Across hot arroyo sand
a small butterfly,
bobs up, bobs down, around,
startling where the sole
movement under sun
was a lizard dash for cover.
Oasis in drought,
few flowers offer nectar now,
some yellow brittlebush,
a scatter of blue desert bells.
Note: Photo Joshua Tree Nat’l. Park
California poppy buds rise from a pink disk
white at center.
When gold petals fall the pink circle stays,
bare but poised
to grow the tall green seedpod packed with
small round futures.
Twin filaree flowers adorn desert sand
rising from a dark mat three fingers wide.
1/8” five-petal purple stars offer nectar
to small native bees from myriad mats.
Watch your desert feet lest you
crush these starred enchantments.
Note: Photo from Joshua Tree Nat’l. Park.
It is snowing still
but it’s hard to care, for
Maples are in flower
Sap rose weeks ago,
when squirrels bit bark
and licked their fill
of dark sap deltas
on sapling-smooth bark.
Out of season
sky still snows.
It is cold, but
Maples are in flower.
Desert spring releases beavertail cactus flowers.
Layers of silky petals ring the potent center
where yellow pollen dances on red filaments.
The plain paddles of the beavertail seem
an incongruous source of such wild beauty,
like finding the heart of an unexpected friend.
Note: Photo from Anza-Borrego desert, CA
A garter snake emerges from last fall’s leaves
where she searched for bugs and mites,
tasting her surround with a split red tongue.
She is but days from hibernation so
first she takes food, then yields to
the need to shed musk and mate.
Her bright eyes are open always
to this earth she flicks and tastes.
Photo: Rural Forest Lake, MN
A meadow at altitude.
Prickly pear thrives
in the bones of its nurse.
Tiny yellow daisies everywhere
except close to the cactus
whose spread roots
keeps them at distance.
The daisies don’t mind -
They gild wide acres.
Note: Photo: a ridge in Cleveland Nat’l. Forest, CA, near Mt. Palomar
5.10.2013 INVITEtoWRITE #53 and Responses to INVITE #52
Flooded homes, a rubber glove, reflected trees, still waters. A recent news photo. This photo might take writing in many directions. Perhaps focus on the glove: Does it look like a cry for help? Who inflated it, and why? If the glove is a marker, what is on the deep end of the string? Would a migrant oriole perch on it for the orange color? What feelings do the slightly distorted tree reflections call up in you? Please contemplate the photo and see where it takes a piece of writing, then share it with the Morning Earth community
Submit your piece via email by Wed. May 22. All submissions will be published Friday, May 23. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org. No attachments, please.
The life-force so graphically presented in INVITE #52 generated many intriguing poems. If you find a piece particularly strong, please let the writer know—send me an email and I will pass it on.
HEADLINE: LEAVES BREAK THROUGH PACKED BLACKTOP AGAIN
So maybe we decide to make
a little desert to keep things easy to keep
dirt-down and solidly immune to ruts,
a hard surface where our vehicles can be
free of being swallowed by the earth—
agreeably free of drifting grit
and gummy mini-slicks of slurry
seeking to bury tomorrow
what resisted entombment today.
We could pave the whole of North America
if we wished to take the trouble.
When the World Goddess expresses
her desire to cover over whatever we
set on her table to slow her down,
she gently but firmly keeps it loose as a cliche—
billions of billions of microdots of
minuscule mineral matter acting as one
full monster gobble whatever we bring
to the scene— skate, bike, car, truck, tank.
It all starts with the teasing tongues
of little leaves on thin stems.
It enjoys tenderly breaking the hard surface
of the roadside asphalt, and works,
works without popping a drop of sweat.
Maybe we should just stand aside
and envy this unscored, unscoured success—
or maybe complain to any other nobody
who might listen to our irritation
that nothing will ever seem so easy for us.
Or just perhaps enjoy the green greeting.
~~John Calvin Rezmerski, Minnesota
Who Says I Can’t?
