As Above, So Below

Sweet meadow grass grows
Where forest used to be. Not all has gone to seed,
While all that is fallow awaits a time of need
To push through dirt, and rocks, and clay
Toward another greening of the day.

Even starlight cast over a midnight lake
Shimmering on rippling waves,
Beds down with ash and mud,
Mingles with fish and bones, and holds
A bit of universe tucked away in stones.

By Cynthia Sidrane

desert stream flows around white boulders

As a desert and mountain dweller and avid hiker, Cynthia Sidrane’s poetry and photography are reflections of the wild, remote and rugged beauty of Arizona deserts, and the Sky Island mountain ranges that rise like miracles from them. Her poems have been published online and in print, including two short-form poetry anthologies: “Pay Attention, A River of Stones,” and “A Blackbird Sings.”

Photo by the author

A Translation

Deep within the language
of leaf thinness and a gradual
translucence, translating

the sun into so many shades
of greens, just as the trail exits
the shadowed tree line, is where

the many voices resonate in these
woods, mid-spring, full-on
leaf density cradling God’s hand,

gentling the awareness of self
down through swaying limbs,
down to seek out our prayers.

By Larry D. Thacker

path into sunshine on glowing green leaves

Larry D. Thacker’s poetry can be found or is forthcoming in more than ninety publications including The Still Journal, Poetry South, Mad River Review, Spillway, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Mojave River Review, Mannequin Haus, Ghost City Press, Jazz Cigarette, and Appalachian Heritage. His books include Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia and the poetry books, Voice Hunting and Memory Train, as well as the forthcoming, Drifting in Awe. He’s presently working on his MFA in both poetry and fiction. Visit his website at:

Photo by Paul Aniszewski

The Sound of Snow

snow crystals cover pine needlesThere once was the sound of snow. I first heard it at my aunt and uncle’s cabin in the Big Bear mountains, a place our family gathered for winter holidays. The old shake-wood cabin was painted forest green and snuggled against the hill side. A series of stair-steps lead to the front door. There was a wood stove with its smoky heat, a small living-room-kitchen, and the icy-cold outdoor bath tub. Sometimes, rain fell all day, but by next morning, a white powder covered the trees, the forest floor, and the cabin roof. Long, pointy-tipped ice-cycles hung from the eves.

I knew the snow would come. I heard it in the pitter of rain on the tin roof, how the sound would quiet to a whisper, then silence. The snow absorbed sounds. It turned down the volume of the world outside; it lowered the volume of the thoughts in my head to heartbeat and breath.

Years later, while backpacking in the Trinity Alps, I heard the sound of snow. It softened the sound of the rushing waters at Deer Creek into a gentle, bubbling babble. Instead of the icy crunch under foot, there was a slippery-slosh as my boots sank into wet snow. Blacktailed deer, and even Black Bear, remained active in the winter’s snow, but their sounds were smaller. The snow covered the branches and the leaves of the forest floor. No longer was there the snap of a branch or the rustle of leaves as the animals walked on their forage for food in the snow-globe-world of white.

Living off-grid in the Tahoe National Forest, large snow flakes fell throughout the night. In the morning, our trucks disappeared, hidden under heaps of snow. The snow circled our cabin, tucked it in tightly, like a child swaddled in blankets. My husband and I were cocooned inside where the wood stove hissed and popped, while the tea kettle whistled. Outside, the snow stacked higher.
snowy ranch see from homw window

When we lived in the Modoc Mountains, the snow didn’t fall from the sky; instead, it blew with a horizontal wind from the north or the south. Snow covered windows in delicate crystals. It threw piles of whiteness in front of the doors. The sound of snow was wailing wind, and when the wind calmed and the snow settled, there was the swoosh of the snow shovel, the thunderous crash of snow as it slid off the roof, and the sputter of the tractor as my husband plowed to uncover our long, gravel driveway.

But, the snow stopped. From the north in Modoc to Big Bear in the south, the snow fell in inches instead of feet, and the pitter patter of warm rain melted the tiny layer of snow to a thin slush. Hope came as a new winter storm was promised, but there was only timid rain. There was no snow pack to seep slowly into the earth to feed the forest. No snowpack to release its waters down into the dry, thirsty valleys in the hot summer months. Millions of trees died, and reservoirs were cracked-dry earth. Each winter night, I listened for snow, waited for the silence that did not come.

