Issue Number 18, Fall 2012

Contents

Archives: by Issue | by Author Name



Reluctance

by Robert Frost

(1874-1963)

At the writing of this poem in 1923, Robert Frost lived on a farm in Derry, New Hampshire, in the Beaver Brook watershed near Pine Island Pond.

Out through the fields and the woods
     And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
     And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
     And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
     Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
     And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
     When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
     No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
     The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
     But the feet question "Whither?"

Ah, when to the heart of man
     Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
     To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
     Of a love or a season?




Arguing With a Lover About Love

by J. Rodney Karr

J. Rodney lives a ten-minute bike ride from Øresund, the sound that connects the Kattegat Sea with the Baltic Sea.

Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Our words die like forests.
An orangutan holds a chain,
the vine in her memory.
Her child tugs the chain of all
it knows, loving the mother.

She reaches as these do: snail-horn,
snake-tongue, moon reflecting
off the retinas of a tiger’s eyes,
fingers of mist: it’s the longing
but why the longing? The forest

and around us strip mining, machines.
The world leaves us while we watch.
In this tree, fire and chainsaw scars,
a spike, grooves worms have left.
But inside the arch of its half-rotted

heart, a chlorophyll-flushed,
coiled fern tendril reaches up.
There is no other way. We fight
inside what survives. I love you.




Bison

by Nicole Basta

Nicole lives on Lake Cayuga near Ithaca, New York.

the stars flinch a little at their empty black eyes
set against the sandcastle backdrop of the Badlands

there are ribbons of oranges and yellows
through the arid, splintered pale pink ground
seemingly cracked from the weight of their incredible mass

the bison will not budge
in a stand-off with my car
i understand this was their path
before we came and paved it

after beeping, driving and reversing
i put the car in park
and sit nearly as still
as the black pool of understanding
in their eyes




Cider Pressing Party

by Lisa Wujnovich

Lisa lives, farms, and writes poetry at Mountain Dell Farm on the New York side of the Delaware River Basin.

Drive the creaking truck up, past graveyard
cars, dirt ruts, speckled cows and trees
in muted rust and yolk. Walk up to view
worn out Appalachians, the river hugging
swirled highway and eyesore factory closed.

In the valley, the village, or what’s left of it—
the old Agway smokestack, a last whale bone
juts out its rib, lost to fire,
like Johnson’s Tavern,
Moonbeams Gift Shop,
Panda Restaurant,
Village Video,
Country Bake Shop,
all burnt down, one at a time. For now,
admire the flattened foothills in the distance.
In your hands, balance a metal bowl—
salad greens just picked from the fields.

Weave through slimy cow plops, shiny trucks:
on the summit, Frank McElroy’s Fortieth
Cider Pressing Party, though apples are scarce.
Early frost in the spring chomped the first bite,
but we’ll squeeze sweetness out of what’s left.
The party’s breathing between bluegrass bands,
drinking beer, whiskey, margaritas, wine,
homemade and store-bought both.

Frank’s resting before clogging with his new girl
on the giant wooden spindle, keeping time
with the fiddle and spoons. Checkered tables
dance with crockpots of chili, sausage and peppers,
venison stew. Outside, pies are going fast,
one piece left of elderberry apple.

Don’t imagine another vista:
gas pumps, concrete slabs, water trucks
lined up by football fields, toxic sludge ponds,
river thinned, creeks poisoned.
Judy and the Horse Flies struggle,
fiddle and banjo cry against slamming gas drills.




Coal Mine Canaries

by Michael Shorb

In memoriam (1943-2012)

Michael Shorb lived in San Francisco, California, for many years. He enjoyed the city's "buzz" of the detritus of many peoples' lives, the poor and the wealthy, in parks, on the streets, in sun and fog.  He and his wife Judith hiked the many trails of the city.  Michael died in August.

We are all this thick-
armed man covered in soot,
placing nature in his
cage as he descends,
miles into the darkening
shaft of our prospects,
now the honey bee is enlisted
to our cause, billions
vanished without trace
or clue, bearing with them
the keys to pollination,
something gone wrong
in the intricate corridors
of seeds and blossoms,
next the plankton
roots that rock
the cradle of the seas,
the icy arctic walls holding
back a methane storm,
the salt water hordes
massing at the granite
gates where we make
our stand, man
the miner,
man the harvester,
man more vulnerable
than he dreams.




