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John Caddy
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Morning Earth Poems
October 2012

John Caddy

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A knothole in a tree branch,
wood weathered gray
wreath of feather moss,
tiny dots of yellow fungus,
a patch of lichen green,
one hole, black, unspoken
for the black in a hole
is the energy of mystery we want
but do not wish to solve


In this hard dry
a last red clover
found the water
to share its flower



Little cups punctuate stem ends
where wild grapes attached.
Beaks or bear or squirrel
have plucked the cluster clean.

Stem ends mirror suction cups
a convergence of form
against blue autumn sky.



The sponge of a rotted log
birthed a fungal fruit in white.
It has two Dumbo ears,
as if tonight in starlight
it will silently flap to sky
a micro moon.


The figure in the red maple leaf
is a grey sketch of Myron’s
discus thrower, or perhaps
what ate the figure into being
simply devised a Dancer
to eulogize Leaf Fall.



A thirteen-lined ground squirrel,
fall grasses, midnight frosts.
Each hair of his stripes erect,
the texture of a brush, for
he is chubby now, prepped
to curl into a ball and sleep
till March rouses his skinny self,
nose atwitch, to raid cached seeds
and maybe poke his nose outside
if packed snow will allow.


Young sumac dances like a tall crane
to celebrate the advent of autumn.
To learn fall breeze, she opens all her wings
stretches them to sun-gold, sun-red,
stretches my willing lips to smiles.


Now that fall wind has torn the tongues
from this small tree
I see the wild at bay
snaking limbs like whips
and not in play.

Yes it’s in my head,
for dark truth told
the poisoned wild does agonize.
What metaphor knows is true.


Meadow rue offers me a golden way,
a lift from what must fall away.
the soil of Earth must be by loss renewed
and golden is the path of meadow rue.

10.12.2012 INVITE to WRITE #43 and RESPONSES to INVITE #42

A many-tined mule deer stag rests in the tall grass, a presence of power. A doe’s cocked ears shows her awareness of him. Contemplate the photo and let it take your writing where it will. How does it connect to you? Please let the photo take your writing where it will. As always, INVITE to WRITE is not a competition—it is an opportunity to share your personal vision with other Morning Earth subscribers.

Teachers: Give your kids online publication. It motivates writing and caring about the result.

Your responses are due by Wed. Oct 24 and will be published Friday, Oct.26. No attachments please. Include your writing in the body of the email. Email your response to


Vague strikes of colour
almost disorientating flashes of light
Puzzling specks of bird catch my eye
Plants so rotting their scent is in my nose
 What more is autumn than this
colour, light, birds in rest, plants smudged in deterioration
building towards the tails of the year gone by
How can one doubt the season's call
and end peculiar in December
what Mother obviously lets go by October...
Go, human, sit out! eye and ear, smell and touch....
Tear of wind stripes the skin
Creeping cold spooks your muscles
Low light and dark night shiver your spine
When you cannot bear more, go in! Into the house, into yourself.....
 Be covered from now, until New Sun awakes you,
in February

 ~~Alexandra Maas, The Netherlands

Smooth water floats lillypads. 
He’s on alert.   Comforting trust. 

~~Mike Burnett, Minnesota


A wood duck pair glides
across a pond reflecting autumn leaves.
I gave my father a little gift shop wood duck
one Father’s Day.
 Never knew how to reach Dad,
how to get from him what I needed.
No fumes of acrimony,
just the estrangement of a late-life girl child
and an enigmatic man.
My older sister engaged his mind,
discussed politics and current events.
I wasn’t made with that kind of mind,
fussed and dreamed, read story books.
However, Father’s Day called for a gesture.
He was old, didn’t go fishing any more,
didn’t need more shirts;
hence, the duck.
Mom died, and then he died.
My sisters and I closed up the house,
sorted their things.
My younger sister and I
vied over Dad’s duck and Mom’s set of gray china kittens.
Her hand closed over the wood duck first,
but with a surge of sentiment I claimed it.
We decided we would trade whenever we saw each other.
It would not be often, for we were parted by many miles.
The last time we were together
she held out the kittens
offering to send them home with me.
I told her I had kept the wood duck safe on a shelf
until, dusting, I dropped it, broke it.
I know better, but
I want to blame the death of that duck
on the spirit of our elusive Dad—
Didn’t he always leave the two of us
with a little less than enough?

~~Carol Bender, Minnesota



Autumn Wood Ducks

In sync with cast image
paired wood ducks glide through
autumn’s motionless mirage.
Pond’s surface spread with
melting woodland luster
reveals not approaching shadow.
Soon called birds rise in migration,
prevailing winds whisk leaves to bed,
each gust singing nature’s lullaby.

