Climbing: Schaidle & May

Allen Kenneth Schaidle

Climbing Rocks

For many climbers,
climbing becomes spiritual,

Not for me.
It’s just climbing rocks,
Big and small.
Finding beauty in the simplicity.

Life is complicated,
work is difficult,
and school is dense.
Sometimes even climbs can be, well, complicated too.

There’s anticipating travel logistics,
and beta.

I want climbing to be transparent.
No grander meaning,
I’m already overwhelmed with life’s meanings.

I don’t want a relationship with because then I’ll take, take, take and never give enough.
I’m struggling with this.
Just leave it as it is.
You know,
“leave no trace.”

And climbing certainty isn’t art
because then it can be judged
and that causes rivalry.

I want climbing just as climbing rocks.
Nothing more.
Just climbing rocks.


©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May

©Jesse May


Allen Kenneth Schaidle is a diehard Midwestern, educator, and activist. He holds degrees from the University of Kansas, Columbia University, and the University of Oxford. A native of Metamora, Illinois, Allen considers the creeks and forests of central Illinois his boyhood home as he continues forward in his life. 

Jesse May grew up on a small farm in the mountains of Virginia where his explorations of the farm and the surrounding woods were a constant. A large part of his exploration as a kid were supported by his Mom, who still supports his adventures to this very day. Recently, Jesse has been exploring  South America, Northern California, Utah, and South Dakota with his camera, all while camping and still enjoying the outdoors as much as he did when he was growing up.  It’s been a fun couple of years adventuring for Jesse, and he looks forward to at least a few more good years of seeing cool things. Jesse is a 2015 graduate of Unity College. You can follow him on Instagram.

Layers: Engelhardt and Frederick

James Engelhardt

You’ll never understand how
the knowledge comes to you—
the children naming animal tracks
at the river’s edge, the cribbage board
on the cooler—that you’ve come to love
someone who isn’t in the opposite chair
sipping their beer, their sunglasses
reflecting a mate who has been pulled
toward a different light, another coast.

Summer flows and dies around you.
A west wind summons a dust devil,
brings the smell of a distant wildfire.
The mews gulls and owls have fledged,
and autumn will bring darkness soon.

You play your cards, peg your points,
and yet the hands you use feel lighter,
filled with some strange gas, not bone,
and in your chest a foreign sun
burns fiercely with joy and despair.
The coming nova will swallow the orbits
of all the planets around you now,
the cards, the board, the river, the tracks.
Unthinkable. How do you participate
in what you never wanted to be real?

the one road heading north
deadends in Deadhorse

night spills into the next day,
there should be an end

Santa Claus stops at Deadhorse, too,
leaves eleven months later, full of schnapps

you tell me your mother walked out
headed north

you say you were too young
to pay attention, to notice your father

had taken to drinking
out of an old Christmas glass

three wise men, a baby,
and a star

you add these
to the list of places you can’t go back to



   Linden Frederick


James Engelhardt’s poems have appeared in the North American Review, Hawk and Handsaw, ACM: Another Chicago Magazine,, Painted Bride Quarterly, Cirque, Ice Floe, and many others. His ecopoetry manifesto can be found at He is an acquisitions editor at the University of Illinois Press.

 Linden Frederick  is a full-time painter residing in the Belfast area of Maine since 1989. His subject matter is the American landscape at dusk or night, but with a cultural emphasis. For example, his 2004 one-person show MEMOIR was inspired by the small town where he grew up in upstate New York, and NIGHT NEIGHBORS (2010) by Belfast. A larger geography and therefore, different American sub-cultures, were explored in the shows AMERICAN NIGHTS (2002) and AMERICAN STUDIES (2008). Other recent one-person shows were NIGHT LIFE (2014) and PAINTING NOIR (2006). He has been invited to guest lecture and/or teach master classes at educational institutions. He is represented by Forum Gallery, NYC.



