Preface

These collections of poems were inspired by authors that we had read in our Writing in an Endangered World class this semester. Within my anthology I used authors Linda Hogan, Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry to inspire my work. All of their work that was used was from The EcoPoetry Anthology edited by Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street. Each of their poems brought back memories from the past, and each of my inspired poems have a memory from my childhood. Our Writing in an Endangered World class inspired me to be more environmentally conscious. Each poem within my final project raises awareness of the condition of the land in some way shape or form. It speaks of the land being fragile and if we don’t take care of it we will destroy it. The idea of the poems invoking a memory of my childhood only makes me want to protect the environment more. When I get older I want my children to be able to experience the world like I experienced it. I don’t want them to only be able to experience from old pictures on their phones. By saving the environment we enable our future generations to be able to experience the world like we did when we were young. The environment is a beautiful place and as a society we have to come together to protect and preserve it for the sake of all the future generations who have yet to experience it.

 

Wendell Berry

P. 174 – 178

Wendell Berry:

Horses

When I was a boy here,
traveling the fields for pleasure,
the farms were worked with teams.
As late as then a teamster
was thought an accomplished man,
his art an essential discipline.
A boy learned it by delight
as he learned to use
his body, following the example
of men. The reins of a team
were put into my hands
when I thought the work was play.
And in the corrective gaze
of men now dead I learned
to flesh my will in power
great enough to kill me
should I let it turn.

I learned the other tongue
by which men spoke to beasts
—all its terms and tones.
And by the time I learned,
new ways had changed the time.
The tractors came. The horses
stood in the fields, keepsakes,
grew old, and died. Or were sold
as dogmeat. Our minds received
the revolution of engines, our will
stretched toward the numb endurance
of metal. And that old speech
by which we magnified
our flesh in other flesh
fell dead in our mouths.
The songs of the world died
in our ears as we went within
the uproar of the long syllable
of the motors. Our intent entered
the world as combustion.
Like our travels, our workdays
burned upon the world,
lifting its inwards up
in fire. Veiled in that power
our minds gave up the endless
cycle of growth and decay
and took the unreturning way,
the breathless distance of iron.

But that work, empowered by burning
the world’s body, showed us
finally the world’s limits
and our own. We had then
the life of a candle, no longer
the ever-returning song
among the grassblades and the leaves.

Did I never forget?
Or did I, after years,
remember? To hear that song
again, though brokenly
in the distances of memory,
is coming home. I came to
a farm, some of it unreachable
by machines, as some of the world
will always be. And so
I came to a team, a pair
of mares—sorrels, with white
tails and manes, beautiful!—
to keep my sloping fields.
Going behind them, the reins
tight over their backs as they stepped
their long strides, revived
again on my tongue the cries
of dead men in the living
fields. Now every move
answers what is still.
This work of love rhymes
living and dead. A dance
is what this plodding is.
A song, whatever is said.

My Inspired Poem:

My Pony

During my childhood,

All I wanted was a pony.

To ride her through the big open field

of my backyard. To gallop through

the flowers, and past the trees.

Only the birds daring to try and beat us

through the race of time. To pet her main

while she drinks from a nearby pond. To sit upon her back

and feel the power pump through her veins.

To see her grow from a small naïve pony,

to a large and powerful horse.

 

Wendell Berry:

Water

I was born in a drouth year. That summer
my mother waited in the house, enclosed

in the sun and the dry ceaseless wind,
for the men to come back in the evenings,
bringing water from a distant spring.
veins of leaves ran dry, roots shrank.
And all my life I have dreaded the return
of that year, sure that it still is
somewhere, like a dead enemys soul.
Fear of dust in my mouth is always with me,
and I am the faithful husband of the rain,
I love the water of wells and springs
and the taste of roofs in the water of cisterns.
I am a dry man whose thirst is praise
of clouds, and whose mind is something of a cup.
My sweetness is to wake in the night
after days of dry heat, hearing the rain.

 

My Inspired Poem:

Survival Tactics

Walking down the edge of the lake I let the water touch my toes

Looking over the horizon distracts me from the hard shell

I stub my toe up against. Picking it up and looking

through its hole I notice it’s a lonely turtle,

trying to make its way into the water. She needs the water to live,

to survive, to pave the way for her young, who will follow

in her footsteps. I walk her to the water and place her down gently.

She dives in, and she lives yet another day, to experience the world

at least one more time.

 

Wendell Berry:

The Hidden Singer

The gods are less for their love of praise.
Above and below them all is a spirit that needs nothing
but its own wholeness, its health and ours.
It has made all things by dividing itself.
It will be whole again.
To its joy we come together —
the seer and the seen, the eater and the eaten,
the lover and the loved.
In our joining it knows itself. It is with us then,
not as the gods whose names crest in unearthly fire,
but as a little bird hidden in the leaves
who sings quietly and waits, and sings.

