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1.7.2011 Invite to Write #3 and #4

This is the photo for Invite #4. It is a metate, used by Ancient Puebloan women at Chaco Canyon to grind corn into meal using a rounded stone called a mano. This metate was muscle-ground so long that the stone wore through.

See where this photo takes your writing, please. Give it a try. Teachers, let your kids shine. Due Wed, 1.12. 2011

Responses to INVITE #3

Here are 16 of your marvelous responses to Invite to write #3,
13 by adults, 3 by fifth graders. Read poems aloud, slowly.

San Geronimo Church Ruins, Taos Pueblo

New Year’s Eve mid-day you can hear the bones
rattling we are in one nest, ready to break

open, rise through dirt & dry grass, wobble over
to that blue range, or Blue Lake, or Red

Willow Creek where they were birthed, baptized,
weaned onto blue corn & fry bread, died

too young or old-enough, knowing from the start
the way in. You are watching an old

Cary Grant flick, rocking, glancing at your laptop
while outside fog sifts onto blacktop

like castor sugar and street lamps flicker
into the thick. You are as far from blue sky

as you can be. You are fields apart, resting
on your sitting bones, bruised bulb buried

in black earth not quite ample enough to push
through as paper-white or red trumpet,

shout out to San Geronimo the patron saint
of words: Rain down! The fog is a silent

storm, silence waxes to birdsong & sun,
the small crosses bare their chests and stand

tall above all this bony, brimming, bright desire.

Sara Parrell, Wisconsin


It Tolls
I hear
The bell
Feel  lasting wind
That stirs the hot dry air
See circling buzzard hovering there
Above the dead,  in their narrow beds
Who know the bird that swings so high
Through  that cereulean cloudless sky 
It is not tempted by their fate
It is too late
Too late.
Murmur now
Dry bones beneath dry earth
Beneath the land they loved and  worked
Remembering still, joy, pain, and grief, the stories of a life too brief.
 Inevitably the  seasons pass, the spirits will  be one, at last,
 With sunset hills and rolling plains
With mountains in the summer rain
With  those who went before
And the bell will ring
no more.
No more.
Peggy Osborne,  Montana

Empty shell of a church,

High wind rings the church bell.
It tolls for the faithful,

In its generosity, it also tolls
for those without faith,

In the midst of vast high mountains,
thresholds of time crossed.

Jonathan Greene, Kentucky
Skeletal crosses lay in a heap.
Those with a place
stand their vigil proud, waiting.
No room, overpopulation rules,
every foot occupied by a past dweller.
Pressed together, bleached white, they
await the final tolling of the old bell.
Casting their soulfull breaths to the
clouds until there is enough wind
to call them home again. 
Then will the bell ring one last time,
its trumpet of ancestral souls set free.

Linda Leary, Colorado

Clear air and sun,
Centuries of native presence
Adapted to hardship and lack of water
Adapted to invasion by priests and someone else’s religion.
Now celebrate feast days on saint’s days.
Kept the kivas, mixed in the dance.  
They say there is a giant spirit over Taos mountain
Pink and blue, sacred and healing.
I once lived in this holy, hard and beautiful land.
A great teacher said to me:
“Everything you need is here,
But it is difficult.”

Judy Gibson, Minnesota

Still bell reverbs tie o
you mountains elders death sky
blending time and breath.

Dan McGuire, Minnesota

Intention sets the bell atop the cradle
As I lament your birth and death.
Born to the cradle ringing in
the life that lives amidst
Her fertile soil.
Destined to rock
you low, rock you slow,
rock you whole.
Daughter of mine;
soil you have become
crossed with others
of your kind.
Mind your
power of place
ringing in the new year.
Life  holds
tightly to scar tissue
sealing  the wound.
Linda Lundquist Lintgen Minnesota

The same sky covers the ground
Holding earthly remains of souls long passed
The same sky that gave them rain for crops
Sun for warmth, vistas for dreaming
A backdrop for enduring mountains,
Nature's persistence in the circle of life
The bell tolls a reminder---
The same sky welcomes us to that circle
Welcomes us to life's eternal peace.