That was before the world turned upside down, and the river appeared in the sky. There was a thunderous noise as the rains poured down upon the earth. The water filled the thirsty lakes and stream beds. The water overflowed the river banks, spread mud and debris across the roads, punched huge holes into the asphalt. At home, in the Sierra Foothills, the water crept through the floors, filled the laundry room inches deep. The garden ditches were raging creeks. The news said, “Only travel in an emergency.” We were trapped inside, as trees fell in the wind, and the electricity stopped. A new quiet came. The hum of the refrigerator ceased, the ceiling fan stopped it’s whirl. Outside, the storm continued, but inside, the quiet was profound.early morning light on snowy ranch

And this morning, after five years of waiting, I woke to the silence of snow. From my window, I watched it fall softly from the grey sky. Snow sprinkled the tree tops, covered my truck, turned the cabin roof white. I opened the front door, inhaled deeply, let the moist air fill my lungs.

Kandi MaxwellKandi Maxwell lives and writes in the Sierra foothills of Northern California. She walks through forests, soaks and splashes in rivers, lakes and hot springs, and bends frequently in downward dog. She is a retired high school English teacher. Her work has been published in Fair Haven Literary Review, KYSO Flash, The Raven’s Perch, One in Four, Foliate Oak, and others. Her work has been nominated for The Best American Essay series.

Photos by the author.

The Dark Green Conifers

another day in the woods. on Strawberry ridge
looking out over undulating green hills to
the next great wall ridge of mountains. the last
morning clouds left from last night’s storm
hanging in the valley mistily. the sun eventually
burns them away.

the respect between old Paul Karlsen and I continues
to exist. even though he’s a Mormon and I’m a fallen
New Yorker. the work is comparatively easy, lifting
hundred pound bags, so you can just imagine what
we do other days. in fact, it’s fun, especially for
young Bates. we get all white (and our lungs dusty).

on the way to and from the work site I read
in Silent Spring, the chapter against herbicides, gathering
inspiration for the upcoming controversy. in the end
perhaps I’ll be fired for refusing to lay down Tordon
beads. realizing this, as I drive with Bates,
I see the dark green conifers and begin to miss them.

Rocks and rattlesnakes, bluebells
and mountain daisies, grasses and cactuses, mahogany
bush, lodgepole pine and quaking aspen, lush forest
and dry sun-tortured mountainside, wind and seed
carried by wind, ants, streams, hummingbird
and hawk, deer, badger, ground squirrel, wolverine.

By Robert Ronnow

fir trees by meadow overlooking foggy mountain valley

Robert Ronnow’s most recent poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). Visit his web site at

Photo by Mykhaylo Pelin

Leaf and Tree

I suppose we all have those places that preoccupy our early imagination. For Thoreau it was Walden, Donald Hall has Eagle Pond, Annie Dillard gave us her account at Tinker Creek, and for the rest of us, if we are fortunate to experience the common wonders of any natural landscape, this activity can become an opportunity for learning and even spiritual reflection. Growing up in West Virginia, the creek was always one of those places for me; a place to fish, explore and learn. Those finds in all aspects continue to renew themselves and remain an inexhaustible source of material for writing. “Leaf and Tree” is about that search that continues to this day.

Warm, autumn afternoons I would walk parallel with the creek
onto a broad, gravel bed.
Over the wide clearing
spread leaf-woven canopies beyond my body’s reach.
Once, in mid-August
I found a glass chalice half-covered with maple leaves
in the cradle of a wash-out.
Every rise of the creek changed a geography of shore and bank.

At the limestone base of a hill,
an eroded slip bordered this shallow pool of water.
My feet waded, walked a narrow space
beside jade that only light could conjure.
Hours in summer shade
rock shards tumbled from my hands at water’s ledge.
Their stacked forms would break,
shatter on the ground like loose glass.
Fragments held fossils; wood-knots, fern, feathers,
a tooth, ammonite, or the bones of fish in carbon film,
lichen green on burgundy brown.

Released from limb’s hold, gold twirled down,
yellow bliss in wind-spun shower
where light-filled forms fell in water at my feet.
I could feel the force of life
surge, open, not knowing solitude,
ignorant of all, yet aware something moved through me,
was part of me, that sensed in the reeling flurry
what is seen and lost, what always is, even then, unknown.

You don’t have words when you’re young.

A broken piece of lime, angled end in water,
drew gritty lines on sandstone—
primitive scrawls where meaning never was.
Leaves arced here and there.
These collided, tumbled forms in wind
were like a sea of breath throughout the body.
One shell, fragile as a locust hull
glided like an ancient boat across my reflection.

By John Timothy Robinson

Rocky creek with green trees

John Timothy Robinson is a traditional citizen and graduate of the Marshall University Creative Writing program in Huntington, West Virginia with a Regent’s Degree. He has an interest in Critical Theory of poetry and American Formalism. John is also a twelve-year educator for Mason County Schools in Mason County, WV.

Photo by sergwsq