THEME POETRY

MAY 2022 = UNDER THE TREE

MOLES

John Muro

Connecticut, United States

https://www.instagram.com/johntmuro/


It was on account of the soft implosions 

Of earth that forced me to look down 

And take in the full expanse of scamper 

Marbling lawn. Struck by their creators – 

Ghostly grey knuckles, smaller than 

A shot-gun shell – who riddled the slope 

Into a maze of switch-backs providing 

For little more than froth of fur. Hard to 

See one though, with their abrupt arrivals 

And vanishings, since they’re concealed 

In dark dens and quarry quietly in yards

Of narrow trench, using eyes the size of 

Thistle seed, blunt brow and forelimbs – 

Tiny, six-fingered loaders – to scoop 

And push past loam. Their life’s burden 

Is to excavate, aerate and exhume these 

Dark dynasties and sustain their torturous 

Arteries of tunnel, knowing full-well 

This will also be their place of leaving 

When the soft earth turns against them, 

Spreading down across cool pockets 

Of air and all sense of directions gone.

__________

SEED

Pratibha Savani

United Kingdom

https://www.facebook.com/pratibhapoetryart

https://www.instagram.com/pratibhapoetryart

 

           a 

       tiny 

           seed
                  grows
beneath the earth
   takes form
          structure
                    of its own
  to change the world
        emerging out
             through the dark
                           into the light
              growing fast
         to reach a height
   we shall never see 
       this tiny seed
  is a magnificent oak tree 

__________

INSPIRED BY WIND IN THE WILLOWS

Neal Whitman

California, United States

summer afternoon 

it has been said

are the two most beautiful words

in the English language –

might I had these?

wicker basket!

 

Mole and Rat inspired

a boffo plan –

we filled a wicker basket

with our bounty

and set it on a blanket 

under a willow tree

delectable tidbits –

cucumber sandwiches

heirloom tomato salad

deviled eggs

sweet ice tea 

lemon bars

licking fingers –

who needs napkins –

lying on our backs

through the branches

we watch clouds pass by

against a sky canvas

__________

UNDER THE MADRONE

David Olsen

Kidlington, United Kingdom

https://www.davidolsenpoetry.net

 

Despite owning a nickel-plated .38, 

Les fled Oakland for fear of assault, 

and retired to southwestern Oregon. 

He bought a few acres where 

a bungalow lay low under limbs 

of an evergreen madrone whose 

red bark peeled off to expose 

a satin sheen of silver-green, 

as if the tree possessed the spirit 

of an alluring woman who tantalized 

by slowly shedding her gown. 


Beneath the madrone and myrtlewoods, 

Les contended with gophers for dominion 

over a garden of golden poppy, 

Indian paintbrush, lupine, larkspur 

and reluctant roses. Eyes weak 

from decades of fine print, he read little, 

dispelled loneliness with Ancient Age, 

and began to believe that little people 

occupied the closet of his spare room. 


His only son, Herb, who’d moved nearby 

with a second wife, Ida – a greedy harpy 

who prodded her husband to claim 

his inheritance before the fact – 

watched his father slide, become unfit 

to manage his everyday affairs. 


When the old man learned that control 

of his assets had been usurped, he phoned 

Herb to say he would shoot him, though 

he never acted on the threat. When Les 

became incontinent, Ida called him 

a nasty, filthy man for the messes 

he made. He didn’t last long after that. 

__________

Kassie Runyan

New York, United States

kassiejrunyan.com

     there stands a tree

naked in the wind

          crying out for spring

               desire in her face

     as she shivers

against the long night

__________

UNDERNEATH THE TREE (Song)

Tammy Jann

New Hampshire, United States

http://www.tammyjann.com

 

Child of the forest

looking for her home

animals gather 

then leave her alone


Her moon dappled face

with stars in her eyes

she's seeking comfort

under the dark skies


a whisper above

of chattering leaves

an invitation 

to sleep with the trees


Chorus

And the roots spread around down underneath the tree

and they're stretching out to drink from the creek

they cradle her with their moss so green

the roots she found are her home underneath the tree

a lifetime of love

is lived in her home

and the old woman

never feels alone


the leaves sing to her

the tree loves to dance

animals come by

to drink and to prance


The tree is happy

the lady is loved

by the roots below

and the leaves above


Chorus

And the roots spread around down underneath the tree

and they're stretching out to drink from the creek

they cradle her with their moss so green

the roots she found are her home underneath the tree

__________

TOP SOLDIER

Duane Anderson

Nebraska, United States

 

The birch tree never ran out of ammo,

saving it up, then unleashing it as the wind blew,

unleashing twigs and branches all over the yard,

no matter what time of day.

