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featured poets & artists


mark koslow

cleveland's mark koslow is an extraordinary poet & painter. his website, Art In Nature, is a  literary work, a  book of poetry & paintings, arranged in a gallery format.  It is an extended & patient meditation on the beauty of nature & nature's rights.




A Brief Picture of a Goldfinch's Life

All afternoon long
I have heard their
golden song in the shadows
of great blue trees;
and the goldenrod fields, thistle full,
and sun on the thistledown, like silken rainbows--
a humming throng of cicadas and crickets
and its nest in the thicket,
four feet from the ground,
of thistledown woven,
whose seed it eats;
and the sun beats like sheets
of white heat glowing,
where the female,
the color of cloudy summer mornings,
hushed yellow,
like sunset over the Great Lakes,
--a suppressed glow of green twilight
graying in the golden,
sun-swollen landscape,
sitting on her nest
of eggs, dawn colored.

And he,
-- astonishing such a bright yellow
is nearly invisible--
in the summer leaves
of trees soaking in sun;
black wings, midnight
streaked with light
and his breast
yellower than yellow,
higher yellow than yellowest--
to show his mate
he knows the summer glow
more intimate than orange
and closer to his heart
than flying wings.
Not gold of sunsets, but brighter than topaz
cooler yellow than the hottest flame--
its breast glows with brightest dawn
not sulphur or saffron, but yellow of
Cabbage butterflies and the starlike
center of lilac or blue asters.

None have told of these midwest afternoons
except maybe Charles Burchfeild
in paintings of the July and August's
throbbing growth where ironweed
burns purple in the swallowtail sun.

Wingstem, like sunflowers spinning
and the goldfinch male
first on the goldenrod
and then the thistle
picking seeds for his nesting mate.

They live in a daytime Milky Way of Wildflowers
blooming in a sun-drunk, expansive
sea of forb-glowing fields of light.
Like purple and yellow stars
spinning in a field of yellow heat.
and as the day lengthens into blue
he sits on the branch he always sits on
and sings to her of summer
and she responds, barely audible
and their intimate songs
importuning long yellow days
that the joys of such light
might bring their young
into a goldfinch world,
far from humans
whose divorce from the land
no earth-married goldfinch
can understand

His undulating flight
describes the lines of the Ohio
hills, gentlely up and down
over green drenched fields
where blackberry bushes already
ripen into bronze and red.
She sits on her delicate nest of thistledown
and raises her head
to where he lands
on the nest edge
where he feeds her thistle seed,
beak to beak, dinner together.

Their entire universe
around this nest
turns an ordinary field
into a Milky Way of
wildflower sunshine
while thistle whirls around goldenrod,
Monarchs in the ironweed with Swallowtails,
Skippers and Cresentspots,
and all the world is goldfinch
and Spangled Fritillary
and tangled brambles of berries bursting
and more goldfinches singing
over the hills at sunset.



Endangered Species

Maybe I saw the rare Bachman's Warbler
or the Ivory Billed Woodpecker,
last seen in 1987.
Should I tell them?
those men in green uniforms,
who claim to be nature's police
and call themselves "Naturalists".

What do they do,
these men who get paid to be green?
They sit in offices,
counting the value of one animal
against another, nature's bankers,
lost- benefits of killing this deer
against that wildflower,
this rare trillium against that ungulate,
this tundra grass against that snow goose
turning species against species,
like card sharks playing angles against nature.
They make a mafia of diversity.

They maximize hunting profits
so many antlers sold
so many antlerless deer
so many grouse or turkey
sold to men who like killing for fun.
They set up a lottery to kill the really rare.
Big horn sheep. Elephants.

Should I tell them?--
these men with ID books
Peterson's field guides
these men who serve hunters
when it was hunters who killed
the last Carolina Parakeet
the last Passeneger Pigion.
Nature is all "Natural Resources" to them
so much oil and gas like so much Red Osier Dogwood
so many woodducks like so much silver to be mined.

They are midway between
the robber barons of mineral rights
and the Agribusiness tycoons;
selling animal skulls and the right to torture.
These green men are Grey men.
Might as well be on Wall Street.
Count products as a KMart cashier.
Work in a slaughter house
Cutting cattle into meat strips.
Maybe I saw the rare trillium
or the Ivory Billed woodpecker.
But I won't tell.
I will never tell.



Lost Canada of My Heart

Juncos have come from the tundra,
from near Hudson's Bay
where the Beluga or Narwhal go.
There are no red maple leaves
on the backs of Juncos.
They are not Canadians,
just as I am not American.
I am more Junconian or Beluganian
or even Narwhalian than American.

Loons cry out from my eyes
at the loss of the Northwest forests.
Ghosts of White Pines drift over Alberta
looking for the lost Buffalo.
Canada is where the sad rivers moan
with seagulls over Tierra del Fuego.
Canada is in the mists that burn
over the decimated Amazon.
Canada disappears with the salmon
that no longer follow rivers
to the sea.
Canada dies where the prairie dog towns
are silent.

It is true I am not Canadian,
Nor American, nor of any country
that kills warblers
or murders waters with pesticides.
No land is mine that
despises wild wolves
and hunts moose for pleasure.

I am from the country of Coyote,
where the wily dog smiles
between Tenochlitlan and
Nova Scotia.

Call me Cinnamon Teal if you like,
burnt red like autumn fire.
Call me Yellow Warbler,
the spring singer, green seeker,
sunlight lover,
from Seneca lands in New York
to Costa Rica overwintering.

But I will not be Canadian
or American
until the great Grey Owls
no longer hear chain saws
and cod return to the Great Banks
unmolested by greed.

I am from where
the Canada goose flies
with snow geese
beyond Canadian borders
outside the fiction of
cruel countries.
I am from the no man's land
that renounced nationalism.
I am of the land of Musk Ox dying
where the last Eskimo Curlew cries.

Loons cry out from my eyes
at the loss of the Northwest forests.
Ghosts of White Pines drift over
Alberta looking for the lost Buffalo.
Canada is a land lost in my heart
Until the forests return
and the fish come back
and no red maple leaves
fall in polluted water.

Until then
no land is mine
except where the plover goes.
I am from the country of Coyote,
where the wily dog smiles
between Macchu Picchu and
the Inuit Islands.

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