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John Caddy
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Morning Earth Poems

November 2011
John Caddy

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Pumpkin spider lost a leg
but still moves faster than my eye
when she bolts beneath her leaf.

Out of eye, but not from mind’s eye,
she is imprinted on my primate brain--
so eerie quick she blurs reflex.
A row of ebon eyes above her fangs
saw me looming, looking. When she
vanishes from my eyes, Whoa!
I step back, Halloweened.



Prairie Gentian keeps her bottle flowers
closed to hungry bees and flies,
denies everyone access until BumbleBee
shoulders in with power to push
apart Gentian’s petals, drink her nectar,
coat her fur with pollen gold. But when
she buzzes off, she leaves petals
just a bit askew so nectar scent rises
through a floral chimney to beguile
the small.
Today, a tiny flower fly
perches on the scented opening.
I watch, take a photo close but do not
scare the little fly. It does not move,
even when I jar the flower with a finger.
The flower fly has died as it imbibed.
That is one powerful perfume, small
wonder she holds her petals tight.


Bluebird just returned from grass
to perch when his bill gapes wide.
The grasshopper he just swallowed
was maybe not well crushed,
must be making a stomach fuss.
I can almost feel a toothsome
grasshopper rasp my throat,
jerking legs with spines.
I have found connection with
another living being. Well,
it could have been a robin.



A milkweed pod spills light
as its seeds emerge to
take flight, optimists of wind.

Every seed is edged with a flat wing foil
to dance in each caprice of breeze.

The seed is the perfect weight for white
satin parachutes to carry in this quest
freed and jubilant in sunlit birth
as children mill-race out of school.



Trees shorn of leaves ripple
in the lake’s blue sky. Mirrored
they hang from a gray weathered tree
dropped but not yet drowned.
My mouth opens and says,
“Yes! That’s it!”

I don’t know why I say these sounds
but know their truth is clear.
Has my backbrain posed a question?
This image is what I need to see.



Calico asters thrust up into
Autumn morning cold.
They have found sun.
Disk flowers show all stages now.
Male parts assert in pretty pollen gold.
Brag done, ovaries blush red, swell seed
in this sense-fest of color and change.

La donna è mobile.



Ferns glow as Sol crosses sky
in the low arc of November.

Rock crevices collect leaves to compost
and welcome windseeds and spores
of moss and lichen, low liverwort,
and white roots to thread cracks below.
with rain, and in the turning snow.

As these creators live and die
gradual soil grows to host more
ferns to glow as Sol curves across
time on the low arc of November.

More on the rock cycle:



Soft are the needles of tamarack
as they channel sun gold
after growth’s gentle green.
This red gold reflects triumph;
seed fall complete, future is sown,
bare cones and needle buds
to weather winter alone.
Soft the needles though they spill gold.

INVITE to WRITE #30 and Responses to INVITE #29

This brilliant paper horse is lighted from within. Notice the various lines in that head. I am struck by the ovals and circles. The ears are especially fine. Contemplate the human depiction here of this most celebrated natural being, the artists’ choice subject for at least 33,000 years. The setting is a City of Lights festival in Truro, Cornwall, Britain. Photo is courtesy of Steve Tanner. See where it takes your writing.
Note a Change: Recent weeks and upcoming weeks are the busiest in the year for many of us. To accommodate that reality, responses to INVITE #30 are not due until Nov. 30 and published Dec.2. I will send a reminder. Email to:

INVITE #29 garnered only three responses, due, I suspect to the season, but they are worthy. Enjoy.

Wooly Magic

As a child I counted rings
wondering if there really was magic
in this striped crawly of autumn.
The longer the brown the longer the winter
so the tale goes.
My grandma’s achy joints foretold a long
winter as predictably as any meteorologist.
Bring me lots of snow, Grandma!  Up to the
roof so I can build a castle and play ‘til
my toes go numb.
No liniment for me, no cursing the storm.
I was the winter queen ruling her kingdom with a runny nose
and scepter of ice.
Granny’s knees are now mine.  I wield the shovel
cursing the long brown on wooly’s body. I stretch
my stiff back and listen.
Children burst from houses screaming.
Snow!  Magic happened while they were sleeping.
Opening their mouths they catch the
frosty bounty on their tongues and giggle.
Busy little architects they build temporary
kingdoms of white.
I  smile in spite of myself .
I had my turn now it is theirs.
But maybe not.
Maybe I can have one more go round.
I turn my face heavenward and open my mouth wide.

~~Linda Leary, Colorado


For Bonnie, Teaching Yoga, in Chemo

She was wearing red and black today
Or is it black and red?

A red shirt to give her courage
Reflecting pink on her sallow face
Her black leggings bagged on her limbs
Wrapping her courage in silk

Yet she stood strong – Tree Pose Vriksasana
Around her head a red scarf wound
Tassel fringes escaping held by a few beads
Bobbing as she walked tall

Does the Wooly Worm stand so proud ?
And which feet does he pose in the air?
He too rolls up in a ball when afraid
Pulling his quilt about him

She calls hers the “Chemo Quilt”

And will

Unwind the silk cocoons of cloth
Immerging after metamorphous

Into another – beautiful creature

Wearing black and red
Or is it red and black?

