state natural area poems, supplementum anthropocenum #1, a & b


stinkhorns, you’ve taken

all we’ve thrown your way

disturbance a way of life


primrose blankets the broken ground

wort-wisdom making virtue

geese along the evening’s river

this new supplemental subgrouping of sna poems, the “supplementum anthropocenum” will showcase occasional moments of exceptional, natural rupture in the urban and other built environments.

in one of my seminars this term, my students and i are talking about how ‘nature’ isn’t ‘out there.’ (and the troubles that arise from the view that it is.) thought i should start taking it seriously in this series too.

here, a patch of stinkhorns continues to work down the wood chips in a median strip heading into downtown milwaukee (it fruits a few times a year), while a vigorous stand of evening primrose beautifies an abandoned lot on the city’s lower east side. how is this not ‘nature’?

state natural area poems #16: sander’s park a, b, & c


elms tower the swale

and feathered honey understory

stop listen see

jack in the pulpit down
zigzag goldenrod



thick-cut rivers of bark

spleenworts humbling below

root yourself in the made

agarics doing what they do best



zygomorphic spikes

of great blue lobelia

crowding our hasty retreat

great blue lobelia
woodland sunflower fading


sanders park state natural area is set within a park and ringed ’round by exculpating road(!). two different kinds of forest grow on swells and swale, an ancient terrace of lake michigan. an intermittent stream flows thru the whole; lots of wildflower and fern species.

thanks to racine county parks for keeping this patch of earth.

state natural area poems #15: muskego park hardwoods a, b, & c


waxy white sentinels

urge the leaf-litter

bowed and tremendous


turkey tail splaying for the world to see

gill-bearers make life from death

the deep wet black of rot


jack-in-the-pulpit lobed rubies

frogs in the rain-filled tracks

under-story going to sleep

Muskego Park Hardwoods is an old-growth southern dry-mesic forest in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Some past grazing has brought in new species of wildflowers, and a healthy blend of different hardwoods stand strong. Thanks to Waukesha County for preserving this old-growth community!

state natural area poems, supplementum #11: urban ecology center-riverside a, b, & c


a foot in boggy fossils

and cousins thrive together

your eyes a slippery flame



you play the possum joey

on slick bare trunk

an image for when you’re grown

polypores pushing their margins


mud on your boots and leggings

you sniff out gold-decked trails

and lead me to new crossings

river’s edge
birds-foot trefoil

the urban ecology center has three absolutely fantastic sites in milwaukee. check them out whenever you’re in the city.

this is a trio of “found living poems” for my kids, one for each.