~~R.A. Ramsden, Minnesota


Ah, it is Fall again
Another year and the same sweet ducks attend
Glory is relfected everywhere
And why this rainbow celebration
Of the end of things?
Dreams and memories and whispered words
Rock gentle on the sway of breeze
For this time is all reflection
No promises are made in Fall
Past and present are perfection.

~~Peggy Osborne, Montana


In Golds and Reds

Behind her he floats in still fall waters.
Babies gone, he still watches for presence
of predator that might lurk on the banks or
in the air threatening she who is his for life.
She of drab color once necessary for survival when
she sat her nest basks now in the glow
of glorious reflection of autumn’s pallet.
For today she is beautiful, resplendent in golds and reds
and purples mirrored up from the waters.
A raiment worthy of she who birthed,
fed, protected and set free many babies many times. 
She floats and he follows, like always.
Will they have another spring?  Another nest?
It is not important for the urge is gone.
Now it is just two and the lilies and
preparation for a long cold.
For now is all they have and
floating is enough – for now.

~~Linda Leary, Colorado


take an autumn day
an explosion of color
mixed, entangled, blended by                                   
Nature’s Alchemy
a soul transformed within the 
depth of eternity
left to float upon existence
and take comfort
becomes Beauty
when it is

~~ Bruce David Peck, Minnesota



Reflecting Life

Autumn’s warm color pallet is an illusion
Orange, Crimson and Yellows invigorate the air
Distorted images reflect season’s drama
Water-Sky Fowl know it is time to wing where
Crisp autumn memories create reflections of time

My mind spins how quickly the summer glow chilled
The autumn of my life full of reflection yet hope
Reminding myself to count the blessings
Look not for fault but of right doings in all creatures

Is my mirror reflection that of a waterfowl?
Not what my inner eye sees but an older woman.
Wrinkles in the water a thing of beauty
Wrinkles on my skin a road map of years

Does the duck look back at his plumage
And wonder what happened to the shiny down?
Did he make the right turn at the longitude?
Did he make the right choice of mate?
Where is he going tomorrow?

~~Kathleen Huntley, Idaho


Painted wood ducks sail on a painted pond
in September stillness
Reflected trees thrust pillars of autumn colors
deeply into watery depths
The eye wants to lose itself in these wavering forms,
the body yearns to slide through rainbow 
water, to bathe in the warmth of gold and russet
and then the coolness of green.
I like to think the female woke her mate
and signaled she had something wonderful to show him.
Would he have been amused? 
Be momentarily stunned by this beauty? 
Or might he think
she was making much ado about nothing?
The Buddhist writers say:
Pay attention to the sanctity of being itself
Be quiet, alert, open.  See deeply.  Remember.

Tomorrow the wood ducks will swim elsewhere
Wind will ruffle the pond and erase today’s reflection
October rains will tear leaves from trees
See what is before you at this moment.
If you can, make art, listen to Beethoven, write poetry.
Monet places his easel by the water’s edge and paints lilies floating on autumn’s water
Handel composes a suite of water music for a child’s dance
Rimbaud writes poetry lovely as warm rain.
Our poet enhances this fleeting moment by a clever tilt of the camera
Inviting us to see as he saw – a watery grand canyon where
Two painted ducks swim upon a painted pond forever.

 ~~Greta Ploetz, Minnesota


Kids’ Poems

Wood ducks on a pond
Swimming into autumn days
Winter's coming near
~~Alayna T. , age 8, Minnesota

From Mr. Deyles’ Fifth Grade Class, Fargo, North Dakota

The two wood ducks are in the lake,
Looking for a place to stay.
If they don’t find one they will fly away,
If they do then they will play
With other ducks for the day.
Other people will say,
They know it is May.
One girl likes to lie,
To lie and watch the ducks.

~~Katie K.

 The two ducks are swimming in the pond
for exercise and fun.
One is the mom who is protecting her baby from danger.
The baby isn’t aware of any dangers around them.
For now they are both safe.

~~Kierra F.


The Pond
People mistake it looking at the weeds,
Often they are a beautiful green,
Never will the water ripple,
Delighting me every time I see it.

~~Mackenzie C.
Swimming, swimming all day long,
Honking and dunking is what the ducks do.
Swimming up the stream is what I dream,
Swimming under the stream all day honking.
Every day I come up to breath,
But that would be mean,
So I will be me!

~~Preston A.

