Friday, February 24, 2017

2, by Caroline Gates-Lupton

Where I'm From: a list poem

Ithaca, New York
Warwick, Rhode Island
Northampton, Massachusetts
Libraries in Ithaca and Michigan
Chlorinated hotel pools and
Cold-water lakes
Toad-covered beaches
Sandy rocks
Lakeweed grabbing at my ankles
Roaring wind
Thunder in the ground
A tree bent double by an almost-hurricane
Roasting marshmallows in the fireplace
Audio books and
Visual books
Story time with Miss Fran
Ballet class with Miss Tanya
Dora sneakers
Dora underwear
Winnie-the-Pooh everything
Magic Treehouse on cassette
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Science camp with Shannon
The almost pool disaster
Dance camp and
Writing programs and
Acting and film camps
My grandparents' house
The maroon carpet
Sharp black edges
Covered with rubber
Going for Yummies ice cream, every day
The wading pool
Mom's old town
My uncle's house
Ketchup bottle
Cottage summers
Dead fish on fire
Stuffed cat on the roof
Dad to the rescue
Cleaning the dock with
Broom and water
Bird poop and lakeweed
Washed away
Saving a half-drowned bee
Can it fly?
The bee at Camp Invention
Cupped in a girl's hand
No stinger, she says
Being young
The obsession of losing teeth
Breaking out and away
Short hair
Long hair
The warped world of glasses
Two trees in a yard
Make a forest.

+ + +   + + +   + + +

Our Colors

Purple. That's always been my mom's color. It's red and blue, mixed up and muddled together. My old color and my dad's color, combined. Red and blue, like a beating heart. Purple, like the deepness after sunset.

Pink. My sister's color. She sees colors in her head when she hears a name: blue for me, brown for our brother, pink for her. Pink, like a watered-down, sassier version of red. She wore the pink marker down to a nub and still won't let it go.

Blue. My dad's color, my new color. The shade of the lake before the clouds turn gray. Almost green, but lacking in yellow. The color of my grandpa's eyes behind his glasses.

Green. My grandmother's color. When I was little I thought of her in terms of her color and her animal. She was green with giraffes. Early-spring green, new-buds-on-trees green, watch-the-flowers-open green. My grandmother was a green giraffe.

Red. It all comes back to red. My old favorite color. The tint of my first two pairs of glasses. The shade of the cup I always drank from, plastic and chipped along the rim. Red isn't like fire, like everyone says it is. Red is hot lava and tulips and the near edge of a rainbow. Fire burns. Red smolders.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mapping Butterflies, by Saskya van Nouhuys

There are about 3,500 habitat patches in the Åland Islands, Finland, that are suitable for the Glanville fritillary butterfly. We used to think there were only 1,800, but then we found 1,700 more by consulting areal maps in 2001. The butterflies live in 500 of the habitat patches, on average. Some patches have been occupied for at least two decades, but most of them are only used for a few years at a time, or even just one year. Some patches are pristine looking meadows held open by grazing sheep or cattle, or by mowing. There are also dusty roadsides, inexplicable forest clearing, well-tended yards, garbage dumps, and desolate open coastal strips. Many of the patches are scattered with agricultural debris — foundations of barns and houses made from huge rectangular red stones, unmarked abandoned wells, crushed cement drainage pipe, rusted Soviet tractors, apple crates, and decomposing rubber boots.

In a good year we find about 12,000 caterpillars in the spring, just after they wake up and begin to feed on the tiny green leaves that start growing even while still under the snow. We estimate, based on resampling experiments, that we miss on average a third of them. So maybe there are actually 18,000 caterpillars. Two thirds of them die because they are parasitized, and some are eaten by stink bugs or green lacewing larvae, and some starve too. So it isn’t a surprise that come summer the islands are never overrun by clouds of fresh new adult butterflies.

Each habitat patch has a number ID that, to me, is more like a name. There is patch 22, which is the first one I ever visited, where later I stepped on a dead cat, and later still Päivi’s mother, Elvi, lost her cell phone. There is 1668 where an old man walked compassionately from his house, leaning heavily on his cane, along an uneven path across the stones, to bring me a sun hat. At patch 576 a boy used to follow me around while I looked for caterpillars. First when he was very young, he gave me his hand and I took him to see them. Later we found them together, and then later he would mark where they were with sticks, before I even got there. He disappeared. Then two years ago he reappeared as a grown man, sitting in his car drinking with his friends. Resting his pale hand on the crest of his beer belly he watched me, not saying anything.