Jane Jackson New Jersey
 Adobe Sentry

People Crosses Snuggled Securely
Under the  Protective Care of the ancient
Adobe sentry
All stretched
Reaching upwards toward God
Finger Tower
Contrasted against the azure sky

The lone bell rings
El llanero solitario campanas anillos
Vaya con Dios
Go with God
Go with God

The Valley of San Geromino
With silent abandon

Kathleen Huntley, Montana

Truth lies buried beneath the wooden crosses
of long ago souls who toiled under a high desert sun
for someone else's god;
Crosses borne of faith in a certain salvation;
Corralled in life, crowded together in death.

Laurie Tandy, California

Is it the cart now?
Coming to carry us away?
What is that sound?
The first we heard since gunblast in the street,
Who is it we go to meet?  (Ramona, do not cry, stop now, quiet!)
It will be all right.  Things always are.
They are digging, but there is no room.
Hear the sound of crosses doomed
to a hot fire soon,
Tossed into that great pile
Who is it that they bury now?
(Ramona do not cry.  Come here into my arms, muchacha mia.
Do you hear the bell?  Do you hear the bird singing?
Time passes, this I know,  I hear them both, but both so slow
How much time I do not know, but you are here
Close in my arms, there is no harm.
Peggy Osborne,  Montana

A Destination

Punctuating dirt, leaving no shadow
in this high hour, moment of this day
where the face of monolithic geology
expands across a timeless horizon,
wrapping arms around the centuries
of lives lived earnestly
before evaporating- now
exclamation sticks point under
earth red adobe and shrinedom.

Where's the bathroom?
How many are there?
Are people really in there?
I'm hungry, can
we go now? Can they
hear us?
What if we were stuck here?
What if something moves?
Are you Catholic? Should we pray?
Are we sorry they died?
Can we get something to eat here?
I'm thirsty.

Cast aside, a pile- the fell of the fallen,
unacceptably decrepit markers
yanked from their stab,
sun blanched, wind etched,
off the watch of marking time-
pointing to the lost
so no one forgets to remember

It's so crowded-are there
really real people in there?
Who are they? Can they
see us?

as conscious life reflects
our own fate mirrors an intersection
contemplating others'.
Sky stands where adobe walls
hold up the past,
lives time stamped by stakes, where
souls look up through the dust of forever,
loved ones mark a memory
for  touring fascination,
the science fiction feeling of being
a particle-sized significance
in this big picture-

Watch us watch sticks in the ground,
and imperceptible accumulation of moments
tic and tock, or inhale-exhale 
leaving dust and memories
in piles with optional meaning,

then go find the ice cream.

Linda Hansen
Eagan, MN

Sonnet in a Country Churchyard
From the village two miles away
A girl climbs up each sabbath day
To gently toll the fragile bell,
Informing those beneath the clay
That all continues to go well.
This is a beauteous place to lie
Beneath the great expanse of sky,
In one's ancestral resting place.
'Tis comfort to the living eye,
A sudden gift of grace.
Those distant hills in each direction
Give promise of the resurrection.
The clustered dead will then outlive decay
And meet with no harsh judgment on that day.
Sylvia Waugh, Tyne&Wear, England

In Taos, the bell tower remains standing
as visitors weep dry tears,
mothers whisper goodnight, and lovers breathe hello.
Shadowed by the tower, a mound of white
markers lie, ready to mark the rest
of lovers and lonely alike, or have they been removed
from graves of the forgotten?
Row on row, standing crosses are silvered, and red and gray;
no stark warrior’s regimented line,
they lean to the four directions, a remembrance of Tiwa.
Yet the rows maintain themselves, a semblance of order
in grief that passes when the guardians rest.
The Zia sun rises, sets on scorched sand,
on crosses rising from red rock and dust and completed
with shaped finials; blunt, curved, ornate, carved,
topped with mini crosses and feathered wings,
as if to say, ‘We’re not dead.  Remember us
as we were.  We rest at the foot of mountains.
There is wisdom here equal to that of Moses.”
Who remembers that the builders destroyed the church
where their brothers and sisters worshipped?
Rest and be at peace.  Surely, as the adobe brick encloses,
and releases the four seasons in turn,
destroyers pass away
and sandstone becomes sand again.

