Category Archives: Nature

Sub-tropical Skies: Open Book

Open Book

Here beneath the Tropic of Cancer,
the sky is a book opened to the wrong pages.
The Big and Little Dippers?
Pages ripped from the spine.
Orion a well-thumbed page,
held directly overhead like a book
read lying on my back.

And is it fact or fantasy
that once I saw the Southern Cross
stretched on its back
near the horizon 
to the south?

Floating half-asleep with mists
of water hot from the volcano
rising around me,
was it a dream or real,
those four twinkling stars
seen just once before that night our boat
slipped over the equator?

Then, as now,
all time seems wedded—
afloat in a universe
of stars and water—
tiny no-see-ums
forming their own active constellations
as they whirl up over the water
and back down in clusters.
Wee moving

What the White Owl Knew

What the White Owl Knew

IMG_2155 2.jpeg

Strange things happen when you stay up all night. I first discovered this at the age of nine, when my friend Rita and I played Monopoly all night and sneaked down the stairs and went outside to see the sun come up. It was strange to hear traffic start out on the highway two blocks away, to see the milkman begin his rounds, to see the sky turn from black to gray to pink to a bleeding gold.

Sixty-two years later, I have just had a similar experience. After a sleepless night, just as I was ready to fall asleep, I experienced leg cramps along with a difficulty in breathing that I’ve tended to have lately. It is not exactly that I can’t breathe, but a feeling that perhaps soon I won’t be able to.  These two factors drove me outside and into the pool which, although it had been too hot to swim in at midnight, now had cooled to a lukewarm temperature above body temperature, but barely. (My pool is filled every other day with water from very hot mineral springs.)

Not feeling like doing my regular exercises, I floated and swam a bit, but very soon noticed a very large light just above the horizon. At first I thought it was another in a series of recent wildfires lifting its head over the mountain. It was a large glowing shape much bigger than the moon. I had looked at my alarm clock as I rose from my bed, and at 5 a.m., surely the moon wouldn’t just be rising.  It was clouded like a fire obscured by smoke, and for a good five or ten minutes, I was sure this was what it must be, but as it rose higher over the neighbor’s house, I realized that it was something in the sky. It was roughly oval in shape, with the points of the oval pointing up and down, not side-to-side.

As it rose higher in the sky it grew larger but stayed indistinct—like a large fuzzy, uneven-sided bright oval  larger than the sun and somewhat fuzzied and diluted by clouds. It had an otherworldly effect and as the stars came out above it, it seemed in stark contrast to the clear silhouettes of the palm trees further to the West. Did the moon ever rise at 5 a.m.? Surely not. The moon rose at night and set in the morning as the sun rose.  Could this be the sun rising at 5 a.m.?  If so, there were no colors of sunrise flooding the sky around it.

Much too big for a plane, what sort of phenomenon could it be? The very early morning darkness gave no other hint of the day to come. I floated in a surreal eeriness, tempted to go in to look up moonrise and moonset times, but some superstition and need to see what happened next kept me floating in the warm soup of my pool. Suddenly, something large lifted into the sky above the neighbor’s house and flew directly in front of the glowing object in the sky to swoop over the pool and then barely clear the roof of my house in a swift arc. At first stunned by what seemed to be part of the eerie situation of the light in the sky, I soon realized that It was a large white owl–one my friend Patty had seen twice years ago but which I had never seen in the eighteen years I’ve been living in this house.

I floated, stirring arms and legs as though flying myself, completely mesmerized by what seemed like magic. Who would believe it? All-in-all, I remained in the pool for a half hour, watching the eerie light as it rose almost imperceptibly higher. Its shape was nebulous, as though hidden behind thick clouds, at times growing more pointed, like a vague quarter moon with its tips pointing to the right and a bit tilted to the left.
Until finally, without ever rising 1/16th of the way across the sky, within seconds it vanished.  One second it was there, the next gone.

Was it thick clouds that had obscured it that quickly? Only the evening before, I had found my waterproof camera and looked in vain for its battery. If I had located it, I could have taken a photo of the phenomenon. With the light gone and the water cooling, I groped my way up the steps from the pool and into my bedroom, where I dried off, slipped into my nightgown and picked up the laptop I’d abandoned in bed.

