Morning Earth Poems
The giant swallowtail
probes coneflower nectar
sunlight embraces both
Summer perfectly ripe
When tall martagon lilies bloom
we step into a stream of life
when Elizabeth was on the throne
and this lily in the royal gardens
and walked there Sir Francis Drake.
Old wives of the time told the tale
that the small folk of the countryside
made their pointed slippers from
the long brown anthers of this lily.
After walking the tallgrass trail
the inchworm on my jeans
quests this new world as
I sit down in the driver’s seat.
The little guy charms me
as he loops his body into
a green Omega sign as he
travels across my knee
He spells out the Vietnam
Draft Resistance sign--
--loops me back, or does he
just repeat RESISTANCE
to point out that I only dream
I’m in the driver’s seat?
Droplets of dew suffuse the petal-tubes
of wild monarda, tiny pearls alert
to a jog of wind or the jar of a bee
to coalesce into full drops to
race down petals and fall free to soil
to begin again its circle round the world.
As I walk a country road I come across
a fast beetle with eyes of red. I find
it’s called the Backroad Tiger Beetle,
not the most sensitive name.
It is a hunter. I do wonder:
Were its bug eyes this red
before it found out what some
city man named it, looking down?
INVITE to WRITE #26 and Responses to Invite #25
The photo this week is not mine. It was forwarded to me by a subscriber in Venezuala, Margarita Cardenas, unattributed, as too often happens on the web. What strikes me is the Mother Principle so powerfully expressed and what it implies about the whole system of multicellular life on Earth. I find the way of the female incredibly powerful. Please let this photo take your writing beyond the overtly sentimental kind of anonymous greeting card language. Instead, try to inform your words with your personal experience/learning of the eco-universal nature of mothering.
Entries are due Wed. Sept 25 and will be published Friday Sept 27. Please, no attachments.
Responses to INVITE #25, the mystery broken orb, are delightful. Thank you, writers. Read for yourself.
Kids’ Poems have returned below, and so have bonus poems. Explore the wonders of your Selves.
Do recall that I will be pleased to forward your comments to the writers. Email email@example.com
The orb cannot contain it.
It burst from within and now
it must contain itself.
It wants to come among us.
We are not ready to accept it.
Our kind is mired in cold and cruel.
It waits, spreads gentle shards of promise
in light that catches here and there,
shows just a glimpse of its true bright.
And waits to dance.
~~Mary S. McConnell Wisconsin
Here we see the story of the universe:
A broken eggshell on a bed of ice.
Whatever creature it contained has flown
To look for seeds, to generate more eggs, more energy.
And so it goes, around, around.
The face of flowers
Grains of sand and ice
Stones in the moonlight
Cool moon, hot stars
Planets, orbits, whirling galaxies
Cycles of life
The death dance - Ring-Around-the-Rosy
A story with no beginning, no ending
No regard for our cravings.
If there is a Great Creator
(Call it God, but please don't make it small and personal)
It is surely round - or at least elliptical.
~~Sara DeLuca, Georgia
Fable of the Brilliant Bird
Have you heard the news about the Diamond Planet? Never
discovered until now, a carbon crush of heavenly star and stone
that astronomers say cracked, millions of years ago, into fractals
of gems and black holes. They theorize the armour of an extinct
lizard—crushed crystal scales, shed in stunned sorrow—
when it found only itself
and a patch of shivered grass.
Lonely, cold and hungry; afraid to fall through the absence
of gravity. Not a safe lookout, even with full circle eyeballs.
One quick glance, to see where it had been—it roared into
a tunnel of coal—leaving shredded shell and ice-white
tiles. Astropologists can only guess how long it took
this dragon seed to travel, land again,
to try on new and overlapping layers
of pinkish-brown and grey. Eyes like perfect beads; round
and wet. Builds its nest of jewels and precious stones,
stolen from the castles of kings. It sings them to sleep.
Its morning calls make the saddest
music in the universe.
~~Denise duMaurier, Washington State
Once you were you know -
A treasure to Someone or Something Somewhere
Are you still?
Once a new sphere round and whole
Now a fragment hint of what was round
Torn and layered
Battered on crackled blue
Part of you ripped away
Were you a beautiful seed pod whose richness
Has long dispensed
Were you a toy that brought laughter?
A fruit who quenched thirst?
Oh mystery ball
Are you an unscripted warning of
Earth’s future ?
Value – oh value --- So fleeting and relative
To the holder – to the beholder - held once in
An admiring hand….
