Archives for posts with tag: trees

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Picking Cherries
by Mary Rohrer-Dann

My father lifts me to pick sour
cherries from my grandmother’s tree.
His whiskers scrape against my skin.
Sugar cubes stuffed in our cheeks,
we eat straight from the dinged pail,
spit out yellow pits, bits of twig and leaf.

In this dream he is my young father,
dark-haired, muscled, laughter easy
on his lips. Afternoon slips into blue
twilight with nothing more to do
than pick and eat cherries,
watch shadows purpling green grass.

First published by Vita Brevis Press in July 2020, and included in the author’s collection, Taking the Long Way Home (Kelsay Books, 2021).

Photo by Hans. 

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My father is long gone, but he has visited me in dreams on occasion, for which I am grateful.

PHOTO: The author and her father on the beach in Atlantic City, circa 1954.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Rohrer-Dann, author of Taking the Long Way Home and La Scaffetta: Poems from the Foundling Drawer, also has work in Flash Boulevard, Clackamas Review, Ekphrastic Review, Indiana Review, Potato Soup Journal, Philadelphia Stories, Panoply, and elsewhere. A “graduated” educator, she paints, hikes, and works with several volunteer organizations in central Pennsylvania. She is past writing a sexy bio.

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Mill Creek Hike During Covid-19
by Tina Hacker

A sycamore leaf. One leaf. But large
as a dinner plate, falls
right at my feet in early October
before the wetlands trail
turns into wallpaper patterns
of locust, oak, maple.
I stop, pick it up. This is new to me
or seems new after weeks in lockdown.

Swarms of marsh cattails line the route.
Their tall slender stakes sway
at the whims of autumn winds,
eclipsing smaller scrambles of prairie grass.
Algae spreads over a pond like a ‘50s
poodle skirt, wide swaths of green, smooth as felt
with a blue heron replacing the iconic symbol.

Walking through a tunnel, I am pressed
into a crouch when a train passes overhead.
Fun! I decide to wait for another train
then stroll until late afternoon shadows remind me
of the dark time I am traveling through.
But for a couple of hours on this lowland journey,
nothing more dangerous than a leaf.

First published in the Mockingheart Review (2021). 

PHOTO: Sycamore Leaf by Rich Herrmann,

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem reflects true events. My husband helped me identify the sycamore leaf and other plants we encountered throughout our hike. I scribbled down notes from our first steps till our last steps on the trail.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Hacker, a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, was a finalist in New Letters and George F. Wedge competitions and named Editor’s Choice in two literary journals. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including The Whirlybird Anthology of Kansas City Writers, San Pedro River Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Fib Review, and I-70 Review.  Her two poetry collections, Listening to Night Whistles and Cutting It, have been joined by a new collection titled GOLEMS  (Kelsay Books).

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Wedge Acres
by John Charles Ryan

in the long claggy days
of summer my father
cleared oaks and pines
from the triangle of sand
that on a shellacked sign
under the front lamppost
he named Wedge Acres

sweat and dust caked his dark
blue dungarees as he wrestled
into Archimedean alignments
a series of pulleys and winches

I sat on the splintering
rim of a newly cut stump,
its concentric twirls burnished
by the hot steel blade—
time-rings gnashed
into a sawdust pile,

cerise with chain grease.

Photo by Redd F on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poetry explores human-botanical relationships through the possibility of plants having an innate form of intelligence. My writing also aims to reveal the ways in which human beings mind plants through acts of caring, attachment, and affection. The idea of “the intelligent plant” has enjoyed a revival of late in popular culture. The co-authoring of poetry with plants—and with non-human beings more generally—presents exciting possibilities for better understanding and appreciating the natural world. Viewing poetry as medium of exchange between intelligent beings, I continue to probe the question of collaboration with nature through writing techniques based on sensory immersion and memory provocation. “Wedge Acres” is an outcome of this poetic interest in how plants mediate human recollection.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Charles Ryan is a writer of poetry, nonfiction, and research with an interest in plants, fungi, lichens, and human-nature relationships. Between 2008–20, he lived in Western Australia and New South Wales. His recent work includes the poetry collection Seeing Trees: A Poetic Arboretum (with G. Phillips) and the prose anthology The Mind of Plants: Narratives of Vegetal Intelligence (with P. Vieira and M. Gagliano). In May–June 2022, he was Interdisciplinary Writer-in-Residence at Oak Spring Garden Foundation in the United States. He is also an adjunct associate professor at Southern Cross University, Australia, and adjunct senior research fellow at the Nulungu Institute, Notre Dame University, Australia.

