The Trail Back

The Trail Back.JPG

The Trail Back

By Gene Twaronite

is never the same.
The sun you once faced
is now over your shoulder,
the horizon where you’re
headed is now the one
where you’ve been.
You follow your footprints
as you explore the world
made new in hindsight
hoping to find what it is
you have missed.

(Mount Wrightson Super Trail, Coronado National Forest)

Gene Twaronite.JPG

Gene Twaronite’s poems, essays, and short stories have appeared in forty different print and online magazines, journals, newspapers, and anthologies. He is the author of seven books including two juvenile novels and two short story collections. His first poetry book Trash Picker on Mars was published by Kelsay Books in 2016. His second collection of poems The Museum of Unwearable Shoes is scheduled to be released in September 2018. Follow more of Gene’s writing at his website

Featured image by Mikesanchez1109 / CC BY

Lost and Found

Lost and Found

Lost and Found

By Laura Foley

On my sophomore science field trip
to the rocky Maine coast,
I sat captivated by a tidal pool, a little village
of crawling crabs, snails, starfish darting,
a sea anemone appearing to sing.
I stayed so long, I forgot the rising tide,
my teachers, classmates waiting
on the bus. On the exam,
I couldn’t calculate the pitch of waves,
or chemical composition of anything,
but I knew how to lose myself
in the world of tiny shifting things.

(Acadia National Park)

Laura Foley

Laura Foley is the author of six poetry collections, including, most recently, WTF and Night Ringing. Her poem “Gratitude List” won the Common Good Books poetry contest and was read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. Her poem “Nine Ways of Looking at Light” won the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, judged by Marge Piercy. Her book, The Glass Tree, won a Foreword Review Prize for Poetry. Her poems have also appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, DMQ, Room Magazine, McClellan Poetry Prize Website, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Bellevue Literary Review, in the anthologies, Aesthetica Creative Writing, In the Arms of Words: Poems for Disaster Relief, Ice Cream Poems, Roads Taken: Contemporary Vermont Poets, Not My President, an anthology of Dissent, and others. A palliative care volunteer in hospitals, with an M.A. and a M. Phil. in English Lit. from Columbia University, she lives with her wife and their two dogs among the hills of Vermont.

Featured image by Lee Coursey / CC BY

Geologic Hymn

Geologic Hymn

Geologic Hymn

by Emily K. Bright 

In Sedona, rust-red cliffs ridge sky, their faces
carved by river, 15 million years ago. My father and I
climbed their mesas, rested on their flat tops
at what used to be land-level. We swept our hands
across imprints left by wind and rain on solid rock.
How can I not be awed?

My father taught me rock formations.  Those cliffs
once were dunes, once were sand ground down
from mountains. From him, I learned to reconstruct:
first glacier, then the sea. We are ever-changing. We are
carved from those before us. Deep beyond our hearing,
the rocks sing their tectonic praise. 

Brins Mesa, Sedona, Arizona

Emily K. Bright

Emily K. Bright is a freelance writer and radio producer in the Twin Cities. An MFA grad from the University of Minnesota, she is the author of the poetry chapbook Glances Back. Her individual poems have appeared America, Other Voices International, The Pedestal Magazine, among numerous others. Find her at

Featured image courtesy U.S. Forest Service, Coconino National Forest.

Changing Ground

Changing Ground

Changing Ground

By Amy Elisabeth Davis

Cliffs of monzogranite exfoliate,
           shed sheets of rock
           that fracture, become
           (eventually) the packed sediment
of flat ground and arid washes.       At this edge

of the world, wind imports alien grasses
            and the car exhaust
that feeds them. Seeds drop
            between heaps of magma
            extruded when the earth’s mantle
still wept here.
Green squeezes between rocks,
           seats and benches tossed randomly
           by the tremors of the shifting planet.

It gets harder
to scramble to when this land
ran lush with flora and megafauna,
mammoths and giant sloths,
huge forebears of the tiny
hole diggers who hide
           from sun in tunnels
beneath the crust we shake
                                         with     each     slow     step.

                                                              At the edge,
lizards climb picnic tables poured of concrete,
the lava of Los Angeles. The air becomes ocean,
the sounds of waves and wilderness.

Turned by heat
            and drought to summer

tinder, weeds change
the botany of this strange
topography, make it the edge of a world

we cannot reclaim
            from missing rain
                       and warming air.

