I am startled to be blessed with flowers
flying above desert sands hot enough
to draw the nectar up for coiled tongues
to suck just enough sweet energy
to burgeon flutter-dance and eggs,
to again complete the endless arc of
green become dance become green.
The pure intensity of hunt
repeats throughout the day.
The moments of success—Ahh,
now and then, but a fierce Hosanna!
for the long neck’s slide to gut
where resides the sweet knowing
“I will continue in the morrow’s hunt.”
The whale’s head lifts above the waves,
curious to see
what is this noisy floating thing?
of an instant I believe
her huge eye finds my lens.
We each regard the other, and she
makes large the little lump of me.
Note: Gray whale in Magdalena Bay, Pacific coast, Baja Sur, Mexico
Flowers are the center
in this desert out of time.
Leaves are a fine thing, but
green can not compare
with the red that brings
to pollinate so to
make seed in time
for September rains
that wet some years,
so that seed will sprout
two leaves, yes, of green,
fine bright life green,
which will be shed in dry
to save juice for the red
flowers at the center.
Leafless shrubs with spines
thrive in Baja deserts,
spines to keep browsing
deer and goats at bay.
But to my delight, a camera
in a single primate hand
is allowed to pluck a bicolor
posy as long as the pluck
is virtual, without a touch.
Note: Why two colors at once? To attract more than one pollinator? Day, perhaps, and night?
The caracara seems to have few cares
but has at least one pair of caras.
His upturned crest in black and bright
balances his recurved beak in pink and blue,
the blue of beak mirrored in turn by
his fine primaries and even the shadow
carelessly cast by caracara and sunlight.
It’s hard to see the dolphin
slash across the panga’s bow.
All is bright and splash
and power sensual at play.
I want to clap and stand and yell
with Ocean’s triumph in her child.
She laughs, I laugh, teeth flash,
we in the boat wipe salt from eyes.
A huge wasp carries wings aflame
to desert milkweed flowers
above dry sand on the coast of Cortez’ Sea.
The wasp’s iridescent body blue
sports upon the yellow cups
and stems of palest green
that photosynthesize like leaves
to feed this sweet ecology
of wasp and butterfly and bee, all
who join to make more milkweed seed.
The beachmaster hauls out on rocks
and surveys his harem.
One cow arches to meet him,
the rest lie languid with pups.
The angle of his muzzle and crown
says it all: “I am male triumphant,
Miles Gloriosus of this Isla Coronado.”
And he is. No brag.
The bull sea lion struts entirely in now.
He can’t see that his muzzle’s gone gray,
that one young bull awaits.
But today, the bull’s wet fur ripples light.
Note: This colony lives on the protected Isla Coronado,
Sea of Cortez, Baja California Sur
A splash of blue flowers in the arroyo
opposes the shade of a great boulder.
All around are shades of desert and dry,
before me this blue feast for eyes.
Seeds to grow this feast rushed
from the black mountain down
last September in the rains.
Seeds from this feast will shower blue
nearer the coast of the Sea of Cortez,
when this dry arroyo rolls downstream
next September in the rains.
Now parched waiting, now soaked
swelling, mountain blues leap down
to the sea, orbit by orbit, while goblets
of blue urge passing eyes to drink.
INVITE TO WRITE #10
This native orchid is Rose pogonia. Like most orchids, she attracts her pollinators to trick them.
When a bumblebee lands on her inviting tongue to find a yellow pollen treat, it finds none. Meanwhile, above the bee’s back, the sticky stigma has lowered by the bee’s weight to catch pollen from the previous flower visited. As the disappointed bee backs out, the orchid’s anthers descend to coat its furry back with pollen gold. So Rose is a trickster, like Coyote and Raven. But she is also a great beauty, princess of the sphagnum bog.
Cherished subscribers, see where Rose pogonia takes your writing for Morning Earth’s Invite to Write #10.
Teachers, please use this writing prompt with your students of all ages. C’mon, it’s Spring (almost).
Submissions are due next Wednesday, March 23. Email to
Many submissions will be published Friday, March 25.
Yellow-shafted flicker returns
as snow leaves, eager for fat
in the absence of ants.
Flicker’s dapper dotted breast
and yellow feather shafts ignite
the hope of answers to the drab
Hola! Sandhill cranes just now arrived
and at this moment try to melt
marsh ice with strong harmonics
from these eldest throat singers.
This flicker, these cranes
have just fired the dross
of winter from my bones,
thrown wide spirit again.
In morning mangroves
colony nesters take the sun.
