a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Two voles hop rock to rock across the creek,
one falls in meanders oxbow rapids.
The rains come.
From red and brown soils yarrow sprouts, spring
rushes mark the water table,
meadow racket, woodpecker morning drill
downstream, dogwoods bloom,
bracken fern and false Solomon’s seal
decorate red fir and ponderosa footholds.
Bark beetles march over popcorn yellow fungi
rise scale Jeffrey pine plates.
Skin deep they bore a heartwood adit, and sap
spills smelling sweet as cream soda.
Browning needles, pine’s proud crown
its throne its rotting seat
takes in the kingdom,
breathes its fading season.
Below, a hard hat trio
dot the forest floor, men treeside rodents
crunch duff, one plucks the pine’s twig,
thumbs its fascicles to five,
motions to another who slaps sock, chalk-filled blue
against the trunk.
the last one carves a half-shaped boat
into the heartwood. Final slice and down
down it thuds rippling radius hard hats float
They tie ropes to the carcass and haul it away.
A storm comes.
Lightning veins drip.
Wind wings flames,
chars black oak, whose roots wait
underground to sprout new growth
Raised in the city of Napa, Jonathan Pyner graduated from University of California, Berkeley, where he was a student-teacher poet in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People for two years, and he recently earned his MFA in poetry from the Jackson Center for Creative Writing at Hollins University. He has lived in Taipei over the past seven years, where he studies and teaches.