PROMPT #392 – IN DEFENSE OF TREES

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

by Joyce Kilmer

I am channeling Joyce Kilmer, as you can see. His poem “Trees” was brought fully to mind. The weather the other day turned downright surly. We had experienced the most violent thunderstorm that I can ever remember. Monsoon winds, zero visibility. Thunder and lightning.

Lightning. It found the tree behind the back fence on my property. Branches ripped away from the trunk. A forty-foot limb came straight down to embed itself a foot and a half into the ground where I had been working thirty minutes earlier. Such destruction … poor tree scattered all over my tree-less yard.

Of course, I don’t blame the tree. I stand in defense of trees. And so will you. Your poems this week will be tree-centric. Write about a specific tree. A tree from your youth. There’s pastries, pantries, poetry, carpentry … any tree will do. Spread your limbs and write of trees. Mr. Kilmer said it best.

MARIE’S TREE:

 TREES


branches sing with birds
beg me bask in their cool shade
unlike palm thingies

©  Marie Elena Good 2022

Can you tell I love being a northern gal?  😉

WALT’S TREE:

LAND OF TWO TREES

Tall and thickly rooted,
an “orchard” amidst a garden.
The hardened immigrant toils,
muddied soil his base,
and his face is ruddy and worn.
He had been removed
from the home country he knew trans-
planted between two trees
shading his vegetable patch.
Tall and thickly rooted,
the gardener stands amidst his garden.
An apple tree reaching,
arms raised in prayer beseeching
for a fruitful yield. Across the way
plums, purple and regal.
Leathery hands gripping a hoe,
a “Hokka” he calls it, chopping
and tilling clods of dried sod.
Plans for tomatoes, potatoes,
beets and cucumbers
and a number of other plants.
Bandanna flailing raised to brow
mopping the flop-sweat
under the noon day sun, baking.
A curse in his mother tongue,
chopping against bark to free
the mud held tightly. Releasing
his place of birth for a new home!

(C) Walter J. Wojtanik - 2022

Can you tell i love being the son of a Polish immigrant who embraced America for all it had to offer and who offered all he had to give to have that life?

182 thoughts on “PROMPT #392 – IN DEFENSE OF TREES

  1. Oh my goodness, Walt … in my way of thinking, this is one of your best poems, ever. And that says a great deal. Creative wording and imagery, soft rhymes, and skillful layout almost go unnoticed for the passion this piece holds.

    If memory serves, the first poem I commented on at Poetic Asides was one you wrote in both Polish and English. The pride in your family heritage sang to me, and your poetic prowess blew me away. Still does.

    Best of the best.

  2. Love this theme if not the storm. Here’s my contribution to it.

    No mere inheritance

    I

    As if it were a game of tug of war
    wind and rain
    lash and torment
    tug and pull
    on canopies and branches
    the tree pulls back
    its top flops wildly
    as if to hold itself together

    until the wild wind wins
    at least in part
    twisting twigs and leaves
    branches
    sometimes more
    and
    throwing them to earth

    II

    On the other hand
    when the storm is past
    trees are trimmed
    and litter cleared
    there’s wood
    for blazing campfires
    and from one such storm
    walnut wood to line my mother’s
    kitchen china cabinet

    Carolyn Wilker © June 26, 2022

  3. A Tree Rooted in Truth

    Like a raging storm, destructive counsel tears the landscape of humanity;
    a tornado of lies strips-tosses nonsense from media in torrents of insanity.

    Derision and scorn ,like remnant detritus, litter what’s left of our Eden.
    Brother fights brother, daughter hates mother, fueled by what each is heeding.

    But strong is the man who trades not in such counsel, nor shares in the way of destruction;
    refusing to sit where the scornful take rest; rooted ‘gainst tempest’s abduction.

    His sole delight is the law of the LORD, and in it he dwells day and night.
    Like a tree firmly planted by nourishing water he bears fruit that is true and aright.

    No green leaf shall wither; no twig shall soon snap, he is known by the way he has prospered.
    Against every storm, and foe that assails, his branches point constantly heavenward.
    —————————

    Plagiarized from Psalm 1:1-6

    Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

    He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

    The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

  4. ITALIAN WEDDINGS

    I love to go to Italian weddings;
    they know how to put on a show:
    the priests seem to be at their happiest
    and the brides, the prettiest I know.

