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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Donelle Dreese

Losing Ground

While we are seaside, quiet outside looking in
we can save ourselves before our bones bleach

before our coral architecture grays. We can pray
for our skeletons to bathe in clean tropical blood

transform denial into blue-green moss
fragrant as a florist, smart as a forest exhale.

The man with the gold-plated pen in his hand
is a behind-the-scenes laughing back row crow

poking the sand bag barriers surrounding islands
standing near the coffin thinking it will confess.

Science is not a battleground for business men
nor a sanctuary for a simmering stew of beliefs.

Watch, as the tired street pumps in Miami
send drums of marine water back out to sea.

Instead of Crying, She Shovels Mud

for Sangduen “Lek” Chailert

Elephants rumble
in flat grass fields.

Skin—earthy, ancient
slick with fog
grasshopper rain.

Instead of crying
she shovels mud
builds sanctuaries
homes for herds
and snout-swinging
curious calves
lingering near pools
of purple fruit
and shaman dust.

Ghost men watch
from poaching posts
eyeing the ivory.

Her touch is a balm
against the onslaught.

If only she could
sleep standing up.


Donelle Dreese is a Professor of English at Northern Kentucky University. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Sophrosyne (Aldrich Press), A Wild Turn (Finishing Line) and Looking for A Sunday Afternoon (Pudding House). Donelle is also the author of the YA novella Dragonflies in the Cowburbs (Anaphora Literary), and the ecofiction novels Deep River Burning (WiDo Publishing) and Cave Walker (Moon Willow Press). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals including Blue Lyra Review, Roanoke Review, Louisville Review, and Quiddity International.  Website:

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