When wandering the back roads of the plains,
where waving grass makes way for corn and wheat,
secluded from the noise of speeding trains,
you leave behind the fractured asphalt street.
There, ghosts from august herds may yet remain,
the thunder almost felt beneath your feet
as native horsemen flush their bison prey,
and others force the herd in disarray.
An arrow in the heart, a bison spins
and promptly drops while others are pursued.
The chase complete, they load the meat and skins
to consummate their quest for warmth and food.
Tonight they celebrate, a feast begins,
and then the season's hunting will conclude.
At times the festival still breaks the hush
of evening plains among the sedge and brush.
friends and confidants
caution; you have to keep
looking over your shoulder.
Jealous co-workers are watching,
waiting for private indiscretions
to prove they, not you, deserve advancement.
They can't compete with your intelligence
or experience, so they conspire
to find your hidden skeletons.
Looking over your shoulder
can be a tiresome chore,
distracting you from
I miss my Annie,
still aboard my sailing ship,
comforting and true,
leading us safely through fog.
No woman could measure up.
The fervor of summer and long heated days,
the drying, warm breezes in afternoon sun,
make grasses turn brown, seeping groundwater scarce,
and signal the shift of the season's begun.
Grapes waiting 'til harvest, with patience, resigned,
the sun is no longer straight overhead, peaked,
just sixty days' biding will bring out the crew,
and crush soon thereafter, the vintage critiqued.
The energy drawn by the vineyard's broad leaves
gives the clusters their health, and their palate repute,
for these are the grapes of the arid and parched-
a cool, rainy summer would ruin the fruit.
While wandering the desert of Nevada,
Complaining of the lack of drink and grub,
I came across a bar in sight of nowhere,
"The Ghost Town Saloon and the Santa Fe Club."
Established in the height of golden fever
In nineteen zero five the sign had said,
I wondered if the souls of Virge and Wyatt
Were dealing out cards as the riches were shed.
One almost hears the bustle and the gambling
Of miners, ranchers, harlots and the sharks,
Piano playing on without a chorus,
And faro's lost bets by the victimized marks.
Now silently this building has been aging,
Its warping porch besieged with squeak and squeal,
I dared to enter, finding only locals,
And almost relieved that the patrons were real.
Nature is the environment, certainly,
clouds delivering rain, ice or snow,
wildlife in petite abundance, surviving
in shrinking forests and flooded plains.
Nature is a single leaf, emerald green,
with intricate veins and living cells,
drawing energy, so miraculously,
from daylight born in our distant sun.
Nature is a flowing lava bed, growing
the landscape as magma spews from gaping mouths;
the inferno below on which continents waft
provides the liquid that both destroys and creates.
Nature is with us when the earth moves
and buildings collapse from the upheaval;
and when the waves come inland shortly after,
sometimes thousands of miles away.
Nature is the process by which living things
propagate, enlarging their sphere of life,
interacting with surroundings of their own
making, or that which has been handed to them.
Nature is a set of calculations collaborating
to control every action and reaction,
refusing to be completely understood by
anything or anyone within its domain.
Nature is mankind, though many think it is not.
Everything humans create is equally nature;
"man-made" is an ambiguity, a delusion
by those who believe we can be set apart.
Its downtown skyline on display,
this city on an inland sea,
it draws the ruralites away
from lonely roads and storms' debris.
This city on an inland sea,
with much to teach and lots to learn
from lonely roads and storms' debris,
it asks so little in return.
With much to teach and lots to learn,
the Chi-town's heart is open wide,
it asks so little in return
from those who share its civic pride.
The Chi-town's heart is open wide,
it draws the ruralites away
to those who share its civic pride-
its downtown skyline on display.
I peer in the well
of the steep spiral staircase--
sees dungeons in bleak darkness
and princesses in dire need.
That May was just like any other May,
with people going on about their lives,
but winds would build with thunderheads in gray,
and hit the town with swirling, hurtled knives.
A twister cut a swath through empty streets,
while sirens blared their warning in its path,
and many huddled in their basement seats,
eleven souls were lost to nature's wrath.
Committees sought rebuilding and would find
the Greensburg plight a media success.
Donations flowed, with spending intertwined
with "green" construction for the hungry press.
Though devastation rocked the rural plains,
A phoenix rises from the town's remains.
Bend, careen, and fluctuate,
The music moves the curtain.
Weave, recline, and undulate,
Its pattern seems uncertain
Of its future course.
Dance routines will hypnotize
With fluid silk performance,
Water droplets crystallize
With gravity's resistance,
Never to enforce.
Sway, arise, acute ascent,
The dancing waters pulsate,
Twist, resurge, now reinvent,
The melodies incorporate
Jazz without remorse.
Jack has published over 350 poems in his career, many with his own photography. He specializes in a view of the commonplace and Americana.