Amy Elisabeth Davis

Amy Elisabeth Davis is a poet and historian who has taught at Purdue and UCLA. She studies the politics of public policy and has poems appearing in Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, Levure littéraire, Women’s Studies—an interdisciplinary journal, Spillway, and elsewhere. She is the co-editor of Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review 2016.

Featured image courtesy, Amy Elisabeth Davis

Uncle Paul's Garden in Delhi, 2004

Uncle Paul's Garden in Delhi, 2004

Uncle Paul's Garden in Delhi, 2004  

By Sravani Singampalli

I still remember those days
When I used to chase butterflies
While my mother used to
Boil my favourite sweet potatoes
Those days when
We used to sell
Piles of old newspapers
And all the empty wine bottles
To the scrap dealer
Whom we used to call a ‘kabadiwala’
For money and sometimes for
Masala papads and potato chips.
I miss the days
When we used to
Secretly enter Uncle Paul’s garden
Start plucking flowers and
sour tangerines.
The yellow-orange marigolds,
The light pink and burgundy roses
Were the heart of this garden.
I miss so many things
Those chilly winter mornings
The chirping of petite tree sparrows
The melody
On a breezy day
Sung by the rustling leaves

Sravani Singampalli

Sravani Singampalli is a published writer and poet from India. She is presently pursuing a doctoral degree in pharmacy at Jawarhalal Nehru Technical University, Kakinada, in Andhra Pradesh, India. Her writing has appeared in various international journals and anthologies. She likes painting and singing, in addition to writing, and she is very fond of House sparrows.               

Featured image courtesy, Sravani Singampalli


Dune Tyson West


By Tyson West

I can’t recall now if my brother and I were Cub Scouts, Campfire Boys or Indian guides

In my Niles, Michigan second grade

Eisenhower golfed at Burning Bush and I was learning to love worries of his heart attacks and

Soviet rockets.

Dad, defiant as usual, would not accept cancellation of

Our tribe’s camping trip to Warren Dunes State Park

Thunderstorms were prophesied to charge us from the great lake.

He decreed we were ready and going anyhow

Then. I could fret my fear of lightning.

Dad drove our ’56 pink and white Buick three hole station wagon

Westward along two lane roads through forests I’ve long forgotten

To the mysteries of time and sand and water that have never forsaken me.

I first met time in school yard gravel

Hauled up from the river to fill a trench or two

At recess we gleaned its pebbles for indian beads

Cylindrical polished chert with stringing holes drilled

In the center of each bead shaped by long dead hands.

Long ago, dad proclaimed, the Powhatan tribe had lived here, safe from thermonuclear war

I had no reason then

Not to disbelieve him.

Time now ran ahead to initiate me to water and sand

We unloaded our musty canvas tent and red plaid flannel sleeping bags

At the place of sand shifting under the west wind.

My brother and I laughed through the sparse grass

Ran along a beach with no rocks to throw

Until endless dusk trailed away over the lake

While dad pitched the tent under bleak indigo sky and built our campfire

Only the wind intruded to smoke our sands.

In fresh air exhaustion from climbing ever rising dunes

Far from the lights of town

Sprawled on a sand mountain, that instant before sleep swallowed me

I suddenly grasped more stars lay above

Than grains of sand beneath my hollow bones.

Tyson West

Tyson West has published speculative fiction and poetry in free verse, form verse and haiku distilled from his mystical relationship with noxious weeds and magpies in Eastern Washington.  He has no plans to quit his day job in real estate. His rondel “Under the Bridge” placed third in the Second Annual Kalanithi Writing Contest at Stanford University.

Featured image by Rachel Kramer / CC BY

Number 395 (Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, New Mexico)

Number 395 (Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, New Mexico)

Number 395 (Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, New Mexico)

“Sometimes you can only say with color what you cannot express in words.”
--Georgia O’Keefe

By Debbie Theiss

My camera’s shutter clicks a fourth, then fifth photo,
the lens attempts to capture Ghost
Ranch; its burnt shades on folding mountains,
red-brick mudstone, tan sandstone.

But snapshots blur the lone cottonwood,
bent as if quenching its thirst in a spring, wearing a crown
of harvest moon. Autumn foliage hides its branches.
Golden-red and tangerine-yellow leaves blush in the setting sun.

I pick up my journal, write pasty phrases unequal
to saturated hues of the tree. Then, I remember O’Keefe—
her color chart—over 500 colors, always with her as she paints.

I note 395, 397, 398.

