Archives for posts with tag: wildlife

mc escher
Reincarnation
by Lee Parpart

To pluck words
from air like
winter grapes
shot through
with noble
rot, knowing
I’ll land every
line with the
pungent
clarity of a
Bordeaux
muscadelle.

To delight
party guests
with jaunty
ragtime riffs
when festivities
start to flag,
and to have
a good joke
ready in
French,
Russian, or
Cantonese
in case of
bored
Péquistes
or dull
visiting
diplomats.

To re-start
the wild
staccato
heart of a
struggling
passenger
somewhere
over the
Atlantic,
arriving at
Heathrow
a modest
hero, and to
cut a lean,
straight line
pirouetting
en pointe for
assembled
fans.

Only ten,
maybe twelve,
more turns
around the
board,
assuming
steady
forward
momentum
and no more
lives spent
rolling karmic
dung across
an endless
Serengeti.

IMAGE: “Scarabs” by M.C. Escher (1935).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It would take a lot of lives to master all of the skills I greedily imagined in response to this prompt [lumped together under the single skill “reincarnation”].  And although the dung beetle is depicted here as a low point for a human facing the possibility of reincarnation, dung beetles are hugely beneficial insects, reducing greenhouse emissions and helping farmers by burying animal waste. I could do worse than to spend a couple of lives rolling poo around the desert.

lee parpart

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Parpart won a typewriter in a Scholastic Inc. fiction contest in high school. It was a real workhorse, and she used it to write a bunch more poems and short stories, only to run away from creative writing at 18 after a guy in his forties who had published a couple of books invited her to lunch, insisted she try frog’s legs, and informed her that the prose sample she shared was “not great.” She recently returned to poetry and fiction after admitting both were central to her happiness and realizing she was insane to have listened to frog leg man in the first place. Her poems and stories have appeared in Hegira and Silver Birch Press, and her academic essays on cinema and TV have appeared in numerous books and journals. See leeparpartpoems.wordpress.com.

deer crossing
Rules of the Road
by N. Hess

It’s dark out.

It might rain.

There are deer on the road.

Every time I sat in the driver’s seat, my mother’s voice echoed in my brain. Each time I clicked the seat belt shut, her old litany of excuses snapped in place, too. Reasons why it wouldn’t be safe for me to drive. Good heavens, there are deer on that road! (Which would never just cause a dent in the car—always imminent death, of course.)

Welcome to Pennsylvania, where there are deer everywhere, every night. Yet most people go about their business, perhaps driving a little more cautiously in areas where deer are known to congregate, but driving nonetheless.

But not me. I stayed “safe” by not driving. Or if I really had to go somewhere, my mother drove me. (Clearly, she was the magical accident repellent that would keep me unharmed.)

I didn’t know then that it wasn’t about safety or my driving skills—it was about control. All I knew was that in high school and college, I was allowed to drive a grand total of 11 times. When I moved away after graduation, I was equal parts longing and terrified to drive myself anywhere.

Driving to the grocery store in my new town, I had to give myself pep talks. Talk myself out of thinking I was going to die every time I drove somewhere. Remind myself that if I could just get to the supermarket, I’d be rewarded with mac and cheese.

Those two miles each way to the store felt like an eternity for over a year. But each journey yielded two miles’ more experience than before. It adds up over time, and it gave me a voice. A voice that’s louder than hers.

To this day, I’ve never hit a deer.

PHOTO: “Deer crossing” by adrenalinpura, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Stephen King once said, “The only requirement [to be a writer]…is the ability to remember every scar.” My driving-related scars inspired this story. Although those wounds don’t cut as deeply these days, they still produce little twinges and pinches sometimes when I’m stuck in a traffic jam or driving down a lonely road at night. I keep telling myself that’s what healing feels like.

Hess

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: N. Hess writes twisted fiction. She lurks in the Philadelphia suburbs and is inspired by all things dark and mysterious.