Conscious Cohabiting

by Gretchen Dandrea Blynt

Gretchen lives tucked away in her Catskill Mountain home, way up in the "Land in the Sky", traveling around the Pepacton Reservoir daily.

       Living with roommates often requires the consideration of others in your decisions. Choices are made based on information that includes factors presented by these cohabiters, and are likely not the personally preferred option. Waking twenty minutes early to squeeze in a shower and morning bathroom regimen before the others awake to prepare for their work days, rescheduling a party to a night after which your roommate does not have an important presentation, and agreeing to sit through another episode of Dancing with the Stars, instead of whatever timeless film is on Turner Classic Movies, as a means to remedy your buddy’s bad day, represent only a smattering of the choices made everyday to ensure a peaceful coexistence.
       It was with these ideas firmly in my conscious thought that I approached my new living situation at the southern graduate school where I was beginning a Master’s program. I was slated to occupy a quad apartment, sharing my new home with three other girls. The formula was a familiar one, as I had lived this way for the past four years during my undergraduate experience; however, the faces would be foreign, not to mention the personalities and mindsets, in a place over six hundred miles from my New York home.
       The first major adjustment actually had less to do with individual clashing of character traits than with the inter-workings of the locale in which I was residing. After about a week, the old newspapers and rinsed out aluminum, plastic, and glass containers I had so diligently collected for recycling had built up, and I made their removal my first chore for the day. Gathering up the bags, I walked to the dumpsters in the parking lot to learn which was designated for each type of refuse. There were only two large green bins at my destination, both appearing to be the normal trash disposal type, but I circled them for nearly five full minutes as if to will one of them into changing color and having the word paper or comingles stenciled on the side. Still not completely discouraged, I decided that I must be in the wrong place. Surely after the turn of the millennium, recycling was a universal routine, and an area committed to that end was somewhere on campus. I was just in the wrong place.
       I returned to my apartment with the bags, receiving a puzzled look from a roommate who was probably wondering about this Yankee who takes out the garbage only to come back with it, as if merely walking it as one would a pet dog. I dove into my explanation and questions about specific recycling procedures in this region, expecting her, a fellow out-of-stater, to exhibit astonishment similar to mine that it was not as readily available as in my own, but the reply I received was, “Why do you recycle in New York? Do you just not have enough money?”
       I struggled hard to maintain outward composure. I could not allow myself to get upset. This new roommate was obviously coming from a totally different experience. But “enough money?” No one has enough money to buy a new earth.
       That summer was a rough one. Though I did eventually find one of the two campus recycling dumpsters, I had also read enough of the school’s literature to learn that the recycling program had been canceled, so it was always with a half-hearted heave that I hoisted my recyclables over the rim of the newly discovered receptacle. I hoped that at least some weeks the material was actually taken to a plant that would ready it for reuse in an environment friendly manner.
       Luckily the college recycling program was back on track for the fall semester. No longer would I need to feel waves of anxiety I every time I bought a newspaper, unsure of where the perused pages would end up. My other challenge grew larger, however. Winter was approaching, which means the heat in the complex was turned on. Now, I come from a family who puts Jimmy Carter’s request into action, keeping our heat at 65 degrees and adding an extra layer of clothing to increase body temperatures. I am also aware others were not raised under such energy conscious roofs. Nevertheless, part of activism is to spread the word, and, as an aspiring public educator, relay of knowledge has for me become second nature. I began making little suggestions, “maybe we could just keep the apartment at one temperature instead of everyone adjusting it whenever she gets cold or hot,” “you know, if we rolled the carpet out to cover the living room floor less heat would escape, and we would be warmer” while inside I was screaming, “You are melting the polar icecaps! There is never a reason to put the heat to 76!”
       I know the battles will continue. They have been plaguing humankind for decades. Choices of personal convenience over global benefit abound in everyday life. Frightening statistics are in the news daily. Drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a current hotbed of debate: the issue being the choice between a possible new source for American oil and the destruction of countless natural habitats for such fragile creatures as caribou and polar bears. Updates tracking temperature increases and greenhouse gas emissions now crowd the science section of the news; however, I think the possibility of having no arctic ice left in the summer of 2060 may actually be more worthy of the front page.
       The headlines are there in your local newspaper delivered to your private home. I have been urging specific environment friendly actions upon people since I was an eight-year-old climbing a rope ladder to my organization’s base camp. Today I simply wish to point out that we are all in a state of living with others even if your home contains only your own belongings. Regardless of roommates, spouses, children, or any other combination of people living together under the same roof, we all share our planet with the other citizens of the world. The Inuit people in Alaska petitioning for more control of carbon dioxide emissions, claiming a violation to their human rights in an area in which temperatures increase at a rate twice that of the rest of the world, the Central Americans who fear deadly outbreaks of cholera and malaria due to markedly hotter weather, and the thousands of Africans who are starving from the destruction of their environment, their land unable to be cultivated, their water sources dried up, are merely a few of the many people being devastated by environmental emergencies. Today, rather than preaching about carpooling, bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, and putting a brick in the toilet tank, I ask only that each of us think about our many roommates, globemates, and factor some of their circumstances into our own life decisions.




