Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Chalk

by Jeff Burt

One fragile egret
a low, slow acetylene trace
against the blackboard of twilight

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Four Images

by Pepper Trail

On the banks of the Saigon River, a Buddhist ceremony, the red-clad priest tipping fish from bright blue bins into the water, the worshippers bowing.  Downstream, fishermen stub out cigarettes, walk to their boats.

Above the valley full of smoke, the meadow is done with summer, taking on texture of thick brocade, yellow, orange, and brown. An unseen solitaire gives his single call, again and again. A vulture crosses the blue sky, heading to California.

On the walls of the Iceland church, a gaunt old man, a puffin-catcher, raises his net toward half-painted birds.  Below the cliffs outside, a boatload of visitors, all in orange, raise binoculars, gaze up at the puffins looking down.

The ship slides off a wave, strikes hard, shudders and booms.  I wipe spray from my face, set my feet for the next rise and fall.  Above, aloft, the albatross, white, trims his wings, turns toward Antarctica, and is gone.

Wintry Treats

by Suzanne Cottrell

Morning flit, flutter
Frenzy at bird feeder
Chickadee alights on limb
Waiting its turn
Loose seeds sprinkle
Powdery snow below                       
Sparrows hop and peck
Exposing stirred up dirt
Doves sip through crack in ice                   
Thrushes feast on clusters                   
Of violet Beautyberries
Persistent gray squirrel
Excavates black walnut
Clasps hidden treasure
Gnaws and chews

Great Gray Cloud

by Joe Cottonwood

A great gray cloud from the coconut islands
floats across the Pacific
with a stop at Hawaii (who wouldn’t?)
and then more days sailing over waves, over whales
past the winking lighthouse on Pigeon Point
to snag and stay upon the Santa Cruz Ridge,
my thirsty mountain home.

The great gray cloud washes leaves from maples
coating my street with a yellow sheet.
The great gray cloud blows branches from oaks
dropping firewood for my heat.
The great gray cloud knocks buckeyes
bouncing like baseballs for squirrels.
The great gray cloud hoses ditches
rushing at roadside in eddies and swirls.

The great gray cloud
fills the mucky pond
to a pristine pool
where ducks are dancing,
where geese are goosing,
where egret spears the fresh water,
where turtles do bellyflops
and bullfrogs on the banks
croak a thunder of
Thank you, cloud, thanks.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wild Goose Trail

by Jeff Burt

Burdock, buckthorn, white cormus,
rosehips, vaccinium, red edible currants,
white elderberry, arronia, chokeberries,
such abundant berries
reaching over and into the trail
begging to be brushed and knocked
to the earth to begin transformation
or picked and eaten to fall in scat
aided by bugs and erosion to plant
in the soft dark earth and yield.
We must not pull our coats
from their branch, avoid,
must wade deeply, rustle, touch.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Arnarstapi

by Jamie O’Connell

shipwrecked
shoreline

/ waves blued
by fire /

black pebble sun
splits sea /

/ how sun
feeds sea /

bones, flesh

Everything Turns Away

by M.J. Iuppa

How seemingly steady— this
sift of snow gracing rows up-

on rows of apple trees holding
their pointe, like Degas’s tiny

dancers suffering the cold
introspective moment

as if it were crucial
to solving life’s little

ambiguities— argot of wind
or flight of stairs— both

leading to disaster . . .

Slender arms flung
high in the air.

The Annals of Pine

by Taylor Graham

Atop a tall pine, in sagacious gray robes
the bird presides, ringing out his name
to all the surrounding peaks: Clark’s
Nutcracker, extricating nut after nut
from a pine cone. How else might they be
freed to sprout, to ensure the species
survives? The bird is hungry. Thus
continues a script of ages, letter by letter
on the fragile paper of generations.
Far below, a deer mouse searches fallen
nuts to stuff her cheeks, writing her own
history in the annals of pine.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

While Walking, Edge of Town

by Joe Cottonwood

Flash of lightning
with paws

Puma!
furry limber legs
of muscle —
scrambling up a roadcut

Gone — an instant
vanished

A weed trembles

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Lines

by Robin Smith

red chokeberry bush--
the titmouse and
the blue jay take turns

Top of the Mountain

by Melissa Kelly

Snow covered mountain top
The blue and greys mixing
Blended into the white top
Tip touches the cloud masses
Thin the air, cold as ice
Making its way down
To the green valleys below

World Outside Our Fences

by Taylor Graham

Last night a light rain washed with wood-
smoke-fog took the pasture. Silence.
Then frantic barking above highway fence.
So much moving dark. Drifting wisps
of smoke-fog. My flashlight caught him:
stag-stance perfect posture, young buck
at bay, antlers fuzzed in flash-light fog.
Deer parrying dog who doesn’t know
the game. A rush-thrust-darting muffled
by fog and pricked by rain. At last
my dog comes to call, leads the way back
home – that small part of the unknown
world we fenced to call our own.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

They Took Our Birch Trees

by Erin Geil

It seemed that overnight
Those tall skinny lives
Had left us to our own
Devices, but the reality
Is that they died long ago
Some sort of rot.
A painting now hangs on
The roper's wall
Of overpopulated birches
with hidden faces that
you're meant to find.
But all I see are kidnap victims
And empty spots of ground.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Industry

by Connye Griffin

Drum clock out as morning warms,
Hammers stowed ‘til dusk, but
One missed the memo. He labors on
Driven to erase all algae,
His mouth like a hammer’s claw
Scraping underwater metal and plastic
Fat otters drop off the shore
Spectacular Spoonbills reach for the light
A heron resents their graceless antics
And says so, disgruntled--squawking
Alien noise in a bird statuesque, poised
A modern pterodactyl’s call
How long they’ve been on the job, laboring
A man’s phlemgy cough breaks their rhythm
Reverberates across the cove. They pause
For some slice of a second but
Theirs are lives rarely rising to double digits
Their biology sets its clock and runs down
So they resume their work, the business of living,
Full in the knowledge life is brief and sweet as
A hummingbird rises from below, ascending
To the call of nectar, necessary for its
Advance at the speed of dart, dance, delight
Smaller birds tweet, gossip, and whistle
Against the dove’s melancholy mourning
The sun breaks open a low lying haze
Waking a hen that complains about the early hour
Taking wing, she barely rises above the surface
Her morning calisthenics--an explosion of industry.

The Great Missouri

by Michael H. Brownstein

Clouds mark tracks across an arm of sky;
Blue water pools near the banks,
Grey-green storms of current stretch
Across mudflats, erosion, a stretch of skin.
Near the Mississippi, both clouds and river
Change lanes, dwell into wind and storm,
Stretch the great strengths within
And let out wind and rain, guts and flood.

The Tunguska Non-event

by Todd Mercer

When on fire
the present’s paramount.
There may have been
a meteor to blame, a comet
crashed into the far taiga,
or an errant transatlantic
burst of current
from Nikola Tesla’s lab.
It wasn’t on my mind
the moment
I exploded into flames.
I mouthed a shorthand
stripped-down prayer,
uninformed of the square miles
of matchstick evergreens flattened,
croaked it out
without a thought to
creator or crater-maker:
“Water!” I cried
in my native language,
“Water!” again,
as if anyone could hear.
I wasn’t slightly curious.
about the comet,
gas plume, God’s hand,
the stray wireless transmission,
antimatter, whatever the cause.
Combustion
is strictly present tense.