state natural area poems, supplementum #13: indian mound park, sheboygan a, b, & c


piercers of sky,

hoary beeches

leaves on the mounds


ten-thousand years

of peat and water building

purple cress is sleeping


ostrich fern

and skunk cabbage

ahead of snow

Indian Mound Park in Sheboygan is a great sign of Wisconsin’s conflicted history. It is a treasure for how in 1966 the Sheboygan Garden Clubs saved the large group of effigy, conical, and linear mounds built here by Middle and Late Woodland indigenous inhabitants of Wisconsin (ca. 200 BCE-1000 CE). However, of course, the mounds would not have needed saving if the land hadn’t been ceded by local tribes thru dubious treaties long before. Nonetheless, I am supremely glad they remain here, along with the wetland downslope from the mounds (thru which runs Hartman Creek) and the very old beech trees thru-out the park. It is a tremendous place. Deer and water panther mounds—a real grace to visit on Thanksgiving. (If you’d like more on my perspective on the mounds, you can read that here.)

“Meskonsing” Poem in Amethyst Review

Here‘s a new poem of mine that’s near and dear to my heart. I wrote it about a trip to Man Mound in Sauk County, Wisconsin. Man Mound is the only remaining anthropomorphic effigy mound in North America, and it is tremendous and numinous and beautiful. And the Sauk County Historical Society has been preserving it for over a hundred years.

If you like, you can help preserve the mound and contribute to educational materials at the site etc. here. And if you read the poem, stick around and look at some of the others the Review has been putting out lately; they’re free and great.

If you’re interested in a bit more about the mounds, you can read my short essay on them here.

Thanks Amethyst Review and Sauk County Historical Society!

*Photo of Man Mound by Ethan Brodsky, courtesy of Sauk County Historical Society.

Translation of the Old English “Ruin” in Presence–Audio

I’m delighted to (belatedly) announce that my translation of the Old English poem “The Ruin” appears in the newest issue of Presence, a great journal run by great people.

I read the poem in the audio file below, but here’s some basic context too:

“The Ruin” is a poem found in the tenth-century Exeter Book, which is the first anthology of English poems and a great treasure of English speakers’ literary inheritance. The poem is spoken by an Anglo-Saxon as he stands before what seems to be a Roman ruin in Britain, and he meditates on the transience of culture and human life as he marvels at what the ruin suggests about the creative energies that once existed where he stands. In my translation, I take this scene and “update” it to a Euro-American standing in front of a Middle Woodland burial mound in Milwaukee, WI’s Lake Park, with the same kind of brooding on transience etc.

The picture below shows the Lake Park mound (the green slope between trees with the stone marker on top) and the audio provides a reading of part of the original Old English and of the whole Modern English translation.

I hope you enjoy what was an immensely rewarding project for me.

lake park mound