A yellow-crowned night heron
dries off after an early hunt.
His nape plumes dry first.
He is self-sufficient here,
composed as an adagio,
now that he has fed.
His rich brown eye tracks
our loud passage, only
bit of him that moves.
I wish this gift of still:
Did he learn it from
the mangrove leaves?
From atop a cardon
a loggerhead shrike hunts,
alert with hunger.
Its stomach empty,
shrunk in on itself.
The pleats of shrike perch
are deep in drought-time,
thin roots waiting wide
flesh emptied of water.
Note: The tall cardon cactus of Baja California silhouettes the desert with exclamation points.
My nostrils quiver, inhale this scent.
Sweet Acacia bursts onto the desert
like a tree of fragrant suns, taking
captive every sentient eye
and pulling into its orbit
every kind of nose that
birds and bugs possess
to pollinate this sweet
elation of acacia suns.
INVITE TO WRITE #10 & #11
A bone lies on desert gravel and sand, perhaps a foreleg. Another bone lies nearby, one with cranial sutures. This desert is in Baja California, Mexico. Notice that small rodents have not gnawed the bone for calcium to enrich their milk, as they would in grasslands and forest. Perhaps there are too many hunters in the night? Consider this photo and see where it takes your writing.
Please send your poem/contemplation to
email@example.com by next Wednesday, March 30.
Thank you for your contributions to the Morning Earth community.
This Invite is not a competition. It is about sharing our humanity.
Below find the widely varied responses to the little wild orchid, rose pogonia.
I did not come into Beauty looking
for an exit,
its nourishment sustains me
Oblivious of its science
and its common sense,
Beauty and I wed completeness.
Marcia McEachron, MN
Come to me my little friend
and rest your busy self on my soft
carpet of yellow ambrosia.
Although I have no food –
so sorry -
I will caress you with
the magic dust of my petals .
Giddy with my charms
fly away and
and share my
hither and yon,
insuring my beauty will spread.
Come back for more if
you wish. My mouth is always open.
Linda Leary, Colorado
In an orchid world, plush paths
invite a busy visitor to linger.
The golden trove she probes
is devoid of promised treasure.
If she could only pause,
appreciate the beauty
of a petal delicate and overlaid
with gossamer, - but
she only knows to go about
So I will claim her contentment,
and breath her sigh of
She can fly, with her bounty
of unsuspected pollen application,
about her work in a world
of unknowns and of tricksters.
Mary McConnell, Minnesota
Rose Pogonia and Bumblebee
Rose tricks Bumblebee
to seek pollen where there is none,
so she can dust her golden grains
onto Bee’s fuzzy back.
Unfair this seems, but no harm done.
Perhaps her pollen has a sweet aroma
that makes the effort worthwhile.
Otherwise, one must conclude,
She has no memory!
Betty Hartnett, Minnesota
Who sprinkled you brow with
crushed diamonds, sugared
your hair with pearls?
Who tickled your chin
with that flamingo-pink feather,
the magenta boa?
Rose pogonia, the sun
looks good on you.
Your audience - those tall
grasses - applaud your
tricking the bees with your
luring them in with their gifts
of frankincense, pollen, and
Laura L. Hansen,
She put on her best
pink hat with the sequins
and the feather feature
on one side. Slipped into
her gaudy sun-green silk
and took all the money
from the cookie-crock.
When her father asked her
what was the occasion,
she answered: "Goin' up-town
ta git married." Stuck out in
the woods with two brothers
and one old man, there ain't
much else a decent girl can do.
Denise duMaurier, Washington state
The world is in chaos
This gossamer thing, a fairy tale
I see an old man in a darkened library
Dark shadows of book shelves
Dark chairs, and unlit lamps
The man's hair is white and full,
He bends a little, in his hand a magnifying glass
To the pot on the wide sill of the window,
Holds his jewel in the sunlight
His is not a moment of now
It is a moment from before and after
How long before the after
How long before the luxury of a tranquil moment
Perhaps it will never come
Peggy Osborne, Montana
How humans do it
Beauty News from Busy Young Working Woman Magazine:
This season, think “flower in springtime” for an alluring, artful eye makeup design. Put nature to work for you with the Rose Pogonia palette of vivid violet and luminous yellow—shades that flatter everyone!
(Any kingdom, phylum, genus, species)
In her boxy realm, shop girl lifts her head.
Her orchid eyes widen, gaze rises, falls.
Beguiled, the ape stretches lips back from teeth
and grunts for one need only: another.