AUTHOR PHOTO: N. Hess, daydreaming about a future in which self-driving cars will be the norm.

campbell1
Summer Dears
by Don Kingfisher Campbell

1

I’m driving us
Around Crater Lake
We’re surprised to see
Small banks of snow

Daughter Emily yells
“Stop, there’s a beer”
I pull over
We stumble out

She stealthily steps
On soft white slush
There it is… a deer
All shoot…pictures

2

As we leave
The road starts winding
Again, this time
I spot a doe

On the driver’s side
We don’t even get
Out of the car
My cell phone is dead

My wife leans over me
Gets several shots
With her digital camera
Before the hind crosses

3

Now the Cube is rolling
On Highway 62
Starting to make minutes
Doing 45 miles an hour

Jenny completes
The lucky trio
Screams and pinches my arm
I stomp on the brakes

A mother and two fawns
Split up across
The shady asphalt
Six hearts beating fast

deer oregon

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During our 2012 trip to Crater Lake in Oregon, we were very surprised to find some snow in August, but then again, we’re talking an elevation of 7,000 feet here. And she did actually say “beer.” She’s my stepdaughter and had just arrived from China.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Don Kingfisher Campbell, MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, has been a coach and judge for Poetry Out Loud, a performing poet/teacher for Red Hen Press Youth Writing Workshops, Los Angeles Area Coordinator and Board Member of California Poets In The Schools, publisher of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, leader of the Emerging Urban Poets writing and Deep Critique workshops, organizer of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival, and host of the Saturday Afternoon Poetry reading series in Pasadena, California. For publication credits, please go to: http://dkc1031.blogspot.com

Mark
For me it was the trees
by Michael Mark

The ones stripped to their sap
by rhinos needing to scratch an itch,
dismembered by elephants
marking their existence,
left leafless by the insane baboons.

Broken and more beautiful,
they stood in defiance of death,
undeniably dead.

Even more than the too-close nightly roars
that shook our tent and made me leak pee,
then worry until light
that whatever predators were out there
would pick up the scent
and track it to us,

beyond the three giraffes
in a solemn row,
watching the jackals, hyenas and
cloud of vultures eating
the remains of their fallen elder,

it was the trees
that impressed me most
on our summer vacation.

Monuments to nothing I can name.
Were they even trees anymore?

From the crowded plane home,
I saw the skeleton sculptures
waving their tangled arms, frail,
skinless fingers clawing at the vastness
and me, not to forget.

In my bed, haunted.

I should have gotten out of the jeep.
I should have walked over to one of them
and sat down like Buddha.

© Michael Mark

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This is a photo of my wife, Lois, and myself and one of the trees I wrote about on our photo-only safari in South Africa. Lois has a blog and has written about her travels, this trip included, at midlifeattheoasis.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was begun on the flight back home from our trip to Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Mark is a hospice volunteer and long-distance walker. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine, Lost Coast Review, Rattle, Ray’s Road Review, Spillway, Tar River Poetry, Sugar House Review, and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

mole
LOOSE FUR
by Kasey Johnson

Not to be belligerent or strange;
in fact, to be the opposite,
you cut off all of your hair.
A Samson in the 80s,
some Delilah who swallowed you
and spit you out is wandering
toward me and I like her.
She looks like the kind
who’ll stay around
even when you don’t want her.
Now your hair is silvered
with gray like a mirror is
from a distance.

One day it’s a letter
reminding me you have
a soul, burrowing inside
like a mole whose tunnels
lead to a central cavern
where all the food is stored.
Who is meant
for the habits of moles:
loose fur, close dirt, final dark.
There is always more light
to force into the earth,
always more dirt
pushing back.

One day it’s our childhoods
switching paths on the way
to forgotten places.
You call for your brothers
but most of them are gone.
I call my sister
to say I am sorry
when I am not.
It is the fugitive in both of us
singing our names,
a wanted woman, wanton
and bellowing about what it is
inside us we tried to sunder.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I write because something inside tells me I must, something that is often impractical and unwieldy; however, writing provides its own elixir and I always feel more alive for the effort of putting words and phrases together.

