Archives for posts with tag: poets

licensed viavaltours
“On the road again…”
by Stephanie J. Morrissey

As a child I’d sing;
when the rubber
hit the melting asphalt;
the muggy city air
caressing my face.
We happily, hot and sweaty,
embarked to the Sunshine State
to see “Pots” and “Granna.”
We’d arrive irritated,
still hot and sweaty,
nonetheless relieved, three days later
at “the house in Florida.”
ENGAGE vacation whirlwind of:
Disneyland; Epcot; Splash Mountain;
Typhoon Lagoon; Boardwalk and Baseball;
Universal City; Busch Gardens;
Silver Springs; Cypress Gardens;
Vero Beach; Ron’s Surf Shop;
Kennedy Space Center; the golf course.
I had summer vacations
kids wished they had.
The All American Dream,
just like the Griswolds,
but without most of the chaos.
When I was little I loved it.
As I grew older I began to hate it,
the monotony; the idea
of what these places represented these icons
of what being an American meant.
The false American Dream
they all perpetuated.
I always hoped
to have the lesson at the end
that all that really mattered was
our family spending time together
Sadly, those amusement parks
were an attempt to fill a void.
I don’t enter amusement parks
of my own volition as an adult,
I just don’t have the time
to spend with them anymore.

PHOTO: Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, by Vivaltours, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My creative process deviated from my normal process for this poem. This time I prepped by looking at some recent vacation photos, talking to my kids about past vacations we had, reflecting on my vacations as a child, watching National Lampoon’s Vacation, and jamming out to some tunes we listened to on road trips as a kid while brainstorming with one of my best gals.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie J. Morrissey is currently riding out the wave of the pandemic in Austin, Texas. Since she’s devoid of the ability to travel, she has spent her summer at home with her partner enjoying their birthday month playing video games about being on an island. Since last writing for Silver Birch Press, Stephanie has released her first book of poetry titled The Heart, A Precious Organ through Hercules Publishing, available for sale through her Facebook poetry page @theconcretelabyrinth or on Amazon.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken on my birthday when my kids, my now ex-husband, and I went to Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California (July 6, 2009).

licensed freesurf69
Patmos
by Aida Bode

I heard one of the peasants say
he saw the birth of blue right here
inside this island,
below the knee-prints of Saint John’s prayers,
across the archway of lightnings
at the peak of the wind’s chanting

I stood tall; arms stretched, tracing the bay
and threw the net of my soul where
all was a gland, of a forgotten eternity
when it was as little as a day
a joyful offspring of time and air
a jewel in god’s hands.

Then, I dipped my finger in the mouth of the Aegean,
and then put it in my mouth;

the peasant didn’t lie,
Patmos gave birth to the sky.

PHOTO: The island of Patmos, Greece, showing the village of Skala and the Aegian Sea by Freesurf, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I visited Patmos in the summer of 1998 and stayed there for two months. I went there as a live-in babysitter and was able to work and enjoy the  summer. The island holds a special place to me because of the way I was able to enjoy the simple pleasures of swimming, bathing in the sun, walking under the dusk sky…my heart expanded and filled with a different kind of calm that stayed with me to this day. The poem fully embodies what I feel when I think about Patmos, the island where the book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Aida Bode is a poet and writer, whose works have been published in a variety of online and print magazines, including Dime Show Review, Prelude, 34th Parallel, Allegro, Transcendent Zero Press, Silver Birch Press, West Texas Literary Review, Three Line Poetry, The Raven’s Perch, Vayavya, and more. She’s the author of the novel David and Bathsheba, two poetry volumes, Rated and True Cheese, and a quotes collection, A Commuter’s Eye View. She holds a MA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University, and in 2017 was nominated by West Texas Literary Review as a Pushcart nominee. For more, visit aidabode.com.