Jenny Wolpert, British Columbia, Canada

Responses from Mr. Deyle’s grade 5, Roosevelt El, Fargo, North Dakota

In a dry, dry desert,
In a dry, dry land.
A lot of dead souls lie,
Buried in the sand.
And the bell does toll.
And the bell does ring.
Ding-a-ling dong,
Listen to it ring.
By Sofia Flores, North Dakota
Crosses of wood, towers of stone,
Stands this little cemetery all alone.
Flowers are lying above the bodies’ heads,
But the soul is up above their death beds.
The tower so high we heard a creak,
The tower falls we hear a shriek.
The souls are free with no more fear,
No more screaming is to hear.
They are in heaven, sound and sweet,
So they can sleep with happiness and peace.
By Katie Witt and Kendall Faulkner, North Dakota

Jesus save us from this time,
From the wars and the crime.
All around us we can see,
All these crosses so please, please, please.
By Gabriella Schilling, North Dakota

1.14.2011 Invite to Write #4 and #5

This is a landscape of Bryce Canyon in Utah, at 9,000 feet.
It’s not really a canyon—no river carved it. Freeze and thaw of snow and rain
carved it out of ancient ocean seabed turned into rock eons ago.
Explore in writing where this landscape takes your mind. Entries for Invite to Write #5 are due next Wednesday, Jan. 19.

Invite to Write #4: Metate at Chaco Canyon. Many fine entries were received.
I have chosen ten, plus one by 5th graders taught by Tim Deyle.

Woman, being a woman, I know
you have murmured a thousand prayers
and imprecations as your children’s hunger
grows, a torment that perforates heart
and mind.  Dry clouds form, slide east
appropriating the remains of moisture
from the creek that used to run
through the canyon we call Chaco.
There is fever even in shade. 
Habitually, your body rocks
forward, back.  You seek
to immerse yourself in the rhythm,
in the grind and scrape of sandstone,
mano on metate and maize.
You have blue dreams of rain,
turquoise scattered and bursting
into the rain shadow to anoint the dryland,
to keep the collector of souls distracted.
Hunger and the grinding stone will not let you lose
yourself in meditative motion. 
Inattention guarantees mortified flesh
and not one more speck of corn
would return from the four winds.
Now, rain dancers in trance fail.
They have stamped the red dust for
a long generation.  Have they lost
the vision of droplets falling to dance in turn
on the dust, of cloudbursts
that magnify and sweep out to green the earth?
Under yellow ochre and iron red sand
the Ogallala blue is beyond dreams, an aquifer
that dancing will not raise.  The metate
is sun-bleached, exhausted by generations of maize. 
First this last meal,
then you’ll abandon Chaco to backtrack the route
of clouds. An aeon after your passing
the sandstone bowl will fail,
and its base open an unseeing eye
as if to grind corn from the other world.
~~Jenny Wolpert  British Columbia, Canada

Earth Mother
Eye of Earth Mother
Etched by Grandmother's Grandmother
Sing lightly the harvest song
Aye Gee Gee  - Aye Gee Gee
Rhythmically carving as grain is soaring
Melody rises with keeper's grind beat
Breathing in and out 
Grandmother with Mother
Seven Generations back - then seven forward
Life Givers
Etching reminders 
Eye of Earth Mother
Patiently Watching

by Kathleen Huntley, Montana

The Grinding Stone

How many kernels of corn have been ground in this vessel?
How many years, decades, centuries, to wear it through?
How many grinders?  How many generations?  
How many turns of pestle in bowl?  
How many revolutions of the earth round the sun?
How many mouths have been nourished by this work? 
How many marriage feasts supplied? 
How many births and burials?
How many secrets shared in this place? 
How many songs have been sung to this stone? 

Sara De Luca, Georgia
Metate Meditation

Look back through
This hole in time.
See the great houses
Built to hold
People of the Pueblo
For ceremony, commerce,
Conversation, community.
Now empty as this hole
Ground by hand over a time
Between now and long ago.
Was it all for nothing save
Holding some water to nourish,
Framing some hint of green,
In this dry time,
This dry place?

