Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Bay Rises

by Casey FitzSimons

The trains were first to go, then
the freeway hum.

What I’d expected
was a flood: water’s raucous breach
of coast defenses, the sound of its
incursion on the land. I’d expected
people running from a tsunami
whose surges came at intervals, occasioning
fear and flight, violent and desperate acts.
I’d envisioned familiar establishments
submerged to their transoms, their names
still legible on signs and marquees.

What did happen
was more orderly: discussions
over dinner, debates
in the houses of supposed wisdom
about property ownership, the Magna Carta,
theories of legal performance.

Businesses closed before the water
rose around them, some dismantled
behind plywood panels in tidy
deconstruction sites. There were no
floating palettes, sodden sofas, or gyres
of random debris. What might have become
flotsam and jetsam had already been moved inland,
traded, repurposed, re-situated.

What has happened
is a calm tide of smooth water, seemingly
at my eye level. It is a marsh marked off
by telephone poles and a few pitched roofs
of red tiles surrounded by heaving
unmoored islands of grass and peat. Oil slicks
have given way to marine stench, swooping gulls,
and the dinghies of treasure seekers.

Last to go was the racket of city streets. Quiet
has risen with the water level.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lines

by Jonathan Tu

Hard wind blowing fast,
Leaves falling off the old trees,
Drifting with the wind.

No Haiku

by Darrell Petska

countless
floating
yellow
bellies

ancient
river

mouth choking
on moonlight

toxic
torpedo

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Apple Tree

by Gareth Writer-Davies

the original still stands

bent over now
upon staves

a thousand cuts
have spread the arse-shaped apples

into common crumbles
and king sized tarts

bitter
the wild tempered whip

green
the merry kisses of May

red
the soft sweet fruit of grace

enough
for wasps and beasts

Clywedog Trail

by David Subacchi

From Minera’s dark lead mines to Kings Mills
Nine miles of footpath for relaxation
To be followed without hesitation
Along the river, through the North Wales hills.
Here where sweet birdsong the countryside fills
Iron was once made, first in the nation
When John Wilkinson was at his station
Forging his great girders, hammers and drills.

Now at Nant Mill ancient woodland stands
With later planted beech and sycamore
And on Erddig’s gardens a white dove lands
Undisturbed by the fiery furnace roar
Now we walk Clywedog Trail in silence
Free from dark smoke and industrial violence.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Price

by Ed Hack

A smear of broken glass is what the ice
is now. It's here because it's in the shade.
The wind-kill twigs, the torn oak leaves, the price
the cold exacts so earth can be remade.
Small bits of night with wings, five black birds land,
make tiny storms of leaves to find some seed
then launch themselves away. The world's unplanned,
except it's not, for need must answer need.
And therein is the paradox of this
catastrophe, this cross-eyed gift of life.
A squirrel ransacks the leaves, the loaves and fish
of all that's left behind the winter's strife.
An atom casts a shadow too. No grist
too small for life, for nothing can't exist.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Catamount, Late Summer

by Joe Cottonwood

Come with me. Here’s
the secret trail. At the edge
of the potato field, crouch through
the barbed wire fence. Pass the stone
foundation of an old homestead.
Enter the maple forest, the green oven.
Bake, slowly rise like a gingerbread figure.
Follow, it’s fine (there’s no witch).
Release rivulets of sweat.
This is nothing, the foothill.

Listen: the purr, the burble, the rush,
the small canyon of Catamount
Creek. Remove boots, splash yourself.
Splash me. Cup water in hands
to pour over the face. Let water dribble
inside the shirt, drip to the shorts.
Relish the shock of cold
against hot parts.

Work uphill now, at last
out of the trees into the land of
wild blueberry. Pluck, taste
tiny tight nut-like explosions of blue,
so intense, so different from store-bought.
Gorge, let fingers and tongue
turn garish. Fill pockets.

Climb with me now among rocky
outcrops like stair steps to the Funnel,
a crevice where from below
you push my bottom, then from above
I pull your hand. Emerge to a view
of valley, farmland, wrinkles of mountains
like folds of flesh. How far we’ve come.
This is the false top.

Catch your breath, embrace the vista,
then join me in a scramble up bare granite,
farther than you’d think, no trail marked
on the endless stone but simply
navigate toward the opposite of gravity,
upward, to at last a bald dome
chilled by blasts of breeze.

At the top, sit with me, our backs against
the windbreak of a boulder.
Empty your pockets of blueberries. Nibble,
share — above the rivers,
above the lakes, above the hawks,
among the blue chain of peaks
beyond your outstretched tired feet.
Appreciate your muscles
in exhaustion and exhilaration.
We have made love to this mountain.

Hear a sound like a sigh from waves of
alpine grass in the fading warmth
of a lowering sun. Rest.
After this, the return
is so easy.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

American Beeches

by Ryan Harper

Walking with purpose to the wood’s heart
I have come to consider the pure stand,
set off from the trailhead (so help me god,
I would have stayed).  Through congeries
of maple and poplar, through purple flowers
oned-and-manyed into catkins,
through burs and knots of what will be
raspberries, I have come to assume the American
beeches in spectral, undifferentiated mode.
I would have stayed, so help me god.

