Spring crocus makes clear her wish for pollinators,
petal stripes converging on her golden center.
“Quick, quick!” she cries from her petal cup,
“Nectar is my scent and gift to folk with wings.
Quick now, fly, to honor with me Spring.”
Against blue New Zealand sky,
gracing town and woodland,
beaches, cresting hills,
the iconic Norfolk Island pine.
This symmetry engages the eye
and wanders my mind
to early times when I trusted
kids’ book illustrations as real.
They weren’t, but these perfect
paragons of shape do delight,
and one childish disenchantment
is most thoroughly redeemed.
A chaos of dropped leaves, decaying,
barely-thawed spring morning water,
disorder’s swamp, interrupted by
a spike of life, a genesis of plant
that insists on geometric cone
and a palette of green/red/green
with divisions and a promise--
that a power will unroll this cone
and capture sun and green, for life
demands that order from disorder grow,
shapes it into forms with colors clear
and pierces seeing eyes with force.
Liverworts send up capsules on translucent stems
that contain time immense in each thin spore.
The flat, earthbound bodies are humble,
for they were first to escape ponds and streams
and colonise land 500,000,000 years gone.|
Liverworts began the entire trophic system
that allowed animals to eat on land instead
of in Mother Ocean where all the food lived.
Search low on shaded moistlands for liverworts,
and when they show you their humble greens,
say. “Thank you,” for seldom do they hear it.
INVITE to WRITE #36 and RESPONSES to INVITE #35
These are pussy willows, matured into full flowering gold. They are busy with bees, growing seed. It seems odd that we so cherish the first silver furred buds and usually ignore the transmutation of silver fur into pollen gold. Culturally, this indifference seems somewhat like the way our culture obsesses about nubile young women, then disregards them when they mature into their power. With the sun behind it, the willow show is compelling. Last year’s tattered cattails and leafless branch point up the celebration of Earth’s golden resurgence. Please contemplate the photo, and allow it to take your writing where it wants to go. That’s the trick—Give the poem its head.
Responses are due Wed, April 18 and published Fri, April 20.
No attachments. Email your work to firstname.lastname@example.org
Responses to INVITE #35 range from fanciful to serious, a fine celebration of diversity. Read and enjoy. And remember: Writers thrive on feedback. If you enjoy a poem, let the writer know. Send to email@example.com and I’ll pass them along. Don’t deny water to a promising plant—help them green.
Near the edge that was my place
My mood like stringy green moss tumbled
Ever sliding down the cliff face
Into the abyss where rocks lie jumbled
When I hit the bottom I was found
And taught then that I could climb
Learned to the rocks I was not bound
Learned my thoughts were not green slime
As my eyes opened, I beheld
All that could be seen
A vision then unparalleled
Like a burst of absinthe green
I see the branches like the stars in the air
When my eyes they go espying
I know I can't reach them way up there
but I've learned the joy is in the trying
~~M. J. McMillan South Dakota
I see a circle, brown without,
green and dewy within,
I want to fall, but hesitate.
Up here there is warmth.
A rock in the circle
catches my eye,
and with illusion I see
a tiny animal crouch
on a rocky shore.
A black-fur toe reaches toward
the edge, and I see sand-fur shiver.
Is there delight
at the prospect of
that blue vapor enveloping,
or of fear
of falling without end
Which will I choose?
Do I need to choose?
Something tells me that when that
creature leaps, I will too.
~~Mary McConnell, Wisconsin
In this between season
Not yet spring,
Still iced at the edges,
I reach my hand into rain
To seek its green secret,
To pull from the sluicing streams
That emerald light
That will soon drape itself
Like ribbons, like luminous threads
From the dark branches of trees
Silhouetted against the pearled morning sky.
The green appears
And appears again.
In this between season
Not yet spring
Water pools at the end of the street
After a night drizzle
And in the puddle the clouds race
And appear again.
In this between season
Not yet spring
The ocean I walk beside
Breathes like the whales
That swim beneath its surface
Somewhere far out
Beyond the breakers,
And white gulls, like the clouds,
Skim over the water
Robed with the sun
And again appear.
~~Ellen Collins, Virginia
In childhood there was a pond
that beckoned me all summer long
to come and sit and wile away
an every childhood summer day
Sometimes it would capture me
with an enchanted fantasy
lying in the weeds below
the surface of the water flow
Hidden in the there and here
tiny fish life would appear
darting round from here to there
as I would watch them everywhere
wondering if their lives divine
were anything at all like mine
with simple tasks to fill the day
before they were allowed to play
calling softly to respond
In childhood there was a pond
~~Bruce Peck, Minnesota
ANGLES SEEN CROSSEYED
he lost his watch while handfishing
it lies in the stream over there.
buttertan rocks will not move
in algae that sway to watermusic.
he guides me to stream's edge
where our toes extend into browngrass.
the sun points to the golden watch.
with side view reflections,
nature makes us hungry.
come on, we're late for lunch.
