Beach Bon Mot

“Whales,” a driftwood message
etched into sand
exposed by low tide
loudly pronounces.

Passersby marvel at
the spectacle of mother humpback
and her frisky calf
as they breach and blow
just beyond rocky shore.

Outside protected cove,
the disturbed ocean boils.
Migrating leviathans
spout umbrella spume,
lift giant fins, smirking grins,
roll above curling surf.

By Jennifer Lagier

Driftwood spells 'Whales' on beach

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.

Nature Perseveres at Akron Falls Park

Sunday starts spectacular. A sixty degree spring day with an invitation from a good friend are enough to coax me out of my fair weather nature lover hibernation, back into the warmth and outdoors that I love. It’s been months. Our destination is Akron Falls Park in Western New York for some hiking. This was a favorite place when I was in high school. Nearly forty years have passed since I’ve been, so I’m looking forward to seeing what may have changed since my friends and I had time to sprawl out on blankets next to our cars, soak in the sun and chat the day away.

The half hour drive to the park is a treat in and of itself. I choose a route where the less trafficked rural winding roads are a perfect excuse to turn up the music and enjoy. The farmers are out on the tractors and that fresh smell of spreading fertilizer fills the air. I don’t mind the unmistakable smell, my nostrils accept all that my open window has to offer, just as my eyes appreciate the wide open space set out before me in beautiful patterned fields.

Akron Falls early springWhen I arrive at the park, it seems much smaller than I remember. I meet my friends and a hiking group at our predetermined spot and after polite introductions our stroll begins. Akron Falls, the namesake signature forty-foot waterfall that highlights the park begins the trail. The water is gushing today, still overflowing from the torrential rains that fell in the days before, which allows for a mighty view and scenic photo backdrop. After group shots and selfies, we continue on our path bordering Murder Creek, the source of the falls. We hike for a bit, puddle jumping and straddling the mud-soaked ground. To the left of us are small tree-laden cliffs that send down mini waterfalls of their own, producing glistening streams over black shale and creating pools at our feet. Moss has made its pretty carpet over the fallen trees, and we have fun identifying and admiring the new spring growth including trout lilies, coltsfoot, wild ginger and white and purple flowers.

Since this is my first hike of the season and I am accustomed to facing a computer Monday through Friday, I take a rest and settle on a perfect perching log on the edge of the trail, content to let my group go on ahead without me as I sit and observe. The passing hikers are friendly and many have dogs, so I have the good fortune of getting some pets in with the exchanged pleasantries. There are many families out today. Across the creek is a park with a playground in close proximity to the creek. Squealing children delight on the swings, walking the chains into twists and letting them go until they spin. And boys, both little and big are heaving rocks both little and big into the water, somehow a nature must for humans I’ve decided, that I will never grow tired of watching.Tree-lined trail and old bridge

I like to sit in nature to slow my world down and reconnect with my five senses and beyond. It is an extra perk to see people take time to fish, bend over to pick up sticks and play. There must be a small airport nearby, as occasionally a Cessna makes its way above my head. As if to mimic, far away in a field through the trees I can see several small remote control planes scatter themselves about. When a Dad walks by side by side with his little girl’s small fist wrapped around his pinky, it makes me happy. When he picks her up and places her beside him on the railing of a small nearby bridge with his arm securely wrapped around her to enjoy the creek view, it makes me happier because I can feel the love he has for her in the moment.

Muddy Murder CreekBefore long, our group returns to that same bridge where I rejoin them. I’m told that I just missed the legend of how Murder Creek got its name, which I am in a way pleased about since the father/daughter silhouette is still etched in my mind. We head back to our starting point saying our goodbyes and my being grateful for a wonderful start to my hiking season.

As I take the same relaxing route back home through the countryside, one of my favorite songs, Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” comes streaming through the radio. The timing is exquisite as his gentle voice sings, “In your eyes, I see the doorway to a thousand churches,” at the precise moment I pass a small chapel with a sign out front. “Love always perseveres.” I smile in agreement, thinking back to all of the families I saw today, thanking my friend and saying to myself, “Ah yes, and so does nature.”
Yellow Flowers close-up

Mary Clista Dahl has been exercising her passion for pouring out her heart and soul on paper from the moment she first held a pen in her hand. Her desire to promote joy, love and compassion through the written word, combined with a perpetual calling to help, have become the foundation for her life’s work, Capture Life Writing. A people and nature lover, Mary receives most of her inspiration by connecting with the outdoors and others. After more than thirty years of assisting college students with their life and career paths, she is transitioning to her idea of heaven on earth, spending time with friends and family and playing at the nature preserves and beaches of Florida. Besides taking nature walks, her greatest joys come from being a Mom, encouraging others and being a lifelong listener of the most gratifying statement ever, “Have Mary do it, she likes to write.”

Photos by Mary Clista Dahl

Visit Mary Clista Dahl at Capture Life Writing and on Facebook.


Baptism by fire,
baptism by water,

but who cannot say
renewal begins

with toes rooted
in muck-black dirt in Wisconsin

or soles pressed against
red cold clay and chert

by the bend overlooking the Mississippi,
or locked in the prairie sod

leaning into a gale
in Wyoming or slogging

through wet sand in Santa Cruz
after a storm in the Pacific,

blessed not from the top down
but from the bottom up,

hence from the whence we came,
not ephemeral, not liquid,

but blessings from the thick,
blessings from the firm

By Jeff Burt

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California. He has work in Atticus Review, Per Contra, Clare Literary, and Clerestory.

A Translation

Deep within the language
of leaf thinness and a gradual
translucence, translating

the sun into so many shades
of greens, just as the trail exits
the shadowed tree line, is where

the many voices resonate in these
woods, mid-spring, full-on
leaf density cradling God’s hand,

gentling the awareness of self
down through swaying limbs,
down to seek out our prayers.

By Larry D. Thacker

path into sunshine on glowing green leaves

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 Paul Aniszewski

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