Woods

Sliding through arches
of elms sunshine
yellow and warm as honey.

Moss crawls over mudstone
while squirrels skip
around tree stumps.

Imagine to be a sea gull
in blue wind pushing
air through your wing.

After the long rain
pine trees bending
with cones.

Branches etch evening sky
turning razzle dazzle
purple red citron.

Leaves drop like butterflies
filling the floor of forest
with crunchy foliage.

See this snowy storm of
light quickly quietly
covering our moon tonight.

Long winters keep
greatcoats of frost
wrapped around our woods.

By Joan McNerney

gold autumn forest with sunlight and sunbeams


Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, Blueline, and Halcyon Days. Three Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Kind of A Hurricane Press Publications have accepted her work. Her latest title is Having Lunch with the Sky and she has four Best of the Net nominations.

Photo by Taiga

I Know Where He’s Been

I know where he’s been. The damp stains on his t-shirt and the look on his face say so much. It may have been strenuous because he looks exhausted, but I can tell he liked it. I would, too.

I can see by the way his body moves when he walks that it was long and arduous for him. That look in his eye conveys the wonder he felt and the satisfaction it gave him.

I know he was in a darkened place filled with scintillating smells. He likely heard some pounding against wood. I bet he felt every curve, maybe touching the hard places and breathing in the scent of the soft ones.

I wonder if he took off from work to go there, and if he’s done that a lot or was this the first time? Did he worry about being seen? Did he know how good it was going to be?

I know what it’s like, so I know he was sheltered by the green canopy that covers the trail as the broken pavement makes way for insistent plants to push through. If he looked up he probably saw indigo buntings as he neared the crest of the climb, their chirping melodic whistle reaching his ears. He may have heard the flute-like song of wood thrush.

The woodpeckers, after tapping purposefully up in the trees, were likely finding sap or grubs for breakfast. Although he couldn’t see the campground hidden behind the trees and moss-covered boulders, the sweet, pungent scent of bacon wafted down from there. If he was lucky, he heard a lone rooster greet the morning with a cock-a-doodle-doo.

Since it has been raining pretty hard the past few days he may have heard running water on the side of the mountain and looked over to see it forming rivulets down to a fresh stream from the runoff. He might have had to climb over a tree fallen across the trail, its roots loosened in the rain-soaked earth.

He might have ventured off the main trail to a path around the side of the mountain. Goats and deer could have met him as he made his way gingerly over rocks and roots.

When he got to the top he probably sat on the stone wall at the overlook. He may have seen misty fog nestle between the cleavage of the other peaks in these foothills of the Appalachians. I hope he noticed the warblers and chickadees and cardinals singing to their friends in neighboring trees.

He possibly paused at the overlook a few minutes to breathe nature’s glory in full view before starting back down the trail. The birds now would be settling in for the day, more quiet than on the walk up. The trees and boulders look a little different from this side, and he may have noticed some squirrels at play or a large colorful wild mushroom he hadn’t seen going up. As he neared the bottom he likely started to hear cars a quarter mile or so before emerging from the trail, back to the everyday bustle of life, and drivers going by like me.

Overlook from trail in essay


Courtney Hill Gulbro lives in the foothills of the Appalachians in North Alabama. She has returned to creative writing after a career as a counselor and counselor educator.

Photo by the author of the overlook at the top of the trail in the essay, Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama, USA

Messages

I have listened to these woods and there
is no arguing about countless layers sifting,
settling in their own time. No quarrel
about this resurrection of mosses and lichens
on dead wood, the broken rosary
of shelf fungi running the length of the dead
branch. No shouldering aside of sycamore’s
breadth blanketing the slender chinquapin.

Stone and spore lost in some time lapse
even as slender stemmed trilliums tip wine
cups heedless as to gray or green. Scrolls
the lot of them, veined messages beyond
the stripped cedar where the mountain
lion scratches shredded sentences
across the blank page of the moon.

By Pat Anthony

forest floor of a springtime forest


To read more of Pat Anthony’s poems please visit middlecreekcurrents.

Photo by Sian Cox

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: www.larrydthacker.com

Photo by Paul Aniszewski