~~sandra erskine, minnesota
The cool waters of my soul
flow sweetly and full with age and wisdom.
I sink sensuously into
the fronds of my verdant core.
The pull is strong and I
surrender to this current of life,
swaying this way and that
giving, receiving, birthing, dying and
rebirthing again and again.
I dream of myself yesterday, today
and tomorrow and I spring eternal,
floating free at last.
~~Linda Leary, Colorado
A drop of water from Indian tale of Crow,
and Minn is off on his parabola,
no true nature story has a happy end,
just localized violations of the 2nd Law,
Is that a phone dropped in Ol' Miss,
with photos of children now fully grown?
As transient as Chief Cadillac,
or my rubber Tomahawk,lost long ago.
The smooth stones crossed in their slippery turn,
by Mother, Sister, Wife and Daughter.
Dad's ashes wash toward the Gulf,
We remember well his laughter.
Some nutrients for the Wild Rice,
Some memories for the rest of us,
and, of course, our given lives.
~~Will Reed, Washington State
Kids’ Poems from Tim Deyle’s 5th grade, Fargo, North Dakota
Rain drops falling
Into a new season
Now is the time to play
Genius Mother Nature takes us
in and out of the four seasons.
In the sea plants back and forth sway.
Dolphins diving and shooting through the water.
A shark goes deep under water in search of its prey,
And seagulls gulping up mouthfuls of fish.
It is truly a wonderful sight to see.
Under the sea is so nice and peaceful.
The fish swim and eat.
It is so peaceful under the ocean.
~~ Austin Sparrow
Nature is so peaceful,
Ponds are so amazing
with fish that don’t breathe air.
A mysterious place full
of things we don’t know of.
Today is my birthday, April 2nd.
Maybe it is the pond's birthdate, too.
Maybe the pond has been growing since 2001.
That’s my birth year.
Birds and other animals live here.
Ducks, geese, frogs, turtles, and other animals, too.
My favorite season.
I can hear the peaceful and calming sounds of nature.
You can hear the birds chirping and see the ducks in the water.
I love nature.
It is so calming.
It can surprise you.
Now it’s raining.
I can hear it come down.
I must be at the rain forest.
I love nature.
Lovely nature. This is so amazing.
It’s like it is powered by some orb of magic.
You really never know the power of nature.
Nature can be mad, sad, or happy, even confused.
Everything has feelings.
To the Pond
This might be the last peaceful place
on the Earth
There is war everywhere but
Here things are safe.
Everybody lives in peace.
Pond, Our pond is where there is
A catkin in fulgent color drops to
living soil to plant wetland alder brush.
In a scaffold of dry stems and leaves
It lands within the thrust of greens
that survived cold as white roots
but now push chlorophyl to light.
The catkin mimics a caterpillar
slouched in colored earth, at feed
before it cocoons to emerge as
a pollinating moth whose clients are
night blooms of these upthrust greens.
Night winds goosebump bedrooms in Spring.
Waking chilled, I think of perennials pushing up,
how tender and soft are their first leaves in this cold
but I am comforted by fiddleheads of Interrupted Fern.
On emergence they are dense with white hairs
that warm them and warn off all with jaws, for
this fiddlehead will make one grieve its eating.
But they are warm and never shiver Spring nights.
I pull up the quilt and tongue my mouth for hairs.
Pixiecup lichen fruits of gray Fall
are about to be overwhelmed
by eager moss shoots up from
the crinkly substrate of lichen green.
Note: the exhuberant moss is Polytrichum commune
White pollen bobs on thin filaments,
anthers brilliant against lavender blue,
the fine contrast Earth arranged to
assuage eyes spent with winter drab.
Everywhere in woodlands here
hepatica has pushed through leaves
to light, that it be tumbled by bees,
beetles and flies and pollinated be.
Twin moons rise from soil
to praise Luna full round above.
A seedling meadow rue
is pushed aside by
one twin’s urgent praise
of the vast light she mirrors.
A rough-legged hawk soars low,
feathers of spread tail and wing sharp
against this immense depth of blue.
I have small importance
in this hawk’s eye,
but he is huge in mine.
What is it about a raptor
that its presence is such a gift?
I want the hawk to stay
and not wheel out, tilt
just so to catch a thermal,
climb the upper skies.
