Blue Ridge Identity
by Donna Lisle Burton

The minute I turn on to the exit
and curve up toward it
I am someone else.
This is another country.
And while I am a foreigner in it
It is really
My country and
I am who I knew
I was.

I am
A tunnel lover
A motorcyclist
A hiker
A wild flower taster
An October sky
with all fiery leaves.
A lover of blue berries
Shrouding and sudden fogs
Scary drop offs that
keep your eyes on the road
And vista as grandiose as
The Grand Canyon.

Another country,
Right in my own back yard.
Twenty minutes from home
I am someone else here;
My true self.

Summer Day
by Norris Orbach

When the wheel of seasons turns to sun
And day is long and slow in passing
Bugs murmur in flowering meadows
While families spread their lunches
On speckled blankets.
Tiny wisps of cloud and larger shapes
Pass overhead, while a disjoint chorus
Of children’s voices celebrate the temperature.
We talk softly about the news, about
Our upcoming vacation, about our friends.
The spaniel barks at a squirrel,
And eventually the sun glows red and sets.

by Frankie Schelly

The Moon lady
Beams luney tunes.
The Voice of Self
Back lit, under lit,
exposing secrets.
’Tis not muscle in the moon!
Nor gender genes,
But tides that gently push
Common human themes,
Harmony that scrubs and shines each Soul
Into One family.

The Last Fall
by Frankie Schelly

Death is vibrant in the fall
Swuuushing, whirling, plummeting
In full color and regalia,
Like some chanting primitive
In plumage, thumping the earth
In mask and ash-bottomed feet,
On stage dancing the dance of life,
In defiance before the moon!
(Soon enough we’ll know Who’s boss!)

A parliament of owls
by A. D. Reed

What do we see when we SEE what we see?

A shrewdness of apes and a whoop of gorillas
Are kinships we’re proud of, ’til, deep in the mists
of our past—or our mirrors—
Some of those cousins that everyone has
Appear—to remind us that pride is a sin:
Then we have to acknowledge our bloodlines include
A chattering of monkeys, and a congress of baboons.

What of our friends, our canine companions?
Do we name what we see, or imagine, or fear?
A kennel of dogs, and a litter of pups
A stable of hounds, but a cowardice of curs.
Pekinese are a pomp, wild foxes, a skulk.
Wolves come in a pack, and coyotes a rout.

Now the big and small cats—felidae—have two classes:
The felines—the cute ones—like house cats and lynxes,
Are kindles, as kittens, and clowders as cats.
Their more dangerous cousins, the pantherinae—
the lions and leopards and tigers, oh my!—
Form a pride, leap, or ambush, depending on species
And certain behavioral characteristics.

Plain old herds can be horses, or llamas, or moose;
Herds of ibexes, wildebeests, elands and yak!
Harts and hartebeests are herds, and chamois and cattle;
elephants, too, (though they’re also parades)
But Wombats and Wallabies always form mobs.

We refer to rhinoceroses as a clash;
To skunks as a surfeit, and elks as a gang.
A business of ferrets, a mischief of mice,
An army of frogs and a poor knot of toads.
Jellyfish are a smuck, and, well, goats—are a drip.

So what’s in a name? How human it is
To see characteristics resembling our own
Among all the animals, two- and four-legged, with
Fur, scales, or hide.
We attribute them attributes we humans abide.

But when we give titles to wild beasts that fly
Imagination, like them, soars higher than high.
The poor flock of turkeys is a dull name,
But descriptives can sometimes create gilded frames:

An unkindness of ravens, a gaggle of geese;
A stand of flamingos, a bevy of quail
An aerie of eagles, exaltation of larks
Tanks of swans, scolds of jays,
Herds of wrens, broods of hens,
peeps of chicks, clouds of bats…

Flights of butterflies truly depict what appears.
Does a squabble of seagulls sound right to your ears?
Goldfinches tremble, hummingbirds charm
While ostrich, like lions, gather in prides.

A chattering of starlings, a pitying of doves
A mutation of thrushes, a murder of crows—

Let’s ponder which group we prefer ’mongst the fowls:
A congregation of magpies, or a parliament of owls?

Searching for Facts
by Ruth Beard

Question others, ask yourself, then compare
Whether a statement is partly true or not.
Is it meant as an opinion or is it a fact?
Is it only partly true or an individual’s act?
Religious leaders claim to know what’s true
As do most friends and politicians too.
When scientists prove that such is untrue.
Will your opinion change if given proof?

Holy Doggerel
by Paul Fleisig

This hallowed ground
Our Lord profound,
By decree divine,
This land is mine.

With force of might,
Our tribal right
Is guarded.
Just keep away,
Only we can stay!

So said the wolf
Pissing with glee
From tree to tree,
Ever so

by Paul Fleisig

Mushroom Clouds
You must agree,
Amid debris.

