Archives for posts with tag: wildlife

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The Last Seed
by Judith Comer

“It’s not about what it is. It is about what it can become.” The Lorax

The Lorax left as all was dying
Wrote “Unless” as his warning
Only one seed left in humanity’s pocket
Let me help reverse this awful legacy
Climb off that last toppled tree
Climb down Profit Motive Hill
And onto the thirsty earth
And open wide the floodgates of mercy

Hold the seed of the Common Good
Up to the Light
Bear it high above the fray of self-interest
Higher than the bottom line
Higher than the litany:
“I want what I want when I want it!”

Plant that seed deep into the soil
Of this one universal truth
We are all Earthlings!
The destiny of our mother
Is in our hands.
It is in mine.

Let me join hands with all the children
Encircling our aging, suffering mother
Let us love her back to health
For her milk is our sustenance
And without her, we perish.

Our carbon footprint is
Crushing her lungs
Let me walk barefoot
Our desire for more and more
Is crippling her ability to provide
Let me crave less.

As our mother struggles to heal
Let me take only what I truly need
And share the rest with the world
Let me consume less for the good of all
That all my siblings have a chance at life
I will choose glass over plastic
Recycle and reuse
Eat vegetarian
Plant for pollinators
And trust such small efforts
Will multiply for good
Like loaves and fishes
I will give from my bounty
Until I know what it means to sacrifice
I will sign petitions, protest,
Write my Senators
Support policies that protect
The Earth—land, air, the seas
I will speak up even when it is not popular.
I will not be silent.

As I let go my sense of entitlement
My heart expands
My voracious stomach shrinks
I am truly free to love and be loved.
As our mother embraces me, rotating
Dancing among the stars.

I will grab hold of her green apron
Climb up that wide expanse
And find myself once again
In the bosom of a mighty forest
Will the Lorax return?
Will this dream come true?
Together we hold the last seed.
The healing is in our hands
The healing is in my hands
And it is powerful.

IMAGE: Cover for the 50th Anniversary Edition of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, originally published in 1971.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Being out in the natural world is life-giving to me and where I receive much spiritual sustenance, especially from the energy in trees. As the mother of four adult children and the grandmother of six youngsters, the future of our planet is very much on my mind and heart. I wrote this poem as the negotiations at COP26 were under way. My heart went out to Greta Thunberg and the other young activists who are trying to be heard above the clamor of competing political interests represented by delegations from all the participating nations. I was transported back to my bedtime reading of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss to my own young children, a time when I was first becoming aware of the looming environmental crisis.   wanted to write a poem to encourage Greta and her peers to continue to believe their dream can come true; that the power is in their hands; that they have more power than they know; and they are not alone.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judith Comer worked as an educator of the gifted and talented, a speech/language pathologist, and a pre-kindergarten teacher before settling in her last career as an Episcopal priest. She is also a yogi and Reiki practitioner. Today, she dabbles in walking meditation, photography, and spiritual reflection. Judith’s walks along the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay on Alabama’s coast and on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee afford her the opportunity to be mindful and snap photos of those things that grab her attention. She then reflects on those images and writes poetry about her insights. Judith can be found on Facebook.

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Reciprocity
by Alexis Rotella

In a small rural town a man high on a ladder paints his wood frame
house. At the top of his voice, he sings one tune after another,
mostly from the oldies-but-goodies era. Across the street a neighbor
makes requests. Do the locomotion, he shouts. The painter doesn’t
miss a beat. Into each song, he empties what’s deep inside his heart.

As we watch this interchange, an orange tabby makes a beeline toward
my husband, then rolls on his back for a long belly rub.

                                Two bottles in a box
                                one labeled goodness
                                the other love

PAINTING: Cat in the Garden by Walasse Ting (1981).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I turned this dream into a poem and wanted to share the joy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexis Rotella is a veteran writer of Japanese poetry forms in English. Her books include Between Waves and The Color Blue  published by Red Moon Press. A practitioner of Oriental Medicine in Arnold, Maryland, Alexis is also a mobile photographer and digital artist.

