I walk trails, lands once
deforested, now green, thankful
my health is restored, that I can look
between the trees to see a buck
spying me between the trees on a swath
that once was a road cutting across hills
once clear-cut, now restored
and as beautiful as the view from a bluff
that looks back upon them. Looking back
seventy years, who thought farmland,
once depleted, could be so full of life?
Looking ahead seventy years, will this be
no more than a pocket of lost hope
in the wider expanse of some other world?

This poem is my response to earthweal weekly challenge: VOYAGE TO THE OTHERWORLD, where Brendan says, “As with myth and dream, modernity has almost lost its Otherworld. The language of wonder and flight is paltry and dry. As the Earth becomes haunted of vanishing life, so the everteeming Ocean is a faded, seldom and flickering place. Change is inexorable; ghosts and monsters abound. But all is not done … Getting to the Otherworld is a voyage of equal parts doubt and faith.” He asks, “What help is there, in these immodest, shrinking and fuming times? Can we still hear the call, can Otherworld sails still trim, do islands still wait for us above the waterline across the main? And what does the Otherworld dream of a world such as we wander today?”

Before 1940, private landowners intensively cultivated the area that is now the 16,500 acre Cedar Creek Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri, resulting in depleted and eroded soils. In the 1940s, the Soil Conservation Service began purchasing and rebuilding it, stabilizing gullies and planting trees and grasses. It has been managed by the U.S. Forest Service since 1953. The photo above is from my November hike on the Cedar Creek Trail. This section of the trail was once a country road that passed through farmland.

Following the Roots

Following the Roots

Following the RootsLong past its prime
a mighty oak stands, still.
In a forest of green,
no leaves grace these branches.

Time and the elements
have taken their toll,
yet its majesty can be traced
along every one of its limbs.

Witness to hundreds of years
of mankind’s history, its own
can be seen in each of those lines,
every branch a tale of its environs.

I wonder at its thoughts, formed
as each new bud opened, transitioned,
and fell to the ground to nourish
its own roots, food for those thoughts.

My own thoughts follow the poetry
of those paths, falling to take shape
on the page, in the hope to capture words
that stand as tall, and for as long, as that oak.

Off prompt for Day 13 at, this poem is in response to earthweal weekly challenge: TOWARD AN ECOPOETRY. Brendan asks us to consider how our poetry works or doesn’t in regard to six offered questions. I tried to touch on the following:

3. If our inner lives echo natural rhythms without, how can we come
   to understand the inner by growing closer to the outer?

~ Day 13 ~

One Direction

One Direction_1

One Direction

One Direction_2A mere fork,
a simple choice.
One direction or the other.
Along one trail,
majestic oaks. On the other,
moss-covered limestone formations.

Either one with its rewards,
yet, just beyond that fork
lies a disturbance,
the wrapper of sweets
consumed by another,
left with no regard for the beauty
of the surroundings.

I choose that path,
stop to right what is wrong
placing it in my pocket.
The other way can wait
for another day.

This poem is my response to earthweal weekly challenge: TURNING POINTS.

Distant Karma ~ senryū

Distant Karma

man’s exploration
far beyond the open seas
here there be dragons

seeking new conquests
as native populations
receive no respect

never satisfied
population explosion
while raping nature

resources wasted
expansion to the planets
looking for relief

interstellar space flight
to discover new life forms
let there be dragons

The prompt for Poetics: Haiku Sequence, from Frank at dVerse ~ poets Pub, is to write a series of haiku that have a theme or unifying framework. There are no seasonal references here, so call this a senryū sequence.

Wikimedia Commons (map)
Astronomy Picture of the Day – Dragons of Ara, © Ariel L. Cappalletti


with dappled sunlight ~ haibun

with dappled sunlight.jpg

with dappled sunlight

A brief respite from our summer temperatures in the nineties means high eighties today, so I took a walk through Runge Nature Center this morning, while temperatures were still in the mid-seventies. At Runge, several miles of trails pass through forest and meadow. Most of my walk was through the forest, but I saw more activity at the boundary of light and shade.

with dappled sunlight
in the stillness of the heat
dragonfly dances

with dappled sunlight_2

This is my response to Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation #42 Gaia Goddess of Earth, where the prompt is to explore the beauty, strength, complexity and simplicity of nature, as inspired by a walk through our neighborhoods and sharing a photo of the source of our inspiration. Runge Nature Center is a conservation area within Missouri’s State Capital, Jefferson City.


