Archives for posts with tag: plants

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In the Beginning
by Margaret Dornaus

Start with a prayer.
It might contain just one word.
Or many—

Length doesn’t matter so much
as intention. Rest assured
words can propagate

exponentially . . .
like the seeds you plant
in early spring

when the wind is still
at your back. When hope holds
scarcely long enough

to keep you and the future
together for at least another
season of growing

your own version of a victory
garden, filled with tomatoes
and eggplants and other humble

members of the nightshade
family. Without ever fearing
extinction. Without feeling even

the tiniest threat of devastation. Start
before the work commences—the hoeing,
the weeding, the careful cultivation of

sun and shade, the gentle
layering of compost and leaves,
the tender tamping down,

the turning of the earth in need
of additional nutrients and endless
watering. Start with a prayer,

then begin again.
And again— Don’t stop!
Start with a prayer:

In the beginning . . .

PAINTING: Thankful Harvest by ArtsyBee.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The past two years have brought so many crises to light, not the least of which is climate change. I often wonder how one person can begin to make a difference in this pandemic world of ours. I’m not sure, but I do know that indifference and inaction are beyond contemplation. Better to use whatever tools we have at hand to try to heal ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and the earth. For me, that means raising my voice, passionately, prayerfully, deliberately, as often as I can.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Dornaus holds an MFA in the translation of poetry from the University of Arkansas, and recently received recognition as a semifinalist in Naugatuck River Review’s 13th Annual Narrative Poetry Contest for her poem “First Sleepaway.” Her first book of poetry, Prayer for the Dead: Collected Haibun & Tanka Prosereceived a 2017 Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America. In 2020, she had the privilege of publishing a pandemic-themed anthology—behind the mask: haiku in the time of Covid-19—through her small press, Singing Moon, and received a Best of the Net nomination from MacQueen’s Quiinterly. Other recent work appears in Global Pandemic, MockingHeart Review, Silver Birch Press’ I AM STILL WAITING seriesThe Ekphrastic Review, and The Lindenwood Review. 

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Green
by Mish Murphy

I was afraid to become green,
but glad to be reborn.

I sewed my torn self together
& waited for the cravings
to go away—
the urge to eat, procreate, shop–

I sewed myself inside a bucket, & you,
my favorite candy,
my voluptuous freckle,

I sewed you inside my bucket, too.

We were changing,
evolving,
becoming
half-plant & half human.

We drank sunlight
through our hands

& slurped seawater
through our feet,

gradually releasing

all our thoughts

into

the

May.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: “Green” was originally published (with slightly different language) in the author’s collection Sex & Ketchup (Concrete Mist Press 2021) and in POETICA REVIEW (UK 2021).

PAINTING: Woman in a Green Dress in a Garden by Pierre Bonnard (1892).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What would happen if people who wanted to “go green” could become hybrid plants, replacing our stressed-out consumerist selves with simpler, eco-friendly selves? I think many would find that being transformed into a plant brought happiness, and if enough people “went green,” the Earth would heal. The speaker in the poem alludes to the fact that plants do not do a lot of thinking, and to become green, people must let go of thinking. This would turn out to be something positive and is one reason, in my opinion, that life as a plant might bring such peace.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mish (Eileen) Murphy is Associate Poetry Editor for Cultural Daily magazine and teaches English and Literature at Polk State College, Florida. She recently published her third book of poetry (fourth book overall), the collection Sex & Ketchup (Concrete Mist Press Feb. 2021). Fortune Written on Wet Grass (Wapshott Press April 2020) was her first full length collection. Her second book Evil Me was published August 2020 (Blood Pudding Press). She’s had more than 100 individual poems published in journals and zines, such as Tinderbox, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Thirteen Myna Birds, and many others. In the UK, her poetry has been published in Paper & Ink, The Open Mouse, Quarterday Review, and POETICA REVIEW. Mish also is a prolific book reviewer and visual artist; she illustrated the children’s book Phoebe and Ito are dogs written by John Yamrus (2019).

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My Mistake
by Mary McCarthy

When an army of hungry
orange and black caterpillars
stripped bare half
my passion flower vine
almost overnight
I saw nothing but
their ravenous appetite
their warning armor
of black spikes.
I pulled them off
one by one
the way I would pluck
big green hornworms
from my tomato plants,
and crush them with
a booted foot.