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At The Big Sweep
by Paul Jones

No one likes to wade
knee deep in the creek
to pull out plastic
snags from the places
turtles seek the sun.
I pretend I do
to do the hard work
that needs to be done.
I take what I have
of magic, of what
I found of pleasure,
in cleaning the creek.
I remember why
I hate what mud can
do to weigh plastic,
to make the load twist
and shudder and shift.
My feet find new paths
in the sucking mud,
some purchases on stone,
that lead to the bank.
My slow slogs resets
stream’s rushing free flow.
I remember nights
I couldn’t fall asleep
on a mountain train
how it like the creek
would twist, turn, and shift
along the river.
I got off the train
and it moved again.
More smoothly or so,
it seemed as distance
grew and the river
ran in parallel.
I knew then, as here,
that joy comes when work
and journeys are done.

PAINTING: Scene from the Train Window by Martiros Sarian (1960).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Big Sweep is a continuing volunteer effort to free the waterways and other natural areas of litter — especially plastic. Some may find these efforts a pleasure, but for me these necessary tasks are more rewarding in retrospect when you can see the results from a distance in time and space. Writing is, of course, similar as are taxing trips on rattling trains.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Jones has published poems in Poetry, Red Fez, Broadkill Review, 2River View, Silver Birch Press’ “I am waiting series,” and anthologies including Best American Erotic Poems. His chapbook is What the Welsh and Chinese Have in Common. His book Something Wonderful came from Redhawk Publishing in November 2021. A manuscript of his poems crashed on the moon in 2019. He was inducted into the North Carolina State Computer Science Hall of Fame in November 2021.

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The Story Of Our Lives
by Ndaba Sibanda

The story
on the state
of the world
reignites his
reading ritual—
it torches a fierce fire
in his soul, in his heart,
his mind wonders & races
after the mysterious variants
that are causing nothing else but
mayhem and misery across the world,
he rebukes: stop this archaic hide & seek
game, how can you change the rules of the
match in the middle of the game? this isn’t
entertaining, fair & sharp, it’s cruel, variants!
that’s why Heartlessness is your…first name
& nickname, Mulishness is…your surname!

Forsaken floods & wildfires, & other disasters,
I puncture your tireless tyre with a powerful prayer!
for our planet & its people need peace & progress,
I see more & more conservationists, editors & scribes
contribute to the action and activism on climate change.

A work of art
that explores
the greater snags
the global village
faces on a daily basis
especially the climate
change crisis and the corona
virus…paaaa…pandemonium,
oh…my confessions…pandemic!

Previously published in Lipi Magazine.

PAINTING: Sixteen Waterfalls of Dreams, Memories, and Sentiments by Pat Steir (1990).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is my impassioned appeal and prayer for the urgent attendance and resolution to the climate change crisis.

Ndaba Sibanda

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ndaba Sibanda is a Bulawayo-born poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer who has authored 26 published books of various genres and persuasions and has coauthored more than 100 published books. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Page & Spine, Piker Press, SCARLET LEAF REVIEW, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Pangolin Review, Kalahari Review, Botsotso, The Ofi Press Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Deltona Howl, The song is, JONAH magazine, Saraba Magazine, Poetry Potion, Saraba Magazine,  The Borfski Press,  East Coast Literary Review and  Whispering Prairie Press. He has received nominations from the national arts merit awards (NAMA), the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize, the Best of the Net Prose, and the Pushcart Prize.

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Falling Off a Log
by Lynne Kemen

Diesel truck
struggling up the hill.
Chainsaws clammer.
Horrible ripping sounds.

My living neighbor
luckily still lives
mostly on Long Island.
He’s 210 miles,
or three and a half hours,
away.
Not hearing. Not seeing.
Not horrified for what he’s done.