 

My Inspired Poem:

This Little Birdy

Perched on the tree top, singing a little tune

This Little Birdy birdy greets all who pass by.

To the people down below who walk on by and the squirrel

climbing up next to her. All the animals gather

to hear what song she will sing today. More birdies gather

and what for there cue to chime in and

“Chirp Chirp Chirp!!”

 

Wendell Berry:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 

My Inspired Poem:

In The Forest

Sitting alone eyes closed  in the middle of the forest I’m silent.

I hear only the sounds of watering running down stream,

crickets chirping and bugs crawling. I hear the birds talking to each other

from different trees across the forest. I hear a deer munching on leaves,

and the fawn crying for its mother. I open my eyes and come face to face with the fox,

the mischief of the forest. Will she want to keep peace with me?

Slowly she presses her nose to mine. Exhaling deeply startles her and she runs the other way,

deeper into the forest.

 

Wendell Berry:

To The Unseeable Animal

My Daughter: “I hope there’s an animal
Somewhere that nobody has ever seen.
And I hope nobody ever sees it.”

Being, whose flesh dissolves
at our glance, knower
of the secret sums and measures,
you are always here,
dwelling in the oldest sycamores,
visiting the faithful springs
when they are dark and the foxes
have crept to their edges.
I have come upon pools
in streams, places overgrown
with the woods’ shadow,
where I knew you had rested,
watching the little fish
hang still in the flow;
as I approached they seemed
particles of your clear mind
disappearing among the rocks.
I have waked deep in the woods
in the early morning, sure
that while I slept
your gaze passed over me.
That we do not know you
is your perfection
and our hope. The darkness
keeps us near you.

 

My Inspired Poem:

The Darkness

Within the darkness little animals sleep,

All  the bunnies, the foxes, and squirrels too.

I hope no one ever sees them,

Let them be protected by the darkness,

untouched by the eyes of civilization,

unharmed by the ability to eat the trash they see,

Let them be unharmed and let the darkness protect them.

 

My Inspired Poem:

Looking over us year after year,

old and sophisticated.

With his peaceful and gentle hands stretched out to the sky,

as the seasons change so does his presence.

Warm and comforting in the crisp fall air, bursting with color.

But fragile and aged as the days get shorter and winter approaches.

Gary Synder

P. 491 – P. 499

Gary Snyder :

From Hunting

This poem is for Bear

“As for me I am a child of the god of the mountains.”

A bear down under the cliff.
She is eating huckleberries.
They are ripe now
Soon it will snow, and she
Or maybe he, will crawl into a hole
And sleep. You can see
Huckleberries in bearshit if you
Look, this time of year
If I sneak up on the bear
It will grunt and run
The others had all gone down
From the blackberry brambles, but one girl
Spilled her basket, and was picking up her
Berries in the dark.
A tall man stood in the shadow, took her arm,
Led her to his home. He was a bear.
In a house under the mountain
She gave birth to slick dark children
With sharp teeth, and lived in the hollow
Mountain many years.

snare a bear: call him out:
honey-eater
forest apple
light-foot
Old man in the fur coat, Bear! come out!
Die of your own choice!
Grandfather black-food!
this girl married a bear
Who rules in the mountains, Bear!

you have eaten many berries
you have caught many fish
you have frightened many people

Twelve species north of Mexico
Sucking their paws in the long winter
Tearing the high-strung caches down
Whining, crying, jacking off
(Odysseus was a bear)

Bear-cubs gnawing the soft tits
Teeth gritted, eyes screwed tight
but she let them.

Til her brothers found the place
Chased her husband up the gorge
Cornered him in the rocks.
Song of the snared bear:
“Give me my belt.
“I am near death.
“I came from the mountain caves
“At the headwaters,
“The small streams there
“Are all dried up.

– I think I’ll go hunt bears.
“hunt bears?
Why shit Snyder.
You couldn’t hit a bear in the ass
with a handful of rice!” (491).

 

My Inspired Poem:

Mr. Bear

Winter is coming and Mr. Bear is almost full.

“Just a few more berries and I swear I’ll stop”

His cave is all bundled up, Mrs. Bear

made blankets and quilts out of the brightest leaves

of fall. She’s saved up plenty of water to make

hot coco all winter. “I think we’ll be just fine dear”

As she kisses Mr. Bear on his nose.

 

Gary Snyder:

From Burning

The Text

Sourdough mountain called a fire in:

Up Thunder Creek, high on a ridge.