Anecdote: Georgia O’Keefe first came to Ghost Ranch in 1934 and continued to live part of the
year there for most of her life. Ghost Ranch with its red and gray hills, red and yellow cliffs, and
the flat top mountain, Pedernal, became a favorite subject in O’Keefe’s landscape paintings.

Debbie Theiss.jpg

Debbie Theiss (Lee’s Summit, MO) grew up in in the Midwest and finds inspiration for her poetry in the unfolding art of daily life and nature.  She has poems published in I-70 Review, Skinny Journal, Kansas Time and Place, Interpretations IV & V, Connoisseurs of Suffering: Poetry for the Journey to Meaning from University Professors Press, Weaving the Terrain from Dos Gatos Press, and other journals.     

Featured image by Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble / CC BY

Stone Shell

Stone Shell

Stone Shell

By Duane Herrmann

Rock house stands
in what once was
a front yard,
now pasture
from prairie.
No roof –
long gone,
doors too, and windows.
Did the family take them,
or scavengers, or time?
Red cedars crowd
from the gully in back
marching to invade:
no one keeps their place.
The house had charm,
the lines say that.
Stunted trees say:
poor soil, no crops,
and the family,
future in debt,
moved on
with pain and hope
that next time
will be better.
Next time,
it will rain.

(Previously published in the Topeka Genealogical Society Quarterly.)

Duane Herrmann

Duane L. Herrmann was born in Topeka, a fifth generation Kansan who was farming on a tractor by age 13.  His continued connection to the land is reflected in his stories and poems.  He is also a historian of the Baha’i Faith in Kansas.  His history of Topeka won the Ferguson Kansas Book Award in 2007.  Earlier he had received the Robert Hayden Poetry Fellowship.  His work has been published in a dozen countries in four languages and has been quoted and cited as an authority on various aspects of the Baha’i Faith.  His books can be found in Libraries through the US, in Europe and the Middle East.  He is an educator who has been adjunct faculty for Allen College and a guest lecturer at several universities.  All this despite a traumatic childhood embellished by dyslexia, ADD and PTSD.

Featured image courtesy, Duane Herrmann.

Island Life

Island Life

Island Life

By Lisa Timpf

We snagged a campsite on our own private island
one summer week in Algonquin Park, shared it
with the crossbills that foraged in the fire pit,
the noisy red squirrels, the chipmunks that raided
our stash of trail mix, the loons that serenaded us
with their quavering calls at night. The pair of shy
moose we glimpsed in the fog of early morning.
The freshwater clams studded in the shallows.

And yet, it wasn't the living things that struck us
so much as the inanimate, for in the dark of night,
sitting on logs by the fire's dying embers,
we found ourselves spellbound by the tapestry
of stars, brilliant as crystal, and the Milky Way
like a bucket of pearls some giant had splashed
across the velvet sky. 

Too tired to stay up, we blinked in awe,
staggered to our tents to seek a night's sleep,

"Island Life" was inspired by a canoe trip in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.

Lisa Timpf

Lisa Timpf is a retired HR and communications professional who lives in Simcoe, Ontario. She enjoyed bird-watching, organic gardening, and observing nature.

Featured image by Edwin Poon / CC BY

Photograph of You Straddling Two Countries

Photograph of You Straddling Two Countries

Photograph of You Straddling Two Countries

            Big Bend National Park

By Allyson Whipple

The Rio Grande is only shin-deep, but the current
almost pulls me to my knees as I try to take
your picture. We’re both wincing, pebbles stabbing
the soles of our feet in the rushing water. You stand
in your Walt Whitman hat, grin, ask Which side am I on?
Beyond the frame, you’ll step
onto the Mexican riverbank, no fear
of the border patrol helicopters that tore
across the sky ten minutes earlier. You stare
at the sheer cliff of the Santa Elena canyon,
rising from rocks behind your back, say,
Any politician who thinks he can build a wall
has never seen the border.

Yesterday, on the Boquillas Canyon trail,
we saw carved walking sticks, painted rocks, a handwritten price
list in Spanish, a collection bowl. Items for sale, but nobody to watch
for theft, nobody to make change. An invisible artist slipping
across boundaries, undeterred, the blades of the Airbus A-Star
chopping through the desert. I wish I’d bought
something, wish I’d let her know which side I was on.

Allyson Whipple

Allyson Whipple is an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is the author of two chapbooks, most recently Come Into the World Like That (Five Oaks Press, 2016). Allyson teaches business and technical communication at Austin Community College, and enjoys exploring the trails all over Texas. 

