Fieldbook: Original Poetry by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Readers

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MOTHER's readers submit their poetry to be published in this "Fieldbook."

Conventional publishing wisdom claims that it’s a mistake to run original poetry in a “consumer” magazine. Although that may often be true, we’re convinced that MOTHER’s readers are the kind of people who look for beauty in the practical and search out practicality in the beautiful…and who realize that good poetry can be useful as well as inspiring. In fact, the best of poems can help us recognize the wonderful — and often well-hidden — similarities that all humans share…and, by doing so, can make each of us feel a little bit less alone. The poetry included in this occasional feature — be it brand-new or previously published, written by a recognized poet or a first-timer — will be material that, in the eyes of MOTHER’s editors, helps us see ourselves in the words of others. It’s that quality, and the fact that the work presented here will reflect the range of subject areas usually presented in this magazine, that gave this feature its name.


All winter
weather lived in the house
like a poor relative with
no other refuge.
Plastic on the windows sagged
or billowed in the wind like lungs.
Cold wedged in the corners
and complained of its short bed
or abused the simple food.
Dark supplied our speech.
Not even the hearth’s constant fire
could warm the heavy step
of family obligation.
Snow came in at the creases.

With spring, we brought blossoms
with their fresh light into the house.
Plum flowers, limbs
of pear and forsythia
woke the unwanted guest,
drove him out with aroma.
We have folded the quilts
and opened the windows wide.
We have opened the door.
Any traveler that moves on the wind
now blows clean through,
moves the lace curtains
with a gentle wish
that summer be thicker than blood.

–R.T. Smith

Originally published by Water Mark Press in From the High Dive and reprinted by permission of the poet.


on the half-life, pumping
ferns in a wicker creel, hauled
on father’s stony shoulder
up the bluff rock-bank.

I tapped its universe
in the kitchen sink —
the galaxy
in porcelain, pink-flecked
silver and the tailfins
sweeping still untarnished comets
up from deep holes
into stunned ceramic shock.
It stared from a lost world,
its pupil an eclipse,
the lidless trance. I heard
the word once —
call it Resurrection:
a shudder in the basin,
a catch in my throat
when its gills began to beat.

–William Johnson

Chicken: It’s A

When the biologist opens a chicken
he sees anatomy.

When the cook opens a chicken
he sees innards.

When the shaman opens a chicken
he sees the future.

–David Lunde

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