Runge Return

 I’ve spent the last two mornings walking the forest, meadow and wetland trails of a 106 acre conservation area in Missouri known as Runge Nature Center. It’s located in the capital of Missouri, adjacent to the state headquarters for the Missouri Department of Conservation, so the 2.4 miles of trails, some of them paved, are always well maintained. Runge offers some great photo opportunities, which vary with the seasons.

I returned there today, to take some follow up photos (in addition to those in yesterday’s photo blog), including one I had in mind for today’s Photo Challenge (Structure) at the Daily Post. The first photo here is the one I had in mind, but I chose another for that prompt when a Leatherwing landed on the thistle. One shot I wanted to follow up on, from yesterday’s post was of the Monarch caterpillar. I found it on the same milkweed plant as yesterday, along with a couple more that were less than half an inch long. (The larger is over two inches.) Then, I came across some wild turkeys, and as I took photos, a coyote stuck his head up out of the tall grass in the background, just long enough to leave a blurred image. Even so, it was another rewarding day with the camera.

(In the slide show, each photo offers a link to a larger image.)

Runge Walk Companions


Runge Walk - Moss Rock Trace

Moss Rock Trace / Runge Nature Center

Images: Runge Nature Center, Missouri, August 28 & 29, 2017.  In the Viewer, each image has the option for a larger size.  (Moss Rock Trace can be viewed by clicking.)






A Touch of Green

A Touch of Green

A Touch of Green

Winter meant bare branches along this stream.
At last, the trees are green along this stream.

And with it, the entire scene seems to come
to life as I slowly paddle downstream.

Swallows dash about for food, their hatchlings
in the nests that line the banks of the stream.

Brown squirrels gambol along maple branches,
hanging perilously above the stream.

Heron stares keenly into the water,
waiting patiently for fish in the stream.

A pair of deer walk nimbly down the bank,
pause at water’s edge to drink from the stream.

Bass breaks the water with a splash to catch
bugs flying lazily above the stream.

Sights and sounds that accompany the green
help me understand life along the stream.

The optional prompt at NaPoWriMo 2017 for Day 13 of National Poetry Writing Month/Global Poetry Writing Month is to write a ghazal. I’ve written a couple using my name in the final line, as is an option. But with a name like mine (Ken) that can grow old fast, so I hope you’ll understand why I’ve used a variant. 😉
Ghazal ~ five or more couplets, lines the same length, meter not required
~ first couplet same end words; 1 to 3 words in 2nd lines repeated; rhyme – aA bA cA dA eA
~ (optional) internal rhyme in second lines, preceding repeated rhyme
~ possible naming or reference to author in last couplet
~ traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians

NaPoWriMo 2017GloPoWriMo 2017

Sound Stream

Sound Stream

Sound Stream

Wary turtle silently
slips into the water.
Rattling kingfisher
dives with a splash,
carries its prize away.

Cardinal calls,
flashing red in its trill.
Woodpecker’s rat-a-tat-tat
sounds a counter note.
Splash of catfish tail
carries across the water.

Spring speaks to me,
sitting still
against the bank,
my kayak tucked
beneath an outcrop.

Just two miles out of town,
yet far from civilization.
No sign of Man.
My own presence

Such is Nature.


The optional prompt at NaPoWriMo 2017 for Day 12 of National Poetry Writing Month/Global Poetry Writing Month is to write a poem that explicitly incorporates alliteration.
Image: Moreau River, Missouri

NaPoWriMo 2017GloPoWriMo 2017

Nature’s Gift

Nature's Gift

Nature’s Gift

early summer day on the water
kayak still, tucked against the bank
heron poised, kingfisher darts
mink swims across the stream
hawk cries from above
senses savor

This nonet is in response to the optional Day 9 prompt at NaPoWriMo 2017 for National Poetry Writing Month/Global Poetry Writing Month – to write a poem composed of nine lines.
Image: Great Blue Heron (my photo, edited)

NaPoWriMo 2017GloPoWriMo 2017