It stood poised and alert,

ready for the General’s command.

Ready. Aim. Fire.


It was one of the top soldiers 

in the creation of yard waste,

and me, a witness to each battle,

the one still remaining,

overwhelmed by the destruction.


The one left with the decision 

of picking up the dead branches,

or leaving them where they fell,

but in the end,

making multiple trips to the trash bin,

thanking my neighbor each time,

in a secret code, as each stick was picked up

in our yard, unleashed from the neighbor’s tree.

__________

UNDER THE OAK TREE

Kathy Jo Bryant

Missouri, United States

 

It was under the oak tree

When we first met

Among the leaves

Where it still stands yet


We lovingly gazed

Into each other's eyes

And pledged to each other

The rest of our lives 


As years have gone by

We've learned lots of ways

To stick to each other

 And each other amaze


Where there's a will

A way can be found

To give in to each other

And make love abound!

__________

CALLING A BEAR A BEAR

Lisa Perkins

Ireland

https://www.instagram.com/lisaperks/

 

On an evening where light dripped 

a honey flecked tail, we found one in the woods. 

Polar bear! Luke bellowed.

Loom scruff and marble-eyed, bear-like through a squint eye, 

baaaa. 


Unmopped fizz of make-believe bubbled through the scrub 

of wool and shade. Fully committed to what seven-year-old 

eyes can see - you better believe I believed. A grown woman 

who still hears a roar from the back of every wardrobe.


I know this forest floor, alive with eyes, whispers soft as fleece.

The fidelity of nature a hymn, that drowns our tonsils clean. 


I don’t know how a bear landed on the toes of the 

Dublin mountains. Or what angle it threw to capture a boy’s 

Arctic circle eye. But I thank the careless herder, be it dog, 

man or a body entirely fantastical for this slight of sunset 

gift, this gold for a child. 

__________

FIRST AID FOR THE SOUL

Alwyn Gornall

United Kingdom

https://www.facebook.com/alwyn.gornall/

https://twitter.com/alwyngornall


I ran from the roar of life 

like a frightened beast.

Away from the hard angled city,

to hide under your leaf-laced petticoat

and float in your stillness.


I took the paths that demanded walking

and fear and frustration and anger

fell away like autumn leaves.


Your silence wrapped me like a duvet,

spreading warmth over me like a log fire.


You filled me with renewed energy


to return to the roar... until the next time.

__________

BICENTENNIAL TREE

“an old poem based

on a local and true story”
Mark Hudson

Illinois, United States


Wilmette’s Bicentennial Tree,

no longer is on display to see.

A powerful storm knocked it down,

in this very conservative town.

It was there for 256 years,

people shed a few tears.

It had sentimental appeal,

I understand how the people feel.

It was an icon in Gilson Park,

people would visit it after dark.

The tree fell down, leaving a trunk,

it was rendered about useless as junk.

People came by to grab some wood,

people wanted to remember a tree so good.

The tree was marked by a plaque,

now the tree is not coming back.

Our great ancestors planted the tree,

it was supposed to represent being free.

Maybe the destruction of the tree is a sign,

of vanishing freedom because of time.

A chainsaw had to be used to destroy,

the rest of this tree, which people enjoyed.

The wealthy in this town lost power,

and the rain came down like a mighty shower.

___________

ODE TO MY RED MAPLE
Nolo Segundo

United States

She lives just outside 

my bedroom window,

ever loyal, ever faithful--

always in the same spot,

day after day,

season after season--

she’s there to give 

comfort, even joy, 

especially in November,

the sloughing month

when the leaves fall

in sad splendor, with

grace—but my tree,

my Japanese Maple,

holds out, turns scarlet

with the blood of life,

its leaves dancing 

little dances of love

in the autumnal winds

as though it were 

laughing at death….

