Archives for posts with tag: winter

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Longhorns and Snowdrops
by Jenny Bates

The soul is the same in all living creatures,
although the body of each is different. — Hippocrates

Snowdrops grow at the edge of a field next to Lancashire cows.
Horns descend from their faces, the curve drooping graceful as flower petals.
Weary host of tree branches wear ice, delicate as lacewings.
Fragile to breaking from a wren’s pish.
January ends, tells us to think again.
Resurrection never ends, even in an orgy of snow.
Now becomes meaningless mush,
afraid of nothing at all being familiar.
Falling on ice, mind eating worms wriggling through ears…
like a wild woodchuck trapped in a library,
I ruff up my fur —
rescue outraging me further.
What would happen if we realized black
wasn’t black at all, only dark green?
Iridescent as a Crow’s wing?
A ruthless thought that could change history
marches over ridges, across valleys, pressing close.
The wild, dark, beautiful, remote, secret words are
travel-thoughts by foot, because there are
no real roads.
How to heal the earth? I ask Hippocrates.
The cow munches near petaline
white spread.
Raises his head in hope.

PHOTO: Snorty by Jim Champion.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
I have lived in the Piedmont Foothills for 26 of my 39 years as a resident of North Carolina. I am locally known in Stokes County as an animal whisperer, especially to donkeys, coyotes and “Crow Folk.” My experience is full of friendships I would never have thought possible. Adjacent to Hanging Rock State Park, I myself have blurred the lines between what is tame and what is not. My surroundings for the most part are still and peaceful and timeless. The woods go on and on forever, you think, and there’s nobody in them but you. My poetry reflects all of this unique relationship I have to the area of land and the company of animals I keep. My poetry yearns and transfigures itself, like nature.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenny Bates is a member of Winston-Salem Writers. NC Poetry Society, and NC Writers Network. Her published books include Opening Doors: an equilog of poetry about Donkeys (Lulu Publishing, NC,  2010), Coyote with Coffee (Catbird on the Yadkin Press, NC 2014), Visitations (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2019), and Slip, her new collection (Hermit Feathers Press, NC 2020).

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Sledding the Valley of the Shadow
by Laura Foley

We’re burning the Earth. We’re burning the sky.
                         —Deena Metzger

           I know the burning’s true,
so I won’t be throwing snowballs
in the halls of Congress.

           After today’s snowfall, I grab jacket, hat, mittens,
tear down the steep drive on my orange sled,
beaming a path through the night with a light

           I hold between my knees
under the spread of winter constellations,
as dogs lope alongside.

                          In this northern woods valley,
we’re more likely to hear geese
than airplanes overhead.

                          I sled and snowshoe through cold winter days,
I know will last through my lifetime,
but still act for the generations after, including my own family.

                          I compost, recycle, keep bees,
have forgone meat for thirty years, and wonder how else to please,
whether being the change I’d like to see

                          will be enough to ease the anxiety
spreading like wildfire from teen to teen, every Greta or Deena grieving
the oblivion yet to come.

PHOTO: After sledding by Severin Demchuk on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I enjoy living in rural Vermont, where we have long, snowy winters, and a steep, winding driveway for sledding in fresh snow; but I fear for future generations. I will continue to do my part to address climate change—solar panels for heating; composting food waste; growing vegetables; not eating red meat; recycling. I hope these ideas spread around the globe, soon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Foley is the author of seven poetry collections. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review and an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It’s This is forthcoming from Salmon Press. Her poems have won numerous awards and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac; appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont. Visit her at laurafoley.net.

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Knit Cap
by Thomas Park

Big Sleep
Dry light

Through dirty window panes

One long Winter, no
Central heat

My apartment, South Side Saint Louis,
Small already

Reduced in essence to one bed, where
Under the covers I lay

18 hours night
And day

Covered in Winter coat,
Knit cap
To keep the heat in

So cold, Somehow the faucet
Dripped still

The slow percolation of warmth
As it approached
But never turned
To ice

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Out and about in the South Side with the very knit cap, which I’ve had for about 12 years.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was created by trying to remember as exactly as possible the experience of lying in bed for the bigger part of one winter, when I was poor and depressed. I recall wearing a black knit cap most of the time (even in bed) as my apartment had very little heat.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Park has lived in Saint Louis, Missouri, for most of his life, and in the South Side for several years. Before he met his wife, he lived alone and in poverty. Those years have been the grist for much poetry and other art. Thomas is much happier and better off now, but he remembers how things were.