He sold the land’s soul in
logging rights.
An ass, a pretty pass.
Wish he’d sold to me,

Poor, poor Johnny Appleseed,
Wish he’d sold to me.
Instead, he spiritually seceded.,
leasing off what the future needed.

Stingy, greedy
Ebenezer Scrooge from bone
to the bark. Bah humbug
to the habitat here.

Melvillian long months,
the rolling tide of
splintering wood.
Shipwrecked by sound.
The shrieking of trees.
Branches broken.
Roots wrenched.
Trees toppled.

As a getaway,
I gaze at a goldfinch.
He quietly bubbles
po-ta-to-chip
po-ta-to-chip
in a clean cadence.

The woods will revive,
regrow on its own.
Twigs sprout and tweak.
Not in my lifetime.
The earth grows to glory,
but not in my lifetime.

PHOTO: Male goldfinch (spring plumage) on forsythia bush. Photo by Jill Wellington.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem about the land across the road from my home in the Great Western Catskills in Upstate New York. The logging went on for nearly two months and all the wildlife was terribly disrupted.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynne Kemen lives in Upstate New York. Her chapbook, More Than A Handfulwas published in 2020. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in La Presa, Silver Birch Press, The Ravens Perch, Fresh Words Magazine, Blue Mountain Review, and the anthology What We See on Our Journeys. A Runner-Up for The Ekphrastic Journal’s competition of Women Artists, she is an Editor for The Blue Mountain Review and The Southern Collective, both in Atlanta, Georgia. She is on the Board of Bright Hill Press in Treadwell, New York.

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Lopsided
by Thomas Zampino

I noticed only yesterday but the signs seem to have existed forever.

The trees in my backyard, the ones that have always been so elegant, so strong, so reliable, and just this side of ancient, have grown grossly lopsided.

Perhaps it’s the ground beneath them. Unanticipated upheavals are now feeding at their roots. Or maybe it’s the years of neglect, years when I failed to see their fragility.

Even their limbs are pointing back towards the earth, as if reaching down for the comfort of days long gone.

Will their own weight finally bring them down?

Not if I can nurture them in time. Not if I can reclaim those anchoring roots.

Not if I finally understand.

Lessons abound.

Previously published at gracepending.wordpress.com

PAINTING: Avond (Evening): The Red Tree by Piet Mondrian (1910).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Healing, whether touching upon an individual, a society, or the world at large, does not require massive or sudden change. Subtle yet definable movement—patiently, mindfully, and consistently undertaken—will yield enormous growth. Because we are so radically but differently empowered, each of us is capable of offering up just one modest step towards healing that, together, can change everything. We need only notice and begin.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Zampino, a New York City attorney, writes poetry at gracepending.wordpress.com. His work has appeared in, among other places, The University of Chicago’s Memoryhouse Magazine, Silver Birch Press, Bard’s Annual 2019, Bard’s Annual 2020, Trees in a Garden of Ashes, Otherwise Engaged, Chaos, A Poetry Vortex, and Nassau County Voices in Verse. A video enactment of his poem Precise Moment was produced by Brazilian director and actor Gui Agustini. His first book of poetry, Precise Moment, was published in August 2021.

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The Wolf Story
by Nancy Lubarsky

The Brothers Grimm killed the
wolves of Yellowstone. They
transformed the solemn beasts

into greedy and gluttonous predators.
The story-wolves, often in disguise,
knocked down houses, ate red-hooded

girls or boys who cried the same word
too many times. Soon explorers and
well-to-do headed west, with the

illustrated tales tucked in their vest
pockets, rifles across their shoulders.
They didn’t know that with each wolf kill,

more elk thrived, who then ate the mountain
willows that beavers used for dams. The
banks collapsed, the rivers warmed, fish

couldn’t survive. Eagles and other fowl flew.
Yellowstone was dry, lifeless, nothing but
scat and bones. Years later, another story.

