state natural area poems #56: olson oak woods

olson oak woods is found a few miles west of the johnstown terminal moraine that marks the limit of the last glaciation in this part of wisconsin. several different oak species, some dating back to the mid 1700s, reveal the former savanna habitat that has now turned to wood due to lack of fire. there are heavy and lovely cliffs throughout, reminiscent of the cliffs at magnolia bluff in rock county not terribly far away. some prairie plants remain, though they’re all sleeping now.

thanks to the wisconsin dnr and madison metropolitan school district for tending this land.


above the hollow,

bracken spills

over limestone


the cliffs give us oaks

and flowers from days past—

quiet bedrock now

state natural area poems #52: lodi marsh

a happy new year to all!

lodi marsh lies in a valley of glacial till, fed by springs and seepages. the hills to the west of the site frame the open marsh and sky dramatically. forest and prairie cover the southern knoll. the countryside around lodi is a wonder.


clearing a path

in the valley till—

hawk shriek westward


the cattail forest covers

untold sleepers just waiting

to rouse and rise from the muck


dust-yellow constellations

on pillars of seep and slough

pale sky a mirror of pale ground

announcing the snowstorm’s approach