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I Remember
by Kim Klugh

When you arrived in California
you wrote to tell me
about the apricot tree
in your backyard
Do you remember?

That first summer I came to visit
we plucked the sun-ripened fruit
from the tree’s loaded limbs;
my thumb followed the fruit’s crease line
where the knife split in half
the soft sphere with a single slice
to reveal an almond-shaped stone

We bit through the supple skin
and swallowed the fruit’s
warm meaty flesh
drawing its juicy nectar
back into our throats.

Having our fill
we piled the excess
into a deep sky-blue day bowl
On days you are most missed
I still can taste that day’s summer sweetness
upon my tongue
I can still feel the warmth of the sun
upon my face.

PHOTO: Apricot Tree by Elena Schweitzer.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Klugh is an English/ writing tutor. Her poetry has been published on Verse-Virtual, Frogpond, Global Poemic, Wales Haiku Journal, The Heron’s Nest, Modern Haiku, Poetry Pea, Autumn Moon Haiku Journal, drifting sands haibun, and Failed Haiku. Several of her poems have appeared as samples in three craft books edited by Diane Lockward.

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With Redwoods
by Carole Johnston

It’s dark by the
time we enter Humboldt
Forest enveloped

by redwood trees
we can’t even see but
we feel them

we hear thumping on
the car roof while Robin
tells stories about

a hitchhiking witch
she and Barney picked up
here once late at night

old woman muttered
they would see her again
as they dropped her

off on a lonely
road leading who knew
where… but tall trees

breathing
in the dark so we hum
a forest tune

we knock awake
the B&B host and he
leads us to our

one room
I open a window, push
my cot next to it

stick my head out
and watch the moon glide
by… then sleep

with all three
daughters shivering in
the precious night

PHOTO: Redwood forest (California) by David at pixabay.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “With Redwoods” is a favorite memory of time spent with my three grown daughters in the redwood forests of California. I hope to capture the haunting ambiance of the forest at night, as well as satisfaction of a day filled with love and adventure.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carole Johnston primarily writes Japanese short-form poetry. She has published poems in numerous journals, including Cattails, Ribbons, and Frog Pond. Her publications also include three books of poetry: Journeys: Getting Lost (Finishing Line Press), Manic Dawn (Wildflower Poetry Press), and Purple Ink: A Childhood in Tanka (Finishing Line Press). Before retiring, Carole taught in the creative writing program at the School for The Creative and Performing Arts at Lafayette High School in Lexington, Kentucky. Currently, she teaches poetry and fantasy writing to children at the Carnegie Center for Literacy in Lexington.

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Days of Honey
          —during the pandemic
by Mary Fitzpatrick

Looking for light in the pandemic, we note
that the bees have returned. Vivid
in their occupation of the clean box
I’d readied, lured by seven-foot
sage-blossom stalks. I’m reassured
there are enough
to break away and form this hive
behind our garage, just in season
to double our pomegranates, a wealth
at any time and especially now.
It’s been three months. By November when
the pomegranates lose the red fuzz
under their leathery crowns, it will be nine.
Our time’s become timeless — is this
BC or AD? Carthage Ephesus Campania?
Make the weeks count. Lift
a rack of honeycomb from the hive
—it teems and glistens—
and let gold run all over the days.

PHOTO: Pomegranates and Bees by Palex66.

 NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Days of Honey” was written in a state of dreamy timelessness during the early months of the pandemic, when staying home and shedding my busy calendar still felt like a gift. The title actually became the title of a chapbook manuscript written during this time, while I was also contending with my mother’s severe illness. My pandemic memories run the gamut, but this particular event — finding a new colony of bees had moved in —was very sweet.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Fitzpatrick’s poems have been finalists for the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and the Slapering Hol Chapbook Award; short-listed for the Fish Publishing Prize; featured in Mississippi Review, Atlanta Review and North American Review as contest finalists; and published in such journals as Agenda (UK), Briar Cliff Review, Hunger Mountain, InterLitQ, Miramar, The Paterson Review, Pratik, Terrain.org, plus ten anthologies. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz with an MFA from UMass Amherst, she is a fourth-generation Angeleno who feels at home in Ireland.