licensed lyrna
Siena, Tuscany, Italy
by Leslie Sittner

afternoon cocktails at an outdoor Campo café
we look out on the familiar Piazza del Campo
historic focal center of Siena
soft in shape and conical in elevation
a most spectacular medieval square
no costumed jousts, ceremonies, pageants today
the medieval Palio three-lap horse race is next week
reminiscing, refreshed, rested, we wander up to

the medieval Duomo di Siena above the Campo
Italian Gothic black and white marble jailbird stripes
wrap the façade and adjacent Romanesque campanile
while Venetian mosaics and Pisano sculpture
join in the adornment frenzy
needlelike spires reach to the heavens for hope, forgiveness, love
three dominant central arched doorways
welcome all in need

inside, clusters of striped columns soar to the saints
elaborate mosaics embroider all pavement
sitting side-by-side in a proximal pew
ignoring the surrounding tourist hordes
we gaze up speechless at the Pisano pulpit
eight-sided carved marble bowl supported by nine columns
sculpted in animals, Bible stories, The virtues, Allegories

tightly holding hands, we wipe away the holy water of our tears

PHOTO: Duomo di Siena, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, by Lyrna1, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena) was designed and completed between 1215 and 1264. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with the addition of red marble on the façade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, linked to black and white horses of the legendary city’s founders, Senius and Aschius. The finest artists of the time — Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Donatello, Pinturicchio, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Bernini — completed works in the cathedral. (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 2015, I took my daughter to Italy for a Tuscany Yoga Tour to celebrate reaching our birthdays of 40 and 70. I had lived in Italy with her father for two years before she was born. She had been here before with a college friend and later with her husband-to-be. After morning yoga at the rustic farmhouse, Antico Borgo di Tignano, we went on a day trip to Siena. In the Duomo, she shared her reasons for leaving her husband of 10 years. I shared that during a trip to Italy with her father, I decided it was time to leave him when we returned home. I can’t help think Italy might be a marital jinx.

PHOTO: Interior columns and altar area, Duomo di Siena, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, by Peter K. Burian, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner’s print works are available in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press (2016-17-18-19-21), Adirondack Life Magazine, BraVa anthology, and read on NPR. Online poems and prose reside at unearthed, Silver Birch Press, 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, 50 Word Stories, Epic Protest Poems, and Adirondack Center for Writing. A collection of essays about European travels with her ex-husband in the late 1960s awaits publishing. Leslie is currently editing the memoir written by her ancient dog and compiling her own book of haiku with photographs.

licensed nerify
A Wander in Roma
by Carol A. Stephen

These soles have sweltered in unforgiving sandals as we wandered
streets of an August Rome, stood outside the Colosseum, paced
patterns on Capitoline Hill, then thankful to ride the street car
from Piazza Venezia to the Spanish Steps. Happy too, for
running shoes from Seoul in a Roman shop, that cushioned bunions
as they complained with every step on St. Peter’s marble floors.

PHOTO: The Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy, by Neirfy, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy, climb a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti Church at the top. Designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi, the stairway of 135 steps was built in 1723–1725 . (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My late husband was a refugee from Hungary during the 1956 uprising. As a young man, he traveled widely, although he settled in Canada and became a proud Canadian citizen. He wanted to show me every place he had been. We managed most of them before he died in 2004. We went to Europe in the summer, 2001, arriving in Italy at the hottest time of year, August. I was a rather bigger woman at the time, and the heat did take a toll, including on my feet!  John insisted I appear in a photo at every landmark we visited. I am wearing the running shoes I bought in Rome, the ones from the poem.

PHOTO: The author in front of the Colosseum, Rome, Italy (August 2001).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol A. Stephen’s poetry appears in Poetry Is Dead, June 2017, and numerous print publications, including Wintergreen Studios chapbooks, Sound Me When I’m Done and Teasing the Tongue. Online poems appear at Silver Birch Press, Topology Magazine, The Light Ekphrastic, and With Painted Words.  She won third prize in the CAA National Capital Writing Contest, and was featured in Tree’s Hot Ottawa Voices.  She served on the board for Canadian Authors Association-NCR and co-directed Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series. She has five chapbooks, two released in 2018 — Unhook, catkin press, Carleton Place, and Lost Silence of the Small, Local Gems Press, Long Island, NY.  In 2019, Winning the Lottery, Surviving Clostridium Difficile was published by Crowe Creations.ca. Visit her blog at quillfyre.wordpress.com.

licensed anil acharya
Kathmandu on My Mind
by Margaret Chase

A whole day we spend there
Edgy monkeys nibbling fruit, eyeing us shyly, boldly
mother large and near.

A day amid architecture circa 1920,
most rococo, half-restored,
fortified by German marks.
So-so Sauvignon Blanc in the Moorish gazebo, a lone pigeon pacing.

