Alice’s House

Redbud and dogwood have blossomed
above the tulips and jonquils where
Alice’s house used to be.

A possum and raccoon nose around
where the garage was before the tornado.
An armadillo has joined them.

Someone has hung a red feeder from
the old clothesline. No hummingbirds yet.
Spring has brought new life over there.

By Donal Mahoney

old house, clothesline and flowers

Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. Read more of his poems in Eye on Life Magazine here.

Photo by pawelproc


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.

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.

Calypso Means Spring Is Here

Some say when
daffodils shoot up
Spring is here.
It’s safe to put away
your boots and shovels.
Maybe somewhere
but not where I live.

I’ve seen daffodils
on Monday peeking
out of snow on Tuesday
giving me a wink as if to say
we fooled you, didn’t we.
And I say yes you did!

When it comes to Spring
I know it’s here when I see
what I saw this morning
long before the dawn.

The first moth
happy and delirious
dancing to calypso
all around the porch light
waiting for his friends to come
and shout hurrah for Spring
and Harry Belafonte.

By Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. Read more of his poems in Eye on Life Magazine here.

Suburban Journal: Meeting With Magpies

magpie holding peanut in beakWe went to the Target shopping center today, trying to get out the house for a little while and stay out of the cold. As my family shopped, I went through the aisles and departments looking at things I didn’t want but knowing we would buy something anyway. Going through the checkout line, I thought of how hard it was to go a day without buying at least one thing, no matter the cost, for the sake of buying something. This instinctual consumerism that seems to be a part of American mentality is one of things I think about time and again. Walking to the car through the gray day, my free hand holding my youngest son’s, my thoughts were broken as I scanned the empty parking spaces near our car, and I saw an unusual sight on the dirty concrete.

A dozen blackish-brown magpies were pecking at the ground, eating scattered popcorn kernels someone had spilled. It was strange to see so many birds out in one place this time of year. Most of the time I saw them in ones and twos, Now, here they were, a dozen birds all together in the cold, eating an errant spill on the parking lot that was once a pasture.

“Look, look at the birds!” My sons cried, pointing in wonder at the flock.

“Yes, look at them,” I said, wishing I had the same degree of newness and wonder for the world around me.

Most of the time I walk through life with my mind either looking forward to what I’m going to be doing or to the past. I’m not mindful of what I’m doing, of the action in front of me as I try to do half a dozen things when I should be focusing on the one task. But here, now, I was focused and mindful, not passing judgment, but merely being aware of what I was experiencing with my family.

Looking at the magpies, birds I have traditionally paid no attention to, for once I could clearly see them as they ate the kernels of corn. I could see them, be mindful of what was transpiring, and I knew I was making progress with my practice. For that I am thankful. As we got in the car and drove off, I knew the picture of the birds was one I would carry. Let mindfulness set my consciousness free.

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:
The Tree Blossoms
The Dead Bird
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 Micha Klootwijk