__________

YOU DON’T DESERVE YOUR CROWN

Linda M. Crate

Pennsylvania, United States

 

sitting beneath the soft needled pines

i found a much-needed solace,

where my imagination could roam free

and your ignorant words couldn't choke

what little was left of my self-esteem;


they tell me that you're a good man

and you wear it as a crown but you 

weren't always good to me—


you don't deserve your crown,


and i still have nightmares about you and 

everything you would say to me in your rage;

you would only apologize after i spilled tears

and it makes me think it wasn't because you

were sorry but simply because you felt guilty—


but you told me once that if you do the same

thing more than once then you're not truly 

sorry so i can only assume you meant to hurt me.

__________

DREAMSCAPE

F. Kate Langan

Canada

https://fkatelanganauthor.wordpress.com

 

i am fungi,

popping my flamboyant head

out between blades of grass

at towering trees

planted firmly in their

blankets of mychorrizae cells.

but wait! i see one move

a root is lifting, and another,

the tree is going to dance!

a second tree is joining in.

now two are dancing

a slow, beautiful dance

to silent music

beneath a starlit sky.


i feel a tickle in my knees

a blossoming of flowers

beneath the bell of my cap;

i am being absorbed

into the network,

the world wide web

of subterranean communication

between the trees.


i am among them,

part of them,

and now i can hear it

yes, i can hear the music,

not so silent after all.

it is the sound of wind fingers

playing the crotchets, quavers 

and semi-quavers of leaves

scribbled on the score of branches,

and i am moving

in the stately dance

feeling joy,

tremendous joy

at the nature of all living things.


we are dancing towards a city

where skyscrapers cluster

at the base of a mountain range.

they are hugging the earth

and reaching for the sky

like trees but not like them at all.

i see trees between the buildings

but they don't dance;

they no longer hear

the strains of nature's music

over the din of the city.

i beckon to them

and call, 

“sisters and brothers, come.

get up and dance with me

your life is important

you are beautiful,

and important.”

but they don't come

don't even see me.

they are being strangled 

by overhead wires,

blinded by the smog

and choked by the fumes

and have slowed down to survive, 

until they are barely alive,

burying their roots

deep beneath 

the blankets of hot asphalt

and caustic concrete

to sip faint nutrients 

from the friable soil.


but wait! 

the buildings are coming.

their foundations are shifting

and i watch

as their brick facades 

crumble back to dirt

their wooden trusses 

writhe and splinter

their windows melt like wax

and dribble down their

poor, broken faces.

like giant, lumbering beasts

they take one step earthwards,

then another,

before falling to their knees

and collapsing 

into my consuming embrace.

only then, the trees,

once so sickly,

get up and join the dance

__________

BENEATH THE GREENWOOD'S MANTLE

Christina J.

London, United Kingdom

https://www.christina-j.com

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Garrow-King-Garrowlan-books/dp/B086PMZQR3

Beneath the greenwood's mantle, lies

Forgotten ways and secrets, where

The oak stands firm and the hornbeam sighs

And toadstools grow without a care. 

'Tis here among the trees where the ivy creeps

That the Lady lives, immortal, 

And along the narrow paths she sweeps

Beneath the greenwood's mantle. 

She sings with the birds that merry meet

As the natural world beholds her. 

She has a snow-white hare hop about her feet

And sits a raven 'pon her shoulder. 

So should you see her, 'neath beech or elm, 

Honour her and bow quite low 

For she is from the faerie realm

And knows of things you'll never know. 

Beneath the greenwood's mantle, she

Is a part and all of nature; 

You can hear her voice in the fluttering leaves, 

She is the lesser and the greater. 

She walks beneath the canopy green,

Wherever nature is left alone,

And it's here, 'twixt the realms of truth and dream, 

That the queen regains her throne. 

__________

THE TANGLED TREE

Sarfraz Ahmed

United Kingdom

https://www.facebook.com/sarfraz.ahmed.5268750

https://twitter.com/Sarfraz76194745

https://www.instagram.com/sarfrazahmedpoet/

 

I wondered far,

I wondered loose,

In my bewilderment,

I got caught in its moose,

 

Its warped branches,

Its crucifying leaves,

I came upon this twisted tree,

That helped me to grieve,

 

In time it consumed my presence,

Magnified me in its grasp,

Held me in its tender arms,

Many questions it asked,

 

Its branches intertwined,

Woven like vines,

Twisted and turned me,

Like pages of a book,

 

Its leaves rustled,

Whispered a silent prayer,

An oasis in the rain,

As I touched its twisted trunk,

It felt my pain,

The churning of my stomach,

My intestine track,

Somehow it knew,

That I’d lost something,

That I could never get back,

 

Unbeknown to me,

It began to ease my sorrow,

It took away the pain,

As the tangled tree,

Wept for me,

Again and again.