Can you see the ducks in the pond?
The small and beautiful ducks.
Where did they come from?
Where do they go?
Why do they swim around in the pond?
Why do they duck under the water?
Nobody knows for sure
~~Farrah G.
Egg Poacher
While the ducks are in the lake,
Their eggs he will take,
And unleash on the ducks a poisonous snake!
If you see or hear of these people,
Please, please let somebody know,
Because we need to protect our wildlife,
Or else they will all leave us and go.

~~Peter Q.



In a drought-dried pond
a rooted figure evokes
all the images I’ve seen
and imagined of animals
trapped in mud or tar, from
dinosaurs in La Brea tar pits
to a horned rhino lifting
its dying head in anguish,
the grain of wood become
the taut strain of tendons.



Across the goldenrod meadow,
autumn quickly paints itself,
all that dances air, whirls wind,
held in final blaze of ochres
behind bare black trunks of shrubs
before it all again descends,
and into memory of joy ascends.


Tall blue lobelia flowers
open the peak of the spike,
In a final blaze of lapis, while
all the sisters down-spike
are busy becoming seed
after being tousled by
hummingbird or bee.


Milkweed presents
the heart of the matter:
Fall’s Valentine to Monarchs
pod smooth inside to fingertip
as the silk of satin seed
that matured within
the scooped bare
upended heart.



A cluster of browned
white pine needles were
pushed off their stem
by a green bud to drop
and catch on a spider silk
issued by Whitman’s
noiseless patient spider
on tiptoe, spinnerets lifted,
ballooning to the unknown.
Mystery compounds daily its delight


The prescence of the pileated woodpecker
overwhelms all else in my eyes.
He is the alpha bird I see,
a young male, whose ululating cry
rings out without an open beak.
How intense his eye, how pupil wide.
How profound his drumming spear
that names his realm
and hollows out my yearning ear.


Across the pond the curtain’s down again,
colors lost on ground again
but for the russets of a few red oaks
that will trickle down through winter air
and when wind is done with them
rest on snow in tracks of deer.

So shall we housebound rest, gazing at shorn
bark of branch and trunk, the bright of birch
and aspen nearly white, the dark of oaks
and maples contrasted with snow’s albedo
that under moon redeems our winter nights.


Yellowjacket hornets nest mostly in old burrows
underground, or dig their own.
They don’t care for mammal feet.
Their bald-faced hornet cousins
build huge paper nests in trees
above such paws and hooves.

Yellowjackets scare me, have for all the years
since puppy Buck stepped into a nest
and yellow hornets burrowed through his fur
and pierced and pierced him half to death.
As I dug them out and crushed them dead
my stung kid fingers swelled.

But this day I find that Yellowjackets
built with jaw scrapes of wood and spit
a paper balloon, that instead of lifting
hugs familiar ground,
an entrance hole at the narrow base where
if a hot air balloon, fire would flare.
This fire is there, but rises fury-winged
if attacked. I keep my distance,
cherishing this humming paper hive.


A branch of winterberry
penetrates a thicket of spruce,
a fine prequel of Christmas
although by December’s end
waxwings and catbirds
will have spread these berry seeds
to share a prequel holiday in future
down a wetshine gravel road.

10.26.2012 INVITE to WRITE #44

My INVITE #44 photo is strange. I took it. The goal of this INVITE is not to identify the beings in the photo. The goal is instead to let the photo sit in your mind awhile and see where it may take you, and then write a poem from that place. You may wish to seek associations in your experiences; or you may wish to begin with “What if...” and see where that takes you; or you may begin with detailed description of patterns and color and let that carry your writing.

Your responses are due Wed. Nov. 7, and will be published Friday Nov. 9. No attachments, please. Send to:

Your responses to INVITE #43
are varied and intriguing. Do not hesitate to let the writers know when you hold their poem in high regard. Send comments to me and I will pass them along.

A handsome stag waits in the autumn foliage.
A graceful doe walks slowly, cocks her ears, entices him
with sidelong glances.  Moves forward.  Hesitates.
We know what happens next.  Always
a repeat of the familiar choreography:
careful pursuit, fevered engagement, fast retreat.
These are the dances we all execute
in our heated season.  When it's done we understand
life turns on instinct, not on reason.  Not on grace.
We prance and pose, we pace, without control.  Winter
comes in cold and clear.  Submission is the only choice.
The world will have its way with us, then disappear.
~~Sara DeLuca, Georgia


I, above all things, am king.
I reign where there is no reign,
Breathe, where there is no breathing,
Am, where there is nothing.
I, above all things, am field, frost,
Blue absence in the space of antlers,
Ancestor dust.