~~Tom Bacig, Minnesota
Opalescent glow is just one of the beauties
this basin gave me through the years.
As a young mother I loved the thrust and draw,
the strength of my arms and the flex
of my body as I worked the mano.
I loved sunlight glowing gold
swathes of particles, both grain and stone,
as they dispersed into the air.
Morning and evening I worked
and fed my children.
Now I am old, my body stiff, and in my turn
I bequeath the beauties of this basin
as it was bequeathed to me,
to my daughters and their daughters.
Though their ways may be different,
they will begin anew,
grinding fine their grains.
In the morning and in the evening,
they will feed their children

~~Mary McConnell, Wisconsin

 Worn were the hands that
Rubbed pure stone to dust and left
Testament to life

Peggy Osborne, Montana

This is a bead for gods to wear,
strung on willow lashings
wound around their windy necks,
worn thin from corn. 
They knew it was coming,
had sniffed the chaffy offerings tossed,
heard the stone groan,
smiled at the children
eating their fill of the gift
they’d sent through rain,
sun, seed and woman.
The time it took to make this into bead
was a snap of the fingers,
the lift of a hoe

Pegatha Hughes, CA
She hums softly.
Each downward push of the mano
rasps against her metate,
Each upward pull brings corn with it
clinging to the mano like gold beads.
Hull skins float up, settle on her knuckles.
At her side, a young daughter imitates.
The sun warms her head, shoulders, back
She dreams as she works.
The rhythm of push and pull, scrape and grind,
send thoughts far.
Yesterday she saw a red bird sitting on a black stone. 
She thinks about red lines on black pots.
That would be unusual.
Where to find the red?

Nannette Montgomery, MN
Labour of Love
grinds down
the best of stones.

Repetitive work
grinds the mind
as it dusts the hand.

What thoughts have shaped
while shaping stone to dust…?

Alexandra Prinssen,
St. Annaparochie, Friesland,The Netherlands

Thousands of years.
A simple perfected
Or is it more?
A relationship
Between Others?

This Stone Lives
in the generations it's fed.

Humans Serve the Stone,
Release its Power
Its Life Force

Transforming Corn into Humans

Larry Yank, Minnesota

Kids’ Contribution

An ancient antique
artifact from ages ago
It’s used usually
under the sun.
They push perfect pressure
to perfectly grind it.
It’s a metate that makes maize
into fluffy fresh flour.

Cassidy Rabchenuk and Destiny Luttrell, gr. 5, Fargo, ND


1.21.2011 Invite to Write 5 & 6

Invite to Write #6 is a photo of an oak tree slammed down by winds so fast they tore the tree off its roots instead of uprooting it. See where contemplation of this photo takes you, and write from that. Results due next Wednesday, Jan. 26.

Invite to Write #5(below) garnered many strong entries. I chose eleven to share, plus intriguing poems by 6th and 7th graders. Thank you kindly for sending your writing. We are becoming community


Stereopticon Dream: Bryce Canyon

My Grandma’s crazy quilt I watched take form
and Grandpa’s stereopticon must be the reason
I dreamed that night a world beyond all season.
He’d been West and brought back views of fairyland
once ocean floor, you’d think to walk right in.
Twelve and ready for adventure, a girl on horseback,
I found myself in rosy, peaked walls where people
in their satin scarves came streaming down the road.
The walkers flowed past spires as high as buzzards fly,
sang songs, joined up by more and more, each flowing
like a stream to be a river.
When I asked where we were going,
smiles and laughter at my crazy tongue,
They spoke a language like no other.
We covered the three grounds:
foreground, middle and far, and each distinct.
Others rode horseback decked in jagged quilts
like Middle Ages knights. Ladies with
green feathers played lutes and  drums,
(We’re putting on King Arthur at my school).
A dwarf came up  and led me to the castle stairs.
I climbed and climbed, the light becoming rosy orange until
… eyes opened to the same colored sky.
Our dog was barking in the sandy yard
which once was ocean too, my Grandpa said.
-Pegatha Hughes, California

Who Built Bryce Canyon
Gandalf and Gaudi
went out to play—
Gaudi with rocks,
Gandalf with trees.
It became
a mirror game,
although not two
stand up the same. 
till shape for shape
they gash, they drape
in darkest green 
and terra cotta rapiers
like these.
-Denise DuMaurier,  Washington State