Open-mouthed, heads back, we gaze at mirrored domes.
The bartender, polishing goblets, muses “This place was nearly razed.”

Lotus, sculpture, wine and sun
roses, lovers, lawns, and vines
fountains, turrets, secrets

O my Garden of Dreams, I stand, smiling, at your gate,
pinned by the grace
of your flowers.

PHOTO: Spring pavilion, Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu, Nepal, by Anil Acharya, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Garden of Dreams is a neo-classical garden in Kathmandu, Nepal, built in 1920. It features about two acres of gardens with three pavilions, an amphitheater, ponds, pergolas, and urns. After decades of neglect resulting in crumbling pavilions, overgrown paths, and loss of the subtropical flora, restorations were undertaken between 2000 and 2007 with the support of Austrian Development Aid in collaboration with the Nepal Ministry of Education.The renovation project has become a model project for the sustainable development of other historic sites. (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem in 2010 while visiting my daughter in Nepal. The entrance to The Garden of Dreams is subdued, giving no hint of the magnificence and calm beyond. Miraculously, the structures within The Garden withstood the earthquake of 2015 with minor damage. A century after its 1920 arrival, The Garden is still resplendent. The poem feels alive to me, especially in this time of pandemic, desperation, and upheaval. Despite cataclysmic events, we can hope that our world is not entirely shattered…that our common human foundations will persist. History and culture, imagination and beauty live on, and still incite us to create. Despite, or perhaps because of prevailing conditions, we can still heed Voltaire’s advice: “Let us cultivate our garden.” We may cultivate alone, or collectively, but we must never stop dreaming.

ARTIST’S STATEMENT: I am captivated by the human impulse toward transcendence, and how that quest affects behavior. I love the rogue’s gallery of humanity, and am drawn to understand what drives people to give themselves over to a vision. I dwell in and explore the intersections of art and disability. Imagining and portraying women’s lives compels me. Environments that push the individual to break through, from strange dystopias to sumptuous dreamscapes, intrigue me. I am curious about transgressors. History and its ghosts interest me. The willingness to be vulnerable and to take risks in performance attracts me, and unexpected theatrical combinations in voice, characterization, physicality, and interaction. All forms of art are living languages, and catalysts to expand the vocabulary of the imagination.

PHOTO: The author at The Garden of Dreams in Nepal.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Chase is a writer (poet, playwright, editor) and theatre artist (playwright, director, actor). She explores artforms for wonderment, expression, transformation, and community. She delivers words, whether atop a local industrial container or from the Central Park Bandshell in New York City. Pendulum, her two-woman play about mind games in the age of terror, was recently produced at Manhattan Repertory Theatre, and she is at work on her fifth play, Resurrecting Lady Dada. She has a cochlear implant and declares that “It’s good to be bionic!” She once sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” for 800 people on 15 minutes’ notice. She believes in cramming as many lives as possible into this earthwalk, and loves artistic collaboration. Find more of her work at sociallydistantart.com, disartnow.org, instagram, and macaccess.org.

licensed ben krut
Wounded Eurydice
by Jennifer Finstrom

     “At least I have the flowers of myself,
     and my thoughts, no god
     can take that;”
          “Eurydice,” H.D.

The Art Institute opened again on July 30,
and that makes you want to take the 147
bus downtown and stand outside watching
people go in but not yet entering yourself.
Over the past year, this is the place you’ve
come for first dates, for other dates,
immediately after a man you liked text-
message broke up with you, and you
don’t need to go inside to feel again
the heavy door opening, to walk past
the gift shop, take your membership
card out of your purse and show it to
the attendant before climbing the stairs,
your hand on the smooth rail, and then
the slow drifting from gallery to gallery,
through Medieval and Renaissance Art,
Arms and Armor, back around to European
Painting and Sculpture where you find
Corot’s Wounded Eurydice in Gallery 224,
snake-bit, contemplative, moments before
her death. This place is your only church,
and one day soon you’ll be sitting on the steps
outside, the many ghosts of your past selves
moving in and out of the doors, caught like
Eurydice in their own frozen moments,
unable to take back anything that’s happened,
but not seeing what waits beyond it either.

PHOTO: The Art Institute of Chicago by Ben Krut, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Almost exactly one year ago, I began a collection of ekphrastic poems about dating in my fifties. The direction the poems are taking is shifting in recent days amid the climate of uncertainty, but I’m still making progress.