__________

THE WAY OF TREES

Judy DeCroce

New York, United States

https://www.linkedin.com/in/judydecroce/


props

passing in the landscape

I remember the way of trees


expanding the road into history

vying for a stand,

from winds and droppings


a convivial gathering

of species

a porter of birds clinging


questions lost in time

they were headed nowhere

but here


towers, skyscrapers 

the way of trees

 


Poem by Judy DeCroce first appeared in Backchannels Journal

September / 2019

__________

GRAND OAK TREE

Karuna Mistry

United Kingdom

https://karunacreations.wordpress.com/


O ancient one

Witness to yoke

Protected species

Great English oak 


Proud royal past

Boats and masts

Naval defense 

King and country


The forest elder

A wildlife shelter

Towering might

King of trees 


Roof party host 

For birds and bees

Symbiotic fungi

Lie at thine feet


Forest fauna

Sweep thy floor

Fallen fruit cups

House acorn nuts


Grand oak tree

Thou sustain life

I bow on my knees

That I can breathe

__________

BURGUNDY TREE

Antoni Ooto

New York, United States

https://www.linkedin.com/in/antoniooto/

http://www.ooto.org/blog/


You were always bent

on living a crooked life.


Oh burgundy tree

that sits before my table…

     How old are you now?

     How many storms have broken you?


Still, 

searching out an opening,

twisting toward light,

you will not be dismissed by nature.


Even now

half gone…

two new shoots.

__________

FAMILY TREE

Julie A. Dickson

New Hampshire, United States 

 

 

I knew how to read when I turned four.

I wrote my name on letters and papers;

they had told me about adoption, being chosen.

Why would I have thought it would be a stigma?

In second grade, the assignment was to draw

a family tree, to name ancestors and nationalities,

a tree on a page, provided by teacher,

written on by students: mother, father, siblings,

grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Then the teacher spoke quietly to me, 

showed me the dotted line breaking the family,

symbolizing an adopted child.

I was the only one in my class with a dotted line.

__________

UNDER THE TREE

LaVan Robinson

United States

Under the tree of humanities validity is where we all should be. Humbly and comfortably resting in its fullness. Pure, beautiful, and powerful image; an essence so protectively in love’s raw divine nature and its principles. Its fruits of our divinity we’ll happily partake and it will strengthen and renew our soul to the core according to the basic blueprinted purpose of artistic self-expression and perfect synchronization of you and I and the children of humanity paralleling the bridge between the enlightened conscious and the unconscious. Manifestations of the unfiltered beauty interwoven in our unlimited boundaries of the imagination. We gather daily, meet and greet so blissfully in unconditional love, peace, and unity under the awesomeness of its many branches and mystical and majestical leaves wholeheartedly living and sharing our profoundness while nestled under the tree.

__________

BARTLEBY FROM A TO Z

(First published by Home Planet News Online #8 om March 5, 2021) 

Ken Gosse

United States

https://www.facebook.com/ken.gosse/


Bartleby,

no children, he,

when in his youth and fancy free

was laying ’neath a chestnut tree,

his back upon a burl,


when that knot

rubbed such a spot

between his ribs, pained like a shot,

and so he said he’d rather not

though she’d prepared to whirl.


But this poor lass

would take no sass

(for she had stones of solid brass),

and kicked him in his sassafras

so hard, it made him hurl,


and so said he,

“That’s not for me—

a bachelor for eternity!

A scrivener’s what I’m meant to be.”

A churl without a girl.

But then this fellow,

turning mellow,

all bravado paling yellow,

facing fate with spine of Jell-O

saw he’d lost his pearl.


He was hired,

but soon fired;

in his grief employers mired.

All alone, no children sired,

he heard pipers’ skirl.


