Thursday, January 31, 2013

Three Poems by Karla Linn Merrifield

With the Dark Touch of Global Warming
You Are Sentencing the Trees of Florida

I want to know exactly which tree.
Fungus-ridden sweet bay?
Beetle-riddled spruce? The ash borers’
hoards of ash-host trees? The Earth’s
warming Ocala wildfire trees? Chain-
sawn Osceola trees? Young, soft Pinus
elliotti pulp-to-be trees? Old-growth Pinus
palustrus trees reduce to clear-cut stumps?

Recite for me every genus & species
of extinction. Torreya taxifolia,
the blighted Apalachicolan yew?
Be explicit about mangrove trees of spiders,
and lysiloma trees of snails swallowed
whole in their forests as the peninsula
falls below rising oceans of salt.
Cypress, cedar, oak, palm, myrtle—
all the green tree people
in these blue latitudes drown,
sentenced to burial at sea.
Your darkness touches bottom.

                           with words from Chris Crittenden
The blood hole
in the white breast
is open to blue sky
& my brown eyes,
as the gull
of the gray back
& whiter breast
wields his yellow bill
to open another hole
in another murre,
another death for life.
Where are we on the map? the young girl asked her father
at rest stops on their family summer hegiras to the ocean.
All the while, the older brother prodded his calssic, nasty,
Are we there yet?
The girl cared less about destinations, so much less.  It
was the route that counted, names of towns, distances
between them, river ways & bridges.
So she was not surprised years later to be asking the
Tahoma's captain, Where are we on the chart? & Is there
a separate scroll for Grenvill Channel?  How did you
come by such patience to navigate whirlpools & eddies,
to navigate this vessel through the treachery of Queen
Charlotte Sound? More than three thousand miles & as
many years from childhood & boys despised like her
brother?  Why such urgency to get someplace?
The calm, deliberate pilot in his wheel house of trust
steers her toward a steady-paced place of further
Moored safely in Horsefly Cove on Green Inlet,
anchored, she lets herself go to his guiding hands at the
helm, knowing exactly where she would be on any
map, every chart, by land, at sea:  She could come home.
A seven-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had nearly 300 poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies.  She has eight books to her credit, the newest of which are The Ice Decides:  Poems of Antarctica (Finishing Line Press) and Liberty's Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99%, which she co-edited for FootHills Publishing.  Forthcoming from Salmon Poetry is Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North.  Her Godwit:  Poems of Canada (FootHills) received the 2009 Eiseman Award for Poetry and she recently received the Dr. Sherwin Howard Award for the best poetry published in Weber - The Contemporary West in 2012.  She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye (  Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet, at

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