Too late I learned
these were the larva
of the Gulf Fritillary
butterfly, a beauty,
and passion flower vine
not merely its favorite
but its only host.
How could I refuse them
their necessary food
after planting milkweed
for the monarchs,
shunning pesticides
and fertilizers,
learning to love
those humble plants
whose virtues go unnoticed
because they are not showy?

I had no excuse
for extermination,
doubly wrong
because even this hungry army
can only curb, not end
the rampant growth
of its chosen host
limiting its kudzu ambitions
enough to allow recovery–
While my murderous efficiency
could upset the essential
balance, worm and vine,
lives so absolutely
intertwined.

PHOTO: Gulf Fritillary butterfly feeding on Passion Flower. Photo by Gwillhickers.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Thinking about healing the earth often seems like an impossibly big job, but must be preceded, I think, by a shift in attitude. Treating nature as only as it can be used for our needs and desires is a lopsided perspective, that leads to destructive acts on the smallest and most personal arenas. I regret killing all those caterpillars, and realize they would not only have become beautiful butterflies, but would have helped with all the pruning their host vine needs, keeping it reasonably under control.

PHOTO: Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar on Passion vine leaf. Photo by Filo gen.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy is a retired Registered Nurse who has always been a writer. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, most recently in The Plague Papers, edited by Robbi Nester, The Ekphrastic World, edited by Lorette Luzajic, the latest issue of Earth’s Daughters and Third Wednesday. She has been a Best of the Net and a Pushcart nominee. Her digital chapbook is available as a free download from Praxis magazine.

Raul Golinelli
Carrot
by Joe Cottonwood

My neighbor Ellen a single mom
operates an organic farm
nonprofit, the nature of farming,
sells veggies roadside, tractors her field,
comes to church perspiring through dirt,
shows up one day on the restaurant wall
where you can buy burgers and pizza
plus Ellen posed discretely nude, nothing rude,
clothed by corn and kale.

Her paintings won’t win awards
except for courage.
Sales benefit her toil, the soil,
embarrass her preteen son.

Now the whole town sees her astonishing tan lines,
bright stripes on a body stout,
folds of mom chub like ribs on a carrot.

A man of peppery beard out for a mountain drive
in a Ferrari bright red, the midlife car of Silicon Valley
with his preteen daughter looking bored
parks for a pizza, buys one painting.

Next day he returns alone, buys five more,
asks where to find the folk-artist.

Ellen is healing the earth. He is digitizing it.
We hesitate to judge prospects
for art or love, but tell.
May it please go well.

PHOTO: Woman harvesting carrots grown organically in the Bahian backlands in Irece, Bahia, Brazil. Photo by Raul Golinelli

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem inspired by true events but see now it’s also an allegory. Can the sterile algorithms of Silicon Valley help to heal the earth? I hope so.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joe Cottonwood has repaired hundreds of houses to support his writing habit in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. His latest book of poetry is Random Saints.

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Pandemic Pumpkins
by Barbara Quick

Yesterday I saw the first paddle-like
pale-green leaves of the Cinderella pumpkin
pushed up from the hilly mounds I made
as graves for one of last year’s gourds
that went to rot before it could be used.

The English peas I’d planted on top
had come up first,
as delicate as pen-and-ink fairies,
tendrils blindly curling forth to find
support for their climb.

On my hands and knees,
I cleared the ground of weeds—
and added a row, along the fence,
of sunflower seeds.

Though their fruit and flowers
are still months away,
my pumpkins are already
fat and dazzling orange
in the mind’s eye,
the sunflowers yellow
against the late-summer sky.

Seeds are hard to come by now;
the sunflowers long past
their use-by date.

But still, any time a dried-up seed
manages to germinate and grow,
flower and thrive, it’s truly a miracle.
Who’s to say a seed won’t wait
three years or even ten?

Seed banks count on some of them
possessing the biological patience
to stay viable, on pause,
till they’re embraced by dirt again,
licked to life by water,
and awakened from enchanted sleep
by sunlight and heat.

I’m witness to this resurrection
every day of my gardening season.
How can I not believe
that life will triumph
over lockdown and decay?

