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Return to-and-from Morgan Meadow

“Isn’t this nice?” I breathed cool misty fog
Just like my mother would say on an island,
But I was talking to my curvy hot dog dog,
A pointer-dachshund, who isn’t that reliable
When I let her run off-leash; the meadow

Seemed deserted, a 500-acre preserve,
No one else parked in the lot so I got risky,
Let the dog romp loose; lessons learned:
Once, she bounded unleashed into the woods
During our tour with the Inland Fisheries
Wildlife Biologist, and his great dane, Gus, rescued
Sophie-Bea. She trotted beneath his elegant body
As he galloped; it’s fleeting, the love lives
Of dogs, or so I have observed.

We tromped through unpredictable snow,
Followed deer tracks, boot holes and paths
Of snow-machines, a sort of broken treadmill
With trap doors for every third or fourth
Footfall, suddenly ankle-and-shin deep,
Crust-cutting and gator-bruising (I should
Have worn knee-pads). We trekked

A mile or more, then turned back, a hard
Walk (The dog snorted cold air and I panted
“Wait for me,” not a command she obeys.)
I felt somehow dismayed not to have
Seen wildlife, though there were signs:
Scat and smells the dog investigated.

At home, we guzzled water and cracked
Open some windows to let 40 degree
Fresh air fill the house; after that,
The dog tore through the upstairs
Screen, over the bulkhead, diving
Head-first, paws out, as if to jump!

There, by the lilac, where I’d tossed
Soft apples for squirrel and deer,
A small grey opossum rummaged
Around, not showing any fear
While my dog bashed herself
Against the window panes.

Oh, the pointless hysterics,
As I searched, half-naked,
Mid-dressing, for the camera
To take its picture.

I went out in mismatched PJ pieces
Breakfast slippers like an old man
Inching toward this bizarre species
That really belongs in Arkansas—
Just look at the headlines: “Recipe
Time: Eat Possum,” “Opossum
Found at Courthouse,” “Officials
Say ‘unlikely culprit’ raided Scout
Troups’ snack tray,” “Possum Tails:
How to Care for Your Pet.”

oppossum

Leah Stetson photo

Seeing this nonnative creature waddle
Through my little Maine wooded seep
Makes me wonder about the weirdos
Who save orphaned opossums, keep
Them as pets and make home videos
Of their marsupials doing pig-tricks.

Now bobcats and red foxes, moose
And coyotes, hell, local legends
Of wild dogs (they’re suspicious)
Run ‘round Morgan Meadow’s
Marshland and forested wetlands,
But the possum is a new-comer.

Its population won’t sky-rocket;
The possum’s plight is pathetic.
It doesn’t survive under pressure
(Tires, mainly, the kill’s automatic)
On my drive up the Hill of Doom,
I swerved to avoid a dead one,
Quite possibly the same possum
That drove my dog nuts.

She’s from Arkansas, too.

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Poet’s note: I woke up yesterday morning with a pinched nerve or some kind of painful back spasm. I’m not one for pain medication, so I have been stretching and soaking, rolling around on tennis balls and walking like Carrie Bradshaw in the episode with Charlotte’s 2nd wedding. Yeah, that bad.

A January To-Do List

Nurse coconut mango tea with dandelion root and bitters
Feed the cats and dead-head the dish garden; water the moss
Pluck juicy sections of pink grapefruit and bag up the litter
Clear off the dining table I inherited from my grandparents
Read the Human Ecology Review and sort the harmless mail
Let the dog out, then in again, patiently listen to her vent
Work up the motivation to vacuum the living room
Dig out my most conservative swimsuit for the lap pool
Roll tennis balls beneath the origin of my back spasms
Debate what to wear to burlesque dance classes;
Squeeze into inappropriate ensembles (as practice)
Call the Department of Labor to obtain a password;
Hear bad ‘hold music’ on the phone for 45 minutes
Ask a local guy to sand my long luge of a driveway
Strap on Nana’s “cramp-ons” to walk on the ice
Forage for birch bark blown down in the wind;
Write checks, a new poem and thank-you notes
Lug firewood and put the clean dishes away
Build a fire in the woodstove, sustain the heat
Curl up with Daphne du Maurier’s lost stories
Hold a warm mug of spicy chai with milky oats
Spoil the dog; rub her belly and give her treats.
Listen to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me;” get cozy,
Soak in the tub with lavender and chamomile;
I don’t have to do anything for a while.

~Leah

Here is my 6th poem in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. Again, I am writing 30 poems in 30 days to support (and raise funds) for the nonprofit Tupelo Press. I’m not alone; there are 8 other poets doing TP Donatethis with me. Their poetry, along with mine, can be found at the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge blog page.  I have linked to some of the other poets’ WordPress blogs, too, under my blogroll and will be adding others as I get the links. Please support Tupelo Press. They are publishing a lot of good work and really depend on the generosity of readers, lovers of poets and kindred spirits.

Dream Sharks

Sharks swam below me in an army of shadows
All moving in one direction: the same one
I was swimming in the dark ocean.

I aimed my flashlight; its beam illuminated
Their silhouettes—unmistakable, these ghost predators
In hazy kelp-dappled moonlight. Our lives, semi-fated.

I saw their fins, recognizable shapes, their stout squarish
Faces, gills and the dorsal, pointing up at me. I swam
Endangered, a subconscious fear of role reversal.

I didn’t splash; I cut the water nose-first
And swam as though fish or a shark myself,
No longer shining a spotlight.

My senses led me, an internal system navigated,
Waves sped me—I felt propelled by some innate energy
Thrust through the water, half under, mostly submerged.

The flashlight, gone. But the sharks, my entourage
A night brigade guarded my belly. We smelled collectively,
The marked perfume of carnage, full-blooded.