Mist rises as our raft pushes through. We
part silent waters, pass snowy peaks. Eagles
return to their nests. Otters repopulate

abandoned beaver dams. Elk appear from
nowhere. Their soft eyes on alert. The
wolves have returned, camouflaged

in new growth that now reaches the
great mountains’ edges. They persist as
sentries in this tale of survival and repair.

PHOTO: A wolf rests in the snow at Yellowstone National Park (Photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I researched a lot about wolves before my visit to Yellowstone National Park. I was astonished to learn how simple fairy tales about fictional wolves misled educated people and, over time, had such a devastating, long-term impact on the ecosystem. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of many environmentalists, the gradual reintroduction of wolves has returned Yellowstone to its former beauty.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nancy Lubarsky writes from Cranford, New Jersey. An educator for over 35 years, she retired as a superintendent. Nancy has been published in various journals, including Exit 13, Lips, Tiferet, Poetic, Stillwater Review, and Paterson Literary Review. Nancy received honorable mention in the 2014 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards and again in 2016 and 2018. She is the author of two books—Tattoos (Finishing Line Press) and The Only Proof (Kelsay Books, a Division of Aldrich Press). Nancy received honorable mention from The Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Contest (2018). She also has had three Pushcart Prize nominations.

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Warrior’s Wisdom
by Donna Weems

child warrior, Greta Thunberg, sails into stuffy senate chambers, assemblies and houses of parliament waving hand painted black and white signs Skolstrejk för klimatet and wins

she does not measure the value of the natural world by its sale price

and declares, everything needs to change and it has to start now

they designate the Monongahela National Forest—including knobs, glades, sods, caves, cricks and hollers—an international treasure—to be protected and enjoyed

walking through deep undisturbed forest, visitors revel under the cool of mature chestnut, ash and elm trees and thrill to hear the fluted trill of a thrush

visitors learn the sweet whisper-chatter of a nesting tree swallow

boulders covered with soft green moss and baby birch hide the entrance of a deep bear den where a thick-furred, slumbering mother gave birth to four pocket-sized cubs last winter

a hiker casually walks past the fluid drape of a cougar stretched between maple branches in his mid-afternoon snooze

the dark-green, leathery leaves of rhododendron loaded with pink clusters lean heavily over a narrow cascade of clear, clean water

an unwitting visitor looks at her reflection in a cold mountain pool and sees the golden flash of a torpedo-shaped brook trout curiously staring back

caddisflies shimmer above the bank, hovering above softly rustling grasses and the dank smell of a summer stream

boundary fences are no longer needed and only an occasional black locust post can still be spotted in forests and meadows

running buffalo clover, growing along elk, deer and buffalo paths, wanders into backyard meadows

after being lost for centuries, herds find the ancient migration routes again

young people gather wild chicken-of-the woods, elderberries, ginseng and strawberries and tend small organic gardens

local families and friends frequently hold community feasts when the harvests are abundant

parents call their children in at dusk during the panther’s evening hunt

children spend their afternoons exploring the mysteries of the forest and find deep wisdom

they emerge as child warriors

PHOTO:  In August 2018, outside the Swedish parliament building, Greta Thunberg started a school strike for the climate. Her sign reads “Skolstrejk för klimatet,”meaning, “school strike for climate.” Photo by Anders Hellberg.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Warrior’s Wisdom” was written to give the reader a fanciful glimpse into what a healed forest might look like. It is a poem of hope because of the inherent diversity and resiliency of the Appalachian Forest and the strength, sensitivity, and work of people like Greta Thunberg.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Weems publishes a yearly chapbook. Her poetry has also been published in The Highlands Voice, Women Speak, and Voices from the Attic. She has read her poetry at Arts Monongalia, the Green Man Arts Festival (Elkins, West Virginia), Women Speak readings (Morgantown and Clarksburg, West Virginia), and Marge Piercy’s reading (Wellfleet, Massachusetts). Her poetry won the 2012 Mountaineer Week “Voices of Appalachia” contest and the “Fernow Forest” contest as well as second place in the 2019 emerging poet category of the West Virginia Writer’s contest.