Clasped tight
Our hands will be,
Corpus free!

The Rapture!
Wails the banshee,
As we join
Our Lord,
With ecstasy.

The Others?
Earned their agony.
We’ve killed
Their heresy.

Search for Meaning
by Anita Fletcher

We sail the seas,
fly the skies,
sense in ancient places
man’s elusive
struggle for meaning,
in edifice, altar, art.

The feather on our doorstep,
a flower heroically springing
up through concrete,
sun and moon
dependably on the job.

Instructive, yes,
but how to capture it,
make sense of it all?

The heart sees a weaving,
not a potluck,
not a blended smoothie,
but distinctly separate threads
that have interlaced,
allowing respect for each strand,
yet woven together
to form the unique tapestry
that is ours alone,
as we journey toward our own
search for meaning.

In the Dark
by Joan Weiner

The stars are lit
again by the night,
reliable candles against the dark,
arranged as bears and dippers,
hunters and twins
across the sky
and back into the infinitude
of time too vast for my small mind
to grasp.
The panoply of lights
rekindles the old desires —
to fathom the source of this splendor,
to guess the reason for it,
to know the place for my miniature self
in this astronomy of life.

If I have urged a single flower
from the earth, shielded and nourished it,
is that enough to justify
the time and space I occupy?
I wonder if the stars sing
or maybe hum across the eons.
Do they sigh or wish to talk
to one another as we do,
long to be loved, to end the aloneness,
to gather, to shelter together
from the relentless cold?

I think they simply are.
But I am not a star.

by Michael Vavrek

I’ve spent a lifetime looking for meaning
Serious seminars, good-time gurus…disagreeing.
Hoping to win. Open to every swing.
Trying to be free and responsible again and again.

I was looking in all the wrong places.
Looking to prophetic people’s best-cases.
Searching their words and deeds, looking for traces
Of what I was dreaming of.

Hoping to find a way to be better-off.

Bless the day I discovered

Another looking for the unheard-of.

When I was with others, no meaning in sight
I did what I could given my plight.
Didn’t know where it started or if an end was in sight?

Trying to be free and responsible again and again.

I was looking in all the wrong places.
Looking to prophetic people’s best-cases.
Searching their words and deeds, looking for traces
Of what I was dreaming of.

Hoping to find a way to be better-off.

Bless the day I discovered

Another looking for the unheard-of.

Came a knock on my mind’s door.

It was what I’d been looking for.

No more looking in all the wrong places
Looking for meaning in too many bookcases
Searching words, looking for traces
Of what I was dreaming of.

Now that I’ve found what I’m sure of
Bless the day I discovered
My heart.

To my mind and heart I’ve taken a vow.
Their separation I disavow.
I am free and responsible now
Balanced by my heart.

The Smoke Filled Side
by Peter Olevnik

I entered the gingerbread-gabled depot
through a dark oak side door,
clutching my ticket
as if it might fly away.
My mother told me, this time,
I must take the train, alone,
to grandmother’s funeral.
(In May, nearly seventy years ago)

Handing it to the agent who,
sitting at an ancient desk behind
a brass-grilled window, stamped it
saying “she’d be running late today,
catching up on the way.”
I found a seat amidst two rows
of church-stiff benches. In the midday
depot silence, I waited.

Like a flock of grazing sheep,
stirred before a quake, the depot
must have felt the shake as the train
had just passed Clinton Street.
The depot master knew, sending us
to the platform there to see approaching
the massive iron, one-eyed face of
a steaming locomotive coming to rest.
Climbing the passenger car steps,
I heard the conductor say,
“Chicago to your left.”  I quickly found a seat,
would soon discover my view hampered,
as I had picked the engine’s smoke filled side.

Just passed Plymouth, suddenly,
the speeding train came to an unexpected stop.
Sitting the longest while, explanation not forthcoming,
I got off, walking to the front and saw
wrapped around the steaming engine face,
like an insect on a windshield splayed,
a car, two riders, surely dead.
I saw their startled, disbelieving faces,
then was told to get back on the train.
Stunned, I sat, my mind struggling
to find a place within its darkest chambers
for the tragedy to reside and routes
within to comprehend.

Hours later the tragic train
begun again its final destination
and I, forlorn, arrived at the station.
With relief I saw my mother who earlier left
to be at her dying mother’s side.
In the funeral home amidst muted conversations
and sentinelly placed bouquets, grandmother lay,
dressed in a pearl colored gown unlike
the faded housedress she had often worn.

When we children, in secret, gathered
in grandmother’s basement walk-in closet,
before, sharing our deepest secrets,
talk of death had meant the screams we heard
on Sunday night radio mystery shows,
where people died we would never know.
How short our span of time to understand.