—after Mary Oliver

Pencils hidden in trees in case something speaks to her,
in case she is urged to respond as she wanders forest, seashore—
this patch of Province Lands packed with emblems.

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

A disciple of Thoreau ― world as cipher, subtext:
the disquieted deer, seven white butterflies,
watchful owl, battered whelk,
the world’s roots, what lies under?

Graced as it is with the ordinary.

It is sweet to wake each day, to taste sea spray,
smell the fecund earth, feel birch bark,

You are the heart of the cedars of Lebanon
and the fir called Douglas
the bristlecone, the willow.

fit onto a meditation seat of moss,
hear the cacophony of birdsong, ocean splash.

I dream at night of the birds, of the beautiful
dark seas they push through.

It is not a wide range of space that matters,
but what each part means to the whole, to the human soul.
Blackwater Pond is life ― dross, infinite, random.

Tell me what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Stilled in each moment noting connections in this palette of the varied.

Luminous as it is with mystery
and pain.

Not human society but permutations of God:
marsh lily, gull, the Truro bear.

There is only one question:
how to love this world?

Moments one knows what it is to be alive
fully and willing to live fully in the moment.

Morning by singular morning
and shell by broken shell.

By Marc Frazier
Italicized lines are from Mary Oliver.

sun shining through forest trees

Marc Frazier has widely published poetry in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, Good Men Project, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian Review (forthcoming), Slant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, and Poet Lore. He has had memoir from his book WITHOUT published in Gravel, The Good Men Project, decomP, Autre Cobalt Magazine and Evening Street Review and Punctuate (forthcoming). He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry and has been featured on Verse Daily. His book The Way Here and his two chapbooks are available on Amazon as well as his second full-length collection titled Each Thing Touches (Glass Lyre Press) that has garnered numerous favorable reviews. His website is www.marcfrazier.org.

Photo by the author.

The Forest Calls

Eerie, yet calm and peaceful
The forest at night calls to me
It draws me in

The quiet surrounds me
It is as if I can hear the trees breathe

I use touch to find my way
Feeling the bark becomes my braille
It shares its stories

How many have walked this way before
Will the trees give up their secrets

The silver moonlight trickles
Down between the leaves
Like rays of glory

Breaking through the darkness
I become one with the woods
I am home

By Ann Christine Tabaka

person walking through dark forest

Tabaka Author PhotoAnn Christine Tabaka was born and lives in Delaware. She is a published poet, an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. She loves gardening, cooking, and the ocean. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her poems have been published in numerous national and international poetry journals, reviews, and anthologies. Chris has been selected as the resident Haiku poet for Stanzaic Stylings.

Photo of forest at night by andreiuc88

The Old Building Made Of Wood

I am walking into a wood
that is like an old building, crumbling
to the ground. Light spears
through where it’s not meant to.
Wind pinches the air, shaking
the summer out of the leaves
A kestrel lingers on the edge
with its ghost flapping wings.
I move with each press of foot,
feeling the hard cobbled earth
of roots and limbs. A buzzard
is pushed out of the trees,
birds separate themselves
from the wood. I become a lone
figure, walking with feet
that gain weight by losing light
each passing year.

By Gareth Culshaw

hiking rocky path through deep forest

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.

Photo by Jaromír Chalabala

The Soothing Power of the Wild Sea

Last month, for a certain period of time my mind had not been by itself. Like a boat tumbling through the cyclonic wind, my subconscious was caught up in a storm of thoughts. The cause of this was a delay in the occurrence of a particular event that I had been waiting for. At the moment, this event was taking longer than I expected or desired, and as a result I’d fallen prey to a restlessness inside my head. Nothing I did was able to keep my mind at peace. I was desperate to find a way to get over this anxious, and absolutely unnecessary, overflow of thoughts.

One evening, to appease myself of this internal war, I decided to spend an evening at the sea. After getting down the tram, I walked to the shore and stood near the railing at the beach, and around me were a plethora of shopping outlets and restaurants. The sea shore was lively as always, filled with people, their pets, and athletes immersed in various water sports. Despite looking at all of this, something inside me didn’t click today.

Instead of moving towards the shore full of people enjoying a relaxed evening, I took a turn that lead me away from the pier, the most loved spot at the beach of Scheveningen in Den Haag. I didn’t want to see the face of the sea that wore an urban makeup and was loved by many in the city, at times, even by myself. Today, I wanted to see a different face of the sea. I craved a glimpse of rawness in nature. Hence, I walked towards the other end of the beach, the end with a mole elegantly extending a few hundred metres into the sea, hosting a lighthouse at its edge.

the North Sea and lighthouseThere were large square shaped rocks on either side of the mole, and at the foot of these rocks, petty tides rose and fell playfully, like a child dancing to a tune of its own. The view of the sea from the vantage point of lighthouse was perfect, and raw, just the way I needed it today. Standing in front of an element of nature, this unending expanse of water, I felt a vague truthfulness in the sight that filled my vision. There was a slender movement upon the surface of the sea – wind was walking swiftly over water, creating long and beautiful ripples which, in turn, transformed into large tides when approaching the shore. The sight was hypnotic. I couldn’t turn my glance away from the happening of this soft romance between wind and water.

As I stood there for nearly an hour and kept looking into the far fetched sea, and the horizon that it created with the sky, and the many ships that were journeying at a long, long distance from where I stood, an unconscious calmness slowly made its way into my heart. The evening sky was slowly turning gloomy with the gathering of dark clouds. In a few moments, the entire sea seemed to be wrapped in a fairy tale-ish darkness, and a slender drizzle started to fall from another world. As these little drops of rain touched me, I walked back to the road at the beginning of the mole, and on the way, I turned and looked back at the endless spread of the sea, as if to satiate myself of an unknown thirst. I reached the hill-like construction with benches, and stairs leading to the road that connected to the trams, and I felt the absence of something in myself. The troubling and anxious thoughts weren’t floating at the top of my mind anymore. As if a bodily pain had been tranquilized, my anxious thoughts also seemed to have vanished, leaving me with a serene calmness. I wasn’t sure when this soothing had crept in me. I did not notice it all this time. I did not become aware of the settling of that buzz inside my head, a burden that I brought with me this evening to the sea to plead refuge.

I made my way back to the tram-stop with a sense of ease filled inside me, and my purpose of visiting the sea this evening was fulfilled.

Photo by the author

Thistle Cove

Cambria sunrise brings
foraging deer, screeching jays,
a rowdy coven of turkeys.
I hike downhill, onto boardwalk trail,
traverse a silver thicket of willows.

Squirrels dart from undercover,
sit up on furry haunches,
begging for handouts,
evade tethered dogs who ache
to pursue and capture.

In a small cove bordered
by mummified scepters
of last summer’s thistles,
surfers straddle waxed boards,
slide ashore on diminutive wavelets.

By Jennifer Lagier

thistles on cliff above 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.