In his hell,

a private cell

where no one came—none knew him well—

a tragic death to him befell,

his lonely mind aswirl.

__________

MAPLE GATHERING

Mike Ball

United States

https://www.facebook.com/harrumph

https://twitter.com/whirred

 

A maple as big around as God’s thigh 

ruled the backyard of Marsham Street.

Locus of locusts (really cicadas), and

meeting place of many womenfolk,

back when women gathered in daytime 

and when string beans had strings.


Hundreds of translucent molted skins,

though lifeless, clung to dark bark

each by two curved front claws, like

impatient teens awaiting pizza slices.


I forget, were they 13 or 17-year locusts?

Locals seemed unsure too, but no matter.

Prophets always deserve some leeway. 

True bugs long grew, self-interred under black soil.


They split their former selves to push out, and 

were moist for an hour while new wings dried.

Then the demon-faced, red-eyed cicadas dotted

the maple in parody of a Christmas tree.


Below, too old and not that old women,

and their shanghaied youth, bent to task,

relentless but not silent, smothering

benches, lawn chairs, even flabby grass.

Granddad brought bushels of beans, peas,

and butterbeans, enough to cook and can.

Gossip by the bushel too, but cleaner and

kinder than at Thursday hair-dresser visits. 


Veritable venerables next to ephemera like Mayflies,

cicadas have weeks for nasty business and noises. 

Males gather in chorusing centers to resonate as one,

offering silent females one-stop mate shopping.


At a hulling bee, would we defame 

chattering, laughing mothers,

or those booming male cicadas

if we likened their noisemaking?

__________

BLISS OF SOLITUDE UNDER THE TREE

Lakshman Bulusu

New Jersey, United States

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/127227.Bulusu_Lakshman


The cool breeze is a velvet fan

for those under the tree.

It carries the invigorating scent 

of the flowers lazing in the nearby ponds,

easing tension from the day’s work

of those under.


And the wisdom from lands 

across distant waters,

like a sacred bodhisattva

changing attitudes for the better.


People sit under the tree,

some waving to passers by,

inviting them to give them company.

I too join them cheering,

“here it is cool.”

And the touch of leaves 

falling from the tree soothe

as soft as the breeze.

No place for discrimination.

People, squirrels, rabbits—

All share the same experience.

No huge gusts of wind to disturb.

Some adjacent trees bow down

towards each other creating an arch—

A green canopy.

Some photo pros click their cameras

as paired lips from us say “cheese.”

And the golden rays from tahe day 

create a vagary of gems,

that sparkle with that of the smiles.


A place so distinct in itself,

yet so natural and down to earth,

I languish and enjoy a different kind of

bliss of solitude under the tree.

__________

KISSING BIRCHES

Savannah K. Martinez

Texas, United States

https://www.instagram.com/crierpsycho/

 

We sat there, our feet touching 

      That of the newborn love

Everything perfect for once and

I was able to let go—


Spring was never my favorite season,

Missing the flowers bloom, out of reach

     My specialty 

     Late, just like the last cherry blossom 

Of May


But when you told me, I was your answer-

That I made you complete,

Out there under the kissing tree

     Two birches shedding their skins

     Follies of the past, prefixes

-Now free of the lies we spew 


I knew, this would be my last

For the beginning and the end were always 

The same-

Like that of the Sun and Moon;

And although the light cannot live without the dark,

     I swallow all but myself


So forgive me when I say this,

But I now must leave;

Having one foot in each life

-Each door, and stretching thin

Was never good for anyone

But there on that threshold, underneath

Laying on soft pallets of hope,

Our hands held there—

     Under the tree,

     Being free to love


That is where I’ll go to, when I close my eyes

And lose sight of the light

     So thank you, my love 

and goodbye

__________

DEER IN TEXAS
for Roger

Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum

Alaska, United States

https://redsweaterpress.com


The deer have found their way

in among the oak trees

as if they belong there. 


Perhaps the presence of your home

doesn’t bother them as it might

us, with our lawn-ornament lines. 


I wonder if they’re here

for the grass, or the company,

the leaves, or the journey. 


When they see you at the table, 

through the window, drinking coffee,

do their eyes ask where your heart is? 


If they could understand

“Texas,” would they know loss—

or love—like writers do? 


I watch deer wander through your yard

and think of purpose, glad

our fences don’t hide everything.

