A Great Time for a Climb

That’s a very big tree
and a boy scout could climb it
with all the right gear.

But it’s a condominium, too.
You would disturb families.
Blue Jays don’t feature

interruptions when they
have young in the nest.
They put up with

squirrels scampering
across the branches.
Robins have young too

but they have no interest
in seeds or nuts and
no one else likes worms.

Sparrows chatter away
and raise a ruckus since
they have young also.

Why not wait until fall
when the young leave the tree.
Fall’s a great time for a climb.

By Donal Mahoney

Blue nuthatch feeding chicks at nest in tree


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 of Velvet-fronted Nuthatch by Prin Pattawaro

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 www.ronnowpoetry.com.

Photo by Mykhaylo Pelin

Suburban Journal: A Budding Tree

On Thursday, I went to my first Tai Chi class. It was at the local recreation center during mid-morning, and I got there a few minutes early. Sitting in the darkened classroom, I stared out across the empty floor, my eyes taking in my surroundings until I saw the large bay windows on the far wall. Looking out the windows, I could see the cold grey sky, a view of the winter morning, and I clearly saw the posts and green fencing of an enclosed tennis court. Besides the tennis court was a large tree, an oddity in my subdivision, my view only catching a few branches and part of the main trunk. Sitting there alone, I stared at the exposed tree, trying to see it for the first time.

Thebranches of tree against a building first thing I noticed were the buds forming on the branches. Sprouting out, but not yet ready to open, the buds were green and looked out of place on the tree branch in February. That was strange. I don’t think I had never noticed tree buds before in my entire life. I always passed by them without really seeing them, only noticing if they were with or without leaves, depending on the season. I had never noticed the first buds forming, so out of place in the winter cold, but it was only a few more weeks before spring came about in all its muted glory. Staring at the tree buds, I focused on them further, counting the number of buds on the branch I could see. One, two, three, four, I kept counting until I was up to ten total. Staring at the untapped potential of the tree, it was like I was seeing the present and future all rolled into one. What the tree was in the present, and the potential of what it would be in the spring. As I sat mindful of the branch, I enjoyed the silent moment I had there before the class began. Leaving the class later, I knew I would come back again and again to train. Each time I train, I will make sure to look at the tree branch.

Maybe I’ll even get to see it bloom.


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

Brambles

They nose dive into the earth as
a great white shark arcs into the sea.
Water fountain spurts escape the ground
sprouting on to the woods page.

Hiding the homes of the occupants
badger, fox, weasel, stoat.
A bridge for wrens, warning seats
for robins, tunnels for rabbits.

The brambles sow their way through,
tying up the wood with their arrow
flights. Fencing off areas so we can’t
wander.

My life in the wood is being squeezed out,
pushed away.

By Gareth Culshaw

path along brambles and trees


Gareth lives in North Wales. He loves the outdoors especially Snowdonia. He is published in various magazines across the U.K. Visit his website here.

Photos by Jacqueline Moore

Suburban Journal 1: The View From My Window

new suburban houses near snowy woodsWhen we first moved into our subdivision six years ago, I could still see the woods from our front window. Not deep, dark woods, but an area of land not yet razed for more cookie-cutter houses. It was mostly brush, weeds, and mesquite trees, patches of land once pasture and now sitting in wait for its demise. I liked the woods being visible from our house. It was one of the reasons why I wanted to buy the house. As a child, I grew up in a small town, but I often visited my grandmother in the country, and woods were close to her house.

Whenever I looked out at the tree line, I was reminded of my childhood with my Grandma, one of the happiest times of my life. For me, forest meant a sense of comfort, the comfort of my Grandma’s house, of building forts in the woods, of exploration and excitement. All those memories were tied to the undeveloped area around my house, and I hoped it would stay untouched for as long as I lived there.

But those hopes were misplaced or naïve. A couple of years after we moved in, more houses were built across the street, and as the months went by, more houses popped up like a disease. Now the tree line is blocked from view, the woods enveloped by a long line of brand new homes. However, there is still an area of untouched land; a place I envision still has a few wild animals, survivors who are watching as suburban sprawl continually encroaches on their native habitat.

I don’t know what the future holds for the little patches of woods left, but I hold out the dream some it will still remain. Every day I leave to go to work, I can see the edges of forest still there, peeking over the roofs of homes, and I know there is still hope.

For that, I have faith.


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 Julia Keller