two poems w/ audio in _ballast_ journal

hi folks. ballast is a new literary journal edited by two poets doing good work. they’ve kindly accepted two of my poems for issue #2—one a lune made in the california redwoods (hence the redwood sorrel pictures), the other a long section of my long natural-family-personal history poem (probably the work i’m proudest of in the last few years).

they also gave me the pleasure of recording audio for the poems. you can see and read them here, and do give a look around the rest of the issue while you’re there!

sna poems #136: goose lake drumlins

goose lake drumlins sna is a couple parcels of land with six drumlins (oval-shaped hills formed by glaciers as till is shaped and scraped past by ice and water flow), two lakes, and wetland complex of marsh and bog in dane cty. the open water, wetland, and forest complexes (on the drumlins) make for rich mammal, fish, bird, and plant communities.

we were running low on time when we got here, and weren’t equipped to trek across large swaths of marsh, so we just enjoyed some time down by the cattails and viewed the drumlins from the dungeon (low area b/t drumlins) as we watched various birds of prey (including an eagle) fly about and dive. not a bad end to the day, tho i’d like to get back for a drumlin or two and to visit the bog south of goose lake.

first id of nannyberry (the bud below) thanks to the inaturalist community.


wetland birds-of-prey

slopes and beaks

sun-drenched tamaracks


black-cap chittering

cherry bark

in sunlit dungeon


barn-cat gingerly

in marsh-grass

moraine-whales prowling

sna poems #135: deansville fen

deansville fen is a calcareous fen in a larger marsh wetland complex in dane cty, wisconsin. sedge meadow and hummocky wet prairie surround. crossing a tributary stream was quick and painless on a massive old tree that had fallen across but the maunesha river itself was trickier—involving gathering three vines growing out of the riverbank with the foot in order to create a suspended step above the water while lunging out to other small trees growing in the water while balanced on a protruding log caught in an accidental dam in the river—one foot went way in on the way back out!

but a fine morning in the fen, quiet, some birds singing, not much new growth yet. turkey and rabbit tracks in the snow.


sunbleached snag in march

stretches out

above new fen-growth






cottonwood leaves

with algae

in the wetland’s mouth


a very awkward

wading bird

stalks the morning edge

new audio series featuring 19th-century wisconsin poet: first poem

i grew up visiting durward’s glen outside baraboo, wisconsin. it was/is a stupendous place: a secluded sandstone and conglomerate gorge flanking prentice creek on a small wooded lot outside the precambrian baraboo hills.

later on in life, when i moved to milwaukee, i found out that the glen was named after bernard durward, a scottish immigrant to milwaukee in the 1840s and a transplant to the baraboo area in the 1860s. i also found out that i currently live on the same street he lived on way back then.

all this (and that he became the first professor of english at the catholic seminary here near milwaukee and was an artist and poet) led me to start getting together a new edition of his poems, which i’m hoping to publish within the next couple years.

but in the meantime, i’m just itching to get his work out there sooner than that, so: i’ve recently come into a copy of durward’s poems from 1882. i’m going to start posting here regularly an audio file of one milwaukeean (me) reading another milwaukeean’s (durward) poems. we’ll see if i can make it happen daily, but every few days anyway.

two further bits: 1) the illustrations will be images from bernard’s son’s book wildflowers of the glen (1875), used by permission of the milwaukee public library, which holds the volume now, and 2) this is 19th-century american verse, so sometimes there will be some settler-colonial sentiments present—this is a sad but real aspect of midwestern history. i won’t post poems that are particularly problematic if i come across any. but to be clear: the durwards and my own ancestors and lots of yankees and european immigrants directly benefited from the land-grabs of the american federal and wisconsin state governments, and this was a terrible terrible series of events for the indigenous peoples of “the old northwest” and for the colonizers and the descendants of all of the too. as junot díaz says, “we’ve all been in the sh*t ever since.”

history being what it is, i still think generally that folks’ art is worth engaging and wrestling with even in their limitations, as we all have our limitations as well.

with that, poem #1, “the dells“:

sna poems, series supplementum #39: kratzsch preserve

kratzsch preserve is a 72-acre wood and wetland lot of former farmland rehabilitated by the ozaukee and washington county land trust. they’re doing good work here people. prairie, marsh, hardwood forest, frontage on the milwaukee river, glacial topography; little bit of everything.

this was a great hike, up and down, good steady wind on the prairie but some shelter in the woods and down by the river. snow drifts gave us a workout. sat with the robins and redwing blackbirds by the river for a spell. four lunes and views for you.


snowmarsh and cattails

crows cawing—

trunk shadow and gone


cork margin’s lake-edge

on dead birch

perilous gambit


prairie grass hoophouse

seedhead sprays

accent the esker


confluence upstream


runs on in light snow

sna poems, series supplementum #38: pavcek preserve

pavcek preserve is a small hardwood forest in the kettle moraine near holy hill. a small esker in the upland area, kettles and manmade ponds in the lowlands. we were expecting a springish walk w/ just-emerging spring ephemerals to check out, but then snow happened over the weekend, so back to the snowcovered woods and ice. beautiful and bracing.

a tufted titmouse gave us quite a concert near the largest pond, flitting in and out of trees and a large hollow branch of an oak.


the winter kettle

under pines

hummingbird away


tufted titmouse hoots

in and out

of oaken branchhome


sunlight on pond ice

cardinals, crows,

snow below cherries