We moved in “S” formations: synchronized as a school,
Gliding to white noise, slalom water-skiiers, snakes in a desert.
And when I woke, my skin felt cool.

I was one of them.

LCS   TP Subscribe

Wild Cactus

The windows were broken to eat you alive.
Slicked with ink and thin paper, my hands,
Under-appreciated, unhinged—even thrived
Despite the lackluster smidgen of damp sand.

I am at the beach, plump with rainwater from a
Cool foggy summer—the island, laughing
Staying true to its cold hardiness, a collage
In rescuing the wild form, a soft mossy green.

That said, a spiny devil records their catches:
A hummingbird, stones, monsoon storms, a queen
Flown, thrown and blown through cut paper latches
Burn off their spines, it’s not that damage-repair thing.

Poised to scream out lots of terrible bare-tree lines
Because he was suffering in private gardens,
Clad in welding gloves, a fish hook thought of a tongue
Like a sermon of my father’s, to dig up tender globes,

I re-imagined my artichoke romance, living proof
Their purple-blue thistle havens sugared and sold
Love along the edges of a slip-covered coast
Without shells or throw pillows or souvenirs.

The vivid art of dreaming pins a spooky piece
I kept trying to save Saturn or Uranus, giant houseplants,
Hoping for a robust shape-shifter to take in a dying sea,
A ball of recycled gyotaku doused with kerosene.

LCS

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Sleepy Venus

A nor’easter and the rarest of moons,
Closest to Earth, not to be confused
With the blue-white sparkly goddess,
Brought me news from the police station:
An officer claimed my “son; he’s missing;”
I said I haven’t any children. “Not a son?”
He asked, and I verified the biological facts.
When I inquired, the cop on the line
Couldn’t offer any explanation.

I felt like Nancy Drew
With something eerie to solve
And possessing faultless tact.

The last time a sheriff called me,
Indeed there was a nor’easter, then
I’d been robbed—a long stupid story:
(By stupid, I mean self-incriminating)
An ex-fisherman from Kodiak Island
Who’d flexed his triceps on reality TV,
“Deadliest Catch”  (perhaps a red flag)
After hot chocolate, had fled my house
Taken cash from my bag, and in haste,
Forgotten his pants.

During the same storm, a lone bobcat
Stole along the snow-covered stone walls,
Criss-crossed directions, this way and that,
Leaving half-clues, barely tracks, but we saw
(The dog went bananas) the dark silhouette
Just the shade of him, a stealth criminal
At dusk, a moving jet black portrait.

My mother warned, “you have to think
About these things,” if the bobcat crept
To the door (!) she shrieked, clink-clinked
Ice in her glass. His climb to my front step,
A poorly-marked detour, a wily mistake.
But I wasn’t worried about the little beast.
(My orange alley cat is almost as great.)

I tromped on snowshoe to investigate,
But he was temperamental, a mystery.
He escaped behind a rumpled comforter
Upon a rounded, unmade bed, no duvet.
Watching the twenty-five pound cat
Slink unobtrusive, costume and all,
Proved I could be a good detective.

If only I unburdened myself
Of the slip-knotted curiosity
Sole daughter of a werewolf
Plunge plucky hands-on-hips, told
Unself-conscious stories, no fear
But dashed dreams of playing one
In a popular sci-fi series, a second
Opportunity. It had credentials.

“Scratch-that, my dear,”
she said. It’s too late.

Vicious-lipped, the storm whistled
A steaming kettle boiled and spittled.
I sipped warm tea, cinnamon and clove,
Picked up crumpled letters and listened
As the house shifted in the cold, unsettled
While sleepy Venus awakened an old love.

I looked up from my work, and the tick
Tack-boom of the glowing woodstove,
As frosted rhododendrons—their heads
Doubled in size from clumped snow,
Surprised, caught me unguarded,
A jolt to check seemed foolish
Their sneaky shadows,
Peeping tom-ish,
Slapped the pane
in the wind.

Leah C. Stetson   TP Donate

Oh, boy. It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m already writing under the influence. We begin 2014 under the influence of the “Supermoon,” a New Moon in Capricorn on Jan. 1st. It’s the first of two Supermoons (and two New Moons) in January, which is pretty awesome. I say, “awesome,” because the moon will be super close and its effects, tidal –lunar, emotional, what-have-you, will be awe-inspiring for many.

Tomorrow I join eight other poets from around the country (globe?) to write 30 poems in 30 days of January as part of Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Challenge. The challenge is twofold: 1) it pushes the poets to write a poem each day for a month, marathon-style, and 2) it engages readers of poetry (and those newish to poetry) in a variety of styles and voices–with the goal of prompting readers to support the literary wonder, Tupelo Press, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in California. Readers can support the poets, including me, by doing one of two things: 1) donate to Tupelo Press or 2) subscribe to one of its fine publications. There is a whole catalog of poetry journals. Think of it like community-supported agriculture since poetry is organic–grown from the fruits of our labors. (Was that terrible? I’ve been problematically punny this week.) Well, some of you have run marathons, biked/hiked/paddled/stroked through triathlons, and I have marveled at your feats. I’m not built for speed but I will endeavor to create a new freshly “baked” poem each day in January for this cause. Please support my fellow poets, whose work will appear, along with mine, at this blog:  (30/30 Project). I will post my updates on Twitter @StrangeWetlands and the daily poem here on my blog, too. Thank you for your support. Please cheer me on if I get cranky and hit writer’s block. Blame it on the moon.

~Leah

Leah

Poet. Artist. Ecoheroine. Human ecologist. Spiritual mermaid and Mystic. I write about literary ecology, wetlands, water, Romantic ecology, and quirky adventures with my dog.

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