    The receptions are akin to spectacles
    where nothing is left undone:
    The music is bouncy; the dancing is flouncy;
    and everyone kisses everyone.

    But here’s the biggest reason of all,
    the one that means most to me:
    I love to go to Italian weddings
    and help trim the cookie tree.

  5. BODHISATTVA

    If bodhi should infuse a body
    underneath an old fig tree,
    it’s best to let the bodhi blossom
    and let the body be.

    The body’s soul has found nirvana
    and so the body’s bodhi-bound;
    enlightenment has been awakened
    despite no hint of sound.

    So there he is, a bodhisattva
    underneath his bodhi tree,
    bidding bodhi infuse all bodies;
    bidding creation be.

  6. I followed this week’s prompt for my 17 today…

    Trees tremble in fear,
    Earth’s fever draining its lakes,
    spring lambs stay sleeping.

    #seventeenintwentytwo

  7. Small Town Memories

    There are no elm trees on Elm Avenue, anymore.
    There used to be, back when Dale and Mary Alice
    and all the rest of us were growing up,
    in the so-called good old days in Small Town, WI.

    We were worried about the Russkies,
    building shelters underground, stocking them
    with Spam and water and some kind of hard bread,
    lots of Anacin and Band-aids.
    We should have been worried about the Dutch,
    those tulip-growing, windmill-loving ice skaters,.
    We’d blame them later for what happened to our trees.

    We were worried about polio, too.
    We all knew about iron lungs and braces, and
    we all had a classmate or relative on crutches.
    We weren’t worried when the doctor made his house call,
    cigarette in his mouth.
    We should have worried, and we should have
    wondered why no lady doctors came around.

    Our parents bought a new car every year.
    They worried about losing face,
    about keeping up with the neighbors.
    The neighbors, of course, were all white.
    We weren’t worried about what was happening with negroes.
    We didn’t know any, didn’t know anything about them.
    We didn’t know anything about brown, red and yellow races either.
    They didn’t worry anyone at all.

    We all knew gay men and women.
    None of us knew that we knew them.
    Nothing to worry about there.
    We were occupied with the things that really mattered,
    like acne and masturbation and girdles and bras.
    We weren’t worried about STD’s,
    but owning a condom was still a big deal for boys with no clue.

    We were all poor, at least compared to
    the rich folks across the lake,
    the Pabst’s and Miller’s and Johnson Cookies people,
    the ones always last to pay their grocery bills.
    being poor didn’t worry us,
    we were all in it together,
    took pleasure in simple things,
    like swimming and tag and the free movies
    in the park on Saturday night.

    Our heroes were athletes and actors,
    local folks like Warren Spahn and Tony Curtis.
    We didn’t worry about scandal then,
    our heroes too true to make the
    tarnished footprints of the future.
    We might have worried about that,
    propping them up, only to knock them down,
    but we didn’t.

    There are no elm trees on Elm Avenue, anymore.
    But, there are pine trees and firs and maples, even birches,
    the ones we planted before we knew the elms would go.
    We were not worried about the future when we did that.
    We just put them in the ground,
    bought hammocks, waited.
    Nothing to worry about.
    Nothing at all.

  8. I Like Trees

    I like trees, wide, narrow, short or tall
    Willow, Hickory, Aspen and Yew
    Maple, especially in the fall
    I like trees

    An Oak to climb when nothing to do
    Poplar, Linden, Eucalyptus, Palm
    Bonsai, Cedar, Birch to name a few

    Some Arborvitae to form a wall
    Baobab, Cherry, Gum—not to chew
    Sassafras, Elm, Dogwood, hear me call,
    “I like trees!”

  9. Poet-tree

    The oak in the front yard
    waves its arms the morning
    after the storm. Limbs, now
    twigs, it no longer needs.
    Its leaves sing in a cool breeze
    asit finds relief after a week
    of swelter and heat. Free-flowing
    songs of birds swirl
    and fill placid air
    a verse of their becoming
    as they learn to fly and dream.
    An eager imagination shapes
    clouds as they drift.
    Visions find new life.
    Rings in trunks bear
    nature’s wisdom, but
    a moment of inspiration
    is savored with pen
    in hand, more than enough
    to fill an empty page.

  10. One from Walt’s vault:

    OUT IN FRONT

    Out in front
    there’s a rickety porch,
    rough hewn timbers with tree bark
    still clinging to their fibrous skeletons.
    Rocking chairs and a stump table;
    shavings from a whittled branch
    strewn about the weathered floor boards.