~~Kathleen Huntley, Montana
All that is round and hollow
All that is cracked and broken
Once was whole
Whether fruit or egg
Truffle shell or rind
Held that which it would enfold
That which it would hold
The womb is love made manifest
The nut shell guards its seed
Eyes are orbs that 'round behold
All the wonders of the globe
A circle fixes all the points
A beginning without end
So the universe is made
With death new life begins.
~~Peggy Osborne, Montana
In myriad ways
Life becomes living.
In early stages.
For life to live
It must survive
And then to grow.
And then we grow
Make us stronger
With greater ease
In myriad ways
The miracle -
Life to Living.
~~Bruce Peck, Minnesota
Déjà vu Cycle of Life
What memory haunts the empty pod,
little earth flowing in a blue river of universe.
Empty now, broken, its birthing juices
long gone along with its children of destiny.
Did its progeny bud and grow, ripe
with generations building wisdom.
Or did they become selfish and greedy
and squander the precious gift of
life and promise?
The pod knows, silent, fractured,
its task complete for now, it floats
We are on our own.
And from this what may we learn?
~~Linda Leary, Colorado
POEMS BY FARGO KIDS from Teacher Tim Deyle’s new 5th grade
That Special Day
The picture reminds me of a good day.
The mother bird protects the egg by sitting on it.
The father bird sits on it while the mother gets something to eat,
Unless the father brings the mother something to eat.
Sometimes an egg might get stolen if the parents are not careful.
When the baby bird is hatched the mother bird is the first thing spotted.
Then the father bird brings home something to eat.
The parents raise a nice bird.
~~Paige Roquet, North Dakota
The Mysterious Egg
I see an egg,
It seems like it’s a prehistoric egg,
It is quite unique.
Quite very awesome,
Very awesome indeed!
~~Clay Schultze, North Dakota
This is a dead fish.
Maybe it wants to be discovered,
Maybe it wants to be left alone.
This fish symbolizes death.
Something very confusing, sad, and peaceful
Ironically all at the same time.
Death is in our minds.
We think about it all of the time.
Death will come to all of us someday,
But let’s enjoy ourselves until then.
~~Dexter Conlin, North Dakota
BONUS POEM OVERLOOKED LAST TIME by Grown-Up Pegatha Hughes
The Parting of Water
Here in a stream too cold to wade,
a slant branch like butter knife
stripped to burnt orange
cuts "dolphins" from rivulets of gunmetal grey.
These watery dolphins from a buttery blade
turned up next in Monterey Bay,
footnotes to mammals that would not blow
but the ride was fine as I stood at the bow,
recalling a scene in Moby Dick and
pleased to be upright. not seasick.
The motor is cut. They’re here, all around.
Silence grows at being surrounded...
…….minutes are hours….
WHALE! on the starboard - two, no, three, a few feet away.
Oh, the parting of water as great sides of barnacled grey
rise up to Bach's B Minor Mass.
With a heave there's the hiss of vapor hitting air,
bad breath smell of rotten krill,
dimensions we never see in lumbering cavort.
A baleful eye looks into mine, harpoons my heart.
They disappear and we scramble to the other side.
My camera catches nothing but everything
is caught inside.
~~Pegatha Hughes, California
To commemorate 9.11, I have chosen to share with you a few apropos Morning Earth Entries from that time. Back then, Morning Earth went mostly to classrooms and were read to the students. The comments following poems were primarily intended for the writing teachers and for myself.
The world blown so upside down that numb with news
I walk into the woods for the never-old
to fill my ears and eyes
and unstick my throat.
I start a three-point buck who coughs that loud deep cough
that somehow squeezes from my heart
the red of sumac berries
and darts it from my acid eyes.
We both stand a breath staring, dumb
as acorns plopping from the oaks,
dumb as oyster fungus glowing from the mossy log,
and as wise.
When we turned in,
the night song of grasshoppers was benign.
When we woke our world had turned,
and song had grown insectile teeth.
When we turned in
we had forgotten that life on earth is pulsed with pain,
we were sacrosanct, immune.
When we woke, our world was dark,
waking in the dark was congruent,
We want to know no more.
As we wake we learn again
how tough we are,
how tough all earth-life is
and how welcome every song
to bless our night
restore our sight.
Be aware of the spirit insisting that we begin to heal. Make sure kids know there is no guilt in smiles again, that they know this healing after catastrophe is what all life on earth does when it must.
Three crows chase the barred owl
beneath the lowering sky.
The crows are for once silent and darkly intent
As the owl flies over the pond,
his russet wingtips glow in spite of gray.
Crows above, owl hugging cattails
the quiet chase revolves above the marsh
like time, same old, same old.
