Blackberries ― for Nina

When we emerge from the woods
Into the open sun-soaked field
Both sides of the path
Are lined with dense thickets
Of blackberries.
We lift our granddaughter
Out of the stroller
And the three of us get to work
Seeking out the blackest, softest
Knobbly little packages
Of sweetness and inner light
And popping them into our mouths.
Oh, is it not a wondrous world?
On these outings
The little girl’s attention span
Determines our schedule and itinerary
So we wait for her to decide
When to move on
And continue picking and eating
For several more minutes
Until she figures
She’s been pricked and poked enough
And it’s time to go.
As we are leaving
She picks a few more berries
This time green ones
That she can hold in her hand
As we walk.
She is a collector
Of all manner of outdoor treasure –
Seeds, leaves, wildflowers
Feathers, acorns, rocks –
And a handful of small hard unripe blackberries
Is quite a prize.
May it always be so.

By Buff Whitman-Bradley

girl picking berries


Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poetry has been published in many print and online journals including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai’i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesday, Watershed Review, and others. He has written several books of poems, including When Compasses Grow Old, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World, and Cancer Cantata. He was the producer of the Courage to Resist Audio Project and co-producer of two documentary films, Outside In and Por Que Venimos. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Photo of girl picking berries by maximkabb.

Sunny Days: Two Poems

Spring!

Weeks and weeks
Of rain after rain after rain
But today the sun has made
A triumphant return
And along with it
The electric extravagance
Of the grasses
The dazzling blue pageantry
Of the hawk-inhabited sky
And my heart’s invincible Wow!

By Buff Whitman-Bradley
 
 
The First Sunny Day in Weeks

Watching a northern harrier
Swooping and soaring
Circling and hovering and diving
Above the broad green marsh
And two white-tailed kites
Performing an intricate aerobatic duet
High overhead
In the glittering afternoon air
We find it difficult to believe
That we are witnessing
Merely genetically encoded
Hunting and mating behavior
And not spontaneous tarantellas of wild elation
For the first sunny day in weeks

By Buff Whitman-Bradley

sunny spring day in grasslands


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 of sunny grassland by Yuri Kravchenko

To The Passengers In The Airplane Passing By 35 Thousand Feet Above Us

We just now caught a glimpse of your jet
Through the branches of the large oak
We are sitting beneath
To keep cool
As we mind our granddaughter
Sleeping in her stroller.
For the past half hour
We have been entertained
By a male redwing blackbird
In the nearby marsh
As he flies about in the reeds
Alighting briefly on one, then another
Puffs himself up
To show off his scarlet shoulders
And sings in his most virile voice
To claim territory
For one or several wives.
Closer by
A large yellow and black swallowtail butterfly
Performs a gossamer gavotte
In trees and bushes and flowering brambles.
The shade of the oak and a light breeze
Keep us comfortable on this very hot day.
When your plane passes overhead
We think of you sitting inside
And hope you are having a pleasant journey
That you have enough legroom
That the person next to you is genial but not intrusive
That the food is tasty
The movie entertaining
And that all is well with you up there
At thirty-five thousand feet in the air.
Down here
We’re just fine.

By Buff Whitman-Bradley


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.

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

Idle Afternoon

– for Diana Michener

I am sitting in a lawn chair
In the shade of a large maple tree
Preparing to work on a poem
When a box elder bug
Making its way
Among the grasses at my feet
Captures my attention
With the slow and deliberate movements
Of its filament-like jointed legs
As it ascends and descends
One green blade and stalk after another.
And it occurs to me that if it is true
In quantum physics
That the observer changes
The phenomena being observed
Could it also be true
Of the ordinary observations
Of our daily lives?
For instance
Could I somehow be altering
The path or the pace
Or even the ultimate destination
Of the little black and red Boisea trivittata
Simply by looking on?
And if the insect
Bewildered by the mysterious force
That seems to have taken control of its limbs
And its will
Looks up and sees me looming nearby
Could being the object of its gaze
Be the reason I am setting aside
My notebook and pencil
My ambitions and anxieties
And arguments with existence
To spend the rest of this afternoon
Tracking the odyssey of Pilgrim Box Elder Bug
Across the emerald-dark lawn?

By Buff Whitman-Bradley


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.