    Out in front
    there’s a tree; tall and stately,
    a monument to the longevity apparent
    since it was planted, a feeble sapling
    much like himself – thin, gangly and weak.
    It speaks of perseverance and dedication –
    fulfilling its station to mark time and grow.

    Out in front
    near the tree, there’s a lake…
    a pond, really. Reeds and lily pads
    defining its edge. Sounds of crickets and croaks
    of bullfrogs, cicada whines reverberate in the late
    afternoon. Soon their sounds will be silenced
    as the seasonal change lumbers into the valley.

    Out in front
    is a tire dangling, a rope looped over a branch
    of the stately tree. Dirt dug out, a furrow where feet
    dragging and kicking kept sticking the ground
    with a new found ferocity. Gaining in height and velocity,
    the children take turns launching, airborne to land
    in a heap with a thud; sometimes blood appears, the poor dears.

    Out in front
    a wagon waits; flatbed secured, a hitch holding tightly.
    On a brightly hued morning, and without much in the way
    of a warning, grandfather had passed. The town folk amassed
    in respect; paying forward what had come around on occasion.
    Sadly in procession, he was carried from the house – a finality.
    Placed upon the caisson, a solemn silence ensued.

    Out in front
    the porch remained; rockers swaying in the stiffness of a late breeze.
    Birds nested in the tree and the pond continued with activity
    and the sounds of life. No one sat on the pendulous tire as it
    swung hypnotic. The front door was ajar, but it was in exit,
    not as an invitation to enter. Out in back the fields had grown
    unruly and left to sit fallow. But, out in front a good fellow has gone.

    © Walter J Wojtanik

  11. The Wind in the Trees…

    The other day,
    The wind came racing
    Through my forest…
    Bending the colossal columns
    Of primeval forest,
    That survived more than one century.
    Back and forth, clockwise, counterclockwise,
    And I stood watching them move
    In deliberate wonder
    Of the secret of the wind
    That blows through trees…

    Remembering the first time,
    I stepped up in a tree,
    The maple tree
    That I could ride
    As my horse
    Across the lands
    My imagination took me…
    There was a dark storm
    In the distance, and the wind rose
    Until my mother’s laundry
    Which had hung straight down
    Was now like the wings
    Of a flock of white geese,
    And I knew I needed to feel it…
    I stood on my wooden horse,
    And began to climb
    Until I could step out
    On a limb and walked
    Without holding on
    Except with my bare feet
    Wrapping around the limb…
    My hair blew into a tangle,
    And my toes struggled
    To keep me upright,
    And there I stood
    Basking in the wonder
    Of the wind in trees…
    The leaves rattled like crinoline slips,
    And how I wanted to fly.
    But I heard the back door slam,
    And my mother was rushing
    To gather in her laundry, and
    As she did, she called to me
    Telling me a storm was coming.
    I hit the ground
    Before she knew,
    Of the risk I had taken.
    Ma looked upon my hair,
    And shook her head
    For my ponytail had tumbled down,
    And I knew I would deal
    With her brush pulling
    All my tangles out.
    I giggled at the memory.

    Looking at my forest moving
    In beautiful motion
    Creating a symphonic sound…
    I longed once more to climb
    A tree and stand on a limb
    To feel the wind blow
    And make my hair tangle
    As if a lover’s hands
    And created the mess…
    Some dreams
    Have to be let go,
    And others need
    To come again.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    June 26, 2022

  12. of all my previous tree poems this is my favorite……

    Do not Bury Me but Once!

    She put his cup of coffee down in front of him.
    She said, “I think we need to move that tree.”
    “Which one?” he said, “We have a forest of trees.”
    She smiled, “The star Magnolia- out front by the ramp.”
    “Why?” he looked dubiously- it was not a little tree.
    She smiled and placed a platter of biscuit and country ham.
    She knew the way to her man’s heart.
    He smiled back at her cause he knew her strategy
    She worriedly said, “It blocks my sight of seeing people coming to the house.”
    “Okay,” he nodded for he knew her fears.

    He worked for an hour or two before he gave up.
    The Star Magnolia had other ideas about where it would grow.

    She brought him a glass of tea.
    She said, “You look tired. I have lunch almost finished.”
    “Thanks. I clean up and come in,” He said.

    They laughed and discussed their children.
    The Star Magnolia was not mentioned.
    After lunch he returned to digging.
    She came out and told him to come take a nap,
    Which he did.