Hiked eighteen hours, finally found

A snag and a hundred feet around on fire:

All afternoon and into night

Digging the fire line

Falling the burning snag

It fanned sparks down like shooting stars

Over the dry woods, starting spot-fires

Flaring in wind up Skagit valley

From the Sound.

Toward morning it rained.

We slept in mud and ashes,

Woke at dawn, the fire was out,

The sky clear, we saw

The last glimmer of the morning star.

 

My Inspired Poem:

Sitting by the campfire my little brothers roast marshmallows

and my parents drink beer. Toasty warm under the star lit sky.

Trying to find constellations we all stare up at the sky,

wondering what’s out there, whose watching us.

The glimmer of the moon shines down upon us.

 

Gary Snyder:

The Myth

 

Fire up Thunder Creek and the mountain-

Troy’s burning !

The cloud mutters

The mountains are your mind

The woods bristle there,

Dogs barking and children shrieking

Rise from below.

Rain falls for centuries

Soaking the loose rocks in space

Sweet rain, the fire’s out

The black snag glistens in the rain

& the last wisp of smoke floats up

Into the spiral whorls of fire

The storms of the Milky Way

“Buddha incense in an empty world”

Black pit cold and light-year

Flame tongue of the dragon

Licks the sun

 

The sun is but a morning star

 

My Inspired Poem:

Shining Sun

The sun shinning down

my skin toasty warm

small beads of sweat rolling down my cheek

the arch of my back peels off the towel

my toes rough and sandy

burning in the hot sun

I reach for my water

misses my lips

the water trickles down

to cool off my entire body.

 

Gary Snyder:

Piute Creek

One granite ridge

A tree, would be enough

Or even a rock, a small creek,

A bark shred in a pool.

Hill beyond hill, folded and twisted

Tough trees crammed

In thin stone fractures

A huge moon on it all, it too much.

The mind wanders. A million

Summers, night air still and the rocks

Warm. Sky over endless mountains.

All the junk that goes with being human

Drops away, hard rock wavers

Even the heavy present seems to fail

This bubble of a heart.

Words and books

Like a small creek off a high ledge

Gone in the dry air.

 

A clear, attentive mind

Has no meaning but that

Which sees is truly seen.

No one loves rock, yet we are here.

Night chills. A flick

In the moonlight

Slips into Juniper shadow:

Back there unseen

Cold proud eyes

Of Cougar or Coyote

Watch me rise and go.

 

My Inspired Poem:

“Sky over endless mountains”

The stars flickering on an off painting their own

pictures in the sky

Glistening Moonlight shines brighter as the Coyote’s howl louder

A tree leaning over the Cougar breathes just as heavily but not as loud

its like he’s reach out his branches begging the Cougar not to pounce.

 

Gary Snyder:

Milton by Firelight

Piute Creek, August 1955

“O hell, what do mine eyes

with grief behold?”

Working on an old

Singlejack miner, who can sense

The Vein and Cleavage

In the very guts of rock, can

Blast granite, build

Switcbacks that last for years

Under the beat of snow, thaw, mule-hooves.

What use, Milton, a silly story

Of our lost general parents,

eaters of fruit?

 

The Indian, the chainsaw boy,

And a string of six mules

Came riding down to camp

Hungry for tomatoes and green apples,

Sleeping in saddle-blankets

Under a bright night-sky

Han River slantwise by morning.

Jays squall

Coffee boils

 

In ten thousand years the Sierras

Will be dry and dead, home of the scorpion.

Ice-scratched slabs and bent trees.

No paradise, no fall,

Only the weathering land

The wheeling sky,

Man, with his Satan

Scouring the chaos of the mind

Oh Hell!

Fire down

Too dark to read, miles from a road

The bell-mar clangs in the meadow

That packed dirt for a fill-in

Scrambling through loose rocks

On an old trail

All of a summer’s day. (495).

 

My Inspired Poem:

One Day

A day in my childhood

On a clear summer’s day

Helping my grandmother in the garden,

Tomatoes, Potatoes, Carrots, and Squash,

fertilizing the flowers, ripping up the weeds

Chasing out the ground hogs and

Adding bird seed to the feeders.

What I wouldn’t do for another day

in my childhood, on a clear

Summers Day.

 

Gary Snyder:

Riprap

Lay down these words

Before your mind like rocks.

placed solid, by hands

In choice of place, set

Before the body of the mind

in space and time:

Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall

riprap of things:

Cobble of milky way,

straying planets,

These poem, people,

lost ponies with

Dragging saddles

and rocky sure-foot trails.