Coyote’s Prediction

by Scott Starbuck

Scott travels between the north Oregon Coast, Columbia River Gorge, and his teaching job overlooking The Rose Creek Watershed in California.

There is a ghost
like water healing
the river's paddle wounds,

old logging mill
lanced by seeds
of forgotten giants,

salmon cannery
weathered like ribs
of a fish skeleton.

Only things
that belong here
will last.


Previously published in Mr. Cogito and The Eyes of Those Who Broke Free (poetry chapbook) by Pudding House.



Ellesmere Island, Canada 1986
   -- a photograph by Jim Brandenburg

by Elizabeth W. Jackson

Elizabeth loves both the mountains and the sea and feels lucky to live between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Outer Banks.

Blue-gray mountains bank the horizon,
and thick, gray clouds line the sky. Ice fields
flow from distant glaciers, cracking
into small breakaways that cluster and float
with the on-coming storm reflected in Baffin Bay.

Springing from one ice floe to another,
a lone white wolf hovers over water—
its silhouette, a shade of the future, glassed
in the surface of the bay. Droplets
flung from its coat have sunk
into the gulf, and rings ripple wide.

Twenty years later, the Montreal Gazette:

3,000 Year-Old Ice Shelf Fractures,

the mammoth slab calving from Ellesmere
to drift away like an empty barge.




Geese on a Northern California Pond

by Judie Rae

Judie, a Canadian, lives in Nevada City, California, in the South Yuba Watershed, an area whose trees and waterways remind her of magical summers spent at her grandmother’s cottage on the Ottawa River.

For thirty years I heard the cries,
the flap of wings heavier than
air, than the longing of that child
who stood, hand in grandmother’s
hand and watched Canadian skies
dark with your masses, my wonder
carried with you----
to here.

Memory’s tint is
silver---
silver wings,
silver waters of the Ottawa,
silver hair, a weave of time
rewoven now in glint of bone,
piece of sky.
Heavy bodied, elegant on pond
or field, this twice-told
gift,
this fine-toothed
love.


Previously published in "The Acorn."



House Frame In November

by Clara Quinlan

Clara lives in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, where Longs Peak looms in the near distance and Coal Creek cuts dramatically across the land.

Snow passes through
the living room like sand spilling

from an unfolded hand.
The upstairs closet tucking its white

linens deep in each corner.
From the crest of the hills, trees dyed

with the last of autumn pour down,
host of barked wood shivering

behind these smooth beams,
a canvas for each room: browns,

grays surfacing to orange, the rafters
unable to quell the fire of

leaves taunting the gauzy dome
above. If we found the room

where first prints might appear, palm
the gathering snow (here, a stolen

beginning, the fundamental hour)
our flesh’s heat taken in by the floor,

could we then be blameless?
Space left above our chapped hands

an echo of what we once were,
we could rise from this much.




Letters from the Hinterland #2, Eco-Logical

by Raymond Greiner

Raymond lives with his canine companions Orion and Venus on 14 acres of remote forested and pasture land about three miles from the hamlet of Paragon, Indiana, in a cabin about 500 yards from the little-traveled road.