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To Keep the Earth
by Maura High

The earth knows change,
how to
gash, slump, blow away.
Its other names
are dust and slurry,
grike and clint,
boulder, cobble, gravel,
sand, silt, clay.
It undoes
itself and heals—the undoing
is its remaking.

In the woods, what falls
gives way
to other creatures.

What I mean is that earth is.
Earth does
earth. I understand
the wound is here,
in the clear-cut
forty acres upstream,
in our washed-out
playground, the lost
woodpeckers and warblers,
in the guns and bunch fellers.

In the great weight
of what it is to be human.

The child who disrupts
a trail of ants, or picks
five flowers to give to his mother,
or throws
rock after rock into the creek
to hear them splash,
is a child.

It seems we must know
earth
to keep the earth
well enough to live in it.
Know the trees living
together, or falling,
branch and twig and leaf,
the creek’s channel
as it shifts, and still
gathers runoff
and anything else it can carry down.

PHOTO: Franklin County, North Carolina (Dawn of Jan. 1, 2015) by Jim Liestman.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem, “To Keep the Earth,” grows out of my long acquaintance with the local Piedmont environment in North Carolina, which changes with the season and from year to year. There’s always something new out there, a fungus or a plant I have not identified before, a bird I have never seen so close. I have learned something about geomorphology along my way, and the multiple mechanical and chemical processes that go into the shaping of the earth’s surface still intrigue me. Humans are directing and accelerating change, and much will never come back, much is lost. If we are to survive here, we must work together, with knowledge and understanding.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maura High was born in Wales, and lives now in North Carolina, where she has worked as an editor, a volunteer with controlled burn crews for The Nature Conservancy, and an advocate and activist for poetry in the community. Her website, maurahigh.com, lists her print and online publications, including a chapbook, The Garden of Persuasions (Jacar Press), and individual poems in The Phare, Rhino, Passager, The Southern Review, Tar River Quarterly, and New England Review, with samples both written and recorded. The website also features details about her family and roots in Wales.

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I Am Not a Dog
by Mary O’Brien

I hear you early, morning,
when I am reading and trying
to write about the wildness so distant to me now.

I hear you trickster—chattering, signaling.
You have seized upon the avenue of encroachment
left by our retreat into urban lives.

Along the edge you travel,
You do not blink, but skulk,
your sacred manner Twain’s living allegory of Want.

If you are foraging an opening into our world,
prying an edge we think is seamed shut,
could you catch our long-tailed, big-toothed, shaggy marauders
venturing into your domain, when curbside bins are empty?

Soon you may be scarce again.
Through withdrawal or attrition,
your howl silenced, at our hand.

Telemetry is tracking you,
An ear tag guarantees your future.
Did you notice? You were not supposed to mind.

PHOTO: Coyote by Thomas Hawk.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During the great pause, I thought frequently of the vacancy humans had left in the wilderness we are so fond of making into our playground. Were its wild inhabitants doing better without us? This poem was written in the early morning hours, when the air is still and all is quiet. I could hear the wildlife on the periphery of my neighborhood going about their business during the hours we humans usually sleep. Neighborhood dogs sleep too, unaware their territory is being invaded by their nocturnal kin. Native American legend, as well as the scientific name Canis latrans, tag Coyote as “barking dog.” But in the legend, Coyote, the Trickster, claps back: “I am not a dog.”

PHOTO: California Coyote by Mary O’Brien.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary O’Brien is an environmental writer and installation artist. Her writing evolves out of her engagement with place and community, and the research she develops for environmental art installations. Her nonfiction works delve into ecological loss and community resilience. O’Brien’s public art installations can be seen at watershedsculpture.com. Her essays have been published in Soren Lit, Field to Palette, Stanford University’s MAHB Journal; The Solutions Journal; and in Women’s Eco Artist Dialogue. Visit her on Facebook and Instagram.

Author photo by Daniel McCormick.