IMAGE: “Mole” as featured in natural history book from 1926. Prints available at etsy.com.

kasey_johnson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kasey Johnson received a BA in English from Reed College and an MA in English Literature from the University of New Mexico. She is currently a writing instructor in Corvallis, Oregon, where she also serves as an editorial assistant and book review editor for CALYX, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women. Her work is forthcoming in Verdad

amy_vansgard
THE DUCK
by Ogden Nash

Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.

IMAGE: “Mallard Duck on Pond 3 Square,” watercolor by Amy Vansgard. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frederic Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was an American poet known for his light verse. The New York Times said his “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry.” Ogden Nash wrote over 500 pieces of comic verse. The best of his work was published in 14 volumes between 1931 and 1972.

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THE BEAR
by Susan Mitchell

Tonight the bear
comes to the orchard and, balancing
on her hind legs, dances under the apple trees,
hanging onto their boughs,
dragging their branches down to earth.
Look again. It is not the bear
but some afterimage of her
like the car I once saw in the driveway
after the last guest had gone.
Snow pulls the apple boughs to the ground.
Whatever moves in the orchard—
heavy, lumbering—is clear as wind.

The bear is long gone.
Drunk on apples,
she banged over the trash cans that fall night,
then skidded downstream. By now
she must be logged in for the winter.
Unless she is choosy.
I imagine her as very choosy,
sniffing at the huge logs, pawing them, trying
each one on for size,
but always coming out again.

Until tonight.
Tonight sap freezes under her skin.
Her breath leaves white apples in the air.
As she walks she dozes,
listening to the sound of axes chopping wood.
Somewhere she can never catch up to
trees are falling. Chips pile up like snow
When she does find it finally,
the log draws her in as easily as a forest,
and for a while she continues to see,
just ahead of her, the moon
trapped like a salmon in the ice.

SOURCE: “The Bear” appears in Susan Mitchell‘s collection The Water Inside The Water (Wesleyan University Press, 1983), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Do you mind if I have an apple?” by Thomas Phillips. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Mitchell is the author of three collections of poetry: The Water Inside the Water (1983); Rapture (1992), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and a finalist for the National Book Award; and Erotikon (2000). Her poems have appeared in magazines and journals, including New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and Fence. The recipient of three Pushcart Prizes, Mitchell’s other awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lannan Foundation. Mitchell lives in Boca Raton and teaches at Florida Atlantic University, where she holds the Mary Blossom Lee chair in creative writing.

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TREAT EACH BEAR
by Gary Lawless

Treat each bear as the last bear.
Each wolf the last, each caribou.
Each track the last track.
Gone spoor, gone scat.
There are no more deertrails,
no more flyways.
Treat each animal as sacred,
each minute our last.
Ghost hooves. Ghost skulls.
Death rattles and
dry bones.
Each bear walking alone
in warm night air.

SOURCE: The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America, Edited by Karla Linn Merrifield and Roger M. Weir (Foothills Publishing, 2006), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Black Bear, Maine” by Mark Silk. Prints available at finartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gary Lawless lives the literary life — literally surrounded by books in his Gulf of Maine bookstore. He also runs a small press and teaches poetry to underserved populations, including recent immigrants and Iraq War veterans. The environment looms large as a theme in his poems – the natural world is sacred. Animals of the world are populations, cultures, and beings as much as we are. Gary Snyder, Ted Enslin, and James Kohler are his mentors. His poetry collections include Poems for the Wild Earth (1994), Caribouddihism (1998), In Ruins (2002), and Behind the Wall (2005).

