Honeybees gather,
cluster at the end of a garden hose,
buzz along edges of wet spill.
as I water mom’s flowers.

They are without jobs,
bored and unemployed
now that almond orchard
blooming season is over.

I am out of my element,
paying another’s bills,
tending a yard not mine
while I comfort my dying mother.

Like me, agitated drones have
been reassigned to unfamiliar tasks,
unsettled by abrupt change of mission,
normal routines disrupted.

By Jennifer Lagier

Be on pink flower

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.

A Rewarding Escape

woman walking on forest trailMy footsteps are silent as I walk along the trail, softened by the damp leaves after the previous night’s rain. Like a creative child, leaves paint the ground with bright colors, scattered colors, no structure. Like a watchful mother, tall trees with thin trunks align the sides and arch over the trail, forming a roof of light green.

As I enter the trails of Thompson Park, nature beckons me with whispers. Her presence grows louder as I wander deeper into the forest. I am guided by a path winding between the trees, an uneven path with varying elevations that never fail to deceive me. As I walk carefully around puddles and step gingerly over twigs, I breath in the earthy aroma, enhanced by the light rain. An addicting sweetness. I hear a gentle breeze through the sudden rustling of leaves; they float like feathers before softly touching the ground.

Slow down. Observe. Listen. Slow down.

To my left, there is an oak tree. The tree appears ancient with a thick trunk, rugged and gnarled like the wrinkles on the hands of an elderly woman. The oak tree stores wisdom from experiencing numerous years of the forest’s ecological development. How interesting! Despite having no voice, the tree tells stories of the forest’s past through the pattern of the tree rings. Nature has her own way of communicating, but it is up to us to understand her language. I walk to the oak tree and feel its trunk, tracing my fingers along its ridges. Rough and uneven, but enduring. A few leaves still cling to the tree, fighting against the coaxing wind. In just a few months, the leaves will lose the battle.

I stand here observing and pondering the tree, unaware of the passing of time. Hiking at Thompson Park clears my mind of stress and worries, leaving a soothing feeling of Clarity. Of course, I will eventually leave and return to a life dominated by schedules and deadlines. But right now, I decide to forget everything.

I truly value these special moments; leaving the brisk pace of everyday to enjoy relaxation in the wilderness brings feelings of comfort and empowerment. Nature provides a chance for me to escape the routine structure of life and immerse in a world free of distractions, free of trivial matters. Free to let my body and mind wander.

I slow down and focus on the present.

Suburban Journal: The Dead Bird

We had just arrived home from Oklahoma after visiting my parents for the weekend. As we got ready for the new work week, my thoughts went back to the visit and seeing my grandma for what might have been the last time. She was living in the nursing home near my parents’ house, was 90 years old, and was dying. My Mom and uncle had made the decision to take her off the machines and let her die in peace, something which my grandma had wanted for a long time. Now back home in Fort Worth, I could only periodically call my parents and ask on my grandma’s status as every hour left me wondering if she were alive or dead. As we went about our chores to get ready for the week, I felt numb and tired from the emotional turmoil of the weekend. As I prepared my satchel before I went to tutor students at the university, my wife and twin sons went outside to hang clothes to dry.

“Wade, come quick,” said my wife Jeab as I my sons cried out in astonishment. As I went out into the back yard, my mind reflecting on my grandmother who was dying two hours away, I wondered what was wrong.

“It’s a dead bird,” she said, pointing at a still body lying near the back porch. For a moment, I just stared at the dead bird, looking at it as if it was the first time I had ever seen something dead. Getting a plastic bag, I carefully picked it up with a paper towel and peered at it for a moment. As my children asked questions about why the bird was not flying, I looked into its eyes, which reflected like glass. The bird was colored a dark brown with an off-white under plumage, and for a moment I imagined the bird was just sleeping, taking a rest from a long flight. But I knew I was just dreaming, and quickly I placed the dead bird in the plastic bag, tied it up, and went and put it in the garbage can. Going back into the house, I tried my best to answer my kids’ questions on what happened to the bird and if it would be all right.

“The bird is just sleeping. It needs to rest,” my wife and I said, not ready to explain the concept of death to our toddlers just yet.

Looking at my children, I thought about the dead bird and my grandmother. Just a day ago, my sons had hugged and kissed her for what was probably the last time in their young lives. They had no idea they were actually saying goodbye to a person they would vaguely remember from their childhood years later. But the bird brought that reality closer to home as I tried to emotionally accept my grandmother’s impending death. All I could do was wait and see, and try to let the process of grief to run its course. Because letting go of the person who I was closest to in my childhood was not something I could accept overnight. And I thought the bird was an omen of what was going to come in the next couple of days. I just wish it were so simple to let go, but I knew it wouldn’t be.

father and son silhouettes at sunset

This is an article in my Subdivision Journal series. I am trying to use mindfulness to observe nature in my neighborhood. Other articles in the series:

A Budding Tree

An Encounter With a Falcon

The Carrying of Sounds
The View from My Window

Author PhotoCarl Wade Thompson is a poet, essayist, and the graduate writing tutor at Texas Wesleyan University. He has published poetry and memoir essays in The Mayo Review, The Concho River Review, One in Four, Anak Sastra, The Galway Review, The Blue Collar Review, Piker Press, The Eunoia Review, Blue Minaret, Nebo Literary Magazine, Alphelion Literary Webzine, and Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas. He lives on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas. His poems explore the link between the urban and the rural.

