MOUNTAIN MEADOW #71 by Donna Fleischer

Mountain Meadow #71 


Some may say I can’t,

can’t deal with loss. Maybe so,

but please don’t stop there, it’s

far more important

than that


Recently arrived at the crime scene

of the centuries,

asks, with 16-point display caps

in an earth brown pantone:


What is the role 

of the poet now 

that all life on earth 

is threatened?


the words already at a distance

from, do you wonder that

this question isn’t really asking


What is the role 

of the poet now 

that human life on earth

is threatened?



that’s all we have

ever cared about


and who’s that hiding in

our collective pronoun when we

must know at some level it’s

a trick word used by those in power

(and those kissing up to it),

the legions of patriarchs-hierarchs


instead of a female hierophant

holding up an ear of corn.


Machine men arrive,

caterpillar bulldoze

meadow #71. Rootstocks,

entire living habitats rip

apart, tossed into heaps, carried away

by dump trucks, to be sold


just like that





a familiar pattern,

I swallow hard the knotted words

I’m sorrygoodbye. Nothing good

about it except another family

will enjoy the new view, just as I do.


The tall conifers at the back of the lot,

how long will they survive, severed from

its neighbor meadow, weakened?


It’s November 15.

The deciduous trees have lost

most of their leaves. An Arctic front rapidly

moves off. A kind warmth resumes.


There were hibernal animals in that dark

just below small meadow as verb,

in their deep brown coiling with

root, rock, and stone asleep toward Spring until

dazed they face a dull November sky.


What was the question?


I have another, it isn’t pretty:


What is love?


I step through the front door into


the outside air, there’s a tang this is

also the smell of death

that once was only dying.




As Thoreau would make American Transcendentalism work at Walden Pond, the philosophy in practice would not transcribe to the world of commerce. Continued suffering from the 2010 ecocide in the Gulf of Mexico, the 2011 nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, and the nearly daily extinction and endangerment of animal and plant species doubly announces human hurts and fears masked by a greed that denies our basic need for community. We get lost in childlike feelings of being insignificant or omniscient yet are neither. Though our breath is who we are, no more no less, why isn’t that enough? Why the need to feel special which so isolates us from a greater and palpable whole? In the words of the late Pacific Northwest painter and Zen practitioner, Morris Graves, “We’re walking through the stuff that we are.” This is also joy. If not for our dying every other moment we would not live. This is also freedom. No need to do harm. We are whole. Why assign authority over our lives to others? Is it inevitably our tender human capacity for loving that gives us away to manipulation? Every day there are forces that fragment, and every day poetry breathes into, re-integrates, empties, questions and enlivens.



donna fleischer

Donna Fleischer writes poetry in both open field and Japanese-derived forms of haiku and haibun. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in EOAGH, Jupiter 88, Kō, Otoliths, Poets for Living Waters (Blazevox), South by Southeast, and Spiral Orb. Indra’s net, (bottle rockets press 2003), an out of print haibun collection, is available free to read at Scribd. Her essay, “The Black Swans of Ellen Carey: Of Necessary Poetic Realities” is the catalogue essay to the ground-breaking lens-based artist’s 2014 Eastern Connecticut State University exhibition “Let There Be Light: The Black Swans of Ellen Carey. Twinkle, Twinkle (Longhouse Publishers, 2010) is Fleischer’s third chapbook. She curates contemporary poetry and permaculture content at her blog word pond


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