On a day of whining and procrastination
I pause at a wondrous sight,
Tenacious, delicate looking, green steel shoots
up through asphalt with an attitude that says
“Oh yeah, who says I can’t grow here?”
I reach down doubting the strength
of the Mother’s green child and pull
expecting roots to regurgitate into my hand.
Red of face with exertion, my hand bruised,
wisdom finally surfaces in my stubborn mind.
Ah, I get it.
Beneath me the earth sighs at my reluctant learning,
perhaps allowing herself a small giggle at my expense.
I offer a little blessing over this green hero
praying that hard tires of gaseous metal contraptions
do not claim victory over such wondrous determination.
What I was whining about I do not now remember.
Only the words, “I can” remain.
~~Linda Leary, Colorado
Teaching the Master Gardeners
It all begins with rich, loose soil, our teacher says.
Your garden is a tender child. You must exert
some energy to raise it up. Remember -
healthy roots depend on healthy dirt.
We mix a recipe of loam and sand and clay,
amend with nutrients, top-dress and rake.
We plant our hybrid ornamentals loose and deep
in well drained beds. We watch and wait.
Our flowers struggle up, weak-kneed, with heavy heads.
Leaves fade, blooms fizzle in the summer heat.
Nearby we find a robust volunteer
has pushed up through the asphalt street.
(Oh, sturdy orphan! Sassy weed! Is there a lesson here?)
~~Sara DeLuca, Georgia
Our senses are aching.
The earthy loam that teases our nose
Is still buried under snowpack,
Only available to the dog.
The pussy willows are still in hiding,
Their tiny buds wrapped in
Protection from the persistent cold.
The frogs at night, barely audible
Like they are testing to see if their
Voice even works.
Bluebirds not even here yet
A full month late to start their home
Shopping and new families.
And here, one weed broken through,
A green peace offering
Assurance that Spring will come.
~~Janice Springer, Minnesota
Green life forces
Let this lesson serve
To make it clear,
Nothing will hinder
Your life force here.
~~Sarah Zuccarelli, New Hampshire
Spring, a verb--
To leap or rise,
Our very eyes.
Spring, a noun--
As in watch or car,
Spring, a noun--
A water source,
Supplies the seedlings'
Spring, a verb--
Spring, a noun--
A lazy season,
Comes at last,
~~David Brink, Minnesota
Look past the shards
of man’s work upon the earth
See the push of life
that will not be denied.
The only thing that matters here
is the strength of stems
and the light that
catches and gives back
~~Mary S. McConnell, Wisconsin
Again and again,
Billions of times
This time green,
a human dream,
Next time, maybe
Orange sun paints itself,
Rising beyond moon
And chartreuse leaves
Feather through pavement
Of black oil.
O saeclum insapiens,
Peopling ourselves across the globe,
Unable to rise, eternal.
Fragrant, green curl,
Teach us now
~~Judith Mosby, Virginia
The Way Things Are
A boy drops out of school
because it is too hard...
A girl won’t try out for band
because she is afraid she can’t make it....
A couple get a divorce because
they don’t believe in counseling...
Maybe they are right.
Then there’s this plant
that got blacktopped over
for a parking lot...
Leafout paints this oak valley
as if green were a color
just dreamed up from sleep.
This patch of Earth renews
itself and all about with this green
invented for the millionth time.
Scrubjay loves it and black phoebe,
and the tiny wasps that make oak galls
know themselves redeemed.
Dreamer, this is one fine dream.
Note: Photo of blue oak in Pinnacles Nat’l. Park, CA.
Oriole has flown to nesting grounds.
He is a prominence of Sol
hurled through space to Earth
eons ago, but when he arrives here
every early May
still raw tears heat my eyes.
Lady sea otters hang out in the daycare,
two nurse their pups, two aunties keep company.
One warms her furless hands in air,
she surrenders only her charm.
One pup is huge. Soon Mom
will teach her how to dive and hunt.
One morning the pup will wake alone.