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The Summer Tree
by Clive Collins

One day that August you took me to a park in Bovey Tracey
where I stood with you beneath a tree full dressed for summer,
a canopy of Lincoln green in Devon, and I was happy in ways
beyond my power to explain.

Months gone since then. How long I am without the means to say.
A year? Another year’s full quarter? Does it, after all, much matter?
But, for my birthday, then or maybe it was later, you sent a card
of what I think must be that summer tree.

Which I have kept caged now in a little frame I found. Tiny really,
planed white-painted wood edging in the green, the day, the season.
It sits upon a shelf, ambered by fancy, momentary memoir,
sweet joy recalled.

PHOTO: Bovey Tracey, Devon, England. Photo found at Parke, National Trust, Bovey Tracey.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In August 2011, I stayed with an old friend who lives in Devon, England.  We rented a holiday cottage on Dartmoor and one day visited the small town of Bovey Tracey, where we walked in Mill Marsh Park. It was there I saw what I now always think of as the summer tree. Sometime later my friend sent me a card featuring a watercolour painting of a tree in full leaf. I kept the card, framed it, and wrote “The Summer Tree.”

PHOTO: Framed card in the author’s home. The image on the card is a print by Devon artist Susan Deakin.  Find her work at suedeakin.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Leicester, England but now long resident in Japan, Clive Collins is the author of two novels, The Foreign Husband (Marion Boyars) and Sachiko’s Wedding (Marion Boyars/ Penguin Books). Misunderstandings, a collection of short stories, was joint-winner of the Macmillan Silver PEN Award in 1994. He was a short-listed finalist in the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.  Carried Away and Other Stories is now available from Red Bird Chapbooks.

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The Nth Wonder of the World,
North Shore of Oahu
by Rafaella Del Bourgo

On our way,
we collect the red cone-like flowers
of shampoo ginger
to squeeze onto our hair
during tonight’s bath in the forest.
Rose apples,
fruit-sweet and flower-scented,
are devoured as we pick them.
The ruby avocadoes
we save for lunch.

At The First Resting Spot,
pillowed with soft pine needles,
we lie on our backs
and peer through the branches
at birds, some as bright as gemstones,
and, above them,
at clouds racing toward Kauai.
We sip herbal tea
and savor its gentle bite.

The pathway becomes muddy.
Bushes, pushed aside,
snap back and grab our clothes.
But finally, there it is,
The Nth Wonder of the World,
a tree trunk the size of a giant’s right arm
growing horizontally across the ravine;
brown fingers of roots on one side
and burrowing branches on the other
keep the land
from splitting apart.

We carefully walk along
the massive trunk to midway,
sit, dangle our legs,
and share lunch.
The air is soft and moist
as if the creek below
were breathing on us.

PHOTO: Crooked Palm Tree at Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii by Vince Lim.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Many of my happiest memories involve being out in nature – warm nature, benevolent nature. The five years I spent living and sailing in Hawaii provide several of these.  With our friends Kim and Brent, we often started from their North Shore home and hiked to The Nth Wonder of the World. It was always just us, the birds, the plants and trees. It was quiet and serene, magical really.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rafaella Del Bourgo’s writing has appeared in journals such as Nimrod, The Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, The Adroit Journal, The Green Hills Literary Lantern, Caveat Lector, Puerto Del Sol, Rattle, Oberon, Spillway, and The Bitter Oleander. She has won many awards, including the Lullwater Prize for Poetry in 2003, and, in 2006, the Helen Pappas Prize in Poetry and the New River Poets Award. In 2007, 2008, and 2013, she won first place in the Maggi Meyer Poetry Competition. The League of Minnesota Poets awarded her first place in 2009. In 2010, she won the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and the Grandmother Earth Poetry Prize. She was awarded the Paumanok Prize for Poetry in 2012, and then won first place in the 2013 Northern Colorado Writers’ Poetry Contest. Finally, she won the Mudfish Poetry Prize for 2017 and was nominated for a third time for the Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook, Inexplicable Business: Poems Domestic and Wild, was published in 2014 by Finishing Line Press. In 2012, she was one of 10 poets included in the anthology Chapter & Verse: Poems of Jewish Identity.  Her first book, I Am Not Kissing You, was published by Small Poetry Press. She has traveled the world and lived in Tasmania and Hawaii. She recently retired from teaching college-level English classes, and resides in Berkeley, California, with her husband.

