The Art of Craig Blietz

by Ethel Mortenson Davis


His art is of cows, goats, and pigs,
but mainly dairy cows, Holsteins,

great portraits of black and white Holsteins
posing with dignity and grace,
one with a large, bulging vein
running the length of the under belly
to its udder,

portraits rich in painterly quality,
showing a wondrous love for these animals.


A downed cow,
too sick to get on its feet,
is dragged with chains
to the slaughtering yard.

A man kicks her in the head
on her way past him,
dignity and grace
still in her eyes.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, poems, Poetry

September Swans

a photograph by Sonja Bingen, our daughter


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Incident on Washington Island

After the Civil War
a Miltonian Sonnet with a Double Coda

by Thomas Davis

As Ambrose Betts gulped down the whiskey shot
That Gullickson had given him, his face
Was flushed, the muscles in his neck a knot
So tight he winced, his outrage out of place
Inside the cabin’s half lit single room.

“A Winnebago brave! I tell you Gullickson,”
He said. “As large as life inside the gloom
Of Miner’s kitchen, Bullock looking drawn,
As if he’d seen a ghost, as black as coal.
I’ve never seen the like before!” he yelled.
“An Indian, white man, black man like a shoal
Of pebbles on a beach. The Indian held
His hand up, said, I swear, to Bullock, “You,”
He said. “The first white man I ever knew.”

“Old Bullock, black as night,
Smiled with those teeth of his
So dazzlingly bright white
My head began to fizz.

“And Miner looked like God
About to haul back, smack
The Indian into sod.
A white man that is black!”


Filed under poems, Poetry, Thomas Davis

Cedar Trunk


a photograph by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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Wrinkled Skin

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

This morning
the trunks of cedar trees
felt skin-like,
looking like wrinkled
elephant skin —

elephants cornered
throughout Africa,
poached, killed
for money.

One man spent most
Of his life protecting them.

When he died recently,
the elephants walked
in single-file to his house
where he lay in state,
circling his house and
staying for some time.

Animals and birds know
when people want to
protect them,
show grace and gratitude.

They wait for us to save them,

the animals,
the cedars,
the wrinkled skin.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, poems, Poetry

“By God, They’re Protecting Salamanders Rather Than Human Beings!”

comment heard in a restaurant in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin
by Thomas Davis
An Italian Sonnet
When Darwin saw gradation in a finch
That flits about Galapagous[1], he saw
One species modified in beak and claw
By choices made adapting to the flinch
Of circumstances born out of the wrench
Of geologic time, the pitch and yaw
Of land and ocean, weather systems raw
With winds that shape the land that rainstorms drench.
But in his old age earthworms sang the song
That sirened through the studies that he did[2],
The deaf and blind regurgitator dug
Into plain ground turned soil, the endless round
Of earth built by the living plows that slid
Fecundity out of the realm of slugs.

[1] Darwin traveled to the Galapagos Islands on a ship named Beagle where he developed the theory of evolution out of his observations of the gradations between a number of species, including a finch.
[2] Earthworms was Darwin’s last book, published on 10 October 1881, just six months before he died.


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Sunset Clouds

a photo essay by Sonja Bingen, our daughter

Sunset and Storm1

Sunset and Storm3

Sunset and Storm4

Sunset and Storm6


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