In the late ‘60s I lived in San Francisco and often took the ferry to Sausalito and the shuttle bus to Muir Woods, a magnificent sanctuary of mature redwood trees. This is such a special place to visit. Walking the busy main path just ahead of me was a nice looking family, husband and wife with three young children. They were well-dressed and obviously upper middle class. The father said, looking at the majestic giants, “You see one redwood and you’ve seen them all.” To him this was merely a logical observation, and it’s true that as one views many elements of nature there is a uniform pattern to things; it’s one of nature’s functions, repetitive duplication. What also is obvious is that such an observation rings with a tone of indifference, revealing an inability to recognize the spectrum these trees create, their history and overall importance to this geographic composite of nature, melding with less dominate natural life forms, thriving and evolving because of the existence of this grove of giant trees. Often the human species reacts to nature and its importance with shadow thoughts, forming opinions without the light of knowledge revealing a broader, more meaningful perspective.
       Historically, natural treasures have become victims of intense human exploitation, to a greater degree in what is referred to as “modern times.” I once saw an old photograph, taken in the late 19th century, with groups of men standing among hundreds of stumps of redwood trees. Some were holding very long cross-cut saws and large axes, and lying all over the ground were giant redwood logs. To each of these men, and also the lumber baron that financed this operation, this was a logical event, a display of conquest, as they emitted pride in their accomplishment. In my view this was a holocaust, willful destruction of life that had flourished and survived for thousands of years.
       The animal that most closely resembles humanity is the locust, devouring all life in its path addressing its immediate personal agenda with no regard for preservation, unaware of any necessity for balance and harmonious co-existence. The difference is that locusts are intermediate invaders, and the human invasion is continual and on-going. As the rail system began its movement West, passengers would randomly shoot wild buffalo from windows of the passing trains, and the buffalo died by the thousands, their bodies rotting in the sun. This was great sport for these passengers, and it seemed perfectly logical for them to kill these wild animals. This type of twisted logic carries on today, less vivid but no less destructive. We also now have intervention, but it is weak and considered by many in leadership positions as more of a nuisance than a worthy alternative that highlights the negative effects of our force forward as a species. As we observe various group protests, very few signs are seen admonishing corporations for their environmental destruction, but many that seek economic self-gain as they seek to become members of the “have more” social order. Economics is at the forefront of political and social efforts. When we had the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it was a clear message displaying the illogical decision to drill for oil in this area. The campaign to stop this drilling was short lived, beaten down by lobby groups blackmailing the public with threats of 10-dollar-a-gallon gasoline if drilling was ceased. Of course this is untrue, but to the lobby groups and the recipients of this message, it was logical.
       In the late ‘40s and early ‘50s we sprayed DDT randomly and without forethought, nearly causing the extinction of the Peregrine Falcon. When the lodge pole pines were threatened by the lodge pole beetle, the knee-jerk reaction was to spray poison on the beetles, which would kill endless numbers of birds that feed on these beetles. Famed naturalist Adolph Murie wrote a lengthy paper on why the beetle should be allowed to function, articulating a natural cycle for the trees. This intervention by Murie saved the beetles, birds and trees. Those that supported spraying thought it was a logical thing to do. At intervals there is talk of a hydroelectric dam to be constructed on the Yukon River, creating a low-cost energy source to attract industrial growth to Alaska. This dam would destroy the Yukon Flats entirely, the nesting ground for one sixth of all North American waterfowl. To economic speculators and dam builders, this would be logical.
        Chemical use is now pervasive in farming practices; each year the farmers saturate their fields with heavy doses of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizer. This practice has been in place now for many years. The soil is saturated with these invasive, artificial substances that eventually filter into the food, and ultimately saturate the bodies of those that consume the food. To the farmer and producers of these chemicals it is logical.
       The potential for economic gain presents itself as logical. Long-term effect is ignored. Selfishness and a collective drive toward self-serving agendas represent the main thrust of modern society. Listen to the political candidates as they speak to their potential voters. You hear nothing about preservation of Earth functions or conserving. What you hear is ongoing rhetoric directed at individual economic potential gain, the distribution of tax revenue, and how if they are elected positive change is just on the horizon. As global population growth inundates our planet, we are moving quickly toward large scale, self-inflicted damage and potential ruin. There are in place quality environmental movements, with knowledge and plans for positive change, exposing the damaging effects and lack of long-term recognition. As a species it is imperative that we begin to recognize the need to harmonize with the Earth, conserve and support environmental causes. Without the natural cycles and functions of nature, without clean, pure water, air and natural food sources, there is no future. It’s only logical. Eco-logical.