Wild black cherry is in bloom,
white balloon buds pop open
all day into petal scoops,
a spray of gold anthers
wide as the blossom.
Bees are estatic to follow
fragrance downwind, and
at the end, nectar & pollen
to make bee bread for young.
Bee hum in foreground,
bird pipes beyond, my tongue
wishing it were narrow for nectar
to bring home to my mouth
this wild black cherry hum.
In bright shallows on this warm day
three wild egg-beings under sun:
The Canada goose paddles off,
her wake a strong wide V
aimed toward her lifemate gander.
The painted turtle basks on wood,
neck and legs outstretched to sun
as immobile as she was in winter mud
She chooses now to release the sperm she’s held
She warms to eat, grow eggs.
The mallard hen looks left and right
before dunking her head and long neck
to dabble new green in shallows,
rump bobbing upright, flag white
as the eggs she feels now quicken.
Note: Reptiles,we know, are primitive, doomed to slither far below us. Most female turtles and snakes can store sperm for many months and give birth when they choose; one mating may suffice for years, Given that these reptiles ages ago separated copulation from conception, and given the headlong human population growth, who are the more primitive?
A red admiral butterfly sips nectar for the future.
His lifeline is long, wintered under rock.
Long life means loss, hindwing scalped,
strong orange faded, scales thinned.
As flowers and sun called him to fly and eat,
so called they the thawed female he will mate
today or tomorrow, for generation next.
INVITE to WRITE #37 and RESPONSES to INVITE #36
Bay of Islands in Northland, North Island, New Zealand is filled with hundreds of small upthrust volcanic islands. When I was there I felt lighter than usual, which could have been a lightening of spirit, but after seeing trees growing mysteriously sideways from these islands, I am mostly-convinced that I really was lighter there and that Bay of Islands really is a low gravity zone. Contemplate this photo and let it engage your fancy. Let the photo take you into mystery. How is it that the tree is growing sideways? See if this takes you into a light-hearted piece of writing, maybe even a childrens’ poem?
Entries are due Wednesday, May 2 and will be published Friday May 4.
Responses to INVITE #35 are enticing songs of resurgence. Enjoy.
Faerie Ring, A Sonnet
Our tour bus stopped beside an Irish wood.
We all got out to view an old stockade.
Most gathered ‘round the place our tour guide stood,
But, on beyond, I glimpsed a sunlit glade.
And, inside me, I heard a drumming sound
That lured me to the glade – a faerie ring
Of mossy stones just seen above the ground.
And, silently, my heart began to sing
A wild, enchanted song not heard before,
And I began a strange druidic dance,
My body swaying ‘round the dancing floor.
But soon I sensed another’s vivid glance –
A woman tourist shared my silent beat,
With auburn hair, green eyes and dancing feet.
~~David R Brink, Minnesota
Walk among the willows,
stay a long time,
jostle them here and there.
Let pollen fall on your head
Revel! And afterward
walk your boots through
old leaf and sticky mud
deep into the woods.
Cloaked in pollen,
if you are lucky, something
may niggle your soul,
give you a clue that if
you stay long enough,
you will be embraced.
Spot a treasure, early primrose,
Close your fingers around
But you are dusted with pollen.
The flower is as your kin.
Walk on, gathering only
~~Mary McConnell, Wisconsin
Enveloped in Gratitude
I claim it still: my forsythia bush at the corner
of the grape vine and the tulip bed.
This sunlight-holding lattice rising above my brows
framed me at six, seven, eight, how many springs?
in an outburst of yellow after months of snow.
When the ground dried
it became my private space in which to read and dream.
Hiding from Mother with her jobs for me,
I was Nature's golden child in reflected light.
I tucked myself like a letter to the future
into a smug envelope of bloom.
Each spring something comes addressed to me.
~~Pegatha Hughes, California
In the first warmth of Spring
When it was cooler
The prime was full of fur and charm
A multitude of baby cats that beckoned
To be stroked
Now a lacy show of gold
Essential as the rain
To spread their kind afield
What reason do catkins serve
But to charm
The solid gold reserve spreads seed
And at last the only-gradual-green
consumes the sun, for summer's growth of root and leaves
I think I like the willows best full -summer green
The kittens frantic antics were beware
The tiny flowers too meek
But slender branches make a shadowed tent
I sit small with some of Omar's treats
In the green shade I seek.
~~Peggy Osborne, Montana
The silver buds of pussy willow spring
have given way to ripe golden catkins
rich with pollen. Bees rejoice.
The earth hums with hot promise.
Such rapid transmutation -
silky fur to golden summer dust
to barren branch against an empty sky -
startles the eye.
