By Some Grace

By Some Grace

BY Joyce Ritchie

By Some Grace

One thing led to another,
one step followed the other.
A little luck, a little fear,
still I don’t know how I got to here.

Seems unlikely at the source,
how a river runs its course.
Looking back, the way is clear,
still I don’t know how I came down here.

Present friends and absent, too,
left a mark to guide me through
the mysteries, whispered persevere,
and by some grace, I’ve made it here.

Days go fast, years faster still,
each spring’s quickening a thrill,
as all around hope reappears,
I watch in wonder, standing here.

Buckskin Pond, As the Scales Tip

Buckskin Pond, As the Scales Tip

BY Laurie Klein

Buckskin Pond, as the Scales Tip

Dear buck fawn, day after day,
bark beetles ravage our trees.
Evening’s jawbone moon
illumines the bared claws
of another pine,
Each silver glyph of lichen almost
lucent—except where antlers
Rasp against bark, shedding velvet
the way I have shrugged off my duty
to woods seemingly doomed.

Please, nibbler of pine cones, teach me
how to approach
the dwindling spring:
Angle the neck. Accept the imperfect
Reflection’s whisper, “Heal this place.”
Knees dip. Then, I wade in.



BY Alice Campbell Romano

Unsafe, under an oak, I wait for an August storm
to sweep over the river and into the trees,

its annunciation the air, alive, warm, thick on my skin.
I am only seven, spellbound by anticipation. The breeze

begins its whisshhh-whisshhh in the high oak leaves
and the sky comes closer, dark like a silver platter,

slashed by bright, bare branches of lightning
before clouds crash together and wind fills the woods

with possibilities, and then the rain starts, drops
like glass teardrops, far apart, then faster, faster

until a gray wall moves across the river and soaks
everything, makes ferny air rise up rich with wet dirt

and new oxygen, so I know these woods, these trees,
are where the real gods live, and I shout through the

crashing thunder, tell the thunder and the rain
and the wind I know what you are. I am you.





That year,
the young magnolia tree,
cleaved by winter’s ice,
struggled all spring
to produce on its single
remaining branch,
a blossom

Awakened by distant
thunder to a late spring
morning’s sudden rain,
it opened –
one perfect white flower,
petals cupped wide

Now here we are,
seven years later,
arrived at another
late spring day,
and I’m the one
cleaved, fissured,
awaiting grafting

In this morning’s
gentle shower,
the little magnolia tree
raises up four white candle-buds
and one by one they open,
as if there was ever
any question, as if
in silent hallelujah

In Antelope Valley

In Antelope Valley

BY Anke Hodenpijl

Look at these poppies,
a cloister of nuns,
veiled in orange petaled habits –
They lift their faces to the sun each morning.
These saints in training burst open,
release a mystical breath,
my champions of springtime prayer.

An easy breeze, takes their hand,
they sway together, happy-go-lucky,
revel in their forty-day calling
to heal these gentle hills,
to carve the footpath with thanksgiving.

When blooms, heads bowed, retreat,
a broken desert returns.

The blue bellied lizard basking in sun,
winks at the lone hiker,
scurries away,
and reminds this sojourner,
salvation is always on the other side.

Where I’m From

Where I’m From

BY Scott Bentley

I am from the Inland Empire,
Redlands and San Bernardino,
California’s 31st.

Called Kaawchamangna and Amutskupinga
by the Kaawchamangnavit and Amutskupigingavit,
the Kizh (Tongva).

The Yuhaviatam, the People of the Pines,
came to the foothills after a slaughter at
their home in Big Bear Lake.

My great grandparents were Yoeme
they came from Pascua, now
their kids are buried in the city cemetery.

I taught in Rialto,
in the mornings, I’d go to my car with a coffee
in my hand and keys in the other

Coyotes were in the yard
or across the street looking for food.

The Old fire burned over a thousand homes,
forests and foothills, 91,000 acres in 2003.

Chapter 9 bankruptcy,
over a billion in debt in 2012.

The North Park Elementary shooting in 2017.
The shooting at the Department of Public Health during Christmas 2015.
No way to quantify that.

The foothills and valley,
mountains and national forest,
Cajon Pass and Santa Ana River.

My mama called me from the 10
on her drive home to say her car
was covered in ash from the fires.

The smoke grayed the skies
as it drove north up the coast.

Humans are not the apex of life
but a strand in web.

Time is not linear, our ancestors tell us
how to be good ancestors.

I can still feel the hot-summer
heat and Santa Ana winds.

Heat and winds that like bullets
don’t care about our bodies.

haibun, election day morning

haibun, election day morning

BY Elizabeth Cunningham

Wind plays the chimes. Oak leaves spin, black against grey sky. Tiny birds fly with them. A hawk soars higher, a raven crosses the yard in full cry. On the ridge, ribbons of color. Down the street, the polls are open. We may or may not know by tonight who has won, who will affect the fate of so many who cannot vote—refugees, whales, butterflies….

we hold elections
the trees shed their leaves, birds fly
let’s vote for the earth

Ode to Oaktown

Ode to Oaktown

BY Lenore Weiss

I wired my sorrows into Klieg lights and let them shine all over Oakland,
city of Black Panthers and Hells Angels and General Strikes,
driving from the Bronx in a green Toyota Corolla searching.

