A Rehearsal of Wind

A December sky
left ducks to shiver
and take refuge
in the swamp grass
of September.
I walked backwards
on my journey
around the lake today,
feeling my sojourn
was one of rewind.

No amount of huddling
could bring summer back.
As a child of warmth,
I could not return to August sun.
It had faded into hiding,
where worms measure daylight
by the segment.

By Harding Stedler

ducks sheltering in grass on a winter pond


After graduating valedictorian of his high school graduating class, Harding Stedler went on to earn his B.S. in Ed., M.S in English Education, and his Ph.D. in English Education as well. He taught writing courses under the umbrella of the English Department in universities where he taught. In 1995, he retired from Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, with 34 years of service. He now makes his home in Maumelle, Arkansas, and is an active member of the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas as well as the River Market Poets in Little Rock.

Photo by Ben Thomasian

Moonshine

Darkness devours lavender dusk.
Glowing moon ascends,
hangs between ragged limbs.

Silver paints budding willows,
emerging lupine; spanning wetland pond—
a refracted gold trail.

Gentle song of crooning owl
harmonizes with whispering percussion,
muffled boom of incoming surf.

A spooked cloud of squeaking bats
pass before blinking stars, lunar orb,
punctuate the night air.

By Jennifer Lagier

full moon shining above trees


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.

A Rewarding Escape

woman walking on forest trailMy footsteps are silent as I walk along the trail, softened by the damp leaves after the previous night’s rain. Like a creative child, leaves paint the ground with bright colors, scattered colors, no structure. Like a watchful mother, tall trees with thin trunks align the sides and arch over the trail, forming a roof of light green.

As I enter the trails of Thompson Park, nature beckons me with whispers. Her presence grows louder as I wander deeper into the forest. I am guided by a path winding between the trees, an uneven path with varying elevations that never fail to deceive me. As I walk carefully around puddles and step gingerly over twigs, I breath in the earthy aroma, enhanced by the light rain. An addicting sweetness. I hear a gentle breeze through the sudden rustling of leaves; they float like feathers before softly touching the ground.

Slow down. Observe. Listen. Slow down.

To my left, there is an oak tree. The tree appears ancient with a thick trunk, rugged and gnarled like the wrinkles on the hands of an elderly woman. The oak tree stores wisdom from experiencing numerous years of the forest’s ecological development. How interesting! Despite having no voice, the tree tells stories of the forest’s past through the pattern of the tree rings. Nature has her own way of communicating, but it is up to us to understand her language. I walk to the oak tree and feel its trunk, tracing my fingers along its ridges. Rough and uneven, but enduring. A few leaves still cling to the tree, fighting against the coaxing wind. In just a few months, the leaves will lose the battle.

I stand here observing and pondering the tree, unaware of the passing of time. Hiking at Thompson Park clears my mind of stress and worries, leaving a soothing feeling of Clarity. Of course, I will eventually leave and return to a life dominated by schedules and deadlines. But right now, I decide to forget everything.

I truly value these special moments; leaving the brisk pace of everyday to enjoy relaxation in the wilderness brings feelings of comfort and empowerment. Nature provides a chance for me to escape the routine structure of life and immerse in a world free of distractions, free of trivial matters. Free to let my body and mind wander.

I slow down and focus on the present.

Winter Music

When the air is still and snowflakes fall straight-line to the earth, there is no sound. No crackle of brown oak leaves still clinging to stems in February. No conversation between greater limbs rubbing elbows in the woods, grousing of the wily winds amongst themselves. Even the birds are quiet today. I see silent winter music even if I don’t hear it. My lab mix Wally and I have the unplowed road to ourselves. This new snow covers the grit sprayed in giant swaths from lumbering plows and patches of hard-dark road widening beneath crystalline salt rock, the aftermath of an earlier storm. Now all is clean again, made so flake by delicate flake laid patiently in the quiet of night. It stretches ahead as blank sheet music, and we are the composers. Wally walks ahead of me creating a score of prints in 3/4 time, each paw print a quarter note. A cheerful background rhythm in allegro. I notice his eighth note now and then, coming from the limp in his left shoulder. The paw print notes rise and fall as he scales octaves, following the silence of scent from one side of the road to the other. A million molecules left behind in the night stimulate the imagination, and awaken some primordial instinct to flush out what is essential. What drives the melody of any composer?

The notes of deer add harmony to his; new instruments bringing richness to the melody. Theirs are half-notes, the space between them wider, bolder. Mezzo forte. Wally synchronizes with them and the music builds in a crescendo. There is a dramatic rest as he plunges his nose into a print and then a rabbit joins the melody, adding half-notes too, but in a timid pianissimo. The melody creates itself, unfolding in the untouched white. Almost unnoticed, I am the steady bass rhythm alongside, the metronome.

In time, rabbit and deer fade into the woods, leaving us to finish the score. I unhook Wally’s lead and give him freedom to compose. He runs for the house, quintuplets of quarter notes with a gap of white snowy silence in between. I lay my own steady beat alongside his, in andante. And harmony.

Leaf and Tree

I suppose we all have those places that preoccupy our early imagination. For Thoreau it was Walden, Donald Hall has Eagle Pond, Annie Dillard gave us her account at Tinker Creek, and for the rest of us, if we are fortunate to experience the common wonders of any natural landscape, this activity can become an opportunity for learning and even spiritual reflection. Growing up in West Virginia, the creek was always one of those places for me; a place to fish, explore and learn. Those finds in all aspects continue to renew themselves and remain an inexhaustible source of material for writing. “Leaf and Tree” is about that search that continues to this day.

Warm, autumn afternoons I would walk parallel with the creek
onto a broad, gravel bed.
Over the wide clearing
spread leaf-woven canopies beyond my body’s reach.
Once, in mid-August
I found a glass chalice half-covered with maple leaves
in the cradle of a wash-out.
Every rise of the creek changed a geography of shore and bank.

At the limestone base of a hill,
an eroded slip bordered this shallow pool of water.
My feet waded, walked a narrow space
beside jade that only light could conjure.
Hours in summer shade
rock shards tumbled from my hands at water’s ledge.
Their stacked forms would break,
shatter on the ground like loose glass.
Fragments held fossils; wood-knots, fern, feathers,
a tooth, ammonite, or the bones of fish in carbon film,
lichen green on burgundy brown.

Released from limb’s hold, gold twirled down,
yellow bliss in wind-spun shower
where light-filled forms fell in water at my feet.
I could feel the force of life
surge, open, not knowing solitude,
ignorant of all, yet aware something moved through me,
was part of me, that sensed in the reeling flurry
what is seen and lost, what always is, even then, unknown.

You don’t have words when you’re young.

A broken piece of lime, angled end in water,
drew gritty lines on sandstone—
primitive scrawls where meaning never was.
Leaves arced here and there.
These collided, tumbled forms in wind
were like a sea of breath throughout the body.
One shell, fragile as a locust hull
glided like an ancient boat across my reflection.

By John Timothy Robinson

Rocky creek with green trees


John Timothy Robinson is a traditional citizen and graduate of the Marshall University Creative Writing program in Huntington, West Virginia with a Regent’s Degree. He has an interest in Critical Theory of poetry and American Formalism. John is also a twelve-year educator for Mason County Schools in Mason County, WV.

Photo by sergwsq