Photo by jes2ufoto

In the Woods

Hazy peaks of Blue Ridge Mountains

I love the silence that fills the air. But then the silence gives way, and you hear the soft sounds of the creek tumbling over river stones, the gentle whispering of the wind, or the rustling of leaves as they fall from the trees and scurry over the ground. The birds are often quiet after the morning sun has risen high in the sky but occasionally they sing out to each other, and to me. I love how the sounds build into a crescendo as the moon rises and the sky turns dark. The silence is obliterated by the shrieking of the cicada and the incessant croaking of what must be a thousand frogs convalescing at the creek’s edge. The evening wears on and I love how the sounds gently fade away as even nature’s nocturnal creatures decide to retire for the night. I love when, in the middle of the night, I can hear that the wind’s whisper has become more urgent and the leaves hang on for dear life as the tree branches thrash against each other vying for my attention, but they only manage to lull me into a deep sleep. I even love the way my dog, at 50 pounds, spends the night shivering from fear of the noises in the dark until exhaustion overtakes her and I feel the weight of her body give way to slumber.Alert dog by mountain stream

I love organizing my campsite as if the tiny patch of nature is my home—sweeping away pinecones and rocks and twigs with a fallen pine branch to make a smooth surface to pitch my tent, moving a log near the fire to sit and write in my journal, placing a book and a flashlight in my tent to keep me occupied if I wake in the night. I love foraging for firewood, first tiny twigs to serve as kindling, then small sticks, and eventually large fallen branches that require me to break them up before I can lug them back to the campsite. This is a laborious task and the amount of wood I need to collect is overwhelming but I know the reward is a fire that will endure through the last hours of daylight into the dim moments of dusk through the blackness of night and then again in the morning. I love the challenge of starting the fire, building a teepee with the kindling and taking care to make sure the branches are all dry. I know that the fire usually won’t catch the first few tries and I’m forced to be patient and try again and then again and again but sometimes I rip blank pages out of my journal and crumple them up, sticking them under the kindling and lighting them and blowing on the steeple of sticks, praying that a spark catches and the fire begins. I love how the fire grows and I love knowing that I can tame this beast roaring before me and with the same fascination I watch the fire die and whimper and fold into itself until only hot white coals remain.

I love the mornings when I wake up in my tent to the light of dawn spilling across the sky and giving birth to the possibilities of the day. I love starting the fire anew in the chill of the morning and cooking over the open flame. I love sipping strong coffee from a tin mug and watching my dog run after birds and squirrels and leaves and the way her ears perk up, and her head tilts, and her nose lifts in the air catching the scent of the next bird or squirrel or leaf.

Trail through sunlit forestI love hiking through the forest, with my dog just ahead of me, always looking back to make sure I haven’t fallen too far behind. I love when she stops, ears alert, tail up, front paw raised in anticipation, and then I see the deer and she sees the deer and the deer sees us and the world pauses to determine who makes the first move. I can never detect who moves first because in a burst of commotion the deer is bounding deeper into the woods and my dog is leaping, with a grace she doesn’t exhibit in the confines of my bedroom, and the two are lost to the forest and I wait patiently for my dog to come sauntering back to me after losing her prize.

I love the way my mind… slows… down… There are no deadlines, no phone calls, no traffic, no obligations other than to myself and to nature. I cherish this moment by myself and with myself and with Mother Nature who guides me and protects me and feels free to teach me a lesson when I’ve disobeyed. My spirit is at peace. I have conversations with my creator and I listen to my soul respond. I am renewed out here. On the trail. In the woods. In the mountains.

Simone Adams is a freelance writer and editor. She enjoys telling a
story from an intimate perspective. She is an avid hiker and is often
joined on the trail by her teenage son or her dog. Connect with her at

Photos by the author Simone Adams

Tir na nÓg

Freight train
whistles east

following tracks
of endless forest

forgotten fairy groves
of sacred magic

winding streams
where wood nymphs

watched us build forts
from standing stones

ancient ways
of knowing

divining meaning
in druidic tree roots

tales of Niamh and Oisin
chanted in dark meadows

as progress pillages
the green medicine

feeding spirit animals
hungry to be wild again

before oil was discovered
and mermaids would sing

in the waters of Tir na nÓg
still ringing as the sun sets

on the fountain of our youth
we listen to the wind

the secret rhythm
of a deerskin drum

calling from a secret
language of dreams

By Bradley McIlwain

standing stones, green grass, sheep, houses

Bradley McIlwain lives in Ontario, Canada where he is inspired by songs in nature, and examining our relationships within it. Bradley graduated from the University of Toronto’s iSchool, where he received his M.I. in Library and Information Science. His micro-chapbook, Holding On, can be enjoyed online as a free download at the Origami Poems Project. Bradley’s latest collection of poems, Elementals (IOWI, 2015) is now available on Amazon and Indigo.

Photo by Ron Harton