a house
we’d seen—but since we were so close,
we said, let’s go by that one last place
just down the block. It was farther
than we thought—towards the edge
of the tract—the roof barely visible
from the street. We followed the ups
and downs of the driveway to the top,
where we were greeted by the garage,
glowing clusters of barrel cacti,
rock formations all around. A desert
wonderland…but where was the door?
A narrow walkway led to the right,
past willows and cholla. Up ahead,
a rise where pines swayed in the breeze.
Finally, the door—solid, brick red,
with its own tiny window instead
of a peephole. We opened that door
onto our new life.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Twelve years ago, my husband and I wanted badly to move to the desert but had trouble finding the “right” house. About to give up and settle for second best, serendipity suddenly took over. The hidden door symbolized our search and its happy conclusion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert, in the house with the brick-red door. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, and she is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She has authored nine collections and co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens. Visit her at

My Front Door
by Neil Creighton

Outside, the eastern rosellas come daily
to drink at the stone bird bath,
dipping and rising in a flash of color,
alighting in the leafy branches,
dropping to drink, dipping their crimson heads,
and then, swiftly leaving.
Sometimes black cockatoos
float slowly through the air,
landing to feed on banksia cones.
Sometimes a lone king parrot
briefly visits, flashing feathers
of luminous deep orange
and iridescent green.

Inside, caught in the front door’s
ripple of glass, they stay.
The eastern rosella sits on a branch,
always waiting to descend and drink.
A crimson rosella takes flight,
fanning his tail feathers of green and blue.
Another sits quietly, gifting us
exquisite crimson, yellow and blue,
whispering to us every day,
“Gaze on us. Let us remind you
of sun and sky, tangle of green,
joy of feather and flight
and the wonder of living things.”

Neil Creighton copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama brought him into close contact with thousands of young lives, most happy and triumphant but too many tragically filled with neglect. It made him intensely aware of how opportunity is so unequally proportioned and his work often reflects strong interest in social justice. He has been widely published, both online and in hard copy. He is a contributing editor at Verse-Virtual,  an online poetry journal. His chapbook, Earth Music, was published by Praxis Magazine Online in 2020. Two other chaps, Loving Leah and Rock Dreaming have been selected for publication by Kelsay Books.

J’adore My Door
by Karyl Carmignani

Solid and fearless, with varnish peeling like sunburnt skin.
Every push and pull blurts a micro-shriek across the threshold,
except when Santa Anas howl,
sucking moisture from every living thing, making us a bit mad,
and relaxing hinges, an intruder’s delight.
But lock tumblers jostle like cubes in a glass, and vow to keep us safe.

Screen door protects her stoic mate from sun and strangers.
Creates a veiled reality,
perfect for cats who pass the time
counting leaves crossing the porch,
or growl low and feral at passing ‘possums or toms looking for love,
as night falls hard on my newly quiet street.

There is a jangled ache outside in the absence of people.
This age of uncertainty, financial ruin, chills and fever
has tucked us in tight behind doors,
sturdy, hollow, painted, flimsy, raw, weeping.
We share this indoor life.
Separate and together.
It is a privilege
and a luxury to have a solid door to keep death at bay
and the cats inside, close.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Forgive the shaggy format of this piece. The door prompt has been on my To Write List for a couple weeks, and it didn’t bubble to the surface until the kitties were watching the leaves scuttle across the porch before a storm. I’m eternally grateful for their furry company during this trying time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karyl Carmignani is a science writer for San Diego Zoo Global who also dabbles in creative writing. You can read her nonfiction animal-centric articles here. One of her all-time favorites is about a fascinating and misunderstood bird, the ostrich. Read it and see them spinning on video here. She loves morning coffee (with a splash of milk), rainy afternoons (few and far between), a good joke, great books, her husband, her two cats Tina and Piper, and random, unending beauty in the world. While not a fan of this “house arrest,” she is confident that this, too, shall pass and we can get back to hugging friends, eating out, biking, hiking through parks, traveling near or far, and rejoicing in our fleeting existence with full and shining hearts.