“Moonrise and Moonset for Ajijic, Mexico” I typed into the browser and was quickly presented with the following information:

Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 6.12.53 AM

Moonrise, 3:29 a.m., Moonset, 3:33 p.m. How could I have not known that the moon sometimes rises and sets in the daytime? By the 31st of the month it will rise at 5:17 a.m.!  I then remember having seen the moon in the sky long after the sun has risen, but somehow what my eyes have seen has not been seized by my mind!

It now occurs to me that  I can take my regular camera out to see if there is anything to see. I do so, looking up at the totally dark sky. The first birds have begun their twittering even though no light other than a few stars prompts their songs. I see one wispy cloud in the pitch black sky, a bit higher than the light I had seen a half hour before.  And then I see a brief glow which vanishes before I can snap a photo.



Then another dim glow. It has to be the moon emerging now and then from behind clouds. I snap photo after photo but nothing shows up in the frames I check. Then suddenly, one more chance. I snap the shutter, click to see what I have captured.

It is not much, but it has at last assumed a vague moon size and shape and at least it is faint proof of my last hour’s adventure.


The first church bells of the morning peal out. When I return to my room,  It is 6 a.m. by my bedside clock.

I look again at the screenshots I’ve made from the moonrise/moonset site.

Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 6.13.09 AM

What the white owl has probably always know I have learned for the first time tonight.



If you value winter and if you value spring,
dedicate your efforts to one important thing.
Take it as a harbinger that nearly everything
weather has been telling us seems to have a sting.

Forest fires in summer, winter with more snow.
Spring rains bringing flooding everywhere we go.
Hurricanes with violence beyond the status quo,
It seems that Mother Nature delivers what we sow.


Word prompts today are spring, value, harbinger and dedicate. Here are the links:

Our Better, Nature


Our Better, Nature

We hoard her in our gardens where we force her into plots,
confine her in our vases, crowd her into pots.
Ambitious men plan towers—trade grass and trees for gold.
They overlook one simple fact. We’re all in nature’s hold.
Man’s illustrious plots and schemes always come to naught,
for the power of nature can’t be sold or bought.

I found it in the city, extending from the curb—
a simple little chain of green, a subtle rus-in-urbe.
Where men would install order, nature overrules.
Those trying to best nature are always proven fools.
For eons, we have buried her, time and time again.
Yet still she prods up from her grave. Nature will always win.


The prompt words today are order, hoard, illustrious and rus-in-urbe.

Nature’s Stagings: FOTD Oct 27, 2018

Click on any photo to enlarge and view all. These beauties were all found within 20 feet of Forgottenman’s front door in Missouri. Found Art..

For Cee’s FOTD.

A New World’s Morning

Click on any photo to enlarge all and view as slide series.


Ubiquitous networks of  highways crisscross the face of Mother Earth–lines that age her fresh face. Pockmarks of potholes question their durability, whereas Earth lives on, in one form or another.

Dams crack and spill their water freshly across lake beds parched for centuries.
Bones of dinosaurs peek out from eroded banks of clay. Plants spread from potholes in gouged pavement. Somewhere in the arctic ice, the past lies thawing, ready to be reborn.

Who knows but that the
nightfall of mankind may be
a new world’s morning?


I don’t know what I did this week.  I seem to have collected prompts from a different week for each prompt site.  Perhaps I’ve been at it too long and should retire. The prompt words  I somehow collected were highway, durable, ubiquitous and morning. The form is for dVerse Poets haibun challenge.

Darn! I now find even the comments and Mr. Linky for dVerse are closed, even though they say they are open all week.  I guess this just isn’t my day, or I am as cracked as the pavement above…..Here are the “wrong” links I used:


Forest Rounds

Round upon Round


The nourishing environments of still water and the forest floor both bloom in circular beauty.  Whether the tiny orange “flowers” were flowers, mushrooms or another type of fungus, I couldn’t determine and I was too far behind our guide to ask.  The forest floor is in a Lacandon Reserve in Chiapas, where one of the few remaining members of this purely Mayan village led us though the forest. The cycle of nature is clearly portrayed as life springs forth from decay.  The still pond is actually a still inlet of an Amazon River tributary in Peru.

 From a 2014 post. The prompt today was forest.


Cruel Harvest


Cruel Harvest

In this middle morning,
pelicans drop like hail on the surface of the water.
This is not their usual style,
for they do not dive headfirst
and squeeze bills to necks
and swallow as before,
but merely float and dip their beaks
and raise their heads and dip again.