Then there is patch 3484, up in northern Eckerö. That is where I always take visitors because of the walk through the forest, the surprising beautiful view of the sea upon arrival at the patch, the constant breeze and smell of drying sea weed, and the absurdity of hundreds of big black caterpillars seeming to rush as they move slowly across bare rock. That is where I went last year the day that Ilkka died. I had been to 3484 with him once, and to patch 1, with the giant snails, and to many others. It was warm even though it was still May.  I lay down on the flat hot rock, alone, to begin to mourn.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Map for My World, by Sue Norvell

My map will show the edge of a large lake, seen from a very low angle. It will feel endless.

My map will show the snow geese migrating by like swift, shifting clouds.

My map will mark all the places dogs love to roam, racing from one wonderful scent to the next, scattering dandelion seeds in frothy puffs.

My map will have many brooks going through cow pastures dotted with Holsteins. They will wear their austere black and white coats and pretend to be sophisticated, as they chew their cud.

My map will have lines of tiny mushrooms marching along the edge of a downed tree as it crumbles back to the dark soil.

I will have to devise new icons for this map: one for the mooing of cows, another for the chatter of red squirrels, a third for the trudge of feet on the path to the top of the hill.

My map will show laughter coming from houses, back yards, stores and coffee shops. It will show giggles and shouts from children running on playgrounds. They wear red, blue and pink jackets, the fronts flapping open.

This map will also need icons for beauty and joy.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Abundant (a poem via thesaurus), by Cheryl Adams

Plentiful   plenteous   plentitudinous
Bountiful    copious    ample

More than Enough

Bumper   immeasurable   unmeasured

Two a Penny!

Had for the Asking

Full filled (fulfilled!)
Chock–a-block    jam packed
            Well stocked

Spilling over   running over   overspilling   bursting


Alive with
Alive a live-o

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Where's the Adventure?, by Sue Perlgut

Where’s the adventure?

Where’s the trek on a wild windblown seacoast in Scotland?

Where’s the zip line through the jungle in Guatemala?

Where’s the ski lift in the German Alps?

Where’s the raft rushing down the angry white waters of Colorado?

Where’s the three day hike on the Appalachian?

Where’s the swim in the dead sea?

Where’s the ride on a camel in the Moroccan dessert?

Where’s the moonlight cruise on a sloop in Penobscot Bay?

Where’s the heart?

Where is the city girl who climbed five flights every day?

Where is the bar hopper?

Where is the bus ride to Provincetown, on her own?

Where’s the woman lover?

Where’s the bookstore owner?

Wheres the protester, the actor?

Where’s the skinny dipping in the cool waters of the Delaware River?

Where’s the cat lover?

Where’s the size 10?

Where’s the size 12? (I’ll stop there.)

Where’s the voice of my mother?

Where’s the comfort of my father?

Where’s my past?

Where is the perfect ending?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

6 haiku, by Sue Norvell

waking in the night —
the moon has moved
to the bathroom window

up at six
K.C. the cat yowls
"you're late!"

the doctor's office
serious conversations
in one's underwear

by the trumpet vine
a burst of white feathers
our hawk's had lunch

the desktop — six pens and a button
January clean-up

old 45s
decades slip-slide out
of the record case

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

4:10 a.m., by Stacey Murphy

Looking out from the kitchen
At the arthritic crabapple branch
Quivering in the latest of late night light

You think how cold it must be,
How hard to be an animal
Or a person
Outside in this wind
As you cross the floor barefoot
Back to your dark soft cave

You recall that nature show –
The arctic groundhogs who shiver
As they hibernate
To warm up just enough to
Neither perish nor fully wake

How many nights could your
Whole body shake and manage to sleep
Through it? Could you?

“What kind of raspy-shuffle
Spectre would I become on that sleep?
How long would it take”?
You wonder as you
Slide under the blanket
And the cat comes to find the space

You make by your belly
Where he purrs and purrs, drawing
The shiver and gnaw
From your very core,
Absorbing it all until
Your eyes close just as they notice

In the earliest of early morning light
The silver outline of willow branches
Appearing outside the window.