Featured image courtesy, Allyson Whipple.

“The Conference of the Birds” at Mt. Chocorua

“The Conference of the Birds” at Mt. Chocorua

“The Conference of the Birds” at Mt. Chocorua


Note: “The Conference of the Birds” is the masterpiece of Persian literature about the soul’s search for meaning by poet Farid ud-Din Attar, commonly known as Attar of Nishapur. Italicized lines describe one of the seven valleys the birds cross.


By Marjorie Thomsen

The birds are passing over—
perhaps I’m in the Valley of Wonderment

where the Wayfarer becomes perplexed,
steeped in awe, finds she has never known

or understood anything. It’s true, this bald,
hot rockface with bright baby pines

springing up through cracks, pointy
miracles, confound my gusto for climbing

higher. Infinity of green and I don’t
really understand my walled heart: its need

for precision and joy but once
in a while it halts and tinkers with sorrow.

My eye and this light are where I’ll begin
again—the valley’s cloud shadows, shape

of lakes rocking with the wind, more
awe: my son putting his cap atop mine.

Marjorie Thomsen

Marjorie Thomsen is the author of “Pretty Things Please” (Turning Point, 2016). She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her poems have been published widely and read on The Writer’s Almanac. She recently earned certification to become a Poet-in-Residence in the Massachusetts Public Schools. Marjorie serves on the board of the New England Poetry Club and lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Featured imaged courtesy, Marjorie Thomsen.

The Blue Ghost Fireflies of Western North Carolina

The Blue Ghost Fireflies of Western North Carolina

The Blue Ghost Fireflies of Western North Carolina

By Mary Ardery

The blue flickers
in the mountain meadow
caught us by surprise.

Their dance held majesty
as much as play, like fairies:
intentional with their mischief.

Oh tactile pulse!

Oh thrum of light!

Growing up
we called them
lightning bugs.

Their glow was slow
and yellow and easily
trapped. In Indiana,

there were things
I didn’t even know
to desire: the way

a man’s stubble
burns lips differently
at sea level than 5,000 feet up;

the way some light,
when captured,
lasts only the night

—but other light
burns brighter.
Other light will haunt.

mary ardery

Mary Ardery holds a BA in English Writing from DePauw University. After living and working in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina for two years, she has returned home to the Midwest to pursue her MFA at Southern Illinois University. Visit to see more of her work.

Featured image by Uqbar / CC BY

Rising Umber

rising umber

Rising Umber

Grimspound, Dartmoor National Park

By KB Ballentine

Dusk lavenders the horizon,
and in the half–light
the stones begin to speak.
Wind slips across the mountain,
asterisks of mist softening the ruins.

Sheep drift through the field,
tufts of green hollowed into havens
for leggy lambs.
I cross the collapsing threshold
beside a wall still stacked,
still circling crumbled huts.

A ram eyes me, shambles to his hooves
and paws the grass.
Swallowtails rush, scythe the air,
hooded crow stalking the shadows.
I stoop into the shelter of stones
where wind fades,
palpable stillness rioting the air.

Through gathering gloom, a man and woman emerge
crossing the ridge of stone —
They scan the valley, silhouettes bruising,
ghosting the ribbons of fog.

When I glance again only emptiness,
star–breath, slivered moon paling the sky.
An owl summoning the dark.

KB Ballentine

Author’s Bio:  KB Ballentine has a M.A. in Writing and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Poetry. Her fifth collection, Almost Everything, Almost Nothing, was published in 2017 by Middle Creek Publishing. Two collections, The Perfume of Leaving and What Comes of Waiting, won the 2016 and 2013 Blue Light Press Book Awards. Published in Crab Orchard Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others, her work also appears in anthologies including In Plein Air (2017), Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017), In God’s Hand (2017), and River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the Twenty-first Century (2015). Learn more about KB Ballentine at

Featured image courtesy, KB Ballentine


Pike Island


By Lynette Reini-Grandell

These trees know the chill of Pike Island, its dampness;
they’ve given their galls in memory of people
taken away from their home, their makha,
cut so keenly it must have stung like a knife.

Beneath all the murmured prayers for safe landings
as jet after jet glides over the watery expanse
of two rivers, a mighty confluence
coursing around this small island,

beneath the Mendota Bridge where a vanishing point
on the opposite bank perches hundreds of feet
above islets of scrub trees, I can’t comfort a soul.
I stand on the opposite bank and look

at the flickering water with curious snags,
the wedge-shaped island an arrowpoint.
The trees speak so plainly. 
Would I save anyone? 

