I saw it before it saw me.
Leaves trickled at first
then they were put in a vacuum

as a whirlwind passed along.
I sat still against the oak
watching it get closer.

Leaves tried to run in vain
but were picked up, thrown.
Only a second or two on passing

refreshing the path of stillness.
After it went I watched other leaves
scatter down the track

as if in fear of more corkscrewing.
I wondered if it was the air
unravelling a knot…

By Gareth Culshaw

wind whirling through trees and grass

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 of wind in the trees by nightlyviolet

A Spell on the River

There’s a nice place to rest just past the river ford;
A vast pool of dark water where pine timbers moored.
In this peaceful space within the crisp air of Fall
The woods whisper where log driver’s voices once roared.

Near shore, deck of cull logs on the forest floor lay
Midst moss, duff, and bracken of woodland bouquet.
Those that have fallen yield themselves to the others
Whose spirits take root among the greens of decay.

Below the mountain peak where the river is born,
Ringing axes and windfall begotten slopes worn.
Streams become artists cascading the granite slides
To sculpt ancient bedrock that concedes chance to mourn.

And now the autumn air induces change in leaves;
Descending from the boughs the chill zephyr bereaves.
The fallen slip by absent any trace of green;
Departed from above; yet no barren limb grieves.

Accordingly seasons make a river fickle;
Spring snowmelts are torrents to Fall’s placid trickle.
Yet through ages of seasons its course has forged forth;
Cold reaper of leaves spares the river the sickle.

It seems this tranquil pool portends a certain end;
As siren songs rise from beyond the river bend.
Perchance the stopping here was seeking more than rest,
And been a spell shorter than some fate would intend.

There’s a mill town below that I’ve seen on my map;
The river rushes there tumbling through gorge and gap.
My soles long to saunter in the presence of path;
To amble beaten trails beyond the waters lap.

This rest in brisk air has brought upon a shiver
And conjured up thoughts that cause heartstrings to quiver.
From here I travel onward beholden to fate,
And under a spell that was cast by the river.

By T. John Bartlett

River flowing over rocks

T. John Bartlett is an emerging writer from upstate New York. His work has been featured as a winner of the posterproject.org 2018 contest and has poetry forthcoming in various literary journals and reviews. In addition to reading and writing, he is an avid hiker that particularly enjoys exploring the Adirondack Mountains.

Photo of Rockwell Falls on the Hudson River in the Adirondack Mountains of New York by Colin Young

The Diamond Python

Under a dome of unrelenting blue
we follow a high plateau
littered with spring flowering,
drop into a gully, cross a creek,
wind our way along the sandstone cliff face,
bend beneath overhangs, squeeze
through narrow gaps between boulders
until finally, there it is, a large shaded rock shelf
overlooking a spectacular network of chasms,
sheer sandstone cliffs sunlit in their ancient weathering,
distant waterfall a wind-blown silver thread,
river unspooling through the green grey scrub,
air full of wind sound and bird song.

We drop our packs, sit in the shade.
We think we have this solitary place to ourselves,
until the owner casually drops in
and pokes his diamond head
through a fissure next to an elbow.
He slithers casually over a backpack,
unhurriedly follows our retreating feet,
unfurling his nine feet of glory.
Large of head, diamond flecked,
he carries the beauty of the night sky
along his thickly muscular length.
He moves from person to person,
slowly traverses the overhang
and then, branch by branch,
with long practised ingenuity
hauls his limbless mass up a tree.

Time passes.
The ancient cliffs grow shadows.
We must retrace our steps,
leave this privileged place
but as we go we carry in our packs
a weight of thankfulness for the diamond Python,
for the gift he has given us,
for his beauty, size, grace and power
and especially for his casual indifference
towards we mere puny humans
now struggling and laboring homewards
through his beauty-filled world.

By Neil Creighton

diamond python

Blue Mountains, west of Sydney

Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama brought him into close contact with thousands of young lives, most happy and triumphant but too many tragically filled with neglect. It also made him intensely aware of how opportunity is so unequally proportioned and his work reflects strong interest in social justice. Recent publications include Poetry Quarterly, Poeming Pigeon, Silver Birch Press, Rat’s Ass Review, Praxis Mag Online, Ekphrastic Review, Social Justice Poetry and Verse-Virtual. He blogs at windofflowers.blogspot.com.au

Photos by the author

January Moon

I brave the icy winds and go through the park gates. My boots squelch on the half frozen icy pathways. In the distance, I decipher the silhouettes of a few hardy souls, against the fading afternoon light. I stop briefly, by the rivulet, flowing down from the mountains, to listen to the gurgling sound. A few robins peck by the water’s edge. Bare tree branches stand stark against the evening sky. A pungent whiff of pine fills my nostrils. A syllable of gratitude, for greenery in winter, escapes my lips. First super moon of the New Year awaits. I quicken my step to make it to the exit before closure.

Super moon rays spill
light beams on to frozen earth
celestial largesse

By Pauline Ann Walsh

moon over road into park

Ann Walsh is an educator, presently living in Dublin, who loves to write and to share with other writers. Contact her at fevwalsh@gmail.com

Photo of moon by globalphoto

Creek Water

This evening, I walk down through
the bracken ferns, and passing
between the hemlock and beech
trees, I find the worn path that leads
down the bank to the sandbar.

The water is slow here, and the
surface looks like glass, except
for where the mountain laurel
brushes the surface, creating
ripples as the branches dip into
the cold water as it flow beneath
the undercut bank on the other

I watch three minnows, wriggling
in the shallow water at the end
of the shoal where I am standing.
I kneel in the wet sand and muck
and with both hands, cup cold
creek water and let it run through
my fingers and shake the droplets
like rain on the surface.

When I was a boy, I would drink
from these cold waters, on hot
summer days on expeditions in
this same patch of dense woods,
but I would not risk it now, time
has muddied this water, slowed
its course with silt and mud,
covering the smooth stones
that once lined its bottom.

The sun is sinking, last light
reflecting off slow, stained water.
I wash the sand from my fingers,
and brush off my knees, staring
down into the depths once more.
I see my reflection, and in my eyes,
the creek water always flows.

By Joshua Lanier

reflections in creek water

On my daily walks, I often make my way to the creek bottom that I explored as a boy. These waters have healing properties, and I draw from them in my work, no matter what the subject. This creek is a point of reflection for me. The natural world is always the centerpiece of my work, whether it be fiction, essays, or poetry. My blog can be found at Wildcat Creek Journal.

Photo of creek in Marin County, California, by Neil Lockhart