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

To Go Look Soon

There are leaves out on the ground,
on the gravel of the driveways,
along the alley and main road, lodged
in the hedgerows and emptied limbs: waiting.

Each deserves a little inspection of its own
and knows it, senses a curiosity hanging
like some next shift of air studying on where
to make important things happen.

One particular leaf, a river delta
of white veins grown over sunburst orange,
tips still sharp as a sewing pin, is buried
under a mat of last night’s browning carpet,

promises to hold on out there
only so much longer now. Nothing waits
for nothing in the weight of a season’s press
of the clock, when rot is the day’s color.

By Larry D. Thacker

autumn red and yellow wet leaves on asphalt sidewalk

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 Mario Kovac

Drought’s End

The reservoirs are topped off
Countless storm-toppled trees
Litter the woods
Resurrected streams
Tumble their ebullient way
Over boulders and logs
And down steep slopes.
All wet winter long
We have gamely donned our rain gear
Day after day
For our walks to the market and the post office
Our hikes in the forest
While cheerfully reminding each other
“We need this rain!”

All wet winter long
We have been students
Of weather forecasts and tide tables
Have stayed awake nights
Listening for the flood siren
Waiting for the crash of a branch
Through the roof
As monster deluges
Came freight-training over the hills.
“We really need these storms!”
We told ourselves.

All wet northern California winter long
We have awakened most mornings
To impervious and impenetrable iron-gray skies
While doing our very best to buck up
And congratulate each other
On the splendid weather we were having.
Only in our most secret heart of hearts
Have we dared admit to ourselves
That perhaps we were growing
The tiniest bit weary
Of the saturated and sunless days
We had been enjoying
And wouldn’t spring be a good idea?

By Buff Whitman-Bradley

couple hiking in rainy forest

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poetry has appeared in many print and online journals. He is the author of several volumes of poetry, most recently Cancer Cantata, poems written during his treatment for cancer in 2016. He lives with his wife Cynthia in northern California.

Photo by Jaromír Chalabala

All Shall Be Well

great blue heron feeding on fish in Florida wetlandsThe raucous bark of a great blue heron echoes by the pond. Night is falling as he hunts a final bedtime snack. An unwary frog, a slithering snake, either treat would settle his belly for a good night’s sleep.

Suddenly the heron snares an unsuspecting fish. I know what is about to happen, yet I don’t turn away. Head back and with great convulsive swallows, the huge bird gulps his prize deeper and deeper into a dark gullet, even as the terrified prey continues a visible and frantic contorting. To an onlooker it seems forever until the frenzied spasms are stilled, yet from catch to struggle to swallow, less than five minutes have passed.

Afterward, the heron remains at water’s edge. Still regal, still watchful, unaware that his swift transition from beautiful bird to voracious predator has been so closely observed. I will not watch this feeding frenzy again.

Even as steady traffic continues to hum in front of our house, the backyard offers a quiet respite. Large pots of geraniums nurtured inside last winter continue to bloom. Tall purple blossoms of bordering hosta plants lean slightly into a soft breeze.

Yesterday a flock of geese departed the pond in V-formation. Whether a training run or the start of a long journey southward, I’m not sure. I do know this signifies the beginning of Fall, a welcome coolness after stifling summer days.

I look forward to this new season with a mixture of hope and a courage I do not always feel. I know that life, like the great blue heron,contains elements of light and dark, great beauty as well as extreme cruelty. We sink, we swim, we fall, only to rise again, sustained by hope and by those who love us most.

The words of an old Quaker hymn remind me:

All shall be well,
All shall be well,
And all manner of things shall be well.

This courage, this hope and trust is ours for the asking. In the darks and lights of our lives we can believe that all shall be well. All shall indeed be well.

Photo of Great Blue Heron by Svetlana Foote

Perfectly Natural Moments

This is not the June-like April of last year, with temperatures in the 70s and windows open at night to let in the sound of the spring peepers.  This is the April we’re accustomed to here in New England – that blend of blustery winds and cloudless sunny skies, where winter and spring are still playing tug of war.  Walking along the road, the wind is strong, tugging tendrils of my hair from its ponytail and numbing my fingers.  My lab Wally has that extra bounce in his step that he gets when the wind is in his face.  We duck into the woods along the trail that leads to the pond’s lee side where the sun is warmer and the wind is still.

Tree swallow perched on branchThe water in the middle of the pond is all about February as it ripples with the wind and dazzles with a million tiny reflections of the sun, giving it an air of busy-ness. But here at the edge, the water is calm and blue, and I walk slower to soak up the April part of this day.  A hundred or so tree swallows have followed their instincts, and have gathered here too. Flying low along the water, a mere 12 ounces of iridescent blue wings and white breast feathers, they dip into the water, barely touching the surface, then flying up again with the grace and speed only a bird has.

We stop, my dog and I, barely hidden by the meager growth of early spring in the woods.  Two steps more and I would be at the water’s edge, yet they don’t seem to be bothered by my presence.  Keeping warm all night has depleted their reserves. Even Wally is quiet and in the hush I hear their beaks dip into the water; so many of them that if I close my eyes, it almost sounds like a tiny brook tumbling through rounded stones on its way to something bigger.  One more step forward and I’ve entered their personal space.  They rise up and settle on a red maple sapling, dressing it like the leaves it will soon have. Apparently neither I nor my dog are too much of a threat, because they cascade down again, a waterfall of birds, the sound of their sweet, single calls in the key of C.

Great Blue Heron hinting in winter pondSomewhere on the pond a great blue heron squawks and my dog starts off again toward the sound.  Though I’m not quite ready to move away from the warmth of the sun and the natural perfection of this moment, he is.  So I leave the tree swallows to their insect meal and head back into the bracing winds, reluctantly.

Back through the woods, there is still more of last year’s brown than this year’s green; lichens and mosses are the first to venture into spring.  I shiver involuntarily while my dog noses around in the brush, distracted from his mission to check out the heron. He lifts his chin to the wind, leading me off the trail back toward the water and something only he can smell.  He spends some time investigating the gnawed stump of a sapling, the work of a beaver, and then pulls me along an animal trail with more insistence.

As we approach the water again, we are both startled by a loud slap.  He jumps back in surprise, then moves closer to the water’s edge where we see a beaver swimming away from shore.  To my dog, this is another creature to show who is boss, and he dances at the water’s edge, barking excitedly. But to me it’s another perfectly natural moment on an early spring morning.

Tree Swallow photo by the author.
Great Blue Heron photo by Marie-Ann Daloia