Nature Writing 101

by Catherine Owen

Catherine lives on the edge of the Lower Fraser Estuary where it runs into Vancouver, BC, down from Hope. She regularly walks the trails by the water where one can encounter otters, bald eagles, herons and the occasional coyote.

Our minds can turn anything romantic.
Is the problem.
The sewage-y mud of the Fraser a quaint muslin &
   the spumes

                    pulsing out of chimneys at the Lafarge
                       cement plant look,
                    at night, like two of Isadora Duncan’s
                      scarves, pale, insouciant veils,
                    harmless. The trees are all gone but then
                      aren’t our hearts

more similar to wastelands.
We can make it kin, this pollution, children one is
   sad about yet still fond of, their
delinquency linked to our own, irreparable with
   familiarity, a lineage of stench &

                    forgiveness. Our minds can assimilate all horrors.
                    Is the problem.
                    The animals will disappear and those small, strange invertebrates,

the bees will vanish & in the well-oiled waters, fish
will surge their deaths over the sand bags.
But then we keep saying, “Let’s construct another narrative.”

                    The nightmares must simply be called reality.
                    And after this you see,
                    it is possible to carry on.




Night Walk

by Clara Quinlan

Clara lives in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, where Longs Peak looms in the near distance and Coal Creek cuts dramatically across the land.

And none save me
in shoes – fearless, the tendered arc
of the cricket from the grasses,

moon kernel, lunar zippering,
the white dog advances, astral, says
soon the snow, says always this

return, clusters of stripped birch
the debris, the sorrow left
upon the stammering breast. Shadows in

the gathered pines, wind-stirred;
across distant hills the forest fire as ruby,
as invitation, the only match to see by

in this untold room and then might I
find all that’s left willing? Here slight,
here gone, the heart the untenable,

traps the stars low enough
to gather – desire bestowed, unfaltering –
handful of glitter should I forget

these tracks, the field’s dark want,
ghosted delight beckons
the exceptional loss. Is the white dog

slight with tremble and released
to the point of intoxicant, mouth
breaking open, shutting,

breeze-stolen, pink-tinged ears –
white flame before me
unfastens the field and would that I

accompany her, surely a lumine witness,
the earnest needles of the dark
bowed, fraught with salvation.




Overhear

by Linda Benninghoff

Linda lives in the Northern Long Island Watershed in back of Caumsett State Park and less than a mile from the Long Island Sound.

The dreams of the earth are my dreams,
under the unspeaking trees.
Lakes of silence under the oaks' branches,
and small birds on their limbs
sing only in the morning.

These flowers have all died with
the frost,  but an orange glow remains,
crysanthemums brighter than last night’s stars.

I want to grow up to overhear
the speech of flowers,
of birds hidden by trees,
of geese and the vast sky they talk to--




Rescuing Tree Frogs

by Maya Khosla

Maya lives near Copeland Creek, which is a part of the Russian River watershed in Sonoma County.

In minutes, workers will pour liquid concrete,
button up this ditch full of pipes. A slurry
that will gel in twenty, be rock-hard tomorrow.
I’m five feet under, catching frogs that want
to squeeze from my grip. Forty spindly-legged dollops
have been dropped back into the pond
they’re dispersing from. Metamorphs,

a thumb-nail in size and brand new to the world
of air. But forty isn’t success. Many slink back.
Dozens of others evade, eyeing me from between

great tubes of polyvinyl chloride that rattle
and slip under my feet. Safety marries instinct, unable
to anticipate the sting of alkalinity moments ahead.

And when it comes, the torrent pouring in,
they leap the amphibian equivalent of a scream.
Flinging them out, I dive back, knee-deep
in the gray soup hardening around my legs.
The foreman shouts Too thick! And two men
haul me out minus my right boot –
too full of the gravid pull to emerge.




Season's Passing

by Judie Rae

Judie, a Canadian, lives in Nevada City, California, in the South Yuba Watershed, an area whose trees and waterways remind her of magical summers spent at her grandmother’s cottage on the Ottawa River.

After a fall rain
when the earth smells
of spores and small
hopes,
berries hang,
pie ripe,
untouched,
lost to summer’s bounty.

In the field
the bones of a fallen deer
too old even for dog wonder
glisten in the last sun
and gather milky
proof
of season’s passing.


Previously published in "The Acorn."