Deborah Boguszewski, Minnesota
Spring’s caressing breeze
Cupping gently gossamer flower skirts
Tiny Toile Petals
I am here
Exposed Lifegiver’s teasing return
Dancing for Gold dust
Wings & Petals
Sweet Fragrance ascends
Billowing all my senses
My heart is lightly overwhelmed
Releasing my spirit
To ascend briefly, bow and join
Mother in her vernal equinox celebration dance
And I sing ecstatically
By Kathleen Huntley, Montana
By Any Other Name...
I knew those girls -
Rose Pogonia and her
half sister Ruby Begonia.
Born into different environments
but with common denominators.
Rose was reclusive -
living mostly in bogs.
Ruby was precocious -
living mostly in bars.
They were lookers, they were!
But deftly deceptive.
Many a cowboy came
buzzing round Ruby’s room -
Only to wake up alone,
hung over, with his
The Bumblebee came
buzzing around Rose’s door -
Only to leave with a
heavy heart - and his
Beauty is its own purpose.
Cowboys and bees are driven
to find love - while
Ruby and Rose,
coy and alluring,
pick ‘em clean and
send ‘em on their way.
Yes, those girls are
quite the lookers!
Beauty takes care of itself.
Bruce Peck, Minnesota
Student Poems, all from Pat Fondren’s class at Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences, Denver, CO
The flower is pink like the white buffalo’s eyes
The grass is like a forest full of life
The flower goes down like someone crying
The flower is like the sky full of stars
That is the beauty of the flower and the grass
Eduardo Martinez, 7th Grade
As I see the flower I feel the Rose
It’s soft and a little rough
Pink, white, and purple are together
This rose represents my mother as she is
A beautiful Rose in Spring
Pattrica Serrano-Bann, 7th Grade
Orchids are flowers
Flowers that talk
In different ways
The wind, the sun,
The water gives it
Life. It sparkles in
The wind makes it talk and
The orchid swishes back
And forth. When the bees
Come it tricks them and
This is the silent talk of reproducing
The sun and the water
give life to the
orchids. The sun makes
it sweat and the water
makes it wet.
Michael Serrano-Bann, 6th Grade
Orchid opens up for the spring but as
The seasons change – spring, summer, fall, winter
It turns into winter again and it must
Close up for the year. When it opens up
Next year it will be pink and beautiful
As it was last year. Then when nature takes
Its course maybe there will be more in
The great bog.
Dillon Junger, 6th Grade
The rose is bright
The sun is strong
The colors are bright
The wind is strong
As makes it spark
Brenda Armendariz, 7th Grade
As I look at the rose
I feel like it is spring already and
It makes me happy and
That means that I know summer is on its way.
You’re there and no one
How about here?
They still don’t see you!
but, I see you
Invisible Lover looking
But, they can’t stop
me from telling you
how beautiful you are-
but they see you
Khalil Kelley, 7th grade
When a great whale dives
with a flourish of flukes
or simply slides below
the surface of the sea,
the waters honor the whale.
the waves hesitate to return.
Water stills for a long moment
into the whale slick,
a salutation to the power that can
displace such a volume of the sea.
For a time it flattens waves.
I think of like moments of awe,
when the purely physical act, say,
of a Nureyev or Jordan lifts and bids
the spirit in us toward homage
like the calm slick that marks
the descent of these great whales.
It stills the waters.
Of a sudden when beauty
overwhelms this day,
words go into hiding.
Words know they won’t
do or catch or capture
this perfect confluence
of Earth’s colors,
(blue sky in pool ice reveals day’s every hour)
of her textures,
(bark, roots, smooth ice, crumb ice afloat)
Earth’s curves, her sharps, her flows,
(roots delve down)
her perfect trysts each dark,
how they laud dawn.
You can come out now.
In the oasis of San Javier
I found the Green Man
working the garden.
Bent over he was, right arm
down in the rock garden
while his heart hand
spread his blessing
over green and growing.
He must have been carried
to the Mission from Spain
by the stonemasons
who had carved his face
in the old churches there.
In three hundred years
since, he’s made an oasis
for the ages, but when
I praised his work, his
leaves blushed bright,
then he scampered off
into the fan palms.
It’s said that if
one of Earth’s old powers
allows you to see it,
you will see more.
I think it’s working.
Note: The Mission of San Jacinto is in Baja California Sur,
built in the late 17th century.
A pair of red barrel cactus
attend their nurse agaves.
The barrel in back has lost
its nurse to flowering
and programmed death,
but is now vital on its own.
There is no thought here,
only pattern, only living
nurses that shield a start
beneath sharp desert sun.
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