To have to feed herself will be a surprise.
A huge harbor seal has
just now given birth.
Her pup dragged itself
up to mother’s head, and sleeps.
Soon will drop the umbilical cord
and thrill a searching gull.
The first gift to Other.
Note: All lives flourish by accepting other lives’ gifts of waste, notably in our case, oxygen.
In early spring, before its host leafs out,
Desert mistletoe berries hallow
sere landscapes with red
that our eyes cherish.
Flycatchers relish these berries
as do the first nations.
Sprawled in bright a robin basks,
left wing mantled, tail feathers erect
so sun can reach bare skin at roots.
Basking becomes a kind of trance--
half-lidded eyes, the delicious being state
we and lizards too find on sun-baked sand.
But when the camera clicks the eye pops wide:
I have interrupted adoration of the sun.
Last year’s floating grass
stripes blue water rose,
a bit of green and umber.
I picture ancient humans
grinning at such chance Earth art
on a local pool with
no more clue why than I.
Beauty is no accident.
An oriole girl points out
to a harassing beautiful male
that she is damn well going to
eat her grape jelly share.
So she’s got jelly on her beak.
If he’s wise he’ll back off.
Turns out he’s wise not so much.
Note: Choices shape reproduction. Females do the choosing. The spectacular beauty of males across species—fish to birds—is the result of female choice of mates over thousands and millions of years.
The big Green Darner dragonflies
have pledged their troth,
and now he guards her against rivals,
still clasps tight her head
while she dips her eggs into the pond
that generations yet unborn will
enact again this most ancient rite of spring.
Note: the legacy of dragonfly goes back to the time when
green vegetation now turned to black coal fell into the swamp.
5.24.2013 INVITE to WRITE #54 and Responses to INVITE #53
This photo, Girl in Storm, is by Hoang Hiep Nguyen. A powerfully evocative picture. The girl holds a portfolio. The portfolio sheets are being torn out be the wind storm which has blown her umbrella inside out. She stands in what seems to be a field of long grass. Above her storm clouds reign. Contemplate the photo and see where it takes a piece of writing.
Email your work by Wednesday June 5. All submissions will be published Friday, June 7. No attachments please.
Responses to INVITE #52 are a thoughtful pleasure to read. Thank you for sharing them with the Morning Earth Community.
FROLICKING TO A FLOOD
Neptune finally shouts: "Enough!",
Raising aloft his red left hand
(Sinister in so many ways),
A watery and forbidding stop-sign--
From his office down in the deep,
Earth's playful water nymphs, obedient
Always to the potent god below,
But enjoying their long shower bath.
Begin turning down their showerheads,
Acknowledging they had bathed too long,
Endangering their usual earthly wards--
The humans Jove had long ago decreed
Should occupy the sphere's dry land
To stumble through their little lives
Upon a planet that somehow works...
Well, at least... most of the time.
~~David R Brink, Minnesota
Flood or fire
A swift bullet
The slow sinking of dementia.
One way or another
We are all going down.
But how we resist and deny.
We invent our Heavens
Imagine God with facial features
Arms and legs
Plans and intentions.
Imagine He intends to save us.
Our small eyes will not recognize
How transient is this tiny world
How awash in nonsense.
We are all drowning.
But now and then
Someone hoists a rubber chicken.
Or a giant orange glove
Rises from the water
Now and then someone
With a cosmic sense of humor
~~ Sara DeLuca, Georgia
THE GLOVE OF GOD
It rained and rained and rained.
And God saw the waters rise
higher than he had commanded,
and that it was Not Good.
And God raised an angry glove
and said, "Enough Already."
And the waters stopped
where a camera snapped.
And God saw millions
of dollars' damage to restore,
and that His Scarlet Glove
was loudly empty-handed.
~~Denise duMaurier, Washington State
THOUGHTS ON FLOODGLOVE
Like the trailer opening for a drive-in Scary Movie
The Disembodied Hand seems to slowly rise from mirrored flood waters.