PAINTING: Pumpkin (Chinese SuZhou Art), available at ebay.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Pandemic Pumpkins” is one of more than two dozen poems I found in the garden during my year of lockdown with my husband, violist Wayne Roden, at our little farm and vineyard about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. Half the poems in this as-yet unpublished chapbook are about gardening. The other half are about the particular interpersonal challenges imposed on people everywhere by the pandemic.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Award-winning poet and novelist Barbara Quick, a native Californian, has been a practitioner of organic gardening since the age of 14, when she dug up the ice-plant at the roadside fronting her mother’s house in Los Angeles to plant tomatoes and Swiss chard. Her fourth novel, What Disappears, will be published in May 2022. Her second novel, Vivaldi’s Virgins—published in 12 translations since it first came out in 2007 (and still in print) is available as an audiobook and was optioned this year as a mini-series. Barbara’s poetry has been included in half a dozen anthologies, including the two that published “Pandemic Pumpkins” this year: the 2021 Farmer-ish Print Annual and Pandemic Puzzle Poems. She has a poem forthcoming in Scientific American. Her just-published chapbook, The Light on Sifnos, won the 2020 Blue Light Press Poetry Prize. Five of her poems were recorded this year by Garrison Keillor and featured on The Writer’s Almanac. Visit her at BarbaraQuick.com.

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Freesia In Winter
by Suzanne O’Connell

Trouble can’t find me here.
Stars, the dogs of ice,
shine down on the smooth
blackness of my earthen bed.
Muffled by dirt, I hold my breath,
waiting for change.

Shivering in my brown fur overcoat
and my sprouted night cap,
I wait like a mole.
I have no vision.
Is anyone there?

Tendrils of root reach out
like a blind man reaches out
with his white cane.

The rain falls like big shoes
walking overhead.
I am a cemetery.
I survive on earthworms,
bits of shell and remembered songs.

I wait for change.
Was that warmth?
Was that light?
Was that birdsong?

At last I push aside my coverlet of leaves
and stretch my stems,
stretching them to the sun.
Soon there will be a celebration,
a homecoming.

In appreciation,
I will bring fragrant white
blossoms to share.

Previously published in 2016 in Westview (A Journal of Western Oklahoma) and in the author’s first poetry collection, A Prayer for Torn Stockings.

PHOTO: Freesia Buds by Anrita 1705.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: From the perspective of a flower bulb, what it’s like to grow up underground.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Suzanne O’Connell is a poet living in Los Angeles. Visit her at suzanneoconnell-poet.net.

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Wild Goose Trail
by Jeff Burt

Burdock, buckthorn, white cormus,
rosehips, vaccinium, red edible currants,
white elderberry, arronia, chokeberries,
such abundant berries
reaching over and into the trail
begging to be brushed and knocked
to the earth to begin transformation
or picked and eaten to fall in scat
aided by bugs and erosion to plant
in the soft dark earth and yield.
I must not pull my coats
from their branches, avoid,
must wade deeply, rustle, touch.

PAINTING: Elderberry Bush by Konstantin Yuon (1907).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Staying on a trail and preserving habitat in its primitive form (as opposed to conserved form) is respectful, but at times you see items in nature begging to be touched and jostled as it is part of their renewing cycle.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jeff Burt lives in the central coast of California. He has contributed to Heartwood, Williwaw Journal, Red World Journal, and many others.
Visit him at jeff-burt.com.

Rushriver
  A Sestina for the Well-Being of Mother Earth
  by Jeannie E. Roberts
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PHOTO:  Rush River, a 49.8-mile-long tributary of the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin. Photo by Aaron Gunnar.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My dad played a pivotal role in my upbringing; he introduced me to the wonders and the importance of the outdoor environment. He registered our home, the land near the Rush River, called Stonehammer*, under the state’s tree conservation program. Here, we planted hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of white pine and other coniferous trees. I recall our long hikes along the river, through the meadow, forest, and woodlands removing other people’s trash; as we’d wander the land, he’d identify the various trees, plants, and wildflowers. Though the Rush River property was sold years ago (in fact, its new owner recently bulldozed both the house and the garage), I’ll remember it fondly, though sadly, too, for it was the last place I saw my dad in this corporeal life. His knowledge of botany was impressive and it stuck with me. When I identify a tree, plant, or wildflower and when I retrieve roadside refuse, I can thank my dad. My sestina honors my beloved father, Donald E. Roberts, our natural world, and the beautiful fragility of Mother Earth.