IMAGE: Wounded Eurydice by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1868/1870), Henry Field Memorial Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In Greek mythology, Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music. (Source: Wikipedia.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jen Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for 13 years, and recent publications include Dime Show Review, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Rust + Moth, Stirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.

licensed ian whitworth
The Bean
by Steve Bogdaniec

Get up close and you see yourself, stretched and pulled, along with all of the other people around you. From farther back, you see a famous skyline reflected in an oddly rounded way.

But with repeated viewings, it becomes a magical mirror.

Something a little different each time.

In daylight, clouds, faces, the tan concrete tiles underfoot, and buildings can share focus. At night, the lit-up buildings and streetlights take over.

Sometimes, I’ll walk up to it with the rest of the crowd and inspect my own reflection, and others, I’ll want to ponder it from farther away.

Sometimes, its message is clear, and other times, not. Is it trying to tell me something, or am I trying to get it to tell me something?

It changes every time. But it’s always something.

PHOTO: Cloud Gate (The Bean), stainless steel sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Millennium Park Chicago. Photo by Ian Whitworth, used by permission.

Sondra and Steve at The Bean - December 2014
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Downtown Chicago didn’t need another landmark. It’s a city full of them, full of steel, of decorative and imposing and very tall buildings, of bridges dressing up an otherwise dreary river, of weird big public art instillations. But The Bean IS impressive. Its official name is Cloud Gate. But Chicagoans don’t care. It’s ours, and we’ll name it what we like. According to Chicago’s website, The Bean (Cloud Gate) is a public art structure designed by Anish Kapoor and was unveiled in 2006. It is completely rounded, curved in on itself, and is covered in polished stainless steel that creates a “mirror-like surface.” It is 66 feet long, 33 feet high, and has a 12-foot arch in the middle you can walk under and through. (The website says that arch is the “gate” part of the name. I still don’t see it.) The sculpture is located in Millennium Park, on Michigan Avenue, in the busiest part of the third biggest city in the United States.

PHOTO: The author and his wife, Sondra Malling, at The Bean — an engagement photo taken by Shad Pipes (December 2014).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Bogdaniec is a writer and teacher, currently teaching at Wright College, Chicago, Illinois. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in numerous journals, most recently in Eclectica Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and Jellyfish Review. His work can also be found in the Nancy Drew Anthology: Writing & Art Inspired by Everyone’s Favorite Female Sleuth. Check out stevebogdaniec.com for links to published work and updates on new stuff!

licensed giles bizet

Giverny
by Chris Precise

I was a guest in Claude Monet’s home for a dewy day. It was a beautiful oasis, tucked away in the countryside behind dripping wisteria and giggling daffodils. A woman in one of his paintings called to me in the study. She held a parasol and stood at the crest of a hill’s rolling wave of endless green, rising above it as though weightless. I almost reached my hand out to her to pull me through the canvas into the frame mounted on the wall. I imagined myself closing my eyes and dissipating into the hues of the paint to become the strokes of the brush, where I would play a larger role in the grand scheme without worrying about someone getting too close to find detail in me that I could not find in myself.

The Woman with a Parasol allures me still. On the days where I wish to melt into the background, I can see her featureless face blending into the vast blue sky behind her, telling me to come with her. Instead, I roll over in my bed and lose count of the bountiful brushstrokes that make up my body without knowing where one ends and another begins.

Light yielded itself upon Giverny as the time came to depart for home. While the countryside faded into the background, the woman in the canvas did too. Her perpetual motion up close became suspended in time as the distance between us increased on my return to Paris, and the mirage of our likeness evaporated. I am not the touches of frozen oil slowly achromatizing as the years counted themselves. I am my own Impressionist canvas, speckled with the soft colors of my survival and bearing light for harvest. I am here.

PHOTO: Water garden at Claude Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, France, by Gilles Bizet, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The theory of les touches in Impressionist period art, the touches of the brush on the canvas, fascinated me, the visible strokes created through the mastery of Monet, Renoir, Degas. They bent light at the whim of their brushstrokes, gods birthing new universes I so desperately wished to be a part of. Lately, I have been trying to find a sense of self: a facet of identity or defining memory that will ground me into a sense of who I am. Until that day, which may come tomorrow or 50 years from tomorrow, I will be satisfied with the process of making my own oil paint touches as I construct an image of my being.