The worlds like an endless

four-dimensional

Game of Go

ants and pebbles
In the thin loam, each rock a word
a creek-washed stone
Granite: ingrained
with torment of fire and weight
Crystal and sediment linked hot
all change, in thoughts,
As well as things. (496).

 

My Inspired Poem:

Linked

Your love like Sparkling crystals

Hidden away within a cave,

A streak of sunlight sneaks through the darkness

No stronger bond then that of a mother and her fawn.

 

Gary Snyder:

Wave

Grooving clam shell

streakt through marble,

sweeping down ponderosa pine bark-scale

rip-cut tree grain

sand-dunes, lava

flow

 

Wave wife.

woman-wyfman-

“veiled; vibrating; vague”

sawtooth ranges pulsing;

veins on the back of the hand.

 

Forkt out: birdsfoot-alluvium

wash

great dunes rolling

Each inch rippld, every grain a wave.

 

Leaning against sand cornices till they blow away

-wind, shake

stiff thorns of cholla, ocotillo

sometimes I get stuck in thickets-

Ah, trembling spreading radiating wvf

racing zebra

catch me and fling me wide

To the dancing grain of things

of my mind!

 

My Inspired Poem:

The Lake

Fires on the beach

While Dad docks the boat

Little brother screaming, he caught a fish on the dock

Mom’s pouring cocktails, while my aunt and uncle chat.

Out under the moonlight, we all sing and dance,

while we roast marshmallows, and stare up at the endless sky.

Linda Hogan

P. 336 & P. 337

Linda Hogan :

Turtle Watchers

Old mother at water’s edge
used to bow down to them,
the turtles coming in from the sea,
their many eggs,
their eyes streaming water like tears,
and I’d see it it all,
old mother as if in prayer,
the turtles called back to where they were born,
the hungry watchers standing at the edge of trees
hoping for food when darkness gathers.

Years later, swimming in murky waters
a sea turtle swam beside me
both of us watching as if clasped together
in the lineage of the same world
the sweep of the same current,
even rising for a breath of air at the same time
still watching.
My ancestors call them
the keepers of doors
and the shore a realm to other worlds,
both ways and
water moves the deep shift of life
back to birth and before
as if there is a path where beings truly meet,
as if I am rounding the human corners. (336).

 

My Inspired Poem:

Home?

It had rained the night before

so the gravel steps leading down to the dam

were covered in shriveled, wet worms and mud.

 

Before giving myself the chance to fall

I took my sandals off and went barefoot.

 

Now the bottoms of my feet are unprotected

from the broken beer bottles, cigarette butts, and rocks

as I jump onto the platform of the dam.

 

A nightly hangout spot for many

but a place to be young and free for my friends and I.

 

We sit on the edge, side by side

and instantly feel the clear breeze and the red sun

hit our skin with a feeling of simplicity.

 

Looking out across the water,

all my troubles seem to disappear

like a skipping stone.

 

As the sun disappears behind the rippling water

and the boats fade into the distance,

I feel a sense of content knowing this is home.

 

 

 

Linda Hogan:

Moving the Woodpile

Never am I careless,

yet when I lift the wood,

before I even see the wasp nest

I see spiders and ants, some preserved in pitch

and when I lift the wood

the bark falls from the log

and there are the silk cocoons,

worm-carved lines worked into the

woodflesh,

the beautiful work of insects

before they were white-winged, dusted creatures

who never asked the tree, What am I, who could I be,

never did they say, Oh world I love you

yet I loosen your skin and then I fly into the night.

 

As I lifted the log,

there they were in the wood, not yet anything,

the paper wasp nest of the barely alive,

only pale fingers searching, without eyes.

 

It’s been so many years ago now

and still I have the haunting

memory and feel, standing there with the nest,

offering the wasps back their young,

but they could not approach a human holding their nest.

 

Maybe our sin is not enough

of us get on our knees and ever see

how everything small and nearly gone

is precious, the paper wasp-nest,

made by the moment-by-moment creation of care.

 

Maybe our human sin is for us never to say

all these are great.

And I, the one who took it, in innocence, apart

as if being human I could not help it,

despite myself, generous and thieving

at one and the same time.

 

I’ve always wished

to hold the truly stolen, broken world together

but my every move is to break

by degrees, acres, even the smallest atom.

Still, from this other body continent

I offered them their young

and they could not come near the untamed woman,

only fly with desperation

and I think of this still

every evening, like a prayer,

that day holding out the nest for them, placing it down,

but never for them to approach,

and how I waited, how I watched. (337).

 

 My Inspired Poem:

Little Ants

Little ants marching under a rock,

would go unnoticed if I never moved it.

As I lift more rocks all  the ants scatter,

I ruined their home and they can’t make it stop,

Only try to fix it.