    She brought him another glass of tea.
    She was thoughtful, “I have been thinking, maybe the tractor would work.”
    “Louise, it was your thinking that got me into this mess,” he fussed in fun.

    But he went to get the tractor,
    Put a chain around the base of the Star Magnolia.
    He set the tractor to pulling, but
    That Star Magnolia did not budge.
    He commenced to digging again.
    The lights had to be turned on for it was getting dark.
    He began to cuss.
    The Star Magnolia stood firm refusing the will
    Of a tractor and Ma..
    It was nine o’clock.
    He turned off the tractor, removed the chain and
    Began to put the dirt back.
    The Star Magnolia had won.

    She said, “Joe what are you doing?’
    “I am doing what I should have done this morning,” his frustration high.
    She knew she lost, “and what is that?”
    “I should have told you no. The tree stays,” and he took a breath
    “Louise, promise me when I die, you will only bury me once, and
    Not move me every year,” and with that he stuck the shovel in the ground
    For he was finished.

    She told the story for years, how the Star Magnolia had won,
    How she had kept her promise not to move him every year, and
    Not how much she missed him, and how from time to time
    She patted the bark of that Star Magnolia and smiled.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 2, 2016

  13. Chip Shot

    They walked the course together one day
    Father and son, eighteen holes to play
    Neither a pro, they just both loved the game
    And their game was the same in so many ways

    They tied on the first and the third then the fourth
    Dad crushed it on two, an early lead on the course
    Then came the fifth, a long dogleg par five
    The son’s layup shot couldn’t have been worse

    His shot came to rest ‘bout fifty yards from the green
    But a massive oak tree stood majestically between
    The young man’s ball and the short grass and hole
    Dad chuckled a bit, but tried not to be mean

    “So, son”, he chided, “don’t be scared of that tree.
    I’ve been there before and it didn’t scare me.
    When I was your age I chipped over it
    So, son,” he chided, “be the boss of that tree!”

    His son took a deep breath and drew out his wedge
    Shook it at the tree and yelled, “I’ve got the edge!”
    He addressed the ball and took a mighty swing
    The tree slapped the ball to the left in a hedge

    Dad chuckled a bit more and threw him a ball
    “A little more loft, son. That tree is real tall!”
    The son changed his stance and swung with pure power
    The tree once again slapped away the son’s ball

    Dad tried to speak, but the son raised his hand
    “Dad, if you could do this, I know that I can!”
    So he dropped another ball and swung with pure power
    But the tree slapped it straight out to out-of-bound land

    So ball after ball, the son took a swing
    But the tree slapped them away again and again
    Then down to his last ball, the son finally quit
    He looked over and his dad was wearing a grin

    “Okay, Dad, just how did you chip over that tree?”
    “Well, son, it was a lot easier for me
    You see years ago when I was in the same spot
    That tree was just a few feet taller than me.”

  14. ONE TREE

    This tree is a symbol of strength.
    It has withstood the greatest storms.
    It has reinvented itself with every spring.
    It has given its all every fall.
    It curtails harmful sun exposure,
    and minimizes the pounding rain.
    It arranges the snow into artwork,
    and provides animal homes.
    It filters the air we breathe
    taking in poison and exhaling life.
    We must protect it at all costs.
    It is the supporting beam
    that holds up our universe.

  15. I have written several poems about my forest being a cathedral this one I wrote almost a year ago when I was just tired of battling the storms in my life….especially my blood disorder… it wears on me…something awful and recently I had another set back… just driving thru this part of my forest reminds me to keep fighting…

    Storms, not a reason to exit…

    My life has been a series of storms of late.
    It is like the end of the major storm
    That hit me a year ago…
    It has worn me down.
    It is chaos,
    And I prefer cosmos
    To chaos.

    I took a short ride
    In yesterday’s sun
    To clear my head of the storms
    That were shaking my life
    Like a series of tornados.

    As I was driving home…
    I stopped on my driveway…
    Where the giant trees
    Were battered
    By the blows of a tornado
    A quarter century ago.
    I remember that night,
    And the destruction
    I saw the next morning…
    For I was sure my forest
    Would die.

    I was wrong.

