#Mountains: When the Future Weighs Too Much on Me by Andrea Potos

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I think back to the week I travelled
to my grandfather’s village, carved deep
in Greece, two hours from the Oracle.
Nearly a century after he’d left, I found
evidence of his gentleness
and beauty everywhere, gradations
of silver-green, distances of peaks
and forests and, nearby, an ancient platanos tree
arching its limbs across the rickety table where
I sat all afternoon. I sipped my Greek coffee, stared
at the clay-tiled houses that reside
that much closer to heaven
than I had ever been.

First published in A Stone to Carry Home, Salmon Poetry.

 

Andrea Potos is the author of eight poetry collections, including the forthcoming A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Poetry), Arrows of Light (Iris Press), An Ink Like Early Twilight (Salmon Poetry), We Lit the Lamps Ourselves (Salmon Poetry) and Yaya’s Cloth (Iris Press). The latter three books received Outstanding Achievement Awards in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poems can be found widely in print and online. She received the William Stafford Prize in Poetry from Rosebud Magazine, and the Hearst Poetry Prize from the North American Review.

#Mountains: Mountain Storm by Michael H. Brownstein

449px-Alluivial_Fan_Falls_Rocky_Mountain_National_Park_USA

It’s a rock day full of song erosion and then it rains,
the wind noise crisscrossed, cross-stitched,
glacier waters bleeding off course, bumps and pebbles,
stone and flesh, branch and burp. How easily bones
flush from the mountain after a storm, white washed
like albino skin, the broken facade of stucco, the last
snow melting, and sometimes the singing is a Siren.
Great walls open and collide, stale and crusty. A tree
breaks at its waist and everyone hears it. In a rock day,
and yes, you can hear the sound of one hand clapping.

 

 

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.

 

Photograph by Greg Tally. 

#Mountains: Family Portrait by Tamara Madison

Family Portrait
after the Domain of Arnheim by Rene Magritte

Mother rises hawk-headed
beneath the slivered moon,
snow-shouldered looming
to guard the nest she placed
so carefully on the narrow
fence, a mess of twine
and twig that holds her future
in our three perfect orbs.

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Photograph of dodo egg replica by Frode Inge Helland.

 

This is an ekphrastic poem, inspired by the painting, Domain of Arnheim, by Rene Magritte. Please visit this link for an image of that work and an exploration of it.

 

 

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.

#Mountains: Reign of Ash by Michael H. Brownstein

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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.