__________

FIG TREE

Tricia Knoll

Vermont, United States

Living on the unceded land of the Abenaki people

https://www.amazon.com/Tricia-Knoll/e/B001KC7S1G

https://triciaknoll.com

 

Naomi says her father

never told a story 

without including a fig tree.

 

A donkey tied to a tree trunk

or brothers who pass one

as they quarrel. 

 

The muscular fig

roots beyond its limbs,

slurps most of the garden water,

 

the habit of a good story.

Although it’s hard to hide a fig tree,

I discovered mine late. 

 

Nightshade, morning glory, 

honeysuckle and alder shoots 

threw a green cloak cover. 

 

I clawed off stranglers,

booed at the squirrels,

and finding it,

 

it found me, fig girl 

whose story seems as short 

as the shelf-life of a fig. 

__________

THOREAU

first published in I-70 Review

D.R. James

Michigan, United States

https://www.amazon.com/D.-R.-James/e/B00IW6KT3W


I’d have to get the handbook out

to identify the tiny bird scuttling

around the oak trunk by the back door.

So, I don’t, and what’s the difference,

since you know whom I’m seeing—

plump ovoid, mostly globe the shape

of a downy tear, mostly brown, maybe

some yellow, some black and white,

always looking up even as it scrolls

down and across the ragged bark,

even as new snow sifts on a slant

into the ebony pinheads of its eyes.

And I said oak but would have to

look that up, too, if our deed didn’t

claim it and I hadn’t heard they cling

to those beige scraps flapping at me

as I sit here realizing I don’t know

much at all. Henry Thoreau would know

both, and I’m remembering he also knew

no difference between being committed

to a farm or the county jail. Emerson

could gladly bankroll my home, too—

own the oaks and whatever other trees

I don’t know that surround me and

hold the birds and shield the deer.

I’d concentrate on reading Walden

and living off the grid like a friend’s

ex’s best friend who parked his van

in her front yard, plugged his TV

into her outside outlet, showed up

in time for family dinners so he could

decry committing to materialism.

If that bird on that tree had a choice—

could choose—I’d imagine he or she

(whatever coloring signifying which)

would stick to the avian grid, Thoreau

having also said that in his cabin he’d

caged himself among the wild birds.

__________

THE ASPEN TREE

Emily Thomas

Not Much Rhymes With Cancer

Wales, United Kingdom

https://www.instagram.com/notmuchrhymeswithcancer/


Leaves quiver above, shimmying in the light, 

Each ripple in time swimming into the next. 


Tree of miniature turtles paddling in blue,

Searching for the surface, gulping in the sun. 


Evergreen butterflies flutter to break free,  

Book paper wings tremble to be untethered. 


A choir of golden green tongues spill their song, 

Secret, sacred notes crescendo into air. 


Seconds, minutes, moments levitate in time,

Drifting into the distance; falling to ground.


Take me into the breeze 

Let my heart soar free

Lift me into the wild 

From under the Aspen tree

__________

HOPE

Najma Naseer Bhatti

Sindh Pakistan


Keep forwarding, till the end,

With flare and full of passion 

Brighten your hidden abilities,

Just like every new morning,

Before it passes through darks,

Finally nights are repulse by light,

You may face hindrances,

Keep forward with firm intention,

If this not, then the next world will be yours.

__________

THE HANGING TREE

Kassie J Runyan

New York, United States

Kassiejrunyan.com

 

roots tangled

knots down below

fingers pushing out

of the moist ground

colored dirt brown

grasping at the weeds

growing in the shadow

an arm breaching

straining

towards the sky

finally, a mouth

gulping

pulling air

down to the lungs

to unravel the roots

as i pull myself up

out of my grave

beneath the tree

that hung me

__________

Mel Haagman

United Kingdom

Facebook.com/girlontheedge90

 

There’s no malice in my actions

Though they aren’t always right 

I’m no coward when I walk away

I just don’t want to fight.

I’m not ignorant when I don’t understand 

I’m not closed off to learn 

And sometimes I keep walking straight

And forget I need to turn. 

Sometimes my words may hurt 

But that’s not what I intend 

And sometimes I know I could

Be a better friend.

Sometimes we do things 

And regret them straight away

But we are all just human

And we’re learning every day.