Some hatreds will not end, crows and owls both forever righteous to themselves. Good thing they don't have flags to wrap themselves in. I am afraid of the way the old men wet their lips when they speak of long wars.
Morning mist suspends this place in time,
shapes will not resolve. Air and sky are one.
Or is it clear, and it's my eyes?
I can make out broken circles
in the duckweed on the pond
from the slow churn of deep springs.
Those dark shapes must be ducks
fattening for flight. What else?
I know this mist will lift.
Earth offers us the images we need. Artists of all sorts know this to be true. Today, we are not sure what we're seeing. Perceptions are confused. We know this mist will change, but will it be burned away by light, or will it meld with gray?
Look into nature for the images that can help you grasp what's going on inside.
The white horse lets me caress his face,
enormous bone behind his skin,
this great round of jaw.
I rub between his ears,
slide down and stroke his nose.
He whuffs out at me:
Hot air from a bellows wide.
It is a time to touch other lives, get out of our minds so we don't go out of them. When cousins of any species allow me touch, I am honored. How different from me is horse, yet how much we share. One way to keep your humanity is to caress lives that are not themselves human.
Through leaves the sky creates itself,
even in this dawnlight moment washed with blue.
leaves are turning yet unfallen,
still frost whispers soon.
This is crisp apple time,
pumpkins rolling out of roadside stands,
when we look and wonder where it went,
our summer innocence.
Too soon we will shiver once again
as earth wheels around the sun,
and we will mourn our loss
by visiting death.
Nature is the great mirror of human affairs, the most ancient font of metaphor. This change of season coincides with a change in us. Words are charged with meanings that keep changing. One antique text says that God visited the sins of the fathers upon the children. In that sense, we are about to avenge our dead by killing--the broken old dance. Who will give blood for the innocent? The innocent.
Red male and golden female
of Autumn Meadowhawk
face opposite directions
on beetle-riddled leaves
that tell their own tale
of summer’s wane.
But fed beetles are no doubt
laying eggs against time
and who knows, the little
dragonflies may turn around.
Bonk! What the hey--
Hit me on the head!
Fell from that red oak.
Supposed to be an acorn,
this green urn with four
perfectly placed ridges
contains a small white grub
that a tiny wasp injected
as a miniscule egg
to hijack the seed-to-be
and left a chemical decree
to grow this pretty gall,
hard and fat enough to
bounce well from my skull.
When I turn it in my hand,
the pattern of the ridges
puzzles. I see no function.
It does nothing for the grub
that grows inside its pretty meal.
For all its beauty, it fails to fit
any function paradigm.
I am over-thinking this.
My wife points out
the clear and simple truth:
Symmetry is life’s default.
Note: The supposed gall turns out to be a hickory nut; my mistake. It was dropped from an oak, a squirrel no doubt. The last line is still true.
Jaws of last night’s caterpillar or beetle
ate a plantain leaf cross eyed.
I stepped back a step, jolted to be
stared at by a challenged weed.
Did a beetle have a balance need?
A need to feed symmetrically?
Let’s say it was a caterpillar dreaming
of its wings to be, artistically.
A carpenter bee mother rests on a leaf
before she takes her waxy pollen haul
to the perfectly round tunnel
she chewed into wood when she
matured and knew what she must do.
At her tunnel’s deep end
she will lay an egg upon a bee bread
ball of pollen mixed with nectar,
then wall the chamber off with
a plaster of wood dust and spit.
She will end her fertile time with
a tunnel filled with cells alive
with growing daughters, safe unless
a woodpecker’s spiny tongue explores.
Next spring, the youngest will be first
freed, the buzzing eldest last, so strange,
then all will know what they must do.
Black and white becomes exotic
as a bald-faced hornet pulls grape jelly
up into her mandibles to take home
to feed larvae in their big paper hive.
Plates of white; edges and eyes jet black
seem stark kabuki masks,
for these beings are drama bound.
The big freeze draws near. The hive will die,
the whole sisterhood and old queen, who
will not even buzz as they harden in cold.
Asters put it out there now,
thrive on nights of cold,
rely on pollinators weeded
down by season change.
Asters sprawl now gold
pollen for the jaws
and fuzzy legs of whoever
will warm up to fly.
Nectar too in each true
flower of that golden disk,
at the root of each blue ray.
Aster flowers are imperfect,
often missing rays.
Now it’s all about the seed,
survival pushed into
an unimagined Spring.
Metallic bees and flower flies
will come in afternoon
to prove the perfect pollen
of these blue and autumn asters.