~~Kathleen Huntley, Heron, Montana

Fall Baby
With determination similar
to that of the chicken crossing the road,
and bearing five degrees south
of the glow where the sun is going down,
the woolly bear makes a mad dash to winter.
Though striped bronze and dark as black shoes
before the polish brush applies patina
the woolly bear is a fall baby
freshly emerged and innocently gallant
as it arches, pushes and pulls on tips of setae
over patchy snow and leaf litter dissolving into a melange.
Other youngsters have flown,
clothed themselves in winter coats
or passed on.  Fragile and unbearably open
to the future of wintering over, frozen
from top to tip, where does this one go
after I lift it from the snow, warm it in my palm
and slide it gently into the lee of an Oregon grape?
Would you also, finding me unaware
lift me to warmth and save me from myself?
Jenny Wolpert. Hope, British Columbia, Canada


Calling all Mammals with blessed fur.
Come Fox, Come Raccoon, Coyote and Bear
Hey Squirrel Hey Running Dog, Hey Possum
Come carry my seed.
Disperse my green.
Hey Kids. Come close
Into woods, into fields
Be sure to wear clothes.
Come take your pick, Plant Earth in green.



Fall textures my eyes with
fluffed goldenrod ghosts
a freshet of marsh grass gone yellow
a dead tree’s smooth black
far tamarack needles soft but afire

My whole skin wants to roll like a dog.



Red squirrel is ready
each muscle poised to fire.
Before I can blink
she will be up the tree
laughing at me.
Look at her spread paws
tipped with four curved claws
and a dewclaw makes five
just like you and your cat.
How clawfull is that?
Her tail is her banner and glory,
it shows all her moods,
it flogs when she scolds
warms her back in the cold,
stands straight in her pride
tells her heart’s quick stories.

She owns every tree,
knows that’s her space
she belongs as we don’t
for we have lost our place.



One time this birch branch loved to sway in wind,
loved to move in air while it watched
the tilting wings of soaring birds,
and dreamed so high that its tree
would be a tiny blur down below.
But already gray, the branch grew old
when a strange life came to live
inside him and said, “I am called Trametes.
I am your end and new beginning.”

“New beginning” mused Birch Branch,
“Maybe it will help me fly.” So it told
the strange new life within, “I have dreamed
for long birch years I’d soar like birds,
high as they can fly against blue sky, so
before I end I wish and wish for wings.”
Trametes promised he would do his best
to help Birch Branch grow wings,
even as he made the birch wood soft.
Trametes grew two fruits, two white wings
that looked like halves of Moon.
Birch Branch thrilled to feel its new wings.
It knew that Moon soared highest of all.

“I am a winged Moon,” cried Birch Branch,
“But why can’t I beat my wings, Trametes?”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t make muscles
out of your tasty wood, Birch Branch.
After lunch, I found your wood
too soft and weak to make strong
muscles to beat up and down.”
“Well,” said Birch Branch, “My wings
love to feel the wind beneath them.
It seems to lift them a little bit, like
the breeze lifts my leaves when they fall
gold and glide far from me and our tree.”
Say that next day in the woods the winds
went crazy like they sometimes do.
All the tree-tops were creaking in fear
when Birch Branch felt itself cracking.
“Oh no! I’ll fall and break my wings!”
But when Birch Branch did break loose,
strong winds did flow under its wings
so it did not plummet to ground.
Birch Branch slid on the wind far from its tree
and landed gently across a little stream
and wind brought a gold leaf with it.

“Wow, Trametes, I did it! I flew
the kind of flight called Glide
and my leaf came too! Thank you for
my strong moon wings. They worked!
Call me Moonwing Birch Branch now.”
Trametes felt the stream flow underneath.
“Thanks for this water flow, Moonwing,
I needed that. It’s my own new beginning.”



The strings of a lyre
play against blue water
play against blue sky
spreading as strung
across an old turtle shell
by a god-child in a tale
old before Orpheus



Ice crystals reach for lakeshore,
thin but grown in 3-D.
Such edged lengths of crystal
grow until whole.
One set creates three sides of a box
re-inventing right angles: Ice,
our teacher a few thousand years,
crystals at play a few billions.

Water knows what it’s doing,
as vapor traveling jet streams,
as clouds to stretch the imagination
of that ordered puddle in your skull,
as the cold inventor of geometry,
as the antic inventor of play.



Crisp leaf mummies
hung out to dry
have neatly rolled up
either side of their spines.
They are dead brown
but refuse to decay
until one day wind
snatches them loose,
glides them to rest
on cold soil that does not die
but has learned to wait.
Worms dig down to
make balls ‘til thaw
when worms tunnel up
to pull leaf bits down,
when microbe spores
grow to eat and divide,
rolling the circles we live in
so all life can respire
and grow and die back
to soil, to water, to sky.



Ice creeps in on
the beauties of fall.
Oak leaves afloat
in tan and light purple,
an aspen leaf yellow
below with whorls
of thin green grasses
entangled by waves
all wait, caught in
the steady ice creep
that closes out fall.

Now beauty will grow
white as frost and snow,
alive with gradations
of shadow and light
on snowdrifts caught up
in north wind’s delight.



Native witch hazel
flowers now in November, keen
for the last insects that fly to eat
sweets while they do the good deed.
Such a gift to find gold after leaf-fall.


A beaver swims between pond ice
to keep his channel free for now.
Despite his fabled diligence
the pond will freeze thick and hard
except a circle round his saplings
stay fresh planted in the mud
where like an arctic seal
every morning he will chew
away new ice gifted by the night
If he fails, he will waste away
within his bachelor den and none
but muskrat visitors will ever see.


How generous the asters
to reprise their bouquet.
No blue this time
Sepia for late November.
These echoes of passing time
are but a setting for white seeds
prepared to fly with winter winds,
land invisibly on snow and wait
to sink with spring to soil where,
but for threading rootlets,
white gives way to green.



Spent pods
marsh milkweed
thin amber lamps
impressed on new ice
sharing sky


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