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From Members' Journals


From the Lake HarrietJournal
of Joe Alfano


Lake Harriet - August 7

The glassy water
reflect boats moored to its surface,
a strange species of distorted but
symmetrical butterfly

From this mirror rise
fish that break surface and disappear,
teasing the fishermen on the shore,
who take the bait and cast their lines
toward the sky.


Lake Harriet - August 25

Black-eyed Susans
in the early morning light,
appear as burning bushes
brighter than the
glowing clouds
on the horizon.
Speaking loudly
in visible wavelengths
they shout out for our attention,
urging whoever is there
to stop and see.


Lake Harriet – August 26

Three large masses of clouds
loom high above the tree line
on the far shore of Lake Harriet.
Shaped like the mountains overlooking western towns
their white tops rise from,
tower above,
low morning clouds and haze.
These phantom towers of moisture
reflect the brilliant orange and pink colors
of sunrise, while below each cloud peak
are what appear to be
snow covered meadows and
the smooth edges of glaciated slopes.
With amazement I
witness these ghosts of the past
whose weathered cores are the
rocks in the soil below my feet.

Lake Harriet – September 11

On this late summer morning
the choir of crickets have
finally found their groove
and chirp as one.
Ducks float by
picking at something just below
the lake surface.
A lazy stillness
hangs in the air.
Even the female mosquitoes seem
less ambitious in their search for blood.


Lake Harriet November 9

Above the
eastern horizon
a crescent moon bowl,
slightly tipped,
nearly empty,|
and far
out of reach.
Just below the
bowl’s edge
in the night
Jupiter and Venus
spill out
and disappear into
the pink-red rays
of early
morning sunrise.

Lake Harriet November 10

Hundreds of ducks
float perfectly still
scattered boulders
on the dark lake surface
this morning’s air
is end of the season
warm and thick
As I walk
I join in
the silence

Lake Harriet January 1

The ice sheet
a water drum with
a tight skin
of whales –
deep, low tones,
that change
as the wind blows.
Drawn by what I hear
I step onto it.
Under my feet
ice is thick and clear.
Near the middle of the lake
I stop and look around.
The shoreline path
is full of walkers.
I have belonged
to this motion
for 20 years.
If the path were straight
I’d be halfway around the world,
but instead
my path is a circle
that every once in a while
leads me to the center.

Lake Harriet January 29

In the light of a street lamp
I see footprints
in the new fallen snow,
There are so many
you’d think a crowd
passed this way
not so long ago.

Out there in the dark
silently they circle the lake
ahead of me.

Lake Harriet February 6

On the surface
of the small puddle
ice appears and
stretches to be,
etched, clear,
as delicate
as the thin wings
of a black fly.

Lake Harriet February 10

lost in the air
leave a
of empty
shoe shapes
on the
asphalt path.

Lake Harriet February 11

Does the
with the wet mud fragrance
from the cold water puddles
change how I see
the splashed
layer of snow?

Lake Harriet February 12

White frost coats
each slim blade of exposed grass.
The sun in a full range of hues shine
on this weave, and the mat of grass shines back,
each ray a jewel.

Lake Harriet February 13

Five black specks in flight
caw back and forth
as they stop and go
in search of some food
left behind
near holes
in the ice
where a day before
men sat on stools
dangling their hooks and lines.

Lake Harriet February 20

Snowflakes in the air
fall onto each other
as they float down.
They fill the sky.
in folds of my clothes,
the flakes build up on my eyebrows
and stick to the sides of my nose.
Around me they blend
the ice and ground,
layer the lean of trees and
fill in pockets where
branches meet.

go home,
stay out of view,
the airplanes
seem gone
to different paths
down to the ground.
Foot prints
in silence.


Lake Harriet March 6

Two joggers
like birds released
from the starting point
of their car and
run off into
early morning darkness
The sun begins to appear,
a giant
just below the horizon.
Tiny intense beams of light
reflect back
from the icy  surface on the path, and
twinkle as you step over them.
A million stars and
comets without tails
line my path.


Lake Harriet March 7

Thin glass ice,
milky white with Jack Frost designs
etched embedded on the surface,
Layers pockets of air
that crunch hollow
as the ice break into shards
from my weight on it.