Building on poetry slam tradition @ Unity College

Robin MerrillPoetry Slam @ Unity College
On April 27th, Unity built on their budding poetry slam tradition with a rowdy show of student poetry. Six talented students participated, with Brian Fisher taking first place and the $25 cash prize that was generously donated by a member of the community. Judges came from near and far to hear these poems and score them subjectively, but the poets know that the points are not the point!

The evening opened with a feature reading from slam poet Robin Merrill, who will represent Maine at the National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California in August. Visit her at


What’s Fucked Up About Abundance

Lilace Mellin Guignard

What’s Fucked Up About Abundance


How in the midst of all those tomatoes
glowing red and orange in my backyard,
ripe and rotting in the raised 3×3 squares
I bowed my back filling, tilling, and weeding,

how in the bosom of late August
when their armies swarm my counters
and they roll off my sill—splat—into the sink,

how with the flavor of the hordes numbing
my tongue’s memory of winter when,
like mail order brides, I embrace cans
of diced and stewed from who-knows-where,

I lose each fruit’s singular beauty in the glare
of all there is to do—slicing, roasting,
freezing, boiling, canning—always pulling at me

like a million small children, or, let’s say, two
holding onto my legs, two perfect children
I’ve waited my whole life for clutching my legs

and the amazing—really—beefsteak of a man
I waited 30 years for (and would again)
reading Climbing magazine at the table
where he’s cleared a space for his beer

while I shuffle to the sink to lay
the knife down so I can pick the baby up,

how so much goodness doesn’t make me
thankful so much as frantic knowing
the rest of my life I must work to deserve it.


Lilace Mellin Guignard was a 2003-2004 recipient of a Nevada Artist Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Ecotone, Calyx, Rivendell, and ISLE, as well anthologies; her nonfiction has been published in Quarterly West, Santa Monica Review, and Orion Afield. Guignard’s research and academic articles focus on gender and outdoor spaces. She currently writes from her home in rural Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband, six-year-old son, and three-year-old daughter.

Naming the Trees

Stacked Chairs





Hannah Fries

Naming the Trees


We are naming the trees as we walk, or trying to
name them—it is early spring,
no help from leaves,
though their shapes are etched on our minds,
their branching veins, the space between,
like my hand against your chest.
Only the texture of bark: smooth or rough, riveted, peeling,
or drawn with arching brows
(skepticism, perhaps, at our naming),
and their crowns: spreading or drooping, branches growing in whorls or
alternately, needles in groups of three
or five, or soft fronds of hemlock.

Oak (white), maple (red), birch (silvery yellow) and the smell
of wintergreen scratched open,
thumbnail to damp wood. We name them
because they tower over us, wave their myriad arms,
largest living things we see and don’t
see, here on the hills where they were logged, burned,
where, we remember, they marched back anyway, across the ashen slopes, saplings
cracking the rain-pocked earth, they split
themselves in all directions, stretched against sky, breathing
our breath. We are naming the trees

that have grown the perimeters of the burnt-out factory where sky
shouts through the windows
on the wall left standing,
the rest all ghosted and black, letters rubbed out from caving sides—
a wood treatment plant, hidden behind the barbed wire’s
curtain of climbing vines,
its bittersweet, honeysuckle, nostalgic and invasive: what strangles
the forest undoes this too, us, fenced in
and overcome with sweet blossoms and berries
and doomed as the gasping tree in bittersweet’s coil.
We are naming,
we are naming the trees before they walk away

because we are unlearning our forgetfulness,
because this time we are trying the opposite and taking our time,
and right now time loves us
because we just made love, late
this morning, slowly
waking each other up, without speaking,
yellow ribbons of light streaming in on our bodies, through branches
through slats of the shades, and then
we got up and went outside to name the trees: horse chestnuts
in front lawns, magnolia, crab apple still budless,
thinking pink.