Death is not the major mystery.
It is the bursts of life we cannot grasp,
the pulse of dormancy and energy,
the trembling notes that rise above the silence.
Inside our budding-blooming-shrinking skins
we whisper: Why?
~~Sara DeLuca, Georgia
KIDS’ POEMS from Tim Deyle’s Fifth Grade, Fargo, North Dakota
What roams the forest?
Deer? Rabbits? Bugs?
Even a new species?
You could find anything.
Plants. Trees. Grass.
And even Fertile Ground.
The cardinal stares at me,
As if expecting something wonderful to happen.
It stares at me with eyes,
The color of the sunset.
Except, I’m just a normal person
Living a normal life
With a normal family and
Normal friends but it doesn’t matter.
Because as long as I express my true feelings
Even something little like a cardinal
Can make you look at things differently,
And change your life forever.
By Dexter Coglin
There’s the great outdoors.
Now it is in early spring.
So much vibrant gold.
The woods are mysterious.
Ever so creepy, crawly.
Shivers up your spine.
The woods are peaceful.
Ever so quiet, pretty.
The forest has so many feelings.
Mad, Happy, Sad, Peaceful…
There once was a gloomy tourist,
Who went to a magical forest.
His mom was formal,
His dad was normal.
In the forest he was known as the florist!
~~Hannah Devine and Lea Paxton
There once was a forest of trees,
To some it didn’t please.
When people started to chop,
They turned it into a crop.
And now the crops blow in the breeze.
~~ Mason Thielman and Zatyvian Griffin
Nature gives and nature takes.
It is beautiful but sometimes not.
The fire destroys but things grow back.
It is now springtime.
The leaves are back.
It’s not every day you see a fire
Made out of leaves.
It’s not every day you run across
Something so spectacular.
It’s not every day you see or hear
Something so marvelous.
It’s not every day when you see,
Hear, or feel something so beautiful.
The things you see with your heart
That is so beautiful.
It’s the things you see with your heart.
By Selena Sanchez
Trees start beneath the grass,
And grow up to the sky.
Trees are nature’s skyscrapers.
The trees are homes to many creatures
The trees are life.
Spring has sprung a new season.
~~Seth Christianson and Austin Sparrow
Seams of native iron on-edge
have weathered from ancient seafloor
hurled onto a New Zealand beach
by a winter storm of the Tasman Sea.
The pure iron was left by bacteria
so unthinkably long ago that
free oxygen was rare on Earth.
The iron strips are thick enough
that my hand can’t bend them.
Myriad microbe generations lay down
their bodies on the dark ocean floor.
Over two billion years this broken stone
was so stressed and squeezed and torn
that two iron layers now meet at right angles
to make a T—another makes an O.
When Deep Time yawns toward me so
its maw a huge black open rose
I expect it to swallow me whole.
The rainforest is Liana World.
Slowly they made themselves
a tangle in a kitten’s ball of yarn.
None twists tight to to choke an other,
their loops are wide and sloppy, but
still they work toward circles as do we all.
Liana snarls are impenetrable and mute.
When they chortle about something
it starts at the root in soil, slowly vibrates
up and curves through all the tangled yarn
and pulsates right up to the green leaves
they hang from. Around lianas, one’s eyes
keep seeing movement in the corners.
It’s giggling! Why this perpetual vibration?
Do they know I can’t get through them?
No, I bet they’re remembering how good
that stretch felt when Tarzan swung.
An oystercatcher probes a tidal spill
while another holds its beak open
as if mimicking the human guffaw.
Beak bright red-orange, thick & strong,
bright crimson eye, legs washed-out pink,
colors accessorize plain white & basic black.
But Darlings, please tone down those lips
and blush those poor pale legs.
Note: The species is the variable oystercatcher photographed in New Zealand.
Pushing up through layered leaves
are the small delights of wildflowers.
Their beauty gives me breath.
Each year they are ephemeral.
Each year they soothe the battered heart
How they rise into the sun
How they offer to small bees their pollen
and themselves to looking eyes.
Spring ephemerals bloom, set seed,
and in weeks die back to roots.
They teach the willing eye
of hubris and the fall.
Note: This is Enemion biternatum, foolishly called False Rue Anemone. It is surely true.
The pink of apple buds
blushes petal brims
as blossoms spread
the scented news.
Am I not a beauty?
Am I not an icon of New Zealand?
Yes! For I am Pukeko.
Do you see how the very lilies
mirror my crown?
Foolish Pakeha call me
Do I look like a hen?
I am gorgeous.
My red crown proclaims nobility.
I honor the lands of wet.
It is for you to honor me.
I am Pukeko.
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