state natural area poems #7 a, b, c: tichigan springs and fen

tangled cluster of boughs

lain low among the pines—

red and mottled survivors

tichigan s&f 2

at the marsh edge

tussocks of moss watch,

rich with mucky life

tichigan s&f 3(kinda)

the redwing blackbirds live

in a world all their own

cattails and fenreek curve,

cradling the earth’s bounds

tichigan s&f 1

Tichigan Springs and Fen in Racine County is a calcareous fen, meadow, and springs running from an esker, with adjoining marsh and woods in the surrounding Tichigan Wildlife Area. The cowslip (aka marsh marigold) were particularly lovely when we visited.

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/naturalareas/index.asp?SNA=689

Thanks to the Wisconsin DNR for tending this place.

state natural area poems #6a and 6b: jackson marsh

6a:

you point feverishly to warblers

as swifts swarm the marsh

trout lily is in bloom

jackson marsh 3

6b:

brilliant flash of orange

breaks over cedar creek:

your eyes against the sky

jackson marsh 2

Jackson Marsh is a southern wet forest with a white cedar-tamarack swamp of 590 acres. Exquisite, and a much needed break from the city… Thanks again to the Wisconsin DNR for watching over this land.

state natural area poems #5: milwaukee river floodplain forest

a frog dives below the current

logcock sprints upstream

the river will not be stopped

 

The Milwaukee River Floodplain Forest is a bottomland hardwood forest with some upland pockets situated along the East Branch of the Milwaukee River in Washington County, Wisconsin.

ice age trail outside kewaskum

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/naturalareas/index.asp?SNA=253

With gratitude to the Wisconsin DNR for maintaining this patch of earth.

back on quarantine poetry/natural space project…state natural area poems #4

With the lifting of restrictions at Wisconsin state recreational sites, I’m back on my lockdown project of visiting my regional State Natural Areas with three-liners. Here’s the latest…

 

state natural area poems #4: kewaskum maple-oak woods

in early spring sun

frogs croak in chorus

bloodroot stands in lobed splendor

 

Located on the lands of the Northern Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest, Kewaskum Maple-Oak Woods is a set of two parcels east of the Milwaukee River in Washington County, Wisconsin.

bloodroot kewaskum sna

Gratitude to the Wisconsin DNR for preserving these lands.

Translation of the Old English “Ruin” in Presence–Audio

I’m delighted to (belatedly) announce that my translation of the Old English poem “The Ruin” appears in the newest issue of Presence, a great journal run by great people.

I read the poem in the audio file below, but here’s some basic context too:

“The Ruin” is a poem found in the tenth-century Exeter Book, which is the first anthology of English poems and a great treasure of English speakers’ literary inheritance. The poem is spoken by an Anglo-Saxon as he stands before what seems to be a Roman ruin in Britain, and he meditates on the transience of culture and human life as he marvels at what the ruin suggests about the creative energies that once existed where he stands. In my translation, I take this scene and “update” it to a Euro-American standing in front of a Middle Woodland burial mound in Milwaukee, WI’s Lake Park, with the same kind of brooding on transience etc.

The picture below shows the Lake Park mound (the green slope between trees with the stone marker on top) and the audio provides a reading of part of the original Old English and of the whole Modern English translation.

I hope you enjoy what was an immensely rewarding project for me.

lake park mound

 

 

state natural area poems #2a: warnimont bluff fens

[this first installment reflects that i was not permitted access to the actual site–for my own safety and the safety of the rare and delicate plant communities that inhabit the bluffs]

 

your calcareous fens too rare

the dnr won’t let us find you–

i respect the hell out of that

 

Warnimont Bluff Fens–home to a thriving community of state-threatened False Asphodel

warnimont bluffs

warn 2

Thanks again, Milwaukee County, for caring for this land for us.

Happy Birthday Dame Gertrude More!

The sisters at Stanbrook Abbey reminded me this morning that it’s Dame Gertrude More’s birthday today–March 25, 1606!

Though she was a totally enclosed, contemplative nun, her friends and her spiritual father all said that she was a very personable, energetic, and friendly woman. Always wanting to talk and joke–even with her great respect for silence in the Benedictine tradition too. Reminds me of many monastics I know!

If you’re on the hunt for down to earth but still intensely profound writing on the mystical life, Dame Gertrude is a good bet. Here‘s a link to my new book of her shorter works.