Fertile Earth

In the corner of the garden
we found the perfect spot
for the damask rose “Celsiana,”
but when we dug, we hit a boulder.
I said, “Let’s plant somewhere else.”
“No,” she disagreed, “we’ll find a way.”

For two hours we dug around it,
but couldn’t get it to budge.
With a plank, we made a lever.
The two of us stood on one end
and bounced up and down
and finally felt it dislodge.

It took two planks and the two of us
working all day to dig it out:
there, at last, unearthed,
a rock the size of a coffee table.
Two women, one aging and one old–
we gaped in awe of what we’d done.

With patience, forbearance, and a stubborn will,
almost any obstacle can be made to yield.

She taught me to trust myself to find a way;
she taught me to look for it close at hand.

In the rock’s place grows the sturdy rose,
whose soft pink blooms and golden stamens
delight our summers.

The rock remained, too big to take away;
transplanted ferns now shelter in its shade.

All afternoon before t.he rain,
I clipped the dead hostas’ withered stems
and raked out piles of dead leaves from the beds.

Wet and chill, as if a cloud had sunk to earth,
in the strangely muffled air of November,
I listened to the chirp of a hawk circling overhead.

My body bent to my labors; my mind wandered free.
Make room! More room!

By Anne Whitehouse

flower garden with a rock

Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower, her second from Dos Madres Press (2016). Her novel Fall Love has just been published in Spanish translation as Amigos y Amantes. 2016 honors include Songs of Eretz’s, RhymeOn!’s, Common Good Books’, and Fitzgerald Museum’s poetry prizes. Visit her at AnneWhitehouse.com.

Photo of garden and boulder by uulgaa.

The Sweet Scent

Vivid memories
Of days long past
Senses do not forget
The sweet smell
Of lilacs in full bloom
Warm spring days
Amethyst jewels sparkle
Atop jade green leaves
Surrounded by vibrancy and joy
My father’s favorite flower
Forever in my heart

By Ann Christine Tabaka

woman near  blossoming  lilac

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 lilac by Galyna Tymonko

Autumn Shall Garner

There’s a spider on a lilac leaf, he’s brown and green with beige legs and seems a bit drunk. It’s October, it’s cool and

he drifts lazily on a short web, waiting for Indian summer to bring one more gnat or bottle fly.

I’m tempted to wrap him in tissue, bring him inside the house to live out the winter in the cellar.

There he could dine on centipedes, meet some classy house spider babe and (if she doesn’t eat him) they can make spider babies.

(I Think) I can safely assume he’s male, he’s still here uneaten by said spider babies that would eventually make him a widower,

and he’d miss the lilac leaves, ( I think) and drinking the October wind and spinning short webs and dreaming of fluttering

wax moths and mud wasps. And I would not think of him, amid the dust and cobwebs from spiders long gone, (winter home or not)

and if I saw him, I might forget he is here under my protection and I might squash him beneath my heel.

I leave him to the cool morning to build his web, to drink the wind and dine on what may fly or crawl,

before the lilac leaves fall.

By Cee Williams

a small spider on the green leaf

Cee Williams is a gardener and fisherman residing in Erie, Pennsylvania, US. His poetry tends to focus on the observation of, and his connection to the world and people around him.

Photo of spider on leaf by Decha Thapanya

The Leaves Wink

Whispered stillness at dawn
summer candle burning low
a quieted hush upon a breeze
orange koi rise in the fountain.
Leaves wink in the sun’s haze
toaster pops my English muffin
coffee pot chugs along slowly
cars roll by as the day begins.
Sirens echo in the distant hills
dogs howl and children smile
faceless people rush to a bus
lazy summer awaiting autumn.
Pumpkin patch on it’s final days
crispy mornings and hot cocoa.
Autumn’s time has now arrived,
leaves wink because they know.

By Ken Allan Dronsfield

 colorful leaves & pumpkins at old house

Ken Allan Dronsfield is a published poet who was nominated for The Best of the Net and two Pushcart Awards for Poetry in 2016. His poetry has been published world-wide in various publications throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. Ken loves thunderstorms, walking in the woods at night, and spending time with his cats Willa, Hemi and Turbo. Ken’s new book, The Cellaring a collection of haunting, paranormal, weird and wonderful poems, has been released and is available through Amazon.com. He is the co-editor of two poetry anthologies, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze and Dandelion in a Vase of Roses available from Amazon.com.

Photo of autumn leaves at an old homestead by Ernest Prim


I belong nowhere, half here,
half there. ― Anne Michaels, “Stone” in Miner’s Pond

The difference, if you are a river,
is whether you flow east into the Atlantic
or west into the Pacific. But you can’t flow
both directions. “The mountains are calling
and I must go.” But I waver on Marias Pass,
a mile above sea level at the Continental Divide.
East or West?

Distant mountaintops, dusted
with powdered sugar even in late summer.
At lower elevations, an even crew cut
of grey and brown stubble left over
from devastating forest fires, a delicate blanket
of green covering the base of the hills.

Narrow the focus, onto the forest floor,
where bright wildflowers stand out
against tall, blackened trunks and spindly
new trees. Hardy wildflowers return first
after a fire, animals later.

The guidebook says, “Bears
and mountain lions especially
should be avoided.” Avoiding
conflict, with yourself and others. Making
peace. Worthy goals, but how, when I belong
neither here nor there?

Views from the train: vast fields
of sunflowers followed by clusters
of small oil rigs; flowing hay surrounding
solid gravestones; the elegance
of horses on a slope, a tidy house atop
the hill, and a collection of broken-down vehicles
next to the horses; a shiny Mercedes
outside tenement housing; yachts
and pleasure boats tied up
on the Erie Canal facing abandoned warehouses,
factories, and laundry strung outside
more tenements.

A dream one night on the train:
wide, shallow steps from the shoreline up
to a manor house high on a hill, a journey,
from the Great Lakes to the mountains
of childhood. But there is nowhere—
and no way—to stop on the stairs.

Also a memory:
a selection of rocks submerged
in a pail of cold lake water, their jewel-like colors
sparkling as they did on the lake bottom
where they drew my hand down
to pick them up. Laid out on the dock to dry
they lose their appeal, the colors dull
and lifeless until I put the rocks back
in the water. There is no middle ground.

A childhood near “the river of ambush
or surprise” offered many meanings for the confluence
of rivers: a place of spiritual significance,
a center for trade, a place for a battle—or
a settlement, where there could be peace.
The middle ground. Like the colors
of the lake rocks, it is elusive, changeable,
can’t easily be had. But having
is not living.

The collective unconscious of rivers
knows where we have been and where
we are going—even before we do.
An answer, from the forest:
there will always be new growth.

By Meg Freer

 woman is sitting on top of mountainPhoto by Loganban

Note: “The mountains are calling and I must go.” is from John Muir, the Scottish-American naturalist who founded the Sierra Club, in a letter to his sister Sarah Muir Galloway (3 September 1873), published in William Frederic Badè, The Life and Letters of John Muir found on the Sierra Club John Muir Exhibit Website.

Meg Freer grew up in Missoula, Montana, US, and now lives with her family in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where she teaches piano and enjoys running and photography. She began writing poetry in 2015. Her photos and poems have won awards both in North America and overseas and have been published in chapbooks and in both print and online anthologies. In 2017 she won a fellowship and attended the Summer Literary Seminars in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. Journal entries and photos from Tbilisi may be found here.

“Contrasts” read by Meg Freer, accompanied by pianist Ian Wong (ianwongmusic.com)