Some beings have it all, say
this splendid flower fly with
thorax thrice striped with black
against a yellow ground,
black lightly pollen dusted,
abdomen the measured curves
of hourglass, legs the mimic
of the yellow pollen,
and oh! the wing-glass
etched with cell and vein.
Balanced on an aster, all this
seeds the flower, feeds the fly.
Note: This syrphid fly is Helophilus fasciatus
September sun arcing lower in the sky
keeps teaching me the joy
of the backlit side of roads.
Ballets of woodland sunflowers
face the sun like excited girls
first time onstage, forgetting places
as if flustered by a breeze.
Muted shades where petals cross the light,
small dancing suns so open fresh, so new.
Even in still water, the blue of Autumn sky
is somehow more far and more true.
Shadows of dark branches mirror months
without green leaves, when a strangeness
of the northern heart finds the monochrome
of cold and snow deserved and sharp
as the pointed angles of oak branches
where they plunge into blue water
that will soon stiffen and expand
to ice strong and dark as winter nights.
INVITE to WRITE #27 and RESPONSES to INVITE # 26
These just-hatched house wrens were photographed by Judy Gibson, a few miles from where I live. There are many directions to trigger your writing here. One that all mothers know is the fierce demand to be fed that every infant makes, and its toll. Another is to consider that these new birds are flying to Mexico/Central America right now, and those that survive (40% or so) will be first House Wrens to arrive in their natal breeding ground next April/May. The wild life is perilous. Please consider the photo and let your response flow in your writing.
Take your time. Responses are due in three weeks, not two, on Wed. Oct 12, and will be published Friday Oct. 14. Email without attachments to
Responses to INVITE #26 are as strong as I had hoped. Thank you all. Enjoy.
WHEN MY MOTHER DIED
I lost my place beneath her soft wide wings
her steady grip
her long, sharp-eyed watch
her beauty of purpose.
I woke up defenseless
a fledgling once again.
~~Sara DeLuca, Georgia
Twinned in life and twinned within,
Born to flight and wisdom, we fly nightly
Into being. Love, my only friend,
Take me where all begins,
And I, being twinned,
Will carry your name
~~Judith Mosby, Virginia
Our mom's better than your mom.
Prettier, too. Your mom wouldn't dare
go out in the rain, wearing her drab
colors. She'd come back looking like
three drowned rats. Your mom comes
from dinosaurs. Ours from angels.
Mom attracts insects that think she's
a flower. She doesn't need to leave
us in the rain. Food on the fly, umbrellas
for wings. We will grow up gorgeous,
high and dry. Our mom is worth
a hundred of yours. And that's the truth.
Denise duMaurier, Washington State
To protect the young
All things worship at the cute
But sometimes something else is at work
Take the hippo who wrested the baby gazelle
From the jaws of the crocodile
And gently pushed it up on the bank of the river.
That is a wide spread of Mothering
( do excuse the pun)
In the western Spring when they used to round up the" bred goats"
Who were "coming fresh"
From the main herd of thousands
Sometimes kids died
Sometimes a kid lost its nanny
They were soon joined when orphan kid
Was wrapped in the skin of the deceased one
And presented to the grieving one
A magic bonding that would remain
that the human Mother
Bewildered by the treachery of her body
Will, when she holds her baby in her arms
Melt into Motherhood
Spend the first night they are at home
Sitting by the crib just to check
That her healthy baby is still breathing
With compulsion to give encompassing care
All other dreams are second-rate
There is but one sure destiny
And peace at last
In the knowing.
~~Peggy Osborne, Montana
A mystery revealed:
Rainbow straddles pots of gold
Truth not illusion
~~Kathy Brown, MN
Heart ember burning
Hand arm paws wing out to protect
Cuddling young to her warm breast
Vision-feeling of safe harbor
God’s Protective invisible shield against All
Tranquil breeze surrounds the
Yet--when the winds shift
Pick up and perk up
And they will
The heart ember is fanned by invasion
Spontaneous orange-red flames leap
Explode the peaceful image
Teeth bared muscles tense
Defense screams from
Pink breast lungs
Ordinary valor pales as she launches
Talons, nails and teeth bared
In an attack of flying armor
Offspring behind--she strikes
flaming heart fiercely protects
The innocents/the precious/her treasures
Fury unfolds like a cobra’s cape
Red blood is drawn from claw/tooth/hoof
Don’t mess with the Matriarch --
Feather, fur, skin or scale--
Life Guard Wrath
The Madonna will kill to Preserve
~~Kathleen Huntley, Montana
KIDS’ POEMS from Timothy Deyle’s 5th grade, Roosevelt Elementary, Fargo, ND
The little birdies are cold.