    I stepped into the sunlight,
    And felt it dapple my skin.
    I looked at the tall giants,
    Damaged by that storm,
    But still standing.
    Strong, tall,
    Reaching for the light.
    It was peaceful…
    They were peaceful…
    Scars were there,
    For life often scars us.
    There was also life…
    Seeking out
    The good in the air,
    And the sunlight on their leaves
    Looking as a cathedral
    In an ancient gothic church.

    It is a holy place,
    My forest,
    For God walks
    In the gardens of His creation.
    There is cosmos
    In the gardens, and
    I found it as I stood there.

    Earlier
    I had wanted to give up
    And stop fighting,
    But looking at these tall giants…
    In the heart of my forest,
    I knew, storms are
    No reason to exit,
    Or to give up,
    But only give us strength
    To continue to reach for the light.

    I took a few photos,
    But knew they would never expose
    The cosmos of that moment
    As I stood with God
    In His cathedral
    Created by His love.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 14, 2021

  16. The wind and trees speak

    I remember when my toddler hands
    Touched the bark of a tree, and
    I felt the power within that living force…

    I know most can never feel that, but I did.

    They sleep in winter, but in spring
    When sap wakes them up,
    Those veins of life
    Carrying food made from the sun
    Flows to the roots,
    And from the roots flows
    The water they need to drink,
    And the transformed food
    They can use….
    I love it is spring
    When they come alive…

    It was in a forest
    The wind spoke to me…
    And I stopped to hear
    The whisper to my soul…

    Years later it called to me in the forest
    Outside my house but I had stopped listening
    To the trees and wind….

    But they were waiting for me
    To awake from the winter in my soul…

    The wind blew through my hair,
    And I stirred…
    The trees
    Flickered like mirrors
    Showing me the light
    That it is the light
    We should consider,
    And not the darkness….
    We should study
    What light really is for us…
    For just like it brings food to trees,
    Just so it brings it to us.

    The wind sung me
    The music of the cosmos,
    And I listened…

    My old hands
    Reached out to touch a tree
    This spring, and
    I felt the power of the life
    That within it flowed,
    And I knew
    I am here to celebrate life
    And to be grateful
    For all I am given.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    June 26, 2022

  17. I have written several poems to the old dogwood… it lived over a hundred years… I miss it each spring…

    Perfect, Just Perfect

    The old dogwood had stood a hundred summers,
    Even summers with little rain.
    Its bark a jigsaw of perfectly fitted pieces.
    In spring its flowers greeted all travelers
    Who happened down this dirt road
    To the house in woods.

    But part of it died
    And fifteen years ago
    That part was removed
    In hopes that the old dogwood
    Would have a few more blooms.

    The woman who lived here
    Came in her early sixties…
    She loved the dogwoods…
    Each spring she watched for the emerging buds
    Of the flowers that made
    Clouds of billowing white
    Floating through the forest.
    She saw them bloom
    One last time the spring
    She turned ninety-three.
    As she touched each bloom…
    She said, “Perfect, just perfect.”

    There were draughts after the woman left;
    The old dogwood began to weaken.
    In its last spring its blossoms
    Floated on the air,
    And the wind seemed to whisper,
    “Perfect, Just perfect.”
    In the fall, the old tree
    Let its last leaves drift
    To the ground…
    A circle of crimson
    Like the red berry crown
    It wore each winter
    Where the flowers of spring
    Had once been.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 7, 2017

  18. One Dogwood Bloom

    The spring storm,
    The night before
    Had been brutal.

    The next morning
    I took a walk up my road
    And thought of Ma

    Along the way…
    Dogwoods were blooming.
    She loved them, and

    How they looked like clouds
    Floating amid tiny green leaves.
    Just as they were that day.

    Every year I looked
    To find the first bloom
    Of a young dogwood.

    As I walked
    I checked for damage
    Of my road and threw limbs-

    Fallen from the canopy of trees
    Under which I walked, and
    Thought of her who loved dogwoods.

    There was a tree
    I knew its first bloom
    Should soon be open.

    I turned the curve
    And saw the domino effect
    Of pine trees which fell in the storm.

    There in the road
    Was the remains
    Of that young dogwood tree.

    Crushed under a huge pine,
    It had no chance.
    I slowed my steps, but

    There was one limb
    Sticking out from under the pine,
    And one perfect bloom was open.

    The white bloom
    Uncrushed and pure as snow
    Except for the four dull red dents…

    I thought of her who loved dogwoods, and
    Knew she would take it practically
    While I with tears wept….

    For perfect beauty
    Cannot be created by humans, and
    Is fleeting as a storm passing.