Self-portrait by the author. 

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FEBRUARY (Excerpt from “The Months”)
by Linda Pastan

After endless
hibernation
on the windowsill,
the orchid blooms—
 
embroidered purple stitches
up and down
a slender stem.
Outside, snow
 
melts midair
to rain.
Abbreviated month.
Every kind of weather.
***
Read “The Months” in its entirety at poetryfoundation.org. Originally published in Poetry (October 1999).

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DECEMBER NOTES
By Nancy McCleery

The backyard is one white sheet
Where we read in the bird tracks
 
The songs we hear. Delicate
Sparrow, heavier cardinal,
 
Filigree threads of chickadee.
And wing patterns where one flew
 
Low, then up and away, gone
To the woods but calling out
 
Clearly its bright epigrams.
More snow promised for tonight.
 
The postal van is stalled
In the road again, the mail
 
Will be late and any good news
Will reach us by hand.
***
“December Notes” appears in Nancy McCleery‘s collection  Girl Talk (The Backwaters Press, 2002).

Photo: “Bird tracks in the snow” by Willie, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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STARS
by Robert Frost 

How countlessly they congregate

O’er our tumultuous snow,

Which flows in shapes as tall as trees

When wintry winds do blow!–


 
As if with keenness for our fate,

Our faltering few steps on

To white rest, and a place of rest

Invisible at dawn,–


 
And yet with neither love nor hate,

Those stars like some snow-white

Minerva’s snow-white marble eyes

Without the gift of sight.

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JANUARY MORNING (Excerpt)
by William Carlos Williams

Long yellow rushes bending
above the white snow patches;
purple and gold ribbon
of the distant wood:
what an angle
you make with each other as
you lie there in contemplation.
***
Read “January Morning” by William Carlos Williams in its entirety at poemhunter.com.

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ORION THE HUNTER
by Grace O’Malley

He stands in my doorway
like a cross.
The hunter has come down.
He walks me under street lights
which are more sullen and yellower
than the full moon — its cool
blind eye of bone
and fracture high high above.
His bronze face pure
with starlight or anger
or perhaps love.
“The world
will never be your idea of just
or merciful.”
It all seems one
and I feel it
like an arrow’s blade
at the division between
bone and muscle,
soul and spirit,
like hunger
but more like the craving
after beauty
that is only for brief
apocalyptic
moments satisfied.
Tense
as a bowstring, the
artistry of one straight line,
he walks away
and under the moonlight
is one motion,
flowing up like a spring
from the tendon of the heel.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This poem owes a debt to poet Mary Oliver, who wrote a poem about the constellation Orion coming down out of the sky to talk to her…in my poem the figure of Orion is God. This piece is about me growing up — the necessity of facing the fact that the world is full of evil and injustice, while still holding onto my identity as a person with a moral compass, a person who can relate to God in the midst of an unjust world. It is about the balance in life between knowing that “things just aren’t fair” and living as an individual with integrity anyway. To be a whole person, I think one has to come to terms with these two sides of life. It is also inspired by my habit of long late night walks, sometimes talking to God about the troubles of the world, and sometimes just being with him.

PAINTING: “Orion the Hunter” by Timothy Benz, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ORION
by Mary Oliver

I love Orion, his fiery body, his ten stars,
his flaring points of reference, his shining dogs.

“It is winter,” he says.
“We must eat,” he says. Our gloomy

and passionate teacher.


                                    Miles below

in the cold woods, with the mouse and the owl, 

with the clearness of water sheeted and hidden,

with the reason for the wind forever a secret,

he descends and sits with me, his voice

like the snapping of bones.


                                    Behind him

everything is so black and unclassical; behind him
I don’t know anything, not even

my own mind.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Oliver (born September 10, 1935) is an American poet who has won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times described her as “far and away, [America’s] best-selling poet”. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

PAINTING: “Orion at Cinder Hills Overlook” by Jeremy Perez, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Learn more about this painting at perezmedia.com.

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YEAR’S END
by Matsuo Basho

Year’s end,
all corners
of this floating world, swept.