Was it freedom, or a film I wanted to make something of myself,
took refuge in Oakland’s Lake Merritt, caught breadcrumbs and fish,
a wayfarer dressed in boots and dreams of Fifth Avenue Peace Parades

to a West Coast of two-story buildings and pastel houses
and summers where the sun did not bother to get up until noon.
Okay, I said to myself, you have to begin somewhere. That was my beginning.

Oakland Raiders won the SuperBowl and I discovered I was pregnant,
sailed a stroller around Lake Merritt and through her Garden Center,
past houses with calla lillies that hugged grey gas meters

even though they were ugly. Oakland took off her clothes slowly
like a woman who wants to know she is loved, following trails in Joaquin Miller
filled with monkey flowers and second growth redwoods,

nuggets of neighborhoods and librarians, the Oakland Museum
surrounded by a moat of golden koi where children entered into culture,
art, and people who hung on walls together.

Let me park my car one last time and walk to the Paramount,
remember the old hotels and faded curtains stuck on brass rings,
where restaurants and condos have become the hope of a business community

that wishes for homicides to fade like fog in the morning,
a place I’ve come to know with gunshots and fireworks,
the way my history has been pressed into a new release.

Egg Rock

Egg Rock

BY Diane Kendig


Lynn, Massachusetts

I came to this point three years ago.
Last winter, early morning on the beach,
I heard dog walkers argue how it looked.
One swore a chunk had moved, or a new one, risen.
The other said no, old outcrop: he’d bet a quarter,
staking his claim on Egg Rock’s being
“stable, solid, everlasting,” the way the poets
saw it in the first one hundred fifty years
of Egg Rock poetry now on the net.

Plath must have stared long at it, too,
from south of here in Winthrop, and she
used this site twice as backdrop for a suicide,
seeing a stony godlessness that doesn’t
give or take the riptide, just sits it out.
I can’t weigh in with her certainty or on the walkers’
wager–or Pascal’s. I’d like to know
I could cash in my chips as gamblers do these days
on “Horizon’s Edge” casino cruises pulling into harbor.

Then I view two centuries of online Egg Rock art,
and from the antique paintings, I’d have to say
the rock still looks the same. Oh, I know
the lighthouse keeper’s dog Milo and the near drowned
toddler in Landsmeer’s famous Saved are gone—
or as my friend Marion, who survived cancer says,
say it: are dead—along with swimmers who didn’t survive,
but the rock, I mean, the rock still looks the same.

Art tends to make me feel more hopeful
than life without art would—in fact, sustains me,
but from my second story window this rock itself
could be a new grave, cairn, or egg. Low rider,
close to this earth, it could go under any moment
in a nor’easter or a blast. Lovely loaf in the Atlantic,
it glitters and streams the light’s uncertainty,
all I had before coming here, too.



BY Lana Hechtman Ayers

Lana Hechtman Ayers

Cape Meares, Tillamook county, Oregon coast

This is my shrine, the shineless sky of gray-white fog,
domed cloud over my town, enclosing us in a mood of
contemplation. Even the ocean flows gray green today.
The muted colors ease mind and breath. Less hesitation of
self than when everywhere is golden tones, brassy, brazen,
so one must raise up one’s courage to be so floodlit.
Here in this soft haze of gray, I blend effortlessly into
the flannel-washed landscape. I can be the sea
and the murk and the seabirds floating, soaring,
just out of sight.

This is my shrine, the pines, the cedar, the thorn-hearted
rugosa and blackberry brambles, the waxy-leaved salal,
the green of intention, of soil verdant with life
through which the elk herd romps. Here, in salt air
unaccommodating to so many plants, these thrive,
crowded together on the hillside like brethren poised
to conquer the universe. Untamed and unashamed,
I am that unkempt myself.

Here is my shrine, the sloppy sine curve line of coast range
mountains, snowy no more. Hoary ancestors whose lifeline
spans much of earth’s time. They border the horizon of lake
and bay, seaming us in this tiny hamlet, this quilt of many
waters—a sky of crystalline water vapor, florae whose plasma
is water, and we human dwellers, welled up from saltwater
swells, transmuting gills to lungs long, long ago.

This is my shrine, this time to sit with silence of mind
and observe the infinitesimal slice of creation I am in and of.
This is joy, this place, this me that is one with fog and sea
and greenery. This gray day soothes my heart more tenderly
than the gray whale mother who nurses her calf past tideline,
halfway to the horizon. Though the world at large is fierce
in so many ways out of our control, here and now,
my soul breathes a momentary peace, a transcendent
release from fear.