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

Old Orchard

On Sunday drives, apple
trees tempted those to stop
& pluck one to eat & two
to stash in deep pockets
for later.

Now, empty-handed, I
walk where ghost trees
drift— silvered branches
trimmed with an apple
or two, waiting
to be picked.

Overhead, seagulls fly

Sun’s dappled light
flickers against
my freckled hands

I struggle to reach
a memory— one
that’s nodded off

This life of few
bargains— seemingly
forgotten.

By M.J. Iuppa

one apple in the old apple tree


M.J. Iuppa is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College; and since 2000 to present, is a part time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Since 1986, she has been a teaching artist, working with students, K-12, in Rochester, New York, and surrounding area. She has three full length poetry collections, most recently Small Worlds Floating (2016) as well as Within Reach (2010) both from Cherry Grove Collections; Night Traveler (Foothills Publishing, 2003); and 5 chapbooks. She lives on a small farm in Hamlin, New York, USA.

Photo by Andrey Shupilo

 

Juniper Tree, Arches National Monument, Utah

to a photograph by Eliot Porter

We humans arrange time to continue to emerge,
each second a new chance to leave behind
the ghost of was, the disappointment,
the salmon that leaped away. We’re not
like rocks, not like the blue-faced rock,
not like the marble cliff or granite boulder.
Their unmoving’s silent, yet we think they tell us
something. We visit them, some of us drive
speeding vehicles through miles of time
and parts of our lives to reach places where
we might hear the rocks. Their immensity
makes us small, insignificant, makes
our need to move seem unreal. We’re
no longer nervous. We give in to tiredness,
we lean on the hard, rain-stained surface.
When night comes, we dream of being lizard,
or juniper tree so many years old half the foliage
is dead and the rest hangs on, minute by minute,
a single strand of matter stubbornly living
in the crack of the rock.

By Grace Marie Grafton


Grace Marie Grafton is the author of six collections of poetry, which can be reviewed on Cover for Whimsey, Reticence & LaudAmazon’s site. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a redwood tree outside her kitchen door and a native live oak next to her deck. Nearby are red squirrels, raccoons, salamanders, and (never seen) mountain lions. Other of her nature poems can be found in Canary (online), Peacock Journal (online), Third Wednesday, Poecology and The Common Ground Review. Her book, Whimsy, Reticence and Laud: unruly sonnets, is rooted in her love of nature. She has taught for decades with CA Poets in the Schools, frequently taking her grade school students outdoors for their poetry lessons.

The Eliot Porter photograph may be viewed here.

Green: After Five Years of Drought

Bright green grass and dark green oaksAfter five years of drought, I had forgotten about the restorative effects of green. Living on the western slope of the Sierra surrounded by evergreens, I thought I remembered. The large, drought-resistant ponderosa pines and the incense-cedars growing near the cabin where I live led me to believe the mountain landscapes flourished in spite of the lack of rain. The thick-bark ponderosa pine, with its long, dark-green needles and the bright-green plumes of the cedar were a soothing sight on hot summer days. The trees provided refreshing shade and filled the air with the pungent fragrance of pine. But if I had looked closer, I would have seen the dead branches at the tops of the trees, the brown needles hidden in the green. I knew the drought had damaged the less drought-resistant, but the sight of green provided some relief during those hot, dry years.

Each week, I drove down the mountain and into the valley to buy groceries. Unlike my forest home, the low-lands were thirsty and the ground hard and cracked. At the sight of the parched earth, my mind worried and my heart felt heavy. The once prolific willows spread along the waterways had yellowed as the streams dried up. The wind-wavy grasses became still, brown stubble. The drought-savvy blue oaks dropped their leaves in their effort to retain moisture. For weeks, fire filled the valley, and a thick-grey smoke choked the skies. The land lost its color: blue skies became haze and ash, the ground- dust. I felt relief when I arrived home to my patch of green in the mountains. It was a luxury I savored.

Then the rains came, and after five months of continuous precipitation, I saw the full spectrum of green. I drove through the valley where the clouds were grey and a light, spring mist sprinkled the sky, creating contrast against the green hues. The once brown fields were bursting with emerald grasses, and the deep-blue-green leaves of the blue oaks hung in heavy clumps. Bright-green mosses clung to clusters of rock. Long, tapered, waxy-green leaves lavished the tall, camphor-smelling laurel. The valley oak’s lime-green foliage grew thick and abundant. New life popped, splashed its glow across the landscape. My own limbs lightened, as I reveled in the return of the heart-slowing, mind-calming restorative effects of green.


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.

Photo by the author

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: www.larrydthacker.com

Photo by Mario Kovac