IMAGE: “Woman with a Parasol” by Claude Monet (1886).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Precise is a Black nonbinary scholar-writer-activist in the making. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a current student at Swarthmore College, they study Black diasporas around the globe and enjoy reading Black feminist and DuBoisian theory. Much of their narrative and creative nonfiction writing rests tucked away in tattered Moleskine journals, but they aspire to soon share more of themself and their stories with the world. For more, visit preciselychris.carrd.co.

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Before the Levee Comes Down
by Kyle Laws

Murals stretch up in the afternoon sun
and what’s reflected back into the river
are primary colors painted on the levee
by those who dangled by ropes from the top:
reds, yellows, and blues.

And as the river flows east the blend of primary
becomes secondary: red and yellow become orange,
yellow and blue become green. This is the function
of levee—creation of color as river moves over stones.

Where the river eddies, in the swirl where kayaks
hope not to tangle, are remnants of last night’s party:
barbecued pork rinds mingled with burnt twigs.

Underfoot is a crush of rock that is trail. My boots,
thick-soled, can scale the opposite bank. I can pull
myself up by saplings that know there is water,
that have roots enough to get me to a place

where I can see the murals, not in reflection,
but as if atop the horse Lady Godiva strides
that’s next to the rendition of Joan of Arc.

Even with the smell of algae, I want to drink
of the river, submerge myself hidden in a cluster
of trees, know that as I arch my back to rinse hair
of debris, green will trickle into my mouth.

I stumble down the wooded bank, take off boots
and orange-ringed socks, watch paintings for what
could be the last time while feet whiten cold and
stiff in the river from a slip of rock that extends
into the Arkansas on its way to Kansas.

Previously published in Turtle Island Quarterly and in Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019).

PHOTO: Mural on levee along the Arkansas River in Pueblo, Colorado. Started in the late 1970s as isolated patches of graffiti, the sprawling mural grew to become almost two miles long and 58 feet tall.  (cpr.org).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The levee along the Arkansas River through Pueblo, Colorado, built for flood control, featured the longest outdoor mural in the world. In 2014, the top layer was taken off for repairs and the height shortened. All the paintings were lost except for a small section that contained ashes of the artist, Judith Pierce.   

PHOTO:  The levee in Pueblo, Colorado, after the top layer was removed, before what remained was resurfaced. Photo by Allison Kipple, used with permission. For more about the mural, visit cpr.org.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kyle Laws is based out of Steel City Art Works in Pueblo, Colorado, where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018), This Town: Poems of Correspondence with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. Find her on Facebook.

licensed funnerusImmigrant Waves
by Lowell Murphree

They aren’t much, I know
so very little

coming and going like that
foreign and undependable

a little movement
at the tip of a long Cheatgrass stem

the string of them along
my canal go mostly unnoticed

but this stand alongside the neighbor’s
pasture fence

is the Pacific
subducting at the Coast and

rising in the body of a
Mongolian immigrant stem-waver two hundred fifty miles inland

just as did these hills twelve million years
before we tried to close the borders.

PHOTO: Pictured are Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley, the town of Ellensburg, the Yakama River, and the Manastash Ridge. Photo by Funnerus, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley is known for its frequent strong winds that sweep down the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains to the flat land across the Columbia River. Watching the Cheatgrass move in waves along a canal bordering my home was the inspiration for exploring how external forces shaped and continue to form and shape my homeland. Manastash Ridge is a long ridge extending eastward from the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington State. These ridges rose from the earth’s volcanic activity 12 million years ago as a result of the subduction of the Juan de Fuca Plate under the North American Plate which also pushed up the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges.  They are a spectacular part of the drive eastward from Seattle toward the Columbia River. Manastash Ridge forms the southern border of the Kittitas Valley where I live, a desert valley made verdant by irrigation canals constructed largely by immigrants who settled the valley with the coming of the railroad. Cheatgrass was introduced to the Western states from Eurasia, used initially as packing material and is considered an invasive species.

PHOTO: The author at home in Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley with Cheatgrass and the Manastash Ridge behind him.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lowell Murphree lives and writes in the Kittitas Valley near Ellensburg, Washington.  He works with local and regional early learning nonprofit organizations as a grant writer, board member, and volunteer.