They are warm now,
Because they are under their mommy’s feathers,
Her name is Heather.
She likes to fly but
Now she is protecting her babies.
The babies are fluffy,
The mommy is smooth.
The babies can’t fly yet.
The mommy gets them worms and bugs.
They love each other because they are a family.
They love to sing and dance.
When they are older they can fly away on their own.
Momma Bird and My Momma
All moms are busy around the clock.
All moms feed their babies every day.
My momma feeds me spaghetti and meatballs.
My mom hugs me at night when I am cold.
Momma birds hug their babies too when its cold.
All moms are great,
But my mom is the best mom in the world!
Once upon a time there was a momma bird.
She had two baby chicks.
It looks like she wanted to keep them safe.
There might be an eagle soaring high in the sky.
that could be looking for its dinner.
The baby birds are safe now because the eagle flew away.
Once upon a time, there was a fat pigeon.
She was minding her own business when ZING
She flew right through a rainbow!
Down, down to the ground,
She landed in a batch of leaves.
She looked herself over and was rainbow colored.
Blue, purple, orange, yellow Yikes!
“Oh no!” she exclaimed.
She flew on, trying to stay out of sight.
When other birds saw her they mocked her and said mean things.
“Look, a rainbow pigeon.”
“Did you get zapped by a unicorn?”
They all laughed.
Later she noticed she was getting fatter.
Her instincts told her to build a nest.
While she sat on the nest she wondered how she could get rid of the colors.
The next morning there were two eggs in the nest.
When they hatched she had two beautiful rainbow pigeons.
“I am never going to change my look!”
She flew off with her babies and all the other birds looked at them in awe.
The mother and babies became the envy of all the other birds.
They moved to their own island and lived happily the rest of their lives.
It is orange, yellow, pink, grey, and brown.
The brown part is its tail.
The pink part is its neck.
The grey part is its head.
And the orange and yellow part is its belly.
It has two little babies that are fluffy as wool.
They are sitting on a branch together.
That is one beautiful family.
This is a protective mother.
She has her wings around her children.
She’s scared of something hurting them.
The baby bird’s life is very fragile.
A simple push by their mother,
And off they go.
They may fly or they may fall to the ground.
Life would be over if they fail to fly.
AAAHHH!!! Mom help me!
There’s a T-rex coming after me.
Whoa oh no dodo bird.
Chomp! No uh?
We’re not dead.
Wait a second.
That’s a stegosaurus.
Whew I thought it was a T-rex.
They are both big to me.
These woodland flowerheads
present themselves like
from a central spine
that evolved an architect.
Black seeds hang from
each green condo.
Leaf, condo and stems
all use the security system:
Acid, injected in intruders
by fine white spines.
Alarms go off only inside,
but they are loud.
Intruders without fur
name this wetland gem
Guests: Wear long pants.
These long black seeds will windsurf
on feathery floats that edge-on are flat.
I find my fool mind thinking
I would use a bowl shape like salsify
or the common parachute.
What was Mother thinking?
It occurs to me that she has had
rather more experience in design
than my groove-worn mind.
Fools rush in.
Happen your eye falls
upon a fallen maple leaf
just off the path
that colludes with fern and grass
to suspend you in
the quietude of Autumn.
This maple leaf not red nor gold
but fugitive taupe and rose and blue
in a net of dark veins minus the hole
a beetle in its last days chewed.
The fallen fern-frond green for now
but the pale beneath grown with
tawny sori filled with spores,
and here lie ribbons of grass and sedge
all mixed, old dried dun, and dying
greens streaked yellow and russet pale.
And your eye comes home abrim.
Lilliput has blessed this log today
with mini-mushrooms coral with
fine red stems and domes
with centers softened red.
Mosses fend for light along the log,
push beyond the coral shadows
for the larger light their cells can see.
Brief shadow points their growth.
Lilliput pleased a mouse last night
for she sampled half the coral smorgasbord,
nibbles, nibbles, there a chomp the shape of mini-jaw.
But nowhere did she eat right down to moss
for she has health without our glutton way.
The muskeg bog colors up
toward the year end,
last generation moss goes red,
the new pokes soft green
heads up through the red.
Creeping snowberry vines,
exuberant on extra CO2,
crisscross the sphagnum moss.
As growth ends, pitcher plants
go red with veins for Hallow’s Eve.
One impudent vine has rooted
in the center of a pitcher’s bowl
and strains toward sun.
Old sphagnum tsk-tsks about the young,
and swells one shade more red
in this microcosmic tapestry of Fall.