sna poems #112: spring lake (now w/ video!)

spring lake is an alkaline lake surrounded by fen and northern wet forest. the wdnr says the shoreline is a bog shelf and that plants characteristic of fens and bogs live together in the mats of vegetation surrounding, an odd combination.

we were game for it, and the area was inviting (especially with rubber boots). we were welcomed most prominently by two (then three) sandhill cranes making regular calls the whole time we were there, with the echoes of another pair somewhere beyond the tamaracks sounding in between.

the year’s first sighting of skunk cabbage!

a.

cranes stand on the ice

calling out—

here in the cattails

(you can hear the cranes calling here. a couple a half mile away or so kept calling back.)

b.

a single oak leaf

under ice

cool breeze between trees

c.

over tamaracks,

skunk cabbage,

polypores: grey sun

sna poems #111: spruce lake bog

spruce lake bog is classic bog territory. a (relatively) undisturbed bog lake in a kettle, very diverse flora more characteristic of northern sphagnum bogs, according to the wdnr’s description.

i was grateful for the boardwalk that allowed for a walk all the way thru the bog to the lake thru the sphagnum and the bog forest of tamaracks and black spruces and some hardwoods. a light rain was falling and just warm enough not to bundle up.

highlight for sure was the pitcher plants thick on the ground (first id). amazing.

a.

red floral fingers

in the rain

spiders in and out

b.

tumbling tangle

sprawled beneath

the bare tamaracks

sna poems, series supplementum #32: cedarburg environmental study area

the cedarburg environmental study area is a rehabilitated parcel of 38 acres in ozaukee cty wisconsin. conifer forest, hardwood forest, a stream, ponds, and wetlands, the area was rehabbed by a local family from agricultural fields. amazing what a few decades and some devoted humans can do for the land and the many creatures who live here (seeing a good many even before spring really gets moving in wisconsin).

fungus and ice and pond bank life and many many trees.

a.

a single pine cone

held aloft

by shrubby fingers

b.

long cracks and hollows

crevices

the sheer edge of ice

c.

willow gnarled with growth

on bog ice

goose honks fill the air

d.

duckweed swarms the bank

as snailshells

bask in golden light

if you made it this far, here’s a sequence viewing some serious fungal work on a tree:

sna poems, series supplementum # 31: shannon preserve

shannon preserve is 34 acres down the road from the cedarburg bog sna on hwy 33 in ozaukee cty. marsh, shrub carr, lowland hardwood forest, wet and upland meadows. no trails to speak of, which was nice. an unnamed stream meanders thru the site on its way to one of the lakes in cedarburg bog. its ice shelf was precarious and fun to admire.

we hung out with a white breasted nuthatch, and came out of the woods to meet two sandhill cranes flying across the meadow singing away—our first sandhill sighting of the year. it was our first hike outside the city in weeks, the first with warm sun in months. it was a good day.

a.

the curling moss fronds

reflecting

march’s late-day sun

b.

white breasted nuthatch

chirps over

marooned feather flumes

c.

sandhills—necks like waves—

skirt meadow

past wind-blasted oak

lenten essay (about jokes) in _spirit & life_

for all those who keep the season of holy fasting we call “lent” in english (or those who are interested in world religions for whatever reason), i’ve got a new essay out in the benedictine magazine spirit & life.

it’s based on an interaction i had with some other guys here in milwaukee last year as well as some studying of the nature of christian atonement i did years and years ago now (when i first read william langland’s tremendous poem, piers plowmanread piers if you haven’t!).

all i’ll say here is that the essay involves the devil as a monstrous fish and the holy cross as a tricky hook. enjoy!

sna poems, series anthropocenum #16: downer woods

this 11-acre wood sits on uw-milwaukee’s campus and is being rehabilitated by the uwm field station. tucked right in there b/t campus and some housing, fenced in to keep out the riff-raff—you know, buckthorn and wild mustard et al.

it was a bitterly cold afternoon, but the sunlight and a small frozen rivulet afforded good fun for all. and we happened on a doodad-festooned tree that was a surprise.

the forest is sleeeeeping.

a.

golden rivulet

piercing eye

in the bitter cold

b.

a woodpecker’s knock

comes gently—

february air

c.

dense suffocation

under leaves

on winter’s still ground

photo cred on the burrs to my second-born.

two new poems in _better than starbucks_

very much on the coattails of this weekend’s publication, i’ve got two new poems out in the february issue of the journal better than starbucks.

a free verse meditation on fairy parental duties is here, while a prose-poem cri de coeur on a long-ago night in boulder, co is here.

there’s much to read throughout the issue, with a number of twitter-community folks on the formal poetry page whom i respect a great deal—check them out too if you can.

happy february!