Lake Harriet March 7

Sketched in the sand
are dry rivers,
with deltas
from which
fingers of open water
extend out into the ice.
At dawn this water
is filled with
ducks that swim
in tight circles.
On the edge
other ducks
wait their turn.
For now,
their paddling keeps
the water open
and sends small ripples
under ice.
Have the fish noticed
what is going on over here?
Do they wait
Their turn to
swim small
circles of  sunlight?
I flex my toes
it is too soon
for my feet
tender from a season
of shoes
to reach below the surface
and touch.


Lake Harriet May 5

The new leaves
become tiny palm trees
on narrow isthmuses
or are they miniature parachutes
suspended in flight?
No, they are the paper umbrellas
in my cocktail of
bright spring morning.


Lake Harriet May 8

Surrounded by spring
stand out
dark greens,
bark deeply grooved,
gnarled and
ready to peel,
knots and scars
of former limbs
results of years
of sharp saws
of seasonal hires.

Lake Harriet May 11

Clusters of flowers
on a small tree
tightly wrapped
clasped hands -
true believers
this cold morning
point to the sky
lost in prayer
waiting for the sun.

Lake Harriet July 5

Hatched midges
come together
to mate in frenzy
zip erratically
hundreds of
tiny punctured balloons
in a cloud of
sneezed aerosol fuzz
that leave walkers with
grimaced faces
trying to exhale only
while waving
arms and body –
dancers at the party.


Lake Harriet July 14

A hollow cave
in a thick mass of silk
where the weathered wood
and concrete
of a park bench
almost meet.

Inside, a moth,
unable to turn around
rotates and spins
deeper into the web


Lake Harriet July 18

June bug,
a month late,
in a summer that came early,
is sniffed by dogs
and dodged by feet
as its slow carapace
shoves its way
across the blacktop path


Lake Harriet July 21

Daddy long legs
crosses this patch of prairie on
tiny jointed lever arms
that lift the sky walker
and past stems.


Lake Harriet July 22

Burst fibers
tiny seeds,
made to catch sky
cling in a clump,
tangled in each other
wait for a strong wind
to break them apart,
and send them flying.
Sometimes I need a strong
gust to untangle me.

Lake Harriet August 19

On the green shoreline
a patch of goldenrod burns
the blessings of the sun
bestowed upon
tiny petals delicate
as snow flakes.
This vivid
marker of the season
sends me back to
road ditches of the past
and nudges me forward.
Nothing stays,
seasons change.

Lake Harriet August 29

Before sunrise
fish-scaled clouds
large outlines of trees
full with dark
As the sun comes up
the unseen becomes seen,
secrets are released.


Lake Harriet September 5

Hundreds of gulls circle
in opposite directions
paths cross without collisions.
Daredevils of the bird world
whistle & scream out.
In ever changing directions they fly.
Each alone but together,
a coordinated anarchy in the sky.


Lake Harriet October 14

Out of the rustle of leaves
a squirrel jumps onto a log only to leap off
and bushwhack a trail through
the colorful canopy
that floated down
and now lies scattered everywhere.
Walkers & runners feet trample
the red, yellow and orange
the lobed edges and dew
into a fine mash
of newly pressed
organic matter
with a brown palette and
the aroma of early morning a




From the Journal of George Knotek




Iron red clay running,
sky squalls
where ravens wheel
away from curling crows.
I can feel the first grouse of daybreak drumming
in witness to this morning snow.

Late Evening

Light rolls like spun sugar
across a star flecked sky.
Auroras flare
dark spruce tops
then fade
to whispers in the boughs.


Raven calls,
her voice old stone
and birch dipped in cold
clear morning.

Snowshoe bound
across clay needles
where new pine seedlings grow.


All day
Swallows hunt low
over dark pond water
cutting through steady falling snow.

4/22/02 Earth Day

Cedar Waxwings feast
on last season's high bush cranberries
then rest arrayed like Christmas candles
in honey locust painted with spring snow.

I put
my foot
down on the earth
and wait for the pull
of the carousel.