There’s no honest answer.  I’ve made terrible
errors in judgment; I’ve done a good job
of saving my own skin. I shiver to read
the messages knotted in each canted branch.

Lynette Reini-Grandell

Lynette Reini-Grandell is the author of Approaching the Gate (Holy Cow! Press, 2014), which won the 2015 Northeastern Minnesota Book Award for Poetry.  Other work has appeared in Alligator Juniper, The Understanding between Foxes and, Poetry MotelRevolver, Poetry City U.S.A., and Seminary Ridge Review, among others.  She has been nominated for a Pushcart and received grants for her work from the Finlandia Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board.  Based in Minneapolis, she reads regularly with the Bosso Poetry Company and performs with in jazz/poetry collective Sonoglyph. Her work is often inspired by Finnish folk culture and song, and she frequently collaborates with Nordic Roots artists in multimedia performances.  Her second collection of poetry, Wild Verge, will be published by Holy Cow! Press in late April of 2018.

Sangre de Cristo

sangre de cristo

Sangre de Cristo

By Lisa Masé

A greater force moves
slow as the work
of these limestone mesas.

I breathe its salty sweetness,
find roots beneath, blind,
twining in soft earth,
meeting rocks
and circling them,
always changing course.

I have crossed mountains
to know this sacred body,
mica rose desert
that works me over
with fierce grace.

It hears me weeping
before the mountains do,
casts a juniper log
along the trail
to scrape my shin,
takes the blood that rises,
burns it with relentless sun.

I am holy now,
weary as a bleached twist
of fallen wood,
taken by this canyon
whose ancient curves
are as worn as a woman
sun-drenched her whole life.

Lisa Mase

Lisa Masé has been writing poetry since childhood. She teaches poetry workshops for Vermont’s Poem City events, co-facilitates a writing group, and has translated the poetry of writers from Italy, France, and the Dominican Republic. Her chap book, Heart Breaks Open, was published by the Sacred Poetry Contest. She is a homesteader, culinary medicine educator, and food sovereignty activist.

Reflecting Pools

Reflecting Pools

Reflecting Pools

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah

By Lois Marie Harrod

What water can do, still itself and mirror—
small pools on sandstone contemplating
rock and sky.  Each its own Claude mirror

returning the reaches. What is back and beyond,
too high to touch, they contain.
Perhaps you’ve known it too, in a street,

water gathering to a glass that doesn’t drop or shatter.
Consider the distance rain falls to be here—
you do not understand your existence either.

But here you are at this one time and place
and not some other elsewhere. How lucky
you didn’t die of those childhood diseases,

strep and pertussis, how lucky your children,
grandchildren too, liquid on this earth,
the wild sky turning in their eyes.

Lois Marie Harrod

Lois Marie Harrod’s 16th and most recent collection Nightmares of the Minor Poet appeared in June 2016 from Five Oaks; her chapbook And She Took the Heart appeared in January 2016, and Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. She is published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches Creative Writing part-time at The College of New Jersey. Links to her online work at

Featured image by Derek Wright.




By Amelia L. Williams

I’m taking my kids cross country
          with minivan, tent, hiking poles.
                   You have just entered our lives;
                             are you coming along? You agree,
                   but, not keen on burning fossil fuel or
           being trapped in a vehicle, you reserve the right
to fly home when we reach the west coast.

Descent into Mammoth Cave, true darkness
          underground & strange accretions of water & time,
                    then prairie: Bison refuge, National Grassland.
                              You drive while I read aloud about basin
                    & range; we roll the names of the stones
           in our mouths. Basalt, pumice, schist,
granite, sandstone, limestone, shale.

The boys gather rocks as we hike; they rattle
          in the van, heavy & taking up space, you say;
                    I say they’re keepers. At Great Sand Dunes
                             we arrive after dark, argue over pitching the tent
                    in relentless wind. At dawn, we climb up & slip back
          until at last, we sip coffee on top; a vast sea of snaking
rills, shady side curving frigid; sunny side slow to burn.

You drive. I read the map aloud. We speak
           the names of the rivers caressingly,
                     trying to learn how to love one another:
                               Purgatoire, Colorado, Virgin, American—
                     they slice through the earth to reveal
           the stony sweep of time. A rocky tale
of inland seas, tectonic plates colliding.

