Balance

A contemplative gait, sun in its setting business
painting the mountains ― which have been bright
and stand-out-ish ― to amber and shadow. Soft.
Easy to love. The way shade spreads,
gradual, inevitable and gold fades. Traffic
quiets into a fallacy we humans believed in
for an unfortunate while. Possible now
to walk beyond the barricade into the dry
river corridor, nests of blue-gray boulders,
stands of willow and cottonwood and the beginning
of nature stories we will tell the children to help them
belong in the world, help them know how to
watch the snake and the bear without needing
to take them in their hands or try to teach them
to speak English.

By Grace Marie Grafton

golden cottonwoods along Snake River


Grace Marie Grafton is the author of six collections of poetry, which can be reviewed on Amazon’s site. Grafton_Whimsey_CoverShe lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a redwood tree outside her kitchen door and a native live oak next to her deck. Nearby are red squirrels, raccoons, salamanders, and (never seen) mountain lions. Other of her nature poems can be found in Canary (online), Peacock Journal (online), Third Wednesday, Poecology and The Common Ground Review. Her book, Whimsy, Reticence and Laud: unruly sonnets, is rooted in her love of nature. She has taught for decades with CA Poets in the Schools, frequently taking her grade school students outdoors for their poetry lessons.

Photo of the Snake River by Daniel Larson.

Lavender and the Light at Dusk

Closing In

The day gains speed. A bucketful of late afternoon
upends and spreads itself across the lawn. Things loom.
A ray surges through the darkest cloud
just to crash into my fence. It shatters, sends shards
of light in parachutes to seek refuge on lavender
already heavy with bees and white butterflies.
 

Skyfall

The sun can only hang on so long
by its fingertips. Like a kitten plunging
into a well, the sun goes down clawing
and clamoring, panicked. Gram by gram,
lux-by-lost-lux, it manages one small wonder
during the free fall: Clouds of lavender
rise in its stead. Like the cat who comes back
for another life.
 

Enough

The lavender is now sucked free and done
with its purpling anyway. Free falling with a swarm
of mosquitos, doing double shots of ankle blood, the sun
is drunk before dinner. Again. White butterflies are
bedded down, sleeping off the nectar orgy. Bumblebees
are grounded due to radar problems. Frogs rise to come
to chorus, croak opinions both loud and unkind
about all the characters in the garden. Lavender blushes,
grows heavier, groans and bears it.
 

Back Inside

The full moon shines through my screen door,
puts a patina on the bundle of lavender at work in the kitchen.
On the stone table with the plastic checkered cloth,
salted butter (beautifully formed but much too soft)
waits patiently for oven-hot bread due at midnight, prepares
to conjoin with the yeasty aroma that spews
from a steaming crust. Bite by bite, increments of scent
fill the house, explain ecstasy to the body. Who will drive
the stars and their babysitters home?

By Jacalyn Carley

painting using lavender

Original art by the author. She uses lavender at harvest season as a tool for painting. This is a larger work, with India ink and oil pastels.


Jacalyn Carley lives in Berlin. Her artistic background spans several decades as a choreographer, author of four books, and much teaching along the way. Her poetry can be found on Painters and Poets.com, Rat’s Ass Review.net, Ekphrastic.net and Silver Birch Press. She is On-site Director for Sarah Lawrence College’s study abroad program: Summer Arts in Berlin. Read more about her and her work at jacalyn-carley.com.

Lightness

Until the springtime of the garden’s well
when water whites as the sky’s eye
and curiosity as a nameless fruit
makes you remember

It will be light throughout the day
when the moon and stars are curtained
in blue, butterfly wing blue,
and petaled songs are brighter
than their evening selves

The hermit thrush will find your branch
and there sing to itself, as if your mind
mirrors. It lullabies the sun with green
lyrics, music green as the grove
where the bamboo measures itself
as the future’s flute

By Jonel Abellanosa

Hermit Thrush perched on branch


Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including, Marsh Hawk Review, Rattle, Anglican Theological Review, Star*Line, Poetry Kanto, Spirit Fire Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The McNeese Review, GNU Journal and The Penman Review. He has three chapbooks, “Pictures of the Floating World” (Kind of a Hurricane Press), “The Freeflowing All” (Black Poppy Review) and “Meditations” (Alien Buddha Press). He is a Pushcart Prize and a Dwarf Stars Award nominee.

Photo of Hermit Thrush from All About Birds

The Passage

I have allowed myself
to stand long in reality’s kitchen,
washing tangible dishes,
looking out the dark dream window
at the seductive dancing
of a ghastly, sallow figure who
beckons with one bony hand,
and tugs on the back of my dress
with the other

while I work to scrub away
the sticky residue of a
deviant limbic system.

But I have trodden the grassy passage
to the Eden of the mind, where
the healing place is
a supple, fragrant light
broken by no shadow, revealing

the soft, jingling song of the cricket,
the insistent conversation of the gleaming crows,
the first cool breeze of a September morning,
the maple’s emerging red patchwork,
the crisp, surprising chomp of a doe making
short work of apples in the back yard,
the moss-muted sigh of the towering forest—

peace for the mind and abundant grace
in the bounty of the wren and
the sanctity of the scrub pine.

By Martha Owens

woman sitting by tree in fall sunlight


Martha Owens lives in western North Carolina and teaches British literature at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy. Her poems have appeared in North Carolina Literary Review, Wisconsin Review, Pembroke Magazine, Lyricist, and Gray’s Sporting Journal.

Photo by loganban

White Heron

Like a cutout the white heron
suspends low
over tall swamp grasses
Steering by point of yellow beak
serpentine curve of its neck
triangle of wings, end feathers
like fingers testing the wind

Two thin legs stretch flat with the body
echoed by shadow
below, following her flight

The young bird listens to cries of her flock
as green summer blends into autumn
Though she’s never known any homeland
but these tidewaters

her wings will fill with currents of air
carrying her towards southern shore
remembered
when a newborn beak
fed upon the membrane
lining her shell

Next year she will build a nest
on a low tree
lay a clutch of glossy blue eggs
the cycle borne anew

By Charlotte Mandel

white heron flying over golden grassland


Charlotte Mandel’s tenth book of poetry, To Be the Daylight, is forthcoming this year from White Violet Press, imprint of Kelsay Books. Her most recent title Through a Garden Gate, offers poems written in Through a Garden Gate Coverresponse to color photographs of the garden created and photographed by Vincent Covello (David Robert Books, 2015). Previous titles include two poem-novellas of feminist biblical revision — The Life of Mary and The Marriages of Jacob. Her awards include the New Jersey Poets Prize and two fellowships in poetry from New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She edited the Eileen W. Barnes Award Anthology, Saturday’s Women. Critical essays include articles on the role of cinema in the life and work of H.D., on Muriel Rukeyser, May Sarton, Thomas McGrath, and others. She recently retired from teaching poetry writing at Barnard College Center for Research on Women. Please visit her at www.charlottemandel.com.

Photograph of White Heron by Vincent Covello