Shoe Fitting X-Ray Device

by Susan Terris

Susan grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River but now lives near Baker Beach at the southwest edge of San Francisco Bay.

Step up here, little lady, they said, and wiggle
your toes
. Agreeable, I stood, sucking on
my u-stemmed red Saf-T-Pop, looking through
fluorscopic light at the shadows of my foot bones
moving inside the outlines of new Mary Janes.
While my brother and baby sister were fitted
for lace-up Stride Rites, I continued to stand
there staring down.

          The toe bones connected to
the foot bones—a song yet something else, too.
Above them, more unseen bones, held in by
a shrug of skin. No whispers then of radiation,
just endless time to ponder how easily flesh could
disappear—a glimpse of mortality, sweetened by
a lollipop, but there for me to ponder. What was
the meaning of articulation or of white bones?




The Funeral Bird

by Bill Edmondson

Bill lives directly in the path of Canada geese who've long abandoned migration between Canada and South America in favor of a comfortable daily commute between Sebastapol and Santa Rosa, California.

The black mamo (or funeral bird)
one of many blown away—scraps of discarded songs—
so friendly he perched on our shotgun
and sang to us his whistling note
We had to shoo him to shoot him
While he was here his curving beak
sucked from the mouth of the lehua bloom
While powder from the petal’s cheek
dusted his shoulders
He carried life from plant to plant
Now the last three mamos sleep
in plastic bags in drawers in the Bishop Museum




Trophy Sorrow

by Richard Mack

Richard lives in the Grande Ronde River watershed of Eastern Oregon near the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area.

Head back, bugling, he becomes the cosmos.
Antlers that hold the sizzle of lightning
and the cloud of his breath, thunder.
I heard his call for many days
and once in the clear November night
his voice entered my bones.
I see him now in the forest
twenty yards away, but connected
like the strings of the universe
like the thread of coyote call
across the clear desert night
weaving the fabric of species.
And then
waiting for the light to change
I hear the truck engine whine
and in the back, the antlers.
Trophies, they call them,
but antlers are not the elk.
The elk has fled across the sky
head back, bugling, trailing lightning
the voice still echoing on the mountain
and the thunder remembers




What I Wanted of Milkweed

by John Smith

John lives on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River in the Lower Delaware watershed.

I picked a milkweed pod from a field
and propped it in a vase on my desk
then made a game with students
of watching it shrivel dry, day by day,
and split open. While we trudged through
another novel, unlocked another plot,
a slit widened from the base of the casing
and spread to the tip of the husk.
It was the slowest opening any of us
had ever witnessed, the softest shedding.
Whenever anyone swept by or undid
a window anywhere in the classroom,
white hairs trembled inside, then peeled from
a gray pouch, and tumbled on the breeze.
I wanted to see who among the passing
between bells would notice a wispy cocoon
bottled on a desk and not be able to resist
stopping in for a second, risk being late
for class, just to stroke the silk tufts
with a fingertip, maybe even pinch a seed
from a gray pod, dangle it in front of pursed lips,
whisper a wish, and blow it away with a kiss.
I wanted to know how long it would take
to fill the hallway with feathery white spheres
and an entire student body, distracted
by frayed bubbles bobbing around them,
turn away from lockers and friends.
Caught up and spun by a sudden draft,
I wanted to watch teenagers dip and weave,
careen off the walls on the way to physics
and history. What else is there to wish for
if not that a corridor of milky green tiles
and fluorescent lighting be quietly converted
into a swirling field of snow?
What knowledge is worth chasing after more
than that we can clasp in our hands?
How far have we come if we aren't struck downy
and transported by the world around us,
if we can't open our lives to what's sown
on the wind and drift into class late
but inseminated, or better yet, turn
at the first exit sign we find, burst
through the fire doors, and climb the sky?


"What I Wanted of Milkweed" was published in Journal of New Jersey Poets



Windmills at Alta Mont Pass

by Susan Kelly-DeWitt

Susan lives in the Lower Sacramento Watershed, about two miles from where the Sacramento and American Rivers meet.

The windmills are eerily still.
They stud the hills

like tall white tombstones;
they gather like ghosts

in a churchyard.
A hundred years ago

John Muir stood at the top
of these hills, waist-deep

in poppies and lupine.
Now hawks float, endangered

hieroglyphs, above diesel
plumes feathering the sky.




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