I hope it is not the tiny sea turtles
that we put in the water last night
that they are feeding on like hors d’oeuvres,
But surely those turtles,
placed in to swim away 15 hours ago
are elsewhere than this,
facing other dangers, no doubt,
but at least, sad endings  I don’t bear witness to.

 We had waited until sunset
when the birds had gone
to lift the tiny creatures
from their plastic world
and set them,
confused and stunned,
upon the sand
to turn in circles
until we placed them right again
and again,
sometimes patting their tails
to encourage their voyage
to a new life shocking in its largeness.

 “What is this
lifting up and putting down?”
they must have thought,
“and then this broad expanse
that lifts us, spins us,
submerges us?”
Courageously, they lifted their  heads to swim,
only to be tumbled by waves—another  shock.
What more had life to surprise them with?
First, that bursting from the shell that had protected them,
then that thrusting into a colder world.

Children squealed with glee and were warned by elders
not to step back lest they step on the turtles that surrounded us—
all of us looking backwards as we stepped,
cameras clicking,
voices in English, Spanish, French—
all enchanted with these creatures perfectly formed
with black flippers and beautiful shells.
We saw their tiny heads like periscopes above the waves—
swarms of them at first and then separate,
swimming off to their individual fates.
Fifteen minutes later, the rising action
featured a solitary pelican that swooped for one
and then another and another
bedtime snack.
“No,” we screamed.
One woman threw a rock.
These pelicans that had enchanted me for weeks
as I watched their graceful flight and sure plummetings,
now prompted a new story
where they were villains, stopping new life,
bringing back the theme I have been so aware of here
for these weeks of my daily floatings in the sea.

Every organism, every animal, every person on this earth
lives only by merit of the death of others.
When life ends in infancy, how sad, how sad, we say;
but also say seeing the full grown pelican on the beach,
bleached to bones,
its beak sealed shut with a plastic circle from a six pack
or the needlefish, stretched on the sand and picked by carrion.
Never so obvious as here, this feeding of life on life,
and never so startling as when we placed the baby turtles
on the sand, wanting to save one for ourselves,
but knowing this action had a larger purpose than that.

We surrendered them to their life apart from us,
then moments later,
saw the pelican feed on them
living his place in the world.
Oh that I, too, had acted more selfishly—
palming one tiny turtle,
putting it in my loose pocket,
keeping it safe
away from that broad sea
that has so many means
by which to claim it.

Courage is the prompt word today. This poem is a rewrite of “Putting the Tiny Sea Turtles into the Sea,” a piece I wrote four years ago when the local sea turtle reserve brought dishpans full of the tiny creatures to La Manzanilla for volunteers to assist in releasing them to the wild sea.

World I Cannot Hold Thee


World I Cannot Hold Thee

The dolphin tail of the wing cuts into the orange sky.
Brilliant deep orange fades to gold with dark islands of clouds
rising like trees above pale blue, medium blue, dark blue fading to black.
A thumbnail moon,
one star bright like a planet just far enough above the horizon
to be set in the darkest shade of blue.
Scenes like this break my heart. I don’t know what to do with them.
I’ve moved to the window seat now,
unable to resist that first flash of orange revealed over the shoulder
of the man who now sits in front of me––
that vivid sunset with no one looking at it
such a waste, yet now here I am, watching yet still wasting it.

I used to feel like this holding my sister’s child––
tiny newborn baby, so beautiful, so in my power.
I wanted to hug him tighter to hold on to this––
to do something to express this feeling
that I knew was vanishing even as it happened.
Yet this fading sunset now flares more brightly than before
as we keep catching up with it, flying west.
It may be that the dolphin wings, jets protruding like fins,
will swim for hours into the orange sea with all of us,
kin inside of her, waiting to be born.
Sleep. Read. Move to the bathrooms and back again
shepherding children––small brown sheep and black sheep,
eyes like berries turned toward windows reflecting back fire.

I want to run to the cockpit to feel orange wrapped around me,
cannot get enough of these colors, want to paint something significant––
colors like vivid embers against ashes, firey colors bleeding into blue
like fire staying alive as it bleeds into ocean and then into deeper ocean.
All of these things that are––what are they for?
Their purpose lost as soon as light has faded into darkness
through that incredible palette that means nothing, but is everything
above us all and under us and in us swelling us,
reminding us to hug the world tighter.
Squeeze life into it or out of it.
Hold it closer, needing no meaning except
being of it, with it, in it, having it in us.
“Oh world I cannot hold thee close enough!”
Understanding that.

The prompt word today is miraculous.

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