~~Judith Mosby, Virginia

Buck and Doe

The pair grazes in grassy field,
Shy of cover, their senses keen,
Every cell alert to hunter’s chase,
Scent and sound signal muscles,
With timely warnings, leaping swiftly
they flee, and flaunt the aim of Artemis.

~~Rebecca Ramsden, Minnesota

Deerly beloved couple.
She of delicate bent w. ears Alert--
He of bent, parenthetical rack.
And both as exclamatory cut-outs,
Against Nature's perfect Jackson Pollock.

~~Frank Hawthorne, Minnesota

The old procedures.
He, roused suddenly, alert to opportunity.
She, aware, without looking
While he recognizes, cogitates, calculates
She stands still.
 They are so beautiful,
They are bee to flower
Stallion scenting  and snorting
All  power
mare racing away
Hearing the hooves beat closer
 And beauty too impels
The ritual proceedure of bequeath
Star Dust, it used to be,
or now, some other   waltz,
to end the dance
the touch of cheek, the standing close beneath
A moonlit willow tree
 Beside the lake, and the slow walk
Along the shore, waves gently tapping
Until, the sound of music on the further shore
Draws them to gather bodies close
for warmth
where the old rock soars
cozy sand for floor
And there, for more  warmth of course,  
they kiss
And the years ahead , foretold , will unfold,
Will last until the  final kiss and final sigh
are tolled.
Except for lack of words to speak it ,
Can it be
that  buck and doe dwell in some realtity
Where love will swell, even as the tryst is done
And next year  
each  will remember
the tall grass
and that  fine day ,
with another one?

~~Peggy Osborne, Montana

Waving grasses thick with sun
Send the scent of honey
Into the autumn afternoon.
Clouds race across the sky
Sifting their shadows on the field
In a dance of light.
There – just ahead –
An old branch stripped of foliage
Rises from the shining stalks.
And now – gone.
Was it illusion?
Is it my imagination
That I hear the thunder of hooves
Across dry fallen leaves?
Or did some forest creature
Look at me
With eyes of longing
And connection,
The two of us brought together
In an instant of autumn joy?
~~Ellen Collins, Virginia


In Homage

They come to this clearing to see
this curious, gentle creature, who
has invaded their territory for so
long he has become part of
their landscape.
Not fully understanding, they
watch him point the small box
he carries toward them, and they
hear the gentle click that has
imprinted itself in their
 They feel a kinship for this friend
they know as a blessing -
 apart from those like him who
point strange things that
make sharp retorts...
 and take away their friends.

Bruce David Peck, Minnesota


KIDS’ POEMS from Tim Deyle’s 5th grade, Fargo, North Dakota

Deer roaming in the meadow,
Eating, chomping, running, waiting.
The buck is protecting and
The doe is looking out for predators.

~~ Preston A.

They are playing hide and go seek.
The buck doesn’t know where to hide.
Will the doe find him,
Or will he be lost for eternity?

~~Katie K.

Two deer running in the field for fun and food.
They prance along all the day and night,
For the day and night for life.
~~Kierra F.

Deer peer through the grass,
They are here, here at last.
I don’t care if they trespass,
Deer peer through the grass.
~~Mackenzie C.


PLUS A poem from last time around, handed to me after a reading

What a watercolor morning
The stillness of dawn
Whitened lly pads offer serenity
While sky reflects upward
Or is it downward?
Giving illusions of underwater gardens,
And Mother Woodie sets her course
While Dad Woodie alertly plays along

~~Linc Shea, Minnesota





A hard freeze convulsed the dandelions.
I have felt this way too many times
when the season snapped into change.
Every flower bud flash-frozen,
each sepal point testifying.
Ice burst every cell, nothing lives.

While today I shudder under layers,
the top of my brain knows I will adapt
but my root is unsure, does not yet trust
that newfangled neocortex plunked on top
of good old common sense brain
that knows it belongs to tropic climes.
But the dandelion taproot is just fine
down there in the brainless dark,
where bud embryos already prepare
for eventual spring.



Dark seeds like stubby firecrackers
envelop the hawkweed sphere
where white explosions
are still maturing above
each seed as fiber parachutes
prepare to embrace breeze.


Black ruin his face:
nose burned away,
mouth melted closed,
he cannot speak,
but he can moan.

Deep in the dark hollows
of his sockets, something
like eyes has re-grown,
something wet that burns.

Born of fire’s red roar
he lives in silent shadows
where great trees rule.
He hides his scars behind ferns,
cannot bear eyes to fall on him.

Folks who live near
no longer dare hold Halloween,
for the tale is told and told
how some lonely pitying child
brought him a bag
and took him trick-or-treating
door to screaming door.



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