Red LikeYoung Girls’ Cheeks

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Rosy-red crab apples lay
on the ground in front of us
as we walked in the chilled air
near a forested lake.

Fifty years ago
the same red crab apples
were picked up
by a college student
as she strung them
on a string around her neck.

She knew this was a beginning
of the path she would follow,
a path centering herself to the earth.

This also was a period of darkness
where a string of blackness
would catch her in a trap.

But there were people
like the shepherd mother
of the small dorm where she stayed
who taught her
there were good and trustworthy people:

apples that lay at our feet,
red like young girls’ cheeks
in the chilled fall air.

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Wisconsin Lake at Sunset

a photograph by Sonja Bingen

Sonjasunset.jpg

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Song of Our Days

by Thomas Davis

a villanelle

We sing alive the mornings of our days.
We struggle through the storms we face
And glory in the filigree of ways

That dance into the vivid, dark blue blaze
Of chicory inside a field and grace
The moments when we’ve shrugged away malaise

And float upon a river’s passageways
Into the shine of sandbars at a place
Fresh water flows into an ocean’s bays.

There’s nothing new beneath the sun. The haze
Of old age seeps into our thoughts, the pace
Of who we are weighed down by yesterdays;

Yet, as we feel our aching bones, we gaze
Into the morning light and interlace
Into the sky’s celestial cabarets.

I sing this morning of my life and praise
The days I’ve had, the loves I’ve had, the chase
Across a lifetime through the ricochets,
The symphony that’s sung alive my days.

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Dragonfly Summer

a photograph by Sonja Bingen

Dragonfly summer

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Four Windows Press re-Releases Salt Bear

I wrote a novel for young adults, 9-14 and up, a long time ago. It was completely sold out, so Four Windows Press is re-releasing it. I am hoping some of the followers of this blog might consider purchasing it in amazon or at their favorite local bookstore.

Salt Bear is a story taken from the mythology of the American west. It is filled with mythological animals such as salt bear, jackalopes, cactus bucks, blind ravens, a snow owl, bears, and an evil mountain lion. At a recent WFOP meeting I was informed by a young attendee that it was one of his very favorite books ever. I’ve had quite a few young people tell me that since its first release.

The wild tale begins:

Salt Bear did not like the idea. Not one little bit.
Buddy, a jackalope, one of Salt Bear’s best friends, had started calling him George.
“Salt Bear’s a kind of bear,” Buddy had explained when he first started using George. “It’s not a name.”
“But why George?” Salt Bear had asked. “That doesn’t fit a salt bear. Why not Salty?” He brightened up. “That could be a good name for a salt bear.”
Buddy had scratched behind his right pronghorn just above his big, floppy ear. He looked like a jackrabbit. His brownish-pink nose was set off by a handsome set of whiskers, and he had powerful hind legs. Two slender black horns stuck out of his head above his ears.
“Salty’s a name for a bird,” he had said scornfully. “Besides, I would have liked to have been called George. Not Buddy.”
Salt Bear had shaken his gleaming white fur, and then blinked tan eyes in bewilderment. For a bear he was small, although he was full grown. He stood a little over three feet high. . .

I’m pretty sure you might remember the excitement you had reading The Wind in the Willows, Watership Down, or the Redwall books. I certainly had an enormous amount of fun writing the tale down.

Salt Bear Cover.jpg

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Blackberry Moon

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Blackberry moon,
moon of the blackberry month,
snags at me,
rips at my skin.

Star-gazers come
and get caught
in her sweet clutches,

but are overtaken
by a storm
with brittle, scratchy fingers
of lightning
that blackens out the moon.

Now we must wait
for the harvest moon
as she ripens
on top of the waters.

Note: This is Ethel’s contribution to the moon-night organized by Francha Barnard and Write-On Door County.

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At Newport Beach Beneath a Harvest Moon

by Thomas Davis

“The storyteller moon,” the old man said.
We sat upon the long-grassed beach and stared
Into a sky now dark, the fiery red
of sunset flung at stars the sky had snared
Into a symphony of silver stained
Into a river of eternal light
Above the song of waves that, lapping, trained,
Like time, into the shores of moon-struck night.

“No, not a storyteller moon.” He sighed.
“That comes just as the winter starts to howl.
That’s when you tell the stories that are tied
Into a tree frog’s peeps or black bear’s growl.”

Moon-struck, star struck, we heard the lullabye
Of waves absorbing us into the sky.

Last night Ethel and I traveled to Newport Beach where the Door peninsula looks out on the wild waters of Death’s Door, Buttes de Mortes. Francha Barnard had invited us to join her and other Door County poets to write poems beneath a full harvest moon.

On Saturday night the moon had been full and orange as it rose over Door County, but, after a summer that has seen the corn shriveled from drought, we drove up the peninsula to the park beneath cloudy skies that rained off and on. By the time we reached Newport Beach it was clear that none of us were going to take lawn chairs in the darkness down to the beach unless we wanted to ruin the tablets we’d all brought with us and got thoroughly soaked.

Instead we went to the ranger’s front office, talked awhile, and then, stymied from our effort to write poems beneath a full moon, listening to waves singing onto beach sand, we sat down and tried to write a poem nevertheless. Both Ethel and I, in the miracle of being with other poets, succeeded.

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