The Graveyard of Churches
Where salt-ocean is Utah stone –
Where sunlight searches ancient shadows –
Truth is naked, pink and bare,
The spirit hard-fleshed!
Bodies howl, louder each minute,
Each inward silent minute, howl
For clear water – for tide and waves,
For shoreline, horizon –
In the graveyard of churches
Crumbled prayer 
Between finger and thumb,
And truth naked, parched and spare.
-Bert Biscoe, Cornwall, Britain
And it came to Pass,
that a city was
created before
life arrived
sculpted by
the collective
of the elements
and the four
forces - earth
wind, fire and water.
by Gaia,
Mother Earth,
a gift to the
coming life forms.
The city housed
the soul of
earth and
stood open
to welcome
the soul of man,
and possibility.
And on the
seventy millionth
day, they rested.
-Bruce Peck, Minnesota
Considering Bryce Canyon
Time and wind and ice and rain 
have ground and carved
and chiseled these formations
from an ancient seabed.
This is a cave without a ceiling,
a canyon that is not a canyon,
a forest of stone.
Nature's knife has done its work,
eroding all that is unworthy,
leaving noble spires of red and orange
and opalescent white.
I think of Michelangelo
who said his masterpieces
had been present in the rock
before he carved them out
and set them free.  
And so these hoodoos,
these glorious petrified fingers,
have been freed from the seabed
to show us the fantastic theatre called Earth
and point us toward the stars.
-Sara De Luca, Georgia
I stand breathless in an ethereal sculpture garden,
where ancient waters carved these spires.
I want an answer from the universe...
Did you know how, in a distant future
these steeples, looking like onyx
and alabaster, would put to shame
any built by man?
Do you care that I would stand
(alas only in spirit) breathless,
to watch light, as you send it,
play from daybreak to moon?
Of course you do not care,
you are the universe!
I thank you anyway
for this blessing.
-Mary McConnell, Minnesota
sanguine, sediment
rock ribbons lay in
billion year towers
after weather wars;
jutting dry in terrible beauty,
weaving through
my tenacious mother-
geologic wins and loses.
I am one grain
in awe.
-Linda Lenore Hansen, Minnesota
What cosmic artist carved Bryce Canyon
into this timeless, stacatto gem of dreams
with such blueness of mystic sky 
that at once I am astonished, frozen
as the breathtaking vermilion shock
of fins and hoodoos
jars my senses
Love. Only love.
-Jan Hammett, South Carolina

Majesty beyond reason, red in sun
fills my eyes with magic and longing.
Cut eons past by Nature’s watery chisel,
a castle realm ruled by finned subjects
spreads itself for my imagination.
Mermaids and mermen perhaps danced
here at gala balls in a place where salt
bubbles took the place of fine champagne
and no less intoxicating.
Now finless merpeople stand and look,
wondering at this majesty.
Will they see with eyes of geologic
perspective only or will they dream
as the young do
of red castles in a long ago watery kingdom?
-Linda Leary, Colorado
At The Bryce Amphitheatre
On the rim, in the morning shade of pines,
with a breeze cooling
the back of my neck, I ooh and aah
and reach with imagination and camera
into the candyland below.  Down over the lip
we go, dropping through millions of years,
passing red and orange and yellow spires that flank
the trail like columns in a cathedral.
Grit flips up with each step to the Queen’s garden;
is ground in on the Navajo trail.
I am painted as the stone people are stained,
with iron and manganese.  They face east,
beyond foreseeing the red heat that will come,
and the dryness and the ‘hell of a place to lose a cow’*
and the glare that confines vision.
Wonder turns to wonder why we’re here
and fire on the brain.  Grains of sand winkling down
from sun bleached hoodoos compress, shift
geologic history away from the ken
of holiday trekkers.
Only after passing through a limestone window
to the west is there partial shade to stop
and gulp from the water jug
that’s become sun hot.
We press on, back into the fevered day. 
There will be time to speculate on the wedge
of freeze and thaw cycles, and hoodoos
after we’ve climbed skyward,
back over the amphitheatre’s hot lip to shade,
and an evening counting stars.
-Jenny Wolpert  British Columbia, Canada
Playfield of Gods 
Gods playing chess
Shape pieces as they go
Changing rules as they play.
Ages of play.
Chess, checkmate.
Start over.
And again...
I see Queen, Horse, Pawn,
What King is there 
to finish what they have started?
We are men,
We are Pawns 
playing King
over Gods and Mother Nature... 