    When I returned home,
    I called to have the carnage cleared,
    And was haunted by one dogwood bloom.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 10, 2019

  19. Of all those that painted trees, Monet was the best

    Van Gogh’s trees
    Sometimes twisted
    With his madness,
    Electric banana
    Rich with saffron,
    And mellow
    With his yellows….

    Sargent painted
    Beautiful women in portraits,
    And one known as Madame X
    Was quite scandalous in Paris…
    Trees were back drops
    And yet in a trip to Italy
    He painted those tall
    Skinny trees
    That look like the brush
    On some of his paint brushes…

    Kilmt painted fantasies
    Sometimes glistening
    With gold paint
    In some rich exotic
    Places that cannot be…

    Chagall painted goats,
    And chickens and
    A couple that seems to appear
    To be flying,
    And there will be
    Within the rich colors
    Of his paintings
    A tree is rooted
    In a celebration
    Of his culture.

    Bearden painted
    Brightly colored paintings
    Of people unified
    For he needed them to be…
    His trees were rare
    But understandable
    Since the roots
    Of his people
    Were cut off
    By those
    Who used their lives
    For profit…

    Dali painted fantastical tales
    Of ships with sails
    Made of butterflies,
    And Jesus
    Floating on the cross
    In the dark
    Above a fishing village,
    And dead trees
    With watches
    That seemed
    To have melted
    In a southern summer…
    Need I say more.

    But Monet was the master
    For he understood light,
    Two things in all of creation
    That sparkle with light
    Trees and water,
    And Monet
    Captured
    The ability of both
    To glisten, and glow
    As they absorb the light
    And yet flash it
    As a mirror
    Into our eyes.
    J’adore Monet!

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    June 27, 2022

  20. The American Chestnut

    They were an ancient forest
    That grew in the Appalachians….
    The people who lived there
    Built their cradles, chairs, beds,
    Fences, houses, and
    Caskets… and they collected
    The chestnuts to sell
    To the people who lived
    In cities…
    It was how they lived
    Together with these
    Majestic trees…
    They walked in peace
    Among these trees….

    But men from the north
    Wanted money,
    And saw the lumber
    From these trees
    Would turn to green
    In their banks,
    And they invaded
    And cut without mercy
    The chestnut trees…
    And as they fell
    The earth shook
    With pain….
    And the light of the sky
    Pierced the earth
    Bleeding light
    Of the death of trees….

    But some survived,
    Until a deadly blight
    Attacked them,
    But the stumps still live
    Of these fallen giants
    And they sprout up new trees
    Who die young
    For the blight lives in the soil…
    And the life of the mountain people changed
    Because the tree they depended
    On was no longer serving them…
    And the chestnut graveyard
    Haunts them still…
    For something was robbed
    From their souls.

    I hear people
    Speak of saving the earth
    While they bulldoze
    Down the forests
    To build new houses,
    Thinking the trees will always
    Be there for the taking…
    To make our furniture,
    Our paper products,
    Our floors,
    Our houses…
    But unlike those
    Appalachians
    They rarely walk
    In peace among
    The trees they use…
    And the air is less
    Clean because
    Of what they do….
    And like the chestnut
    The trees could
    Die and leave us
    Gasping for air.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    June 27, 2022

  21. Grace

    Gracing a corner,
    limbs spreading
    like ballerinas
    every Spring. I’d pass
    by this tree each
    day, when I lived in
    Portland, Oregon.
    I could not take enough
    photos. Cherry blossoms
    hung heavy as Christmas
    balls. Soon, as petals
    skirted the ground, I knew
    it would not be long
    until seasons changed
    once again. But,
    there was always
    next Spring to dream
    about.

  22. A Thousand Red Moons

    Maybe it was its sprawling arms
    the tangle of unpruned branches
    or the wizened green orbs
    that fell like rain in spring

    this south apple tree (so named
    to distinguish it from its north
    and rather sparse sibling) was
    our haven our spaceship that

    we launched whenever adult voices
    rose in arguments beyond
    our ability to tolerate but soon
    jettisoned like old ballast

    as we climbed into welcoming
    branches as we fled to ship and crow’s nest
    able here to sight all the way down
    Oak Street and measure how many

    minutes to clean the kitchen before
    our mother made it from the bus stop
    to the house on one of her many errands
    the tree making for endless gleaning

