Archives for posts with tag: outdoors


by Rick Smith

ride the Kern River
in late July,
feel the broad shaft of heat
and, in shadow,
beneath an expanse of bridge
carrying trucks from Bakersfield,
the grid hums;
you can hear it
over the rush and roar.
a man my age
may fall out of a raft
at a hairpin turn
innocently named
“Deadman’s Curve,”
a foot wedged against rock,
toe to toe with the stony bed,
eyes only inches from the foam of surface
and pinned by current,
he holds a final burning breath,
expects to rise,
he sees light through air pockets.
sometimes a river raft
may climb onto a boulder
for no reason at noon
while a family orders shrimp scampi
at an outdoor grill in town.
ride the river as it swells
and makes its way
gargling and spitting us out
in an instant
like mouth wash.
the sound of a helicopter
takes another millennium
to arrive. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Smith is a clinical psychologist specializing in brain damage and domestic violence. He writes and plays harmonica for The Mescal Sheiks. His poems have appeared in South Bay Magazine, Arts and Letters, Rattle, OnTheBus, and Water-Stone. His most recent books are The Wren Notebook (2000), Hard Landing (2010), and, forthcoming, Whispering in a Mad Dog’s Ear, all from Lummox Press.


“Rafting on the Kern River (7/07)” appears in the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology, available at

ABOUT THE RIVER: The Kern River, located in California, is approximately 165 miles long. It drains an area of the southern Sierra Nevada mountains northeast of Bakersfield. Fed by snowmelt near Mount Whitney, the river passes through scenic canyons in the mountains and is a popular destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking. It is the only major river in the Sierra Nevada mountain range that drains in a southerly direction. (Read more at

by Carl Sandburg

Summer grass aches and whispers
It wants something; it calls and it sings; it pours
            Out wishes to the overhead stars.
The rain hears; the rain answers; the rain is slow
            Coming; the rain wets the face of the grass.

by Conrad Aiken


all day long 

we hear your scraping 

summer song 






as through
the meadow 


we pass 

such funny legs 

such funny feet 

and how we wonder 

what you eat 

maybe a single blink of dew 

sipped from a clover leaf would do
then high in air 

once more you spring
to fall in grass again
and sing. 

PAINTING: “Grasshopper on Flowering Plant” by Tsuji Kako (1870-1931)

poem by Stanley Plumly

Some—the ones with fish names—grow so north
they last a month, six weeks at most.
Some others, named for the fields they look like,
last longer, smaller.
And these, in particular, whether trout or corn lily,
onion or bellwort, just cut
this morning and standing open in tapwater in the kitchen,
will close with the sun.
It is June, wildflowers on the table.
They are fresh an hour ago, like sliced lemons,
with the whole day ahead of them.
They could be common mayflower lilies of the valley,
day lilies, or the clustering Canada, large, gold,
long-stemmed as pasture roses, belled out over the vase–
or maybe Solomon’s seal, the petals
ranged in small toy pairs
or starry, tipped at the head like weeds.
They could be anonymous as weeds.
They are, in fact, the several names of the same thing,
lilies of the field, butter-and-eggs,
toadflax almost, the way the whites and yellows juxtapose,
and have “the look of flowers that are looked at,”
rooted as they are in water, glass, and air.
I remember the summer I picked everything,
flower and wildflower, singled them out in jars
with a name attached. And when they had dried as stubborn
as paper I put them on pages and named them again.
They were all lilies, even the hyacinth,
even the great pale flower in the hand of the dead.
I picked it, kept it in the book for years
before I knew who she was,
her face lily-white, kissed and dry and cold.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stanley Plumly was born in Barnesville, Ohio, in 1939, and grew up in the lumber and farming regions of Virginia and Ohio. His work has been honored with the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award and nominations for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, and the Academy of Amerian Poets’ Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. He is currently a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of English at the University of Maryland. His poetry will appear in the Silver Birch Press SUMMER ANTHOLOGY (June 21, 2013).

Painting: “Wildflowers” by Walasse Ting — prints available at

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Walasse Ting (1929-2010) was a Chinese-American visual artist and poet. Common subjects include women and cats, birds, and other animals. His works are found in the permanent collections of many museums worldwide, including the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Hong Kong Museum of Art. (Read more at