PHOTO: The author at Makapu’u on Oahu, looking toward Turtle Island (1989).

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One Good Thing
by Catherine Klatzker

I hear the tree-trimmers
before I see them. Workmen
in fluorescent lime green
jackets and bright blue
helmets position traffic cones
in the street, already raising
one worker in the squeaky
cherry picker, ready to slash.

Heart racing, unsure if the tree
with the new crow’s nest will
be spared, I slip into my shoes
and face mask and speed down
to the street—to what? To stop the
timber slaughter? I did not imagine
myself as tree monitor and bird
protector this day. It seems
frivolous. I know it is not.

There is so much needless death
and destruction in this world. Maybe
not today for this crow family.

The tree-trimmer axes branch after
branch from the neighboring palm
trees. He sways closer to the nesting
Corvus, ready to hack. Two crows
instantly sweep up and circle above
his head. The mulcher devours
fallen palm fronds as the defeated
worker descends to the ground.

The crow pair has not dived
at the worker, nor vocalized,
but it is well known that crows do
not forget a face. They will
remember a dangerous person’s
face and get the word out.

All night, I watch for the crows’
return, alert for swooping wingspan,
their flapping plunge. I anticipate
my joy when they reappear.
All night, the sky is empty.

At daybreak, one crow drops
gingerly onto an upper palm
branch, a ramp to her rugged
nest. I hold my breath as she
inches her way down, slow
as parched creek mud, and
in the pale dawn she reenters,
home.

PHOTO: Mother crow feeding her nestlings by Sally Wynn from Pixabay.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catherine Klatzker is the author of You Will Never Be Normal (Stillhouse Press, 2021). She lives and writes in California in a fourth-floor condo that resembles a tree house. Her prose and poetry have appeared in mental health anthologies as well as a range of other publications, including Atticus Review, Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Tiferet Journal, Please See Me, River Teeth‘s “Beautiful Things,” The Forge Literary Magazine (upcoming), and others. Visit her at catherine.klatzker.com.

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Elegy for My Trees
by Feroza Jussawalla

The weather is turning;
not, as it usually does,
when liquid gold
comes and goes,
dripping from amber branches
that shed their emerald ear drops.

This year there is no crunch
to the gold dried to airy thinness.
It is soggy damp. Slippery and sliding,
causing falls.

The skies have been weeping,
Filling the ever-overflowing rain barrels.

The continuous damp chill,
has wilted my Afghan pines
traumatized by the drought
in and around me, unready for this
bounty of water.

Many years of dry drought
have not prepared, desert sand or bark,
to absorb
what should be a gift of rain.

Instead, damp bark leeches water
releasing pine beetles, for
busy woodpecker heads to
peck, peck, peck,
tap, tap, tap.

It is a wonder their little heads don’t
fall off,
similarly making them fodder
for the lone hawk that sits
on his dying throne
a throne that I must soon have felled
before it tumbles and crumbles.

No, this water has not been a blessing,
as it breaks the banks of rivers
used to dry edges:
“This is how we were meant to be,” they say,
“to be streams in a desert,
For, when we are full and flush,
greedy gold diggers, mistaken mine cleaners,
break veins, that loose
poison into our life blood.”

Petrichor turns to putrifaction,
as drowning roots, lose loose soil
threatening to topple
stately majestics that must be felled
before canyon winds blow them over.

No, we have abused mother earth too long,
and now she lets loose wind and weather,
tides that bring in the amakua, as sharks
that bite children by the seaside.
This niño does not bring a blessing,

Santo Niño, can you save us with your rebirth?

PHOTO: New Mexico storm (Sept. 30, 2017). Photo by John Fowler on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is an elegy for MY eight big Afghan pines that had to be felled, a couple years ago, in 2015, when our desert environment received and excess of rain. In 2015, the gold King mine waste water spilled into our rivers, in the one year that we had an excess of rain and the rivers were full. Thus, the water could not be used.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Feroza Jussawalla, is Professor Emerita, of English, at the University of New Mexico, Albuqueruque. She has taught for forty plus years and published several works of criticism on Postcolonial Literatures. Her collection of poetry, Chiffon Saris, was published by Toronto South Asian Review Press and The Writer’s Workshop, Kolkotta (2002).