Saturday, December 21, 2013

Three Poems by Emily Strauss

Emily Strauss** has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry. Over 130 of her poems appear in dozens of online venues and in anthologies. The natural world is generally her framework; she often focuses on the tension between nature and humanity, using concrete images to illuminate the loss of meaning between them. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.


Poem at Lee Vining Creek

Another stream, another page—

I listen again, memorizing

the bursting, rushing water that

trips over sticks, stone

steps, finds its way around

my feet—

this sound I sleep with

river surrounded by aspen

and pine, dusty mesquite,

towering crags of fractured

granite rising thousands of feet

but it could have been placid

meadows, dun hills or snowy

ledges. The river itself

makes music and the inevitable

birds add their notes in the willows.

** I travel outdoors a lot and alone, and often try to camp near a stream. They are all the same in a way, but each different in its setting and views. I cherish each experience and wanted to write about both sameness and difference.


The owl prepares for sleep before sunrise

the forest still obscured in gray light

he settles on his thick branch, fluffs

his feathers clean, calls out to his rivals

of the night's kill, mouse and vole taken,

forgive him, for himself and two

fledglings not ready to hunt, his soft

white body swooping in silence, great

claws hold tight, the pale ghost stalker

sees each tiny body beneath the redwoods

there is no hiding, and lifts the death-

throe carcass to the wide nest, it's instantly

torn to bits, forgive their carnivorous

ways, the chicks appeased he flies

again, his morning story says.

**I recently camped in the redwoods of Northern California and heard an owl, though I couldn't see it among the branches. I imagined its call as telling the forest around what had happened. Owls are such silent white, huge birds.

Action of the Mind

A figment of the action of the mind:

deer bedded in the yellowing grass

of an afternoon all face south, quiet

in the late hot sun, their inaction

vivid— tan on gold waiting for

cooler air to overcome the alfalfa.

**I recently attended a writing workshop and heard this line, about "action of the mind". I wondered what it meant and imagined this interpretation, an action of simply noticing, a quiet action, so to speak.
namo tassa bhagavato...

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