On the back of your hand, blue veins branch
like trees, like roots seeking water,
like the river that roils under the bridge
we are walking over, somewhere farther along,
where we could fish it, eat, not think
toxic silt, PCBs carried downstream.
Think: tree swallows in silver maples,
water-loving. We press
our hands against bark to print its pattern on our palms,
across our lifelines, grooved
skin and finger pads whorled to the center. I say

your name, and you turn
like a stalk toward the light. I love you.
There is no good reason
why any of this should be, which is why
we hold it in our mouths, turning it over. Today
we are naming the trees, calling them back to us.
Shagbark hickory, tamarack,
weeping willow and white pine.
Sugar maple, we say, and it is on our tongues:
Tap it now, in March,
the ground a mash of snow and mud, sap rising
from the roots, clear drop on the finger:
small sweetness we taste because we know it’s there.





Hannah Fries is associate editor and poetry editor of Orion and a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, Calyx,, and other journals. She recently took part in an interdisciplinary artists’ residency focused on mine reclamation with the Colorado Art Ranch.


Noah’s Wife: A Diary

Cole Caswell, Image 1


Noah’s Wife: A Diary


So I’ve started to gather seeds,
stitch them
into the hem of my robe.

I choose a dozen flowers
to hide in the cuff of my sleeve.

* *

Rain: small craters in the dust
like holes to plant the wheat in.
Refreshing at first. At first,
things will want to grow.

* *

My ankles are black
with mud. The sheep sink in
to their knees,

Cruel, to choose.

* *

The beasts, obedient, file in.
Who will save the olive and the barley?
I hide a cherry stone beneath my tongue.

* *

When the bears shambled in with burs
in their coats, I secretly rejoiced.

Last night I groomed them,
plucked their coarse fur clean.

* *

The giraffes are seasick—knobby
legs wobble beneath their bellies.

So am I. I pick through
feces, finding the pits and seeds
of what last fruit they ate.

* *

The raven sits on my shoulder.
I feel his beak in my hair, and
his feathers are oil.
he follows me, my shadow
the shadow of wings.
I should have been left out there
in the sheeting rain.

* *

The clouds have dried
and withered like my hands.

Mountain peaks are islands, thrashed and bare.

the water is so still: a bowl
filled with sky.

* *

Two snakes have bred.
Their young slither about the floor.
I think of the poppy seeds sewn
into my right sleeve, a constellation
shifting around my wrist.

* *

The dove is a fool: it returns
to this mess of wood and flesh.

The raven went out first—
seeds tucked in his smoke-black beak.

He won’t return.
He’ll fly until he’s through.



Hannah Fries is associate editor and poetry editor of Orion and a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, Calyx,, and other journals. She recently took part in an interdisciplinary artists’ residency focused on mine reclamation with the Colorado Art Ranch.




Caswell, Fallen


Richard Downing


The last polar bear visited our town last
night. It was burping up parts of Billy
when Big John blew the top

part of its head off with one shot
from a Browning over and under.
Bear landed

on top of what was left of Billy.
Nice kid. Too bad. Bear went right
for the face. That’s what they do.

Most of us asked what the bear was doing
in town. It’s not like them to just drop in.
We figured we hadn’t seen one in a while because

we keep the garbage inside. Otherwise the moose
have their way with it. Ed slaughtered
the dead bear. “No sense letting it go

to waste,” he said, and as an afterthought, “Billy
would have wanted it that way.” From what I saw
of what was left of Billy, he wouldn’t

have wanted any part of any of it. Crazy thing
about it is he was the one that liked the damned
bears. He was always talking about their ice

melting, how it was their ice,
how they needed it to reach the seals.
He’d talk

about how we’re all in it together—
Interconnected, he’d say.
Well he sure was with that bear.



Richard Downing has won the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Poetry Contest, the Writecorner Press 2010 Editor’s Award, New Delta Review’s Matt Clark Prize, and New Woman Magazine’s Grand Prize for Fiction. His poetry can be found in his chapbook Four Steps Off the Path, in the anthologies Hunger Enough: Spiritual Living in a Consumer Society; Dire Elegies; and Against Agamemnon: War Poems, in many literary journals, and at He is a co-founder of Save Our Naturecoast and holds a PhD in English.