Is it a Go-No-Further note of Caution, else perhaps a telling
Too seek a real Emergency, Look about you!
Or merely one of many such Real-Disaster oddities
Which meet the gaze of those post-flood few who gather to
Wonder, comfort and clean in wake of Mother Nature's whims.
~~Frank Hawthorne, Minnesota
I am garish -
I admit it.
There is a reason
for my screaming color.
Come and hear
what I have to say
If you can look past
the loud, inflated
me, notice that I am
Alone in this long
spread of water.
Then come, see,
and listen -
I have a story to tell.
~~ Mary McConnell, Wisconsin
LADY WATER AND THE HAND OF THE MAN
The hand of The Man says “STOP! No more!
Water, go down, stay away from my door!
You should remain where you’re meant to be,
within your banks, bounded by shores.”
But Water does what she wants, flows wherever
it pleases her to go… most times.
Yet with anger and some resistance
she can be forced to run where she doesn’t
want to end up, all against her convictions
when the hand of The Man, Industry, Science
disturbs the land, her flow gets
disrupted, her ways distorted,
the laws of physics overtake her
principles, and Lady Water overruns
their lives. Then unapologetic, she says,
“Look at yourselves in the mirror of my water.
Something definitely isn’t right here. When will YOU
stop? And if you don’t, what in the world
is going to survive?
--Anne C. Brink, Minnesota
AND A SURPRiSE!
You may recall that some months ago I suggested that all are welcome to write from the photo of a different Healing Image:
Yes, my feathers are ruffled
I half-dreamed wonderful things
before I was jogged out of reverie.
You sense this.
My dream is shared into the wind
to live amid earth’s seen and unseen
and will continue after you have passed by.
Some of my dream you know, the dream
that is the greening grass, the crabapple’s
rosy buds, white squirrels chatter
in apricot and mountain ash.
So now, do not pass by.
Stay and half-close your eyes,
join our dream, see some of the unseen,
and take with you a dream that man is
meant to share.
~~Mary McConnell, Wisconsin
The waking happens on the forest floor
that time after time mends gray mind.
Hepatica bobs pollen white on blue petal sky,
thrusts old leaves aside for sunlight calmed with bees.
A dropped oak branch nestles near on soil:
lichens orange, gray, moss just greening.
Textures here for fingertip: leaf vein, fuzzy flower stem,
smooth osier bark, rough oak, moist lichen supple.
But sight touches such colors as pulse my wintry eyes.
The grosbeak with the rose breast
is pleased with his ivory beak
that crunches exoskeletons
and cracks the hardest seeds.
His bright bead eye gleams
from his black hood.
He looks burly, a weight lifter:
Who could be prepared for
the rose upon his breast?
A sigil one could not expect.
Look when he takes flight,
underwings too flash rose.
Yellowthroat warbler scans his fief
from a willow thin for warbler feet.
He tops his golden breast
with a robber’s mask of black
through which gleams bright eyes.
We see him seldom, hear him all the time:
from wet edges of the ponds,
from cattails that crowd the ditch.
As the showy trillium wanes,
three petals blush with pink,
three leaves stand firm and green,
but just below the petals
the ovary grows soft
so ants can free three seeds from each
carry them to the nest
eat the treat the plant provides
and toss the seeds on nest compost
where in time they germinate
and unfold to light in threes.
Note: Ants plant many wildflowers in an ancient symbiosis.
Trillium, bloodroot, violets and dutchman’s breeches are examples.
Such plants grow seeds with an attached ant treat called an elaiosome. The ants give the seed to their larvae, which eat the soft fatty treat but not the hard seed, which the ants deposit in their refuse chamber underground, a way of planting the seed with ant compost and moist soil—Perfect! This symbiosis has co-evolved for millions of years. Symbiosis is astounding.
For more go here on Morning Earth:
Goose and gander both go
to protect gold goslings from
To coil this strike shape
Is not their fierce caring
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