-Alexandra Prinssen, Friesland, the Netherlands
Kids’ Contributions

From Mrs. Fondren's 7th grade Literacy Class, Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences, Denver, CO
Canyons are like
a new city wondering
when to happen but
it doesn't it just stays

-Anonymous, Colorado
From Kathy Scoggin’s 6th grade, Barton Open School,
Minneapolis, Minnesota
The ragged rocks of red
And the simple needles of green
Stand tall and proud,
Statues anchored in the storm.
Seeing them standing secure and firm
Makes me think of me,
Of the obstacles I've passed
Leaving my birthplace,
Surviving hurricanes, sickness, the ocean,
Half of sixth grade history.
By the end of now
By the end of me
I can see by the vivid layers of the rocks
That they have easily surpassed me.
As I brush my fingers across the ply rock
I think,
No, I know,
This crust holds history in them
Proof in their sheets.


1.28.2011: INVITE to WRITE #6 & #7


A snowy egret is about to swallow a fish it caught. We often find
predators beautiful. This egret is stunning: golden lores and golden
eyes and feet. See where this photo takes you in writing.
Photo courtesy of photographer Rodger Kemp.


There were too many submissions to publish here. I chose only a few.
I am continually gratified by the range of perspectives offered in your responses. Thank you.

As I pass that oak my hand reaches
to plant itself against the firm trunk
warm and rounded as bread loaves rising
in the late summer.  Imagine
red ochre and ash around this hand
to say we are here together now.
From beneath its canopy I spy blue sky
and the dappled sun. 
On her way to school, the girl next door
gathers the season’s first fallen leaves, flings
them up to curl, swirl again to earth.
A squirrel that raids bird feeders from here
to kingdom come, scolds her
and those who gather acorns from his world.
Yet, there the oak is, a matchstick snapped
between surly fingers, its uprightness discarded.
The wrenching wind had its way, though there are signs
of minor wounds that refused to heal, spots of decay
where the bole did not defend itself,
stains similar to those on senior skin,
and a lace of thinned fibers.
Before the saw, before the wood is cleared away
hands bid the oak farewell
and the touches drum, sing a recreation
of woodpecker tattoos, bees wings, and the northeast
wind through rattling leaves, timbres
that echo vague aches and definite pains.
When I go
I want to go that way, all at once;
none of the messy hanging on
as seasons add to the list of body parts
that don’t quite work as they used to,
as caregivers wait for signs, for transformation
in the half world that science creates.
Picture going out with a bang
and hands remembering a grand old lady,
or at least an interesting one.
Jenny Wolpert   British Columbia, Canada

Ferocious winds have felled this tree
with more efficiency than a woodsman's axe,
soggy uprooting,
or natural decay.
The break is ragged but complete.
Leaves will crumble soon,
bark will rot and peel away,
limbs and trunk will be swallowed
by the living soil.
This tree has hosted bugs and beetles,
caterpillars, moths and butterflies.
Owls have launched themselves from its sturdy arms.
Squirrels have built their noisy nests in its fingers,
played tag and peek-a-boo along its spine.
Tree frogs have staged some fine performances.
Songbirds have purchased tidy real estate,
erected homes, celebrated,
laid eggs, hatched them,
fed ravenous mouths attached to veiny bodies,
watched them fledge and fly.
Countless acorns have been cast down from this mother tree.
A few have sprouted, taken root.
Even when death is brutal and untimely
the earth sings.
Sara DeLuca, Georgia

Mourn not for this fallen giant of the forest
What was living, vibrant and CO2 exchanging
Is now ready to become habitat for countless denizens
That will become food for Woodpeckers
Break down cellulose returning fallen giant
To forest floor where it began.

John Arthur, Minnesota
The Sunning Tree

I was on the island when the tree fell.  
It had been my favorite, there,
Hanging out over the channel, branchless,
Naked smooth sentinel with one eye--
Big nesting hole in it, near the top.  

And then, swooo--ooosh, it crashed into the water.
We heard it go from half an island away.
Queer feels. The loss was so.
What winged creature had lost her home?

And then, that very day, four turtles came.  
For the rest of that summer,
And all the next season, too.
The tree was known as the turtle-sunning tree
Actually, few remembered it otherwise.  

Thus this oak crashes, broken, into the forest.  
Near young trees bend toward it in respect.
It lies there dead for only such a short time
Then springs to new life with spider, ant, moss or mouse.  

What once reached for starlight
Now reaches to the underworld
And back again

Beth Waterhouse, Minnesota


This had been coming on for years
the ache in the ankles
the wobble in the feet
the parasitic vine veins cropping up—
undermines, rising from the peat

Comes a time when even roots
can't dig down against the gusts—
close neighbors, friends, members 
of your living tribe stand helpless—
they know you'll tumble, gasp and quake,
leaving timber wreckage in your wake

Old winds blasting near suburban plats
near thawing lakes and frosted farms—
will break the roots you thought would hold
and let your trunk and limbs collapse,
and no one there, and no alarms

Not even when they find the gold.

