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John Caddy
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Morning Earth Healing Images

September 2012

by John Caddy


Chipmunk’s busy teeth quickly free
from shell the acorn meat
that will bulge pouches in his cheeks.
Sees me! Chipmunk sprints
downhis burrow to stash the acorn in his cache.
In a minute, his head pops up, bright eyes.
Disappears. In courtesy I vanish too.


Four painted turtles bask under cloudy sky.
Hot sun makes them soporific,
lines them up like automatons, all the same.
But today’s cool sky reveals
each basker distinct, a single self, unique,
the little male at log end boasts long claws,
the huge mother’s shell
shows the flared curve of age,
the eyes of each find their own direction.
Our eyes rarely allow us to see
singularity within the cousin kinds.
We reserve empathy to our companions.


At stream’s edge,
tall grasses overwhelm with green
blades tall as myself
the rustle-slap of frogs by wet roots.
Sun presents a sprawl of seed
that shines welcome red riding green.



Cottontail freezes and watches.
Nothing moves except red blood in thin ears.
Any move, the rabbit will leap for the long
grass before her nose. Like all mammal prey,
she watches with high mounted convex eyes
behind and before, ground and up into sky
where live the hawk about to fold and fall.
Adrenalin rivets her heart.
She has no fight response, only flight.

I lower the camera, clap my thigh.


The fungi decompose,
like this birch log,
and this is blessing.
They render death down
into what live lives need.
Their fruits run pretty to
pale to godawful grotesque.
I wish this bracket crowd
did not render pale sets
of deformed toes, as if
barefoot legs were rolled up
in a carpet of birchbark.

Is it Halloween yet?


Where the tallgrass prairie was,
big bluestem grass still dances
yellow flowers in the breeze. Soon
birds will bend its stems to try its seeds.
Big bluestem grass is chiefly root, and deep,
brings to light each spring the truths of dissolved rock.
For a million years big bluestem became
thunder on the prairies, became the flesh of bison,
which for a million years became again big bluestem.
Form is brief illusion; all beings are transformed and recycled.


When we turned in,
the nightsong 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.
Light hurts.
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.

Note: 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.


Thistles rejoice in sunlight once again,
a honey bee rejoices for autumn bee bread.
The bee’s long eye captures mine:
Hers is the eye painted as epitome by
pharonic Egyptians for their tombs,
Melissa’s eye, wise now
as when she was the nymph
who fed honey to the infant Zeus.



How the pointed green sepals
clasp the emergent white orbs.
A spike of small white flowers
opens from spherical buds
to reveal dancing pollen balls
pure white as the petals
that surround the pink center
where nectar may be drunk
once the pollen’s carried off.
Up close, so much amazes--
for power, for beauty, for
pure white pollen surprise.
Up close is never less, always more.


Three weeks from egg
a novice of flight
walks well upside down
as top to bottom
he spirals a tree
eyes bright, beak sharp,
searching bugs in the bark.

Has that raggedy look
of the young of all kinds,
that question in stance:
“What is this place
I find myself in?”

I keep asking that. Do you?



Starved for wet,
aged honey mushrooms
split along the edges
and cup their tops concave,
reveal their multitude
of pure white gills,
ready to expell
with one moist hour
their multitude of spores.



In this stubborn dry
tall sunflowers stretch high
seem to cup petals to catch
what hope may drop from sky


Sprinkled with orange lichen,the bark of oak
is a texture you can count on.
Every season oak sustains,
We will know lichen bright against the snow.

Golden fronds of asparagus gone wild
texture Autumn, offspring
of a homestead farm forlorn,
that sweet sad sense of fall.
How oddly well they do combine,
the craggy oak whose leaves will
fall in russett, the soft-lace fern
whose line-thin leaves will punctuate in gold.



Gill ridges ring the circle
like edges of milled coins.
An amber mushroom up
from sphagnum moss
splits open in a parody of guffaw.
And why not?
Enough moisture lurks in the bog
to complete the spend of spores
despite the chisel tooth of mouse.



A spreadwing damselfly
still hangs around his now dry pond
his eyes as incredibly blue in age
as at emergence on a green stem
but the colors of the body fade.
He’s escaped most quick open beaks
to grow old with yellowing September.


A honey bee’s head rises
from an clump of white asters
all big eyes shining, seeking,
for this is the moment of edge:
The land will freeze tonight.
Goldenrod and aster will soon
offer no pollen, no nectar.
Bees touch each live bud, each dried.



Two arched stems of Giant Solomon’s Seal
mature from green to solstice gold
as their bluedark fruits tire of dangling,
make ready to fall into soil’s rebirth.

This quiet marriage of green with gold
is Autumn’s precise elegance,
King Solomon’s trove once every year.


Barely out of juvenile plumage
two bluebird boys feel migration’s
pull South and must yield.
Both may likely survive the trip,
short as migrations go, just
to the southern states where
they will again find plenty of wires
to hunt grasshoppers from.


Contrasts knock me out:
neon green seeds sprung
up from royal purple leaves.
So far,
the leaves below stay green.

9.28.2012 INVITE to WRITE #42

Welcome back to INVITE to WRITE for the 42nd time.
The photo shows a pair of wood ducks paddling across a still pond with floating lily pads. Trees reflected in the pond color water all the hues of Autumn in the North. The lines the colors make accentuate the depth of water and suggest how profound is the coming change. All these things, plus the tilt of the photo, may move your imagination in personal directions.
Please let the photo take your writing where it will. As in the past, INVITE to WRITE is not a competition—it is an opportunity to share your personal vision with other Morning Earth subscribers. Thank you for your patience with the wait for the INVITE to resume.
Teachers: Morning Earth will be delighted to publish your students’ responses to this writing prompt. Your students will be published online. That is a motivator! Try it. If you have questions, please send to the address below.
Responses are due Wednesday, Oct. 10, and will be published Friday, Oct. 12 with the next INVITE to WRITE. Email your response to