    of wormy deadfalls to be boiled down
    and sieved into green applesauce
    with a dollop of precious sugar and
    squeeze of lemon and a bit later on

    sorted from their bobbing in ice water
    pared into early autumn pies steaming
    forth from the old Roper and shrieks
    of laughter from the troop of rowdy boys

    grabbing red freckled spheres by reaching
    over the fence as they wandered home
    from the Hartman school: apples worth
    the price of seeing her flapping

    her apron at them like they were a flock
    of scruffy chickens in the back pen
    but no matter the tree belonged to us
    as we huddled in the sky astronauts

    safely tucked into our capsule three
    of us agreeing on our escape and
    marveling at the planet that was ours
    basking in the glow of its thousand red moons.

  23. In Defense of Trees…

    Dementia
    Is a nightmare for the person…
    It is a nightmare
    For those that love that person…

    Ma had dementia,
    And to her the trees
    Around our house
    Were going to fall on her
    And kill her.

    I would not let them be cut.

    She would scream at me,
    And tell me
    How I wanted her dead,
    That I wanted to kill her,
    But I knew she was not herself,
    And I defended the trees.

    She would go without speaking to me,
    And shooting arrows of disgust
    At me from her eyes,
    And then she would scream at me…

    She called her sister, and told
    Her how I was trying to kill her,
    And that she hated me.
    She called a cousin,
    And told her the same.
    They both said to me
    After Ma had died,
    But I knew those things
    For she raged at me daily.
    Until she
    No longer knew who I was.
    Then she gave me a new name.

    After all those months
    Of raging at me…
    And in her last words to me
    She told me
    That she loved me, and
    All that pain was washed clean.

    She had loved the trees
    Before dementia took
    Her away and exposed her fears
    For her fears were many…
    Dark, storms, robbers, pine trees..
    Somewhere in her beautiful mind
    The trees became her enemies,
    And because I defended them…
    I was hers also.

    I am thankful for
    My speaking in defense of trees…
    I look out my window and think
    How bare my days would have been
    Without them, and I know
    I would not have made it to this day
    Without them after I lost her.
    I did not know it then
    But when I defended the trees,
    I was protecting myself…
    The guilt I would have felt
    If I had not protected them
    Would have flooded my soul,
    And broke me.

    I often look upon these giants,
    And know I have within me
    The strength to keep on going.

    And I know that after I am gone…
    I will still be a guardian of these trees.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    June 28, 2022

  24. Covid gave me a nice upper cut and helluva right hook—but ha! Here I am.

    Marie, your poem begs to reread multiple times AND it’s smile inducing. Thank you.

    Walt, I’m not sure who compared me to you. You truly are one of kind sir! Great read. Now. 🤔About those trees…

  25. This is a true story!

    THE LEANING TOWER OF PISA

    That tree.
    Yes, that one.
    Resembled the leaning
    tower of Pisa.

    Stately, yet no less
    decadent.
    It still stands (leans).

    Overlooking that
    memorable street
    far below.

    Little bored boys (mean)
    perched precariously upon
    its branches.

    One boy lands
    the job of doing
    the (mis-)deed.

    But it was hard to miss—
    that passing car below,
    when you bestow all the beans.

    Caught red handed,
    and left holding
    the bag.

    By any means necessary,
    never be the last
    one out of tree!

    © Benjamin Thomas

  26. THE LANGUAGE OF TREES

    The tree—
    is silent, but
    living.

    It has no opinion.
    Harbors no offense.
    Offers no dissent.

    Its leaves speak
    fluently through
    the breeze.

    It serves the shade
    to those oppressed
    in the heat.

    If you listen,
    and have an ear to hear,
    you can hear them speak.

    A gentle swaying
    back and forth.
    A gentle rustle of leaves.

    Are they speaking?
    Who is listening?
    They are waiting.

    © Benjamin Thomas

  27. CHOP, CHOP
    (melody: Greensleeves)

    What tree is this we’re cutting up
    with axe and saw and splitter?
    It bids us sweat, makes us ache,
    and leaves a taste that’s bitter.
    This, this infernal tree
    goes on to clear infinity.
    Haste, haste to chop it down,
    this tree, this sugar maple.

    At last the tree is all chopped up,
    at last it lies in pieces,
    but make no haste to grin with joy
    for now the work increases:
    this, this segmented tree
    must now be stacked quite carefully;
    wait, wait till that is done
    to praise this sugar maple.

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