sna poems #90: east bluff (+ new feature: sna soundscape!)

the east bluff that flanks devil’s lake is the monadnock of my dreams. i’ve been hiking it since i can remember, with my brother, parents, and grandparents, then friends, my wife, and my kids too. (by the by, a monadnock is a residual hill or mountain that has been buried by sediment but then unearthed by erosion and remains b/c it’s tougher than the other materials around it.) the baraboo hills, of which the east bluff is a part, formed almost 2 billion years ago, when the baraboo quartzite metamorphosed and then uplifted in this area of what would become wisconsin.

the east bluff offers spectacular views of devil’s lake, the surrounding valleys and bluffs, the johnstown terminal moraine, and the wisconsin river. in addition to its dramatic quartzite cliffs, outcroppings, and talus slopes, a prairie, pygmy forest, southern forest, and bedrock glades lie atop the bluff too. the alaskan grotto is a linear cavernous feature along the bottom of the south slope, and rounded “potholes” formed by rocks tumbling in moving water lie along one sheer trail. (that’s where i proposed to my wife.)

it’s always a treat and an honor to hike east bluff, but this was an especially fine walk/climb since it was the first time my brother and i have hiked there since the pandemic began. and, courtesy of my brother and spontaneous response to bird call, the “sna poems” will now have an occasional additional feature, the “sna soundscapes,” ambient tracks composed by him with found-sounds from the sna’s we visit. you can listen to this site’s soundscape—featuring bird calls, insect droning, and the sound of human hand on 1.7-billion-year-old quartzite—here. enjoy!


talus slope

turkey vulture—



no word

for the sensation

of sole on lichen


spider wort commands the prairie

amid the drone of insect life

earth age rock stand

meadow rose
false solomon seal


wisconsin a ribbon beyond

johnstown moraine below

ocean striation underfoot

bird effigy mound on the south shore

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