 Denise duMaurier, Washington State  
Stunning. A tree
felled in the woods
by an unimaginable
force - snapped
at its base
Wind. Gale force
wind. Not twisting
but straight line.

Of the elements
wind is the least
Fickle and
easily provoked.
Juvenile wind.
Helter Skelter rage -
Jack Pine the
Ripper brutality.
Not normal Wind.
Wind acting
in consortium.
A Gang of Gusts,
on a Friday night,
feeding off the
need to exceed.
Playing off each
other’s ego
and bravado,
daring each other,
spiraling out of
control - on a
lark - or a
mocking bird.
Hurtling through
the trees at
speed, without
malice aforethought
but with a
wanton disregard....
So fast.
So sudden.
So unexpected.
Full fury flush
into the un-
expectant oak,
ending a century or
more of being.
Oceans know how
to deal with
juvenile winds.
They put them
in detention,
sentence them to
a week in doldrums.
Forced to write
quietly in the waves,
five thousand times,
I will not cause
mayhem to others....
Bruce Peck, Minnesota
The screaming wind that felled this tree,
did not silence it.
Those bright spots in their several hollows
(trick of light?) I see as eyes that now see sky,
were looking into earth anon, speaking history.
This tree no longer rustles leaves in a breeze
or creaks branches in a storm,
but the trunk that rests among its fellows,
continues in silent eloquence
to excite response from this observer.

Mary S McConnell

The roots resemble me
For you can see
That I fell down
Just like that old oak tree.
The oak tree resembles family
How I fell and they weren’t there to catch me
I fell alone
I died alone ….

Anonymous, Gr 7, Teacher, Pat Fondren
Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences, Colorado


A tree falls in the woods.
The silence that follows is unnerving.
Such a silence makes one wonder
If the whole world is standing still.
The tree,
a tribute
To life, and  to the death
Of life.
Lies face first in the ground
A once great giant brought
Down by life.
The essence of the forest is not
Disturbed by the fallen
Giant – only
The homes it broke
And the sadness that is left.
The nearby trees
Mourn with the loss of their friend.
The animals bow
Their heads toward
The giant
In remembrance of love
Once shared.
All is quiet.
The silence is broken
By the blues of a melodic jay.
The forest is alive

Gavin Gehringer, Jewel Sumner School, Louisiana, Teacher Lynne Vance
Barren, hollow and deserted.
Feeling unloved and hopeless.
Looking for the strength to grow,
Once full of life and joyous,
now lifeless filled only with despair.
Lacking hope,
He will never be whole again.

Alliyah Sims, Jewel Sumner School, Louisiana, Teacher Lynne Vance


Down, down comes the tree,
Oh oh it might fall on me.
Now that I have nowhere to stay,
I might come back another day.
Rylie Cody the Squirrel, gr. 5, Fargo, North Dakota, Teacher Tim Deyle

I see a tree that is torn from the ground.
The wind pushed it and snapped it and then it came down.
It’s going to make compost to make the soil better.
With better nutrition for the new trees.
Hector Lugo, Gr 5, , Fargo, North Dakota, Teacher Tim Deyle

I’m imagining an ancient Greek war,
With Cyclops, wolves, and a Manticore.
The Cyclops got mad and tried to make a barricade,
But didn’t have the tools and none could be made.
He went to the leader to check for a spare,
But couldn’t find one not even a hair.
He got angry and just kicked it down,
The crack could be heard all through the town.
Elliot Thompson, Gr 5, , Fargo, North Dakota, Teacher Tim Deyle

Whoosh! Down goes the tree.
One tree down and a bunch to go.
It’s like the wind is playing a game.
Whoever knocks the most trees down wins?
And now the wind is one step closer to winning.
Gabriella Schilling, Gr 5, , Fargo, North Dakota, Teacher Tim Deyle

Nature’s Circle
I see a circle here,
A never ending circle.
From the bird to the ground,
From the ground to the tree,
From the tree to the bird,
And then it starts again.
Sofia Flores, Gr 5, , Fargo, North Dakota, Teacher Tim Deyle