Haibun Feast

We sat beside our daughter at a rough, hand-hewn table that stood on two-by-four legs. At the time, she was studying at the Hochshule fur Musik in Freiburg, Germany. We’d been invited to dinner by her fellow student, Christiana, who’d grown up in what was then East Germany. Christiana’s parents and brother were visiting. And so we joined them in her rural one-room rental, with access to bathroom and kitchen. We brought the wine.

The family served a simple meal on mismatched chipped plates. Wildflowers sat in a glass jug. No napkins. No English. And yet we laughed and spoke with our hands and eyes. At times, our daughter translated. I do not remember what was served, nor the aromas. I do remember the simplicity. The open and freely offered friendship across cultures. The sharing of so much more than food.

amidst weeping glaciers
debris fields give way to streams
wildlife quenches thirst

Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Toni asks us to write about one of the best meals we’ve ever had. Photo is of us during a glacier hike in Alaska. We eventually got to the foot of the glacier that, through its melting, creates this stream. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come share a meal with us! 

Alaska’s Crown

Traveling across the tundra, prayers of thanksgiving hover on my lips. You tower above glacial streams, fiddle heads, cranberry bogs, and mountain peaks. Athabaskans understand. You are the High One. Within your gaze, grizzlies roam. Caribou, Dall sheep, moose and marmots too. Gleaming sun and star scrim skies light your view. Oh Denali, you stand tall. Guardian of this hallowed land. 

Written for Day 1 of a 21 day challenge online course with my poetry mentor, Holly Wren Spaulding. Prompt: write a prose poem that includes an animal. Photo from our trip to Alaska that included the Denali National Park’s 12 hour Kantishna tour. At the time, this was officially Mount McKinley, but was always called Denali by Alaskans. One month after we returned home,  by executive order, President Obama officially renamed Mount McKinley, Denali. 

…and the earth prays

Clouds slung over land
like a prayer shawl before the dawn.
They cling softly to earth’s shoulders,
until sun begins to warm her soul.
Mist slowly slips away
leaves moisture upon her limbs,
like tear drops shed in supplication
seeking grace for this day.

Monday’s quadrille (a poem of exactly 44 words) for dVerse, that virtual pub for poets, where today Kim is tending bar and folks are writing about clouds. Bar opens at 3 PM Boston time. Stop on over and imbibe in more clouds. Photos from a past trip to Alaska.

How Long Can We Ignore?

Alaska weeps daily. Generations of ice, layer upon layer, receding.
Our hush, accompanied by the incessant slow drip of her melting tears.
Like a primal scream from self-inflicted wound, the crack of calving
sends shock waves through our cold.

We turn gingerly, hiking sticks in hand, clamp-ons strapped to boots.
Our quiet retreat is nudged by descending mist. A veil to cover her shards.

Earth dies every day.
We stand on the precipice
blind to her needs.

Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse. Prompt is to reach out, write somehow about a silence among us.  Photos from our 2015 trip to Alaska. Chunks of ice as the cruise ship approaches Hubbard Glacier; its shelf looks so small here — in reality it is hugely tall and in the sun, appears as this beautiful color. Other two photos from our 5 mile hike to the toe of Laughton Glacier. The close-up is on the toe, rock debris carried as the glacier slowly moves.  Look closely, about in the middle of the photo, you’ll see the melting. Incessant melting creating glacier streams. We are all too silent, watching the effects of global warming.



Fannie Quigley, 1870-1944

Train moved round the bend, civilized now,
not then. Those days, she chose life
off the beaten track. No lookin’ back.
Twenty-six claims staked and panned.
Never hit it rich the way we define it.
Kantishna, home to caribou, moose
and Fannie Quigley. One tough broad.
Slung back whiskey and cussed with ‘em all.
Calloused hands skinned her kill
then rolled flaky pie crust,
bear lard, the secret.
Legendary in her day and beyond,
she took no train but her own.

Written for NaPoWriMo 2016 Day 5 and dVerse Pub for Poets where Bjorn suggests we use the idea of railroad/trains for a poem today. Photo Credits: from our Alaska trip last year. We visited the remote cabin of Fannie Quigley.

We the Voyeurs

We fly in this metal cylinder
to escape the city frenzy
and we still sit in the midst of it.
Hear metal belt click shut
and engines roar
feel the rush of air
from round blow holes overhead.
Nothing natural in this enclosed world.

Binoculars hang about our necks
a noose we choose to use.
Instead of trekking high,
step by step, from tree line to the sky
we ride a four wheeled bus,
now dusty from its assault,
on roads carved deep
into your very core.

We crane our necks
at white dots on mountain tops
adjust a rubber eye piece to our face
seek to magnify without a fuzzy blur.
Specs become horned dall sheep,
heads down to graze upon the rocks
unaware of human spies
with black binoculars eyes.

