To read Jule Ezelle Patton and Patricia Spears Jones collaborative poem “Tender,” click HERE

Julie Ezelle Patton recycles words, thumbs green texts body leaves and spit (“any thing eye
can get hands on”). She is author of Writing with Crooked Ink, forthcoming from Belladonna
and (Notes for Some (Nominally) Awake, and [Breathing] on Type, a land and hand
conservationist “making do”. Most notably in a terrific piece in Black Earth Institute’s About
Place Journal # 2: “Rust Belt Tales”.

Patricia Spears Jones is a poet, playwright, educator, activist and author of three collections, most
recently Painkiller (Tia Chucha). She is a Senior Fellow at Black Earth Institute and the recipient
of awards from The New York Community Trust and The Foundation for Contemporary Art and
grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Getting Down

Thinking of national debt and a coup d’etat,
I drive west and see above me in the cobalt sky
twelve vapor trails streaming an abstract pattern
of angles and drift, ribboning some lines, rubbing out
others. People are flying high up there.
Down here, the fierce sun carmines the horizon,
warns that everything comes from loving
light, even what we need–the rain.
Stooped by drought, corn grows crammed together
Like a population sinking without space. The fields
look soft as amber pools against these surging hills,
acres without cob or tassel.

The shock and awe we sent South drifts
down from the atmosphere. After all, we know
the earth is round. Pine and poplar yellow from more
than autumn. No rain. No clouds in the growing dark.
We piece together fractured news, note polls, listen to
Talking heads who value the stern old ways
of plunderers or the vision of changing
whatever hasn’t yet and won’t. No rain for a nation
of nomads made of corn and wind. Let’s take
The heat of our own hands for sharing bread,
Writing books, growing flowers, helping one another,
whether or not we curse cold, drought and debt.
Two ways hath November: stand up or bend over.

Roberta Hill, an Oneida poet and writer, is a Professor of English and American Indian Studies and an affiliate of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison CICADAS, a new and selected poetry collection, is forthcoming from Holy Cow! Press in April 2013. She is a Fellow of the Black Earth Institute.


Don’t join a party, be a party,
said the boy with the lil’ lisp.
How prescient, how presidential
can a man or woman be. My love
and I are two voters in Georgia,
god bless us. Cynical maybe,
we vow to drive vans on the big
rig day. We vow that our party is
naked poetry on a Saturday night.
That, and a little kindness when
we can muster it through the din.

Originally from New York, Erika Jo Brown currently lives in Savannah, GA, where she curates the Seersucker Shots poetry reading series. Her chapbook “What a Lark!” was published by Further Adventures Press in 2011.

To read Seamus Cashman’s poem, click HERE.

Poet and publisher Seamus Cashman founded the Irish
literary publishing house Wolfhound Press (1974-2001).
He has three poetry collections, the most recent, That
Morning will Come: new and selected poems (Salmon
Poetry, 2007) and his next volume will be a book length
poem, The Sistine Gaze, due in 2013. He was the first
International Fellow at the Black Earth Institute and is
editing the third online issue of About Place on the theme
of “Peaks & Valleys” due for release is November.

…who will listen

the body politic once meant the king’s body
however corpulent, pock-marked or gout-ridden
now we are all considered part of this body

what if it is sick, can we agree on treatment
what if the body politic lacks insurance
what if it wants to terminate a pregnancy?

can the body politic decide a menu
will the meal be genetically modified
will it contain “all natural sugars” made from corn?

does the body politic have race or gender
has it ever entered itself illegally
can it register to vote, marry whom it will?

does the body politic know how to self-soothe
does it harbor addictions, sanctioned or proscribed
what does it think about when it wakes in the night?

can we call the body politic to account
does the left hand know what the right hand is doing
who will speak for the tired feet, who will listen?


-Elizabeth Cunningham, a fellow emeritus of the Black
Earth Institute, is best known for The Maeve Chronicles,
a series of award-winning novels featuring the feisty
Celtic Magdalen who is no one’s disciple.
Today is her birthday.

For more:

To read Thomas Devaney’s poem, click HERE


Thomas Devaney is the author of two poetry collections, A Series of Small Boxes (Fish Drum) and The American Pragmatist Fell in Love (Banshee Press), and a nonfiction book, Letters to Ernesto Neto (Germ Folios). His collaboration with photographer Will Brown, The Picture that Remains, is forthcoming from The Print Center of Philadelphia.  He teaches at Haverford College and is the editor of ONandOnScreen an e-journal featuring poems and videos.

To read Margo Berdeshevsky’s poem, click HERE.


MARGO BERDESHEVSKY is author of two poetry collections,
Between Soul and Stone, and But a Passage in Wilderness,
(Sheep Meadow Press,) & a book of illustrated stories,
Beautiful Soon Enough, (University of Alabama Press.).

For more about Margo, please see her website:

To read Maureen Owen’s poem, click HERE.


Maureen Owen is the author of ten poetry titles, most
recently Erosion’s Pull from Coffee House Press, a
finalist for the Colorado Book Award and the Balcones
Poetry Prize. Current publications include work in YAWP
magazine, Columbia Review, Hanging Loose, and Poems
from the Women’s Movement. She currently teaches at
Naropa University and is editor-in-chief of Naropa’s on-line
lit zine not enough night.


The morning news is of hijacked aircraft
shattering concrete, glass, steel,
someone’s mother sister husband
running in terror and chaos caught
between floors. Buildings collapse
on flesh and bone and my sorry thoughts
spill out the window to the landscape
of my dreams—what Stegner once called
the geography of hope. I want to plant myself
where wind soughs through growing green trees
and deer wander belly-deep in sun-browned grass.
Mountains speak of a greater power that
surrounds, sustains, and gives life meaning.
Even it can’t alter the news.



Cristina Eisenberg is a writer and ecologist with a PhD in
Forestry and Wildlife from Oregon State University. She is
the author of The Wolf’s Tooth and the forthcoming The
Carnivore Way, both published by Island Press. In her
scientific research she focuses on the ecological effects
of wolves on whole ecosystems. She is a Black Earth
Institute Senior Fellow.


When the fulcrum is fear
we tip toward cruelty.

When the fulcrum is greed
we tