#Mountains: Reign of Ash by Michael H. Brownstein

12992_Hawaii-Volcanoes-National-Park-web

This is one of those nights you never dream,
The sky not on fire, but burning.
Falling ash and ember. An orange cantaloupe moon. Nosebleeds. Diarrhea.

The volcano dome collapses, a sudden cloud, and night is hyphenated.
A rain of black ash
And all of the stars drop from sight in bundles.

The people come out of their homes and stand on their verandas,
A people of the long knife and volcanic dust,
Skin hard with ash, hair ash-poisoned, ash sweat stew.

Spirits roam the roads and pathways, find life in the old ones,
The village’s simple center crowded into the hill,
Welcomes the voices of the dead.

Later island rescue comes with breathing masks,
A church opens its doors early to pray for rain,
Goats come from their hiding places to shake themselves free.

All day dust clouds landscape and window.
The mountain sacrifices itself to lahars and spirit people.
Everything, every leaf, every iguana, every ghost wrapped in ash.

 

 

Michael H. Brownstein is on the roof of his old house, the roof in serious disrepair, and he walks on it as if he’s on a boardwalk – a squirrel falls through where he just stood – what is left to do but go to all fours, tread carefully until he’s on safe ground, call the roofers (he can’t fix this), and write a poem.

He’s walking across a great field, firecrackers exploding. He swats away at dozens of mosquitoes. Near where he teaches, the security guard tackles him and points out a sniper who has been shooting at him as he crossed. There is nothing else to do but conduct a poetry workshop in his algebra class.

He goes camping, and a rattlesnake crawls into his sleeping bag. Prayer and poetry – they really do go together.

On and on. Take a break. Write a poem.

#Mountains: Mountain Ants by Tamara Madison

photo by Davidi. Mountain Ants Tamara Madison

Up here the sky
is a thin blue skirt
the dusty summer sunlight
smells of woodsmoke
and pine
and ants grow big
and black as berries.

I watch them follow
their secret trails
in the fine mountain dust,
envy them their purpose
and their path, wonder
at their sturdy black bodies,
imagine a breakfast
of ant jam.

 

First published in Wild Domestic, by Pearl Editions.

 

 

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

 

Photograph by Dawidi.

#Mountains: Burlington Airport by Joe Cottonwood

Burlington Airport Joe Cottonwood photo by Anlace

Two men in T-shirts are sun-roughened,
muscular in the non-gym way.
They know physical work.

On the window glass with a smudgy finger
the older man sketches a map from memory.
They speak of a trickling spring.
A field cleared by hand, a fence of stone.
Twin graves on a hill.

The younger man says, “That little mountain,
every time I set foot on it, I felt hugged.”
Embarrassed, they each look away
to the tarmac where jets are rolling.
Newark. Chicago. Some city. Now boarding.

 

 

Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses in his day job as carpenter/contractor. Nights, he writes. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

 

Photograph by Anlace.

#Mountains: The Mountain by Tamara Madison

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My child sleeps on her stomach;
one arm crawls over her head
like a swimmer’s,
mouth with lush lips
open, a constellation
of moles on her shoulder
stray stars flung
about the rest of her.
Her breath is a breeze
moving curtains, one lock
of hair curls up from her earlobe
to lick the new, rose-lit
earring. With many rings,
bracelets of plastic lace,
I watch her gaily skirt the foothills
of adolescence, just poised
to make the climb; still
the mountain looms
and she sleeps
in its deep green shadow.

 

First published in Wild Domestic, by Pearl Editions.

 

 

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

 

Painting by Nikolai Dmitriyevich Kuznetsov.

# Mountains: High on Her Mountain, the Witch Witch Warms Herself by Michael H. Brownstein

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The witch witch wakes hungry
ice on her breath,
clouds in her hair,
underwear gray and red,
warts sprawled across her arms.
There are always people who are meant to harm you.
The witch witch is not one of them.
She can dig a shallow grave,
pray over a cat at play with a mouse,
squash a scorpion between thumb and forefinger.
The witch witch sees the dormant volcano
through an opening in her wall,
the sudden rise of steam, the push
of ash like wet sand,
the beautiful collapse of the dome.
She walks onto her veranda,
folds her small hands into a smile,
and watches the mountain catch fire.

 

 

Michael H. Brownstein is on the roof of his old house, the roof in serious disrepair, and he walks on it as if he’s on a boardwalk – a squirrel falls through where he just stood – what is left to do but go to all fours, tread carefully until he’s on safe ground, call the roofers (he can’t fix this), and write a poem.

He’s walking across a great field, firecrackers exploding. He swats away at dozens of mosquitoes. Near where he teaches, the security guard tackles him and points out a sniper who has been shooting at him as he crossed. There is nothing else to do but conduct a poetry workshop in his algebra class.

He goes camping, and a rattlesnake crawls into his sleeping bag. Prayer and poetry – they really do go together.

On and on. Take a break. Write a poem.

 

Watercolor by Jenn Zed

#Mountains: Bitterroot Storm by Joe Cottonwood

by Joseph Bitterroot storm joe cottonwood

You made it. Hell of a drive.
Now in the cabin you’re shivery, raw.
Floorboards tremble.
Branches pelt the roof.
Rain blows under the door.
Phone? Lamp? Radio?
All wires, dead.
Power will be out for days.

You fetch wood,
build a fire, heat water,
light lanterns named Aladdin.
Play guitar, help the neighbor start her car.
Clinging to this mountain
your cabin is a spot of warm
in a dark storm.
You are power.

 

 

Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses in his day job as carpenter/contractor. Nights, he writes. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

 

Photograph by Joseph.

#Mountains: Mount Hood by Kenneth Pobo

Kenneth Pobo Mount_Hood_from_Bald_Mountain_flickr_Thomas_Shahan

Sunlight and clouds, the plane hits
a stone of turbulence. I almost bump

my head on a storage bin. Through
the window, a dark shape.

What’s that? I ask a woman
squeezed in that awful middle seat.

The pilot announces Mount Hood—
as we near Portland, the mountain

is an eye that stays open
long after we pass.

 

First published in Save My Place, Finishing Line Press.

 

 

Kenneth Pobo has a new book of prose poems forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House called The Antlantis Hit Parade. His forthcoming chapbook of haiku and tanka will appear from Yavanika Press. It’s called Threads.

 

Photograph of Mount Hood by Thomas Shahan.