Men make them fires on the hearth
Each under his roof-tree,
And the Four Winds that rule the earth
They blow the smoke to me.
Across the high hills and the sea
And all the changeful skies,
The Four Winds blow the smoke to me
Till the tears are in my eyes.
Until the tears are in my eyes
And my heart is well nigh broke
For thinking on old memories
That gather in the smoke.
With every shift of every wind
The homesick memories come,
From every quarter of mankind
Where I have made me a home.
Four times a fire against the cold
And a roof against the rain,
Sorrow fourfold and joy fourfold
The Four Winds bring again!
How can I answer which is best
Of all the fires that burn?
I have been too often host or guest
At every fire in turn.
How can I turn from any fire,
On any man’s hearthstone?
I know the wonder and desire
That went to build my own!
How can I doubt man’s joy or woe
Where’er his house-fires shine.
Since all that man must undergo
Will visit me at mine?
Oh, you Four Winds that blow so strong
And know that his is true,
Stoop for a little and carry my song
To all the men I knew!
Where there are fires against the cold,
Or roofs against the rain,
With love fourfold and joy fourfold,
Take them my songs again!
Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936.
Original photograph by Ivan Bandura.
He began all his dreams in those curled painted flowers
on the wall facing his bed
as the house quieted.
– then he was dreaming the flowers burning and
his cousin with flames on his face
under the window glowing and ticking with heat –
–then the black spider nets his bicycle spokes
the seat charred tower of bare springs
where he dreamed of riding no-handed
and it came true
–then the smoldering flowers were above
his pallet on the school floor beside
black axe-head, melted rake,
nested saws welded scattered
sins of screwdrivers with no
–then he got on his knees to look out
the window at the blackened
yard and remembered watching the one
black side of all those rescuing
pulsing with odd light as they yelled
throwing water and dirt
their red flat faces fastened
to huge shadows
bending and weaving
across the glass.
Terry Adams has poems in Poetry, Ironwood, The Sun, Witness, College English, Catamaran, The Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere. He MCs a yearly poetry festival at the Beat Museum in San Francisco, and co-MCs, with Joe Cottonwood, the monthly “Lit Night” in La Honda. His collection, Adam’s Ribs, is available from Off The Grid Press. He lives in Ken Kesey’s infamous 1960’s cabin in La Honda, California, which he rescued from destruction in 1998.
Painting by Jenn Zed.
It begins with a dying fish,
tangled in faded lace.
Squirming, frantic, delicate.
A desperate daydream of swimming through the nearest window.
Almost bluish grey.
Like the opaque eyes of the slender ribbon snake readying to shed its skin
into golden light
and it ends with a flying fish
Cooperative poem from attendees of Califragile’s launch party. We love our Chico/Butte County community!
Photograph by Gillermo Mash.
Beyond a ridge of pine with russet tips
The west lifts to the sun her longing lips,
Her blushes stain with gold and garnet dye
The shore, the river and the wide far sky;
Like floods of wine the waters filter through
The reeds that brush our indolent canoe.
I beach the bow where sands in shadows lie;
You hold my hand a space, then speak good-bye.
Upwinds your pathway through the yellow plumes
Of goldenrod, profuse in August blooms,
And o’er its tossing sprays you toss a kiss;
A moment more, and I see only this –
The idle paddle you so lately held,
The empty bow your pliant wrist propelled,
Some thistles purpling into violet,
Their blossoms with a thousand thorns afret,
And like a cobweb, shadowy and grey,
Far floats their down – far drifts my dream away.
E. Pauline Johnson, 1861-1913.
Photograph by 3268auber.
We were down at Woodrat Flat yesterday
working on erosion control, horrific this time around.
No ash blanket, the fire wind blew it all away.
Nothing left to slow the water down.
the cabin windows melted, I noticed for the first time.
Not broken—liquefied and turned into puddles,
Glass melts at 3,000 degrees.
No wonder it looks like the moon down there
for acres and acres, as far as the eye can see.
But plants are coming back…
saw shoots of monkey flower and lupine,
fairy lanterns, miner’s lettuce.
It’s an ordinary miracle…the best kind.
Photograph by Greg Henry for the National Park Service.
Mother, Father, whatever name,
Earth is tired too.
Not from make-young-again magma,
grinding tectonic plates that might
yawn in ennui, star-dust meteors,
off-center tilts, or hot sea vents.
Weary of extraction.
Extinction – weightless shadows
on the steps of nuclear death,
war zones, mass graves.
Fracture – refugees
crawling under desert fences.
Under the weight of all words
for home, dom, nyumbani, বাড়ি ,
the universe’s common hum
most resembles womb when home is
more than the dirt we are born to
or are buried in, common ground.
Tricia Knoll moved from Oregon to Vermont in 2018 – two places that underscore the importance of eco-poetry holding up beautiful places in transition due to climate crisis. Website: triciaknoll.com
Art by Jenn Zed.
My ohana, I must leave you soon.
Bury me with koa leaves and shells,
place pikake flowers around my neck,
red dirt between my toes.
Once, I wanted to rest beneath the Pali cliffs
where I could hear the ocean
and receive its calm.
I live in the desert now, a place no less beautiful
but far from the temple grasses
of our ancestors.
Do not grieve for me.
Watch for my lantern in the night sky
guiding boats into the harbor.
Trish Saunders writes poems from Seattle and Honolulu (and, in her imagination, from the shores of Crater Lake, Oregon). She’s been widely published in print and digital poetry journals; some favorites are Right Hand Pointing, Blast Furnace Press, Eunoia, Califragile.
Photograph of Koolau Mountains by Debra Jean.