state natural area poems #22, a & b: karcher springs


dried remnant of the year

seed capsules blow in the driving wind

yet your stream flows on clear


graceful tumult at the boggy

edge. fringed gentian

crowns the cooling fen

karcher springs is a calcareous fen along a marl-bottomed stream sourced in springs flowing out of a wooded esker. what more can i say? thanks to the wisconsin dnr for tending this land.

state natural poems #20: meridian park a, b, & c


ferns waving flank

our footsteps, hornworts, bedrock

chainsaw echo on dolomite


ankles ache below beech and hemlock

the sedge softness and alkaline marsh

tramping earth while we draw breath


if beech trunks aflame

won’t tell us of heaven

what on earth will?

meridian state park is a forest, alkaline marsh, and sedge meadow on an isthmus between kangaroo lake and lake michigan in door county, wisconsin. the prominent outcropping of the niagra escarpment is something else, but so is the wood and the marsh. tremendous. thanks to door county for tending this land, and the workers who were there clearing trails as we walked them.

state natural area poems #19: bailey’s harbor boreal forest and wetlands


berms and hills

tumbling moss

forest going to sleep


sprays of birch

over upright apes

gold in the air


you push thru pines your height

and thimble berry dense

young in the boreal forest


birch leaves radiant, frogs

and mushroom gills spread

moss mats thick on the ground

bailey’s harbor boreal forest and wetlands is exactly what it sounds like! a fantastic and barebones trail thru the woods with extensive bryophytes and currently-blazing fall colors. a newer section goes along the lakeshore. thanks to the wisconsin dnr for caring for this site!

Marian Poem by Dame Gertrude More (Audio)

On this Marian feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I thought I’d offer a reading of Dame Gertrude More’s poem “To Our Blessed Lady, the Advocate of Sinners.”

A short prayer-poem set in common metre, “To Our Blessed Lady” was composed by the Benedictine nun Gertrude More in the early seventeenth century and is edited in my fourth book, Dame Gertude More’s Poems & Counsels on Prayer and Contemplation.

Benedictines paved the way of Marian devotion thru-out the early and high middle ages, and here’s Gertrude, co-foundress of Stanbrook Abbey, carrying on the tradition.

state natural area poems, supplementum anthropocenum #2: fox river at vernon, wi a & b


on jumbled cement slabs in fox river

how little we know about our river friends—

i thought the current would be headed west


fox river algal sways

rushes grow tall

blue heron sees us all

as i sat on one of the huge chunks of cement dumped near the bank of the fox river, i found myself trying to keep the electricity poles and other slabs of debris out of the shots of the opposite bank. that didn’t feel quite right, so i figured i had another “anthropocenum” moment on my hands. these shots are frank about what the fox looks like at this moment in its journey from halbach swamp down to the illinois.

state natural area poems #18 a, b, c, d, and e: martin’s woods

before the first three-liner this time, i just wanted to say ‘thanks’ to all the folks who’ve continued to read these and ‘like’ them too. it’s been a real blessing knowing that a few people out there continue to enjoy a moment with these virtual traces of my walks and identifying-sprees.

thanks, everyone!


tussocky grass soft underfoot

feathered lichen tree-grasp

moss and mushrooms win the day


off the map as raindrops

shower canopy. thank God

for woods with no direction


like wordsworth i leave the city

walls, danish in hand

sky, aster, swamp-oak


moss sex

stripped bark—

a heavenly cascade


bare trunks spire the sky

as bird-call fills the boughs again

out the woods, into the swamp

martin’s woods is a 32-acre plot in waukesha county with mesic and wet-mesic forest as well as a hardwood swamp dominated by ash and swamp white oak. no trails or access aside from the forest edge. wonderful. thanks to the waukesha land conservancy for caring for this land!

New Old English Translation in _Trinity House Review_

Today saw the release of Trinity House Review‘s premier issue! THR is a journal dedicated to serious poets doing work that tends to the transcendent in human life, to craft, and to “the hallows of a haunted age” (from their opening editorial). It’s an honor to be included in its pages and with such terrific poets.

My translation of the Old English “A Journey Galdor” (usually called “A Journey Charm” by editors) appears in the issue. The galdru are a strange “genre” of poetic and prose texts in Old English: half-prayer, half-magic, half-recipe. (!) They are a relic of a time when the self was more porous than moderns tend to think of it.

“A Journey Galdor” is one of my favorites of the genre, because it is a prayer for protection (and so, very practical) and because of its vague mentioning of various kinds of early Germanic “terrors”. This is a world in which elves and dragons and other wights are still very much a live option and need to be defended against. It’s a hoot, and deadly earnest.

You can read it here, on pgs 47-49. Enjoy!