Under the sawtooth canopy, off white barks tight
on trunks—flexed thighs—the light limes;
aglow in this tract I turn round
a single hulk and find carved
the initials: RH

under the knife the mirror of nature

What uses a species whose skin stays smooth
into old age—cotton-batted,
vivisected to a specimen:
unlobed planetree, eyeless aspen,
swabbed, flush for the marking,
cheap for the practicing omniscient—
hewed arbography, spanning
aureoles—arcade, catalogue,
reliquary of the sacred roundels?

Start and stop your measure at the sought
design and any stand is pure: the first
and last maples, outside by definition; measures
focused until even the lone American
beech dwelling elsewhere in the poplars
grows to exclave; measures taken
until at last there is no elsewhere,
no exclave, only interruptions in the pure stand.
Again I turn round the notched hulk

What is this Titan that has possession of me

missionary of the alien work,
who after the uncircumferenced mandala
compresses properties beyond old native lines
dislocates the unmarkable growths.
What befalls the namer in the woods,

the marker of logs, who esthesic
and aching from a native fever
initializes a singular species: American
beech, surely related to European beech?
We can only say “the same” if we think difference
The day is getting on; the limelight bends—
yellow and green repartitioned in the deepening
shade.  O Abendland, arcade
of the burnished hour, reclassify what you will:
considering the stand I take

leave among the maples and poplars,
burs and knots, a  little embrowned;
I did not start here, by god—
I will not stop, without intent.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Never Mariah

by  Catherine McGuire

I.
From my viewpoint on this flat plain
the stormfront’s billows                      iceberg down the Cascades
like a Titanic-buster                 wet droplets mass like steel
overhead.

II.
Autumn rakes the fields          combs leaves
from alders      baring thin branching fingers
that reach toward geese skeins           ebbing in waves
across a periwinkle sky.

III.
And why does lonely humanity call the wind names
at all?   Why do we hear it weep         and mourn    
as Tess the rain cries our tears?           We want to be big as the sky
stretch our skin            miss nothing.

IV.
Dusk’s purple stains the afternoon     shrinks the landscape
fade to black                to the width of a lamp post’s light
as the field puddles                 glint like shards
of fallen sky.

V.
With sight gone           the voice of wind grows
tumbled clatter of objects unseen       sensed as portents
gives wind the ghostly face    that deserves               demands
a name.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Footprints, Formby Point

by Mantz Yorke

Footprints of horses,
deer, cranes, New Stone Age people:
traces in old mud  
exposed at low spring tide, now
being ground away by waves.

Brown Thrasher

by Julie Ramon

In Piggott, Arkansas in a cottage
not far from where Hemingway lived,
I watched a bird bounce and bury its long,
curved beak into leaves, pitching them
in all directions. Its song—drop it, drop it,
cover it, cover it, pull it up, pull it up
tapped at the window like the small bits
of sleet that collected overnight.
Flapping its wings, it revealed its spotted
breast timidly, as it saw me watching,
the way a woman allows herself to be seen
naked the first time. Head tilted—yellow eyes
searching, it sang and waited for a female to join.
I’ve learned a song is different than a call,
in the same way wants differ from needs.
And, when one became two, they disappeared
in the thickets, and I got back into bed.
Here, wants and needs were all the same—
in the form of his body pressed against mine.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Clearing

by Ryan Harper

Each morning walk reminds Elijah he forgets
how many trees grow in his town—how covered, groved,
and leaved the passages, the hiking trails, the yards.
Always he starts early enough to be almost
alone in the morning, sharing passages and paths
only with the joggers, the bodies he has come
to know as well as voiceless passing will allow:
the man who wears shorts all year round, the small
flourescent woman he supposes is his age
who breathes like an alarm clock—A in summer, B

or B flat in winter.  In autumn he slides to the side of the trail,
the thorny side, when he hears someone striding through
the leaves, predicting who’s approaching from behind
by the pace, the running foot’s brush stroke.  Your ear is strange,
Lorraine had told him when he noted in passing one day
the small caesura in her breathing as they lay
in bed.  He was the first to notice.  He forgets
to think about the thickness of the growth, each walk,
until he finds himself in the clearing in the midst
of the pine grove north of his house some half a mile.  The light

falls on him as new despite his daily visitations,
despite his knowing this is the open space at which
his usual trail ends—grassy, warm, nothing to hear.
Routinely lit with absence, remembering shadows, here
Elijah looks up—only when there is nothing
to see except a blue vacuum, an ancient sun
that will not be engaged directly, and scabs—
white vapor trails flaking from flights that may as well
be all departing.  Every morning, Elijah stops,
weeps here a moment in full light, then turns around,
walks back through the grove, listening behind him for footsteps.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lines

by Lizzie Holden

Blackbird of halo breath.
Scratched branch
beneath you.

Free Will

by Tom Montag

The mountains
push us away,
pull us close.

The rest is mere
philosophy.

Lines

by Debbi Antebi

the orb-weaver spider
rushes towards a dry leaf
caught in its web

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Snow Light

by Kara Douglass Thom

The clouds stretch and resist
across the sun, the snow
hums like fluorescent lights
strung along the ground.
Flickering, buzzing. Yellow
then blue.