Russell - front door
Front Door Denizens
by Sarah Russell

The door itself is nondescript, a faded forest green, like others in the complex. Yesterday I hung our cherry blossom wreath on its hook, dancing pink blossoms against the dark panel. The remnants of our finches’ old nest⸺intricate grass lace and a bit of mud for glue⸺hide in the silk flowers. The finches come back every spring, and this morning, there they were, flitting from porch to maple tree, warbling a love song, as if they’d been waiting for their wreath, our door. While they’re in residence, we’ll put a note on the post asking folks to come round to the back.

old nest with new life
open mouths searching, peeping
daffodils in bloom

Russell, finch nest

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Haibun form seemed perfect for telling about the finch family who leases our front door and wreath every year. The above photo is of their eggs last spring.

Russell copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Russell’s poetry and fiction have been published in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, Silver Birch Press, Rusty Truck, Third Wednesday, and other journals and anthologies. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Her first poetry collection, I lost summer somewhere, was published in 2019 by Kelsay Books. A second collection, Today and Other Seasons, will be published by Kelsay this summer. She blogs at

One-Hundred-Year-Old Door
by Erin Parker

Life is small right now
behind my one-hundred-year-old door
The glass is framed by painted wood
that opens to my half of a one-hundred-year-old duplex
Solitude waits in here
tense in the afternoon sunlight

The one-hundred-year-old windows rattle in the gusting wind
Chimes on the neighbor’s porch never stop, never stop, never stop, never      stop
Music is drifting in from the apartments
There is the quintessential crying baby
There is the quintessential occasional laugh
There are the quintessential helicopters over the house again and again,      flying low

A raucous crow is making daily visits to the tree by the red fence
Parrots are screeching green in the date palms in front of Carolle’s house
Peacocks have moved in and are now spotted on roofs
Coyotes venture out in the afternoons
These dangerous quiet streets

I open the front door when the sounds recede for a moment
It swings easily and I step outside
Squint in the sunlight, smell the ocean
Come back to life for a moment

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It is so quiet now that each sound seems invasive, both welcome and unwelcome. I long for silence but I miss the regular neighborhood noise, and I wonder how it can be so quiet when everyone is home. I am noticing more and more animals coming out into the open, and I find great comfort in that.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erin Parker’s work has been published by places like Red Fez, Drunk Monkeys, Lost in Thought, and in the Silver Birch Press Alice in Wonderland Anthology. Her collection of short stories, The Secret and the Sacred, was published by Unknown Press and is available here at the Special Quarantine Price of $1.99 for the Kindle version.

Unlocking My Front Door
by Daniel McGinn

My front door turns
eggshell white
cracks open in the morning
as the sun’s great yoke
merges light into shadows
that break through tree leaves
shifting waving
calling its name

Stop stare for a spell
come see the white door
punched in the wall
of our blue house
appear to move
like a witch cloud brushed
into a tumbleweed crawl

Ancestors & descendants
given pass
step off the welcome mat
descend the stairs
down to the street
where worlds begin
& tumbleweeds spin

Every evening
shadows collect on the porch
to watch the sun drop scraped
from the plate
into the big black can

I don’t know why
my front door opens
with a dark sigh
on summer nights
stubbornly swells
against the frame
& refuses to budge
when it rains

Doors open & close
more like us
than we’d like to think
multiple lives
ring around rings
of unhinged days

Before the deadbolt
pierced its side
it was dressed in bark
with its own kind

Squirrels ran to its outstretched arms

Bluebirds twittered up & down
behind bright green wing shaped leaves

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wasn’t sure what I could say about my front door. I wrote and revised it in several sittings but was unsure of how to approach this piece. Eventually, I decided it might be best to let my front door speak for itself.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel McGinn’s work has been seen in Silver Birch Press, Spillway, Sadie Girl Press, Lummox, Bank Heavy Press, The OC Weekly, and numerous other magazines and anthologies. He received his MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts at the age of 61, and his most recent collection of poems, The Moon, My Lover, My Mother & The Dog, was published by Moon Tide Press.

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.