Maybe all our disputes are an excavation:
           my Dad shouted, trying to level the RV, while Mom,
                      furtive, signaled us to stay away till the fury died down.
                                Maybe your fossils are out here too. At Chaco, a badger
                      startles Miles in the dusk; Max snaps a silhouette of us
           under the famous arch. In the Painted Desert I lock you out,
then relent. We hike down slickrock, up cinder cone,

over slippery stones in a cool Sedona river whose
           shady canyon ledges are fringed with red penstemon.
                     We reach Point Reyes seashore. You don’t go back east.
                               Crater Lake. Oregon High desert. Like insects, we split
                     our skins and emerge as nomads, leaving no trace,
          not busting the teeming desert crust. In Fossil we dig
behind the high school—where we can keep what we find.


Amelia L. Williams is a medical writer, eco-artist, and climate change activist in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in rural Virginia. Her book Walking Wildwood Trail: Poems and Photographs, features a 3-mile trail of eco-poetry art installations that celebrate the landscapes threatened by the proposed fracked-gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline. She earned her doctorate in English Literature at the University of Virginia. Her work has appeared in Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, 3Elements, Shot Glass Journal, AJN: American Journal of Nursing, Journal of Wild Culture, and elsewhere. Her website is

Featured image courtesy, Amelia L. Williams.

First Campout

First Campout

First Campout

(Inspired by Maumee Bay State Park, Oregon, OH)

By Kerry Trautman


The tent’s taut nylon flapped, crackled

      in night’s variable winds.

In the distance, thunderstorms

      had moved on eastward.

The baby slept fitfully,

      barely relaxing into steady breaths,

dreaming, perhaps, of lightning

      just beyond the soggy meadow

      with its shrieking red-wing blackbirds,

or of the campfire and its

      new-found, threatening beauty,

waking intermittently in the unfamiliar dark

      with its shuddering, movable walls,

groping for my face,

      grabbing hold with both sweaty palms,

pressing his forehead to my cheek,

      searching, in my skin, for a way home.

Kerry Trautman

Kerry Trautman's poetry and fiction have appeared in various journals, including The Fourth River, Alimentum, Midwestern Gothic, and Think Journal, as well as in anthologies such as Mourning Sickness (Omniarts, 2008,) and Journey to Crone (Chuffed Buff Books, 2013.)  Her chapbooks are, Things That Come in Boxes (Kingcraft Press 2012,) To Have Hoped (Finishing Line Press 2015,) and Artifacts (NightBallet Press 2017.)

Kerry's poem "Marblehead," inspired by Marblehead Lighthouse in northern Ohio, appeared within our 2017 poetry series.

Featured image by Satish Krishnamurthy / CC BY

The Poetry Workshop

The Poetry Workshop Heidi Seaborn

The Poetry Workshop

~For David Wagoner

By Heidi Seaborn

The poet invites us to get lost in the woods, so we do.
Off trail, salal bunched damp around our boots,
lichen-crusted branches cracking underfoot.
We follow his metaphor into Hoh rainforest.

Winter storms off the Pacific wrested old-growth hemlock
and spruce. Root structures big as a two-man crosscut saw
lay bare, splayed black hands stretched to hold off dank mist.
Each massive trunk coded with ancient history.

When it is my turn to lead, I take us deeper still
to what remains carved out of this rough land—
a clearing now lost to giant sword ferns, rhododendron trees.
There I offer up my poem like a mossy stone.

The writers set to work—my poem becomes a nurse cedar.
Fungi spores fleck its bark. Maple seedlings curl out of rot.
One day their roots will burrow the rainforest floor,
create a colonnade of stilted trees from the decay.

For now, I’ve lost my GPS—my fine sense of direction.
I listen for the far-off rush of the Hoh River
to guide me to its tribal mouth washing into the Pacific.

Heidi Seaborn.jpg

Heidi Seaborn grew up in the Northwest, lived all over the world before returning home ten years ago. Since she started writing in 2016, her poetry has appeared in over 50 journals and anthologies including Nimrod, Penn Review, Yemassee Journal, AmericanJournal of Poetry. She’s the 2018 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize winner and finalist for the2018 Mississippi Review Poetry Prize, 2017 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award and Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize. She’s a New York University MFA candidate, graduate of Stanford University and on The Adroit Journal staff.

Author photo by Rosanne Olson, featured image