*Stonehammer refers to the name of the Rush River property with rock cliff, near the unincorporated town of Martell, in Pierce County, Wisconsin, USA.

PHOTO:  The Rush River with rock cliff (Stonehammer) by Jeannie E. Roberts.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts has authored seven books, five poetry collections and two illustrated children’s books. Her newest collection, As If Labyrinth—Pandemic Inspired Poems, was released by Kelsay Books in April 2021. She’s a nature enthusiast, Best of the Net award nominee, and a poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. For more, please visit: Jeannie E. Roberts | Poets & Writers (pw.org).

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With One Small Seed
by Kim Klugh

I am one small person
in a big wounded world
so how do I begin to help
the earth heal? How do I triage
the trauma to our soil,
to our water,
to our air?
As the writer who stares at the blank page
begins with one word
or the artist gazing at the empty canvas
begins with one splash of paint,
I begin in a small way—I plant a small seed
I plant bee balm to bring back the bees
I grow milkweed for the monarchs
I sow seeds of zinnia for the hummingbirds
coneflowers for the finches
holly for the robins
columbine and lupine
impatiens and petunias
poppies and primroses
and I begin to notice the life
that is humming and buzzing
and thriving and flying
I begin to see that small seeds
and small deeds can grow big roots
and long green stems
and shoots and leaves that curl and bend
and I will work to honor
my relationship with Earth
I will examine how I tend
to the living creatures in my own backyard,
I will practice being a caretaker
and I will continue, seed by seed,
to promote life, however small,
for my sacred portion of our world.

PHOTO: Monarch butterfly and milkweed plant. Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My dad taught me to always leave things better than I found them: To pick up litter. To dry flowers and save the seeds for the following spring. To conserve energy and use water sparingly. To feed the birds. He demonstrated ways to reuse, recycle, and repurpose before it was a universal tagline. That was his legacy, so I have tried to cultivate my connection with the natural world in his memory. I can pledge to do small things each year that contribute to the healing our earth is in desperate need of.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Klugh is an English/writing tutor. Her poetry has been published on Vox Poetica, Verse-Virtual, Global Poemic, and Frogpond Journal. Several of her poems have appeared as samples in three craft books edited by Diane Lockward and published by Terrapin Press: The Practicing Poet, The Crafty Poet II, and The Strategic Poet: Honing the Craft.

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My daughter bought me an orchid plant
by Julie Standig

for Mother’s Day
four years ago,
two days after
my mother died.

As a rule,
I kill orchids,
which my mother
had often said I did
to her.

I was not one
to be generous
with water,
somehow,
despite me,
this orchid survived.

It thrived,
grew more leaves
even rose again,
pale pink flowers
on twin stems,
as if it had a will
to stay alive.

This winter
has been long
and stagnant.
The orchid
has endured,
has grown
two sturdy sprouts.
I am still waiting.

Like a resurrection
of sorts,
this Mother’s Day
plant. Or is it
my mother’s hand,
somehow rising
from a grave,
to promise,
this one will live.

PHOTO: The Orchid Is Blooming (Polaroid) by Nancy L. Stockdale.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At the conclusion of a long winter, and some input on my daughter’s poetry (she is putting together a chapbook collection on loss, which is an intense experience for me to edit with her), I walked past this plant that sits on a ledge in my kitchen and saw two tiny buds. So much hope. I really do hope they don’t fail us. And that was the inspiration for this impromptu poem of mine.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Standig was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Queens, lived on Long Island (a long time), worked on the Upper West Side (NYC), and now resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She has studied at the Unterberg Poetry Center, participated in Writer’s Voice, and was an active member of a private workshop in New York City. Her work has appeared in Alehouse Press, Arsenic Lobster, Covenant of the Generations, Then & Now (Sadie Girl Press, 2015)  as well as the online journal Rats Ass Review. Her first chapbook, Memsahib Memoir, was released by Plan B Press, and she is currently working on a full volume collection of poetry. A proud member of the Bucks County writer’s community led by Dr. Christopher Bursk, she lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, with her husband Ken and their Springer Spaniel, Dizzi.