Critters

Grasshoppers

As children we learned
Playing in the parched grasses of July
That grasshoppers
Are not mere insects
That hatch and metamorphose
But enchanted creatures
Leaping suddenly into being
Fully formed
Out of summer’s basement door
To give us little jolts
Of apprehension and delight
At the spine-tingling otherness
On the loose in the whirring world.

child holding grasshopper

Millipede

A parade of one
The shiny black millipede
Marches smartly along the trail
Left right, left right, left right,
Left right, left right, left right . . .
Nobody out of step

Cabbage Butterflies

Unlike their more colorful kin
Cabbage butterflies dress
With an elegant simplicity
That would not be out of place
At gatherings of the haut monde /–/
Paper white wings
With one or two artfully placed black dots
For a tasteful soupçon of contrast.
But cabbage butterflies
Have no particular preference
For soirées and teas
In the flawlessly manicured//jardins
Of the overprivileged
And are perfectly content to shoot the breeze
With the proletarian bugs and bees
That toil away in the flowers and trees
In the humble jumble of our front yard.

Quail

One at a time
With several seconds
Between each
Fifteen quail come scooting
Out of a blackberry thicket
Onto the wide, weedy path
Where they busily forage
For whatever it is
That quails eat.
What I don’t get
Is the one-by-one business.
Why don’t they exit the brambles
As a covey
All at the same time?
Is it some kind of survival strategy?
Is the idea that
If the bird in front of you
Gets attacked by a predator
You stay put
In the relative safety
Of the tangle of thorny stems?
If that is the case
How do they decide
The order in which
They come out into the open?
Wouldn’t everyone
Want to go last?
I know I would.

By Buff Whitman-Bradley

family of california quail


Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poetry has been published in many print and online journals including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai’i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesday, Watershed Review, and others. He has written several books of poems, including When Compasses Grow Old, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World, and Cancer Cantata. He was the producer of the Courage to Resist Audio Project and co-producer of two documentary films, Outside In and Por Que Venimos. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Photo of child with grasshopper by Tonbeyl. Photo of California Quail family by PStedrak.

Another Field Gone

When the pigeons lifted
and their wings flapped
like pages flicked in a book,

the field became our own again.
Seed hung on the tips of summer
and tractors waited in heaviness.

Another June to August
had left us. The barbecue’s we
have yet to cook. Campsites

known but never seen, stars
wasted in moonlit skies, owl
hoots locked out by a door.

Then the tractors came to plough
away the sun growth.
We turned to thicker curtains,

logs on the fire, coal, coal,
and blackened fingers.
Another year older for the next
summer. And bones thicker

with work, skin creased with rain.
Wishing our lives would be lived
again.

By Gareth Culshaw

farmer with children on tractor


Gareth lives in North Wales. He loves the outdoors especially Snowdonia. He is published in various magazines across the U.K. Visit his website here.

Photo by William Perugini

Strange Paradise

An unassuming, rough, land-locked place,
a Paradise; paradises need not be green always.
Clean barren land, range of mountains,
valleys, caves that send a chill
up through any animal spine ―
awe down the guts.
Tumbling streams wash through
many a precious stone,
brooks encircle her
like exquisite new silver jewellery.
With temperature-swinging pendulum,
wide blazing expanse of emptiest earth
winks at her glittery rival ― the ocean.
Fallen amidst the blinded,
none see her strange charm
of beauty or look to
appreciate her divinity.

By Thriveni C Mysore

snow=capped mountain beyond green valley


Thriveni C Mysore is a science teacher from Karnataka, India. She loves Philosophy and finds solace in Nature Poetry.

Photo of the Afghan-Pakistan range of the HinduKush mountains provided by the author.

Memory Loss

Stars and planets run wild
at night, summer days bring no rain,
farmers strain to move heaven
and earth to thunder, weeds scream
in pain, grass bristles, leaves are still.

Your renown, brown and dry
as the grass, once green and spry.
Your mind falters, once quick
enough to make dust fly. A dog’s rustic,
woody bark, too much like bark
of drought-stressed trees.

Have you put your ear to their trunks
and listened, as they strain to sip drops
up their straws to the tips of the farthest
leaves, imagined you hear their hollow tubes
break from the pressure of bubbles?

Memory’s drought: each word
remembered a precious drop
not to be wasted. But all
you remember is the rhyme
about King Henry the Eighth’s wives:
“Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced,
beheaded, survived.” Will the trees
die or survive?

A snake lies flattened and dried
on the road, your feet scuff gravel,
your mind a thundercloud of anger
because you can’t remember
the smell of rain.

By Meg Freer

barren ground sunset


Meg Freer grew up in Missoula, Montana, US, and now lives with her family in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where she teaches piano and enjoys running and photography. She began writing poetry in 2015. Her photos and poems have won awards both in North America and overseas and have been published in chapbooks and in both print and online anthologies. In 2017 she won a fellowship and attended the Summer Literary Seminars in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. Journal entries and photos from Tbilisi may be found here.

Photo by Kritsada Seekham

Autumn

Twilight arrives more rapidly.
Sunrise, chronically tardy.
Daylight’s window dwindles.

Morning chill turns noses scarlet,
decimates zinnias,
nips ungloved fingers.

Liquidamber trees flame.
Elms and sycamores
flaunt golden foliage.

Orchards blush, shed fading leaves.
Bare limbs, unburdened grapevines
slumber through winter.

By Jennifer Lagier

Red leaves among the green


The author, Jennifer LagierJennifer Lagier has published ten books and in literary magazines. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Forthcoming books: Harbingers (Blue Light Press), Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Camille Abroad (FutureCycle), Forthcoming: Like a B Movie (FutureCycle Press, 2018).Click here to visit her website. Photo by the author.