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YOU ARE IN BEAR COUNTRY
by Maxine Kumin

 Advice from a pamphlet published by the Canadian Minister of the Enviroment

They’ve
been here
for thousands of years.
You’re
the visitor:
Avoid
encounters. Think ahead.
Keep clear
of berry patches
garbage dumps, carcasses.
On woods walks bring
noisemakers, bells.
Clap hands along the trail
or sing
but in dense bush
or by running water
bear may not hear your clatter.
Whatever else
don’t whistle. Whistling
is thought by some to imitate
the sounds bears make when they mate.
You need to know
there are two kinds:
ursus arctus horribilis
or grizzly
and ursus americanus
the smaller black
said to be
somewhat less likely to attack.
Alas, a small horribilis
is difficult to distinguish
from a large americanus.
Although
there is no guaranteed life-saving way
to deal with an aggressive bear
some ploys
have probed more
successful than others.
Running’s a poor choice.
Bear can outrun a racehorse.
Once you’re face to face
speak softly. Take
off your pack
and set it down
to distract the grizzly,
Meanwhile back
slowly toward a large
sparsely branched tree
but remember
black bears are agile climbers
in which case
a tree may not offer escape.
As a last resort you can
play dead. Drop
to the ground face down.
In this case
wearing your pack
may shield your body from attack.
Courage. Lie still. Sometimes
you bear may veer away.
If not
bears have been known
to inflict only minor injuries
upon the prone.
Is death
by bear to be preferred
to death by bomb? Under
these extenuating circumstances
your mind may make absurd
leaps. The answer’s yes.
Come on in, Cherish
your wilderness.

SOURCE: The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America, Edited by Karla Linn Merrifield and Roger M. Weir (Foothills Publishing, 2006), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Black Bear Has a Gentle Look” by Richard Wear. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maxine Kumin (1925-2014) was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award. She was the poetry consultant for the Library of Congress in 1981-1982, and taught at many of the country’s most prestigious universities, including MIT, Princeton, and Columbia. Kumin’s poetry collections include Nurture (1989), The Long Approach (1986), Nurture, Looking for Luck (1992), Connecting the Dots: Poems (1996), The Long Marriage (2002), Inside the Halo and Beyond (1999), Jack and Other New Poems (2005), Still to Mow (2007), and Where I Live: New and Selected Poems (2011).

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CROSSING THE STREET IN LAGUNA BEACH
by John Gardiner

Thank you for not killing me in the metal-grilled cross-hairs
of your monstrous SUV as I crossed the street
cautiously, in full view, in daylight, in the crosswalk
where I thought I had a lawful right to be
and indeed once did in a different, slower world
when I could meander and even take a peek upward
at a trail of pelicans
or outward at a glorious pod of dolphins,
but now I must deal with the likes of you
as you fight for space, wrecking the world
with anger
and the awful weight of your toys.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Gardiner has published 10 collections of poetry and his work has appeared in numerous anthologies, journals, and magazines, including two anthologies of California Poets (Tebot Bach), Spillway, The Sacred Beverage Press, Speakeasy, Write Bloody, Moon Tide Press, Poetry Flash (Berkeley), Windflower Press, California Poetry Quarterly, Art Life, and The Comstock Journal. In addition to hundreds of featured readings in the U.S., Gardiner has also performed in Russia, The Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Ireland, and Brazil. He tours in a rock ‘n roll Shakespeare show called Shakespeare’s Fool, and has facilitated poetry readings, slams, and workshops in Laguna Beach for the past 16 years. Gardiner teachers drama, Shakespeare, and oral presentation for the Gifted Students Academy at the University of California, Irvine.

Note: “Crossing the Street in Laguna Beach” by John Gardiner was a winning entry in the Op-Ed poetry by the Los Angeles Times. Check out more of the winning poems at losangelestimes.com.

SOURCE: “Crossing the Street in Laguna Beach” appears in John Gardiner‘s collection Coyote Blues: Free Verse and Prose Poems, available at Amazon.com.

PHOTO: Trail of pelicans