Last night, we communed with earth
faces up, we stared
into the cold black diamond sky.
One star jarred loose,
arced its way across the sky
as if to tell us in its glitter script,
you are the voyeurs within this space.


Denali National Park bus. The Kantishna Experience goes to the end of the one and only road in the park — to mile 92.  I was struck by the magnificence of the land and its inhabitants: grizzlies (see poem Ursa), caribou, moose, dall sheep. And I kept thinking that we were the voyeurs, the interlopers in this incredible place.

…and the Ice Melts



If you look with the mind of mother earth, in this place called Alaska, you become the earth.

Great calving sheets of ice seen from the haven of a cruise ship. We roar in excitement as you roar in pain. Losing part of yourself to the sea.

My boots trek through forest, stumble on tree roots, your uprooted veins. In the midst of rocky debris, at the toe of Laughton Glacier, a new sound. The relentless trickle of water into a glacial stream. Tears unabated, you weep cold rivulets, slowly, through hundreds of generations.

And I see. And I hear. Like a jagged shard of ice thrust through my heart. I understand this insidious thing we blithely call global warming. And I am chilled to the bone.


A prose poem, in the style of Joy Harjo. 

Photos:  Top:  great slabs of ice shed from Mendenhall Glacier. Above left: standing on the “toe” of Laughton Glacier, after hiking 6.5 miles through Tsongas Forest and climbing through rocks on her debris field. This picture shows a gap — the “black cave” created by the ice melting…continuously dripping. The “rock” above the cave is the ice itself, narrowed from melting. It will eventually collapse into itself.  All that you see above the “cave” is ice with debris its carried in its forward path.  Right: the “ice field” our ship had to go through to get to Hubbard Glacier….which can be seen in the distance. Result of glacier calving.

See views of the glaciers themselves with my poem, In the Midst of Glaciers.

A different take on the Daily Post Photo Challenge: from every angle.


eagle 1

Tree top abandoned
you glide overhead
power and beauty combined
a national treasure.

Outstretched black wings
white head and tail
blend in sleek aeronautic form
sole presence in vast sky.

legs drop in mid-flight
fearsome talons glint in sun
stark contrast to sea serenity.

No hesitation,
double-back or fly around
fast dive, splash
water and body collide.

Plummet turns to majestic rise,
return to nest, the conqueror.

The moment, so fast in time
waters flow unbroken
unaware they’ve lost
a swift inhabitant
to the ruler of the sky.

eagle 3       eagle 2  Photos:  from recent Alaska trip. Apologies they are not better….taken on cell phone. Eagle was magnificent!



Round haunches, vestigial tail
grizzly when disturbed,
you meander, content and calm
on Denali’s hallowed ground.

Forager by nature
low bush cranberries and blue ones too
two thousand garnered every day
sustenance for a long winter’s sleep.

From sight to paw to mouth,
our approach ignored
until windows fling open
and camera eyes gawk.

Suddenly, like Ursa Major
on guard from on high
you look at us
wee squatters on protected land.

And in that moment,
the lesson is realized.
You are the superior being
of this great mother called earth.

Amazing and magnificent creatures seen in Denali National Park.

In the Midst of Glaciers

Hubbard 1                       Hubbard remnant

Dare I watch? Dare I breathe in this place,
where Nature’s breath and hand
hath created frozen beauty
over hundreds, nay thousands, of years?

Glaciers appear as still rivers
imperceptible flows of time
dip down from mountains of rock,
those dark monoliths of eternity.

Snow compressed, solidified
centuries of generation after generation
braids of blue crystal rivulets
between boundaries of sky and sea.

We float, this ship of humans,
bodies in the midst of your debris
slabs of flesh among slabs of ice
decades of life dwarfed in age and size.

Bits of time shed from the mother lode,
we, the detritus of humanity
make our way through the field of ice
looking backward as our ship retreats.

We are changed forever by this timeless place
one small ship in a glacier glory land
a fracture
in the eons of time.

Top two photos from aboard our ship, very very close to Hubbard Glacier. We had to move through an ice field from its “calving” — to get close this close — and we were privileged to see it calve — drop a huge mantle of ice with a thunderous sound!!! 

Mendenhall   Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau.Notes below.

us at laughton toeAlmost to the toe of Laughton near Skagway. 

Laughton ice     Laughton’s ice shelf. Melting into glacial stream.

us on stream   Us on hike back down. Notes below.

Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau. We hiked to a beach where we could look across a lake and see this magnificent site.  Next are photos of our hike all the way up to the “toe” of the Laughton Glacier near Skagway. We are standing by a glacier runoff stream — the sound alone was wondrous. Others are of us standing on the toe — incredible that we made it this high — right next to the glacier….you’ll see the ice shelf, crack in the ice.  Truly an amazing hike — exhausting but exhilarating!  We climbed through woods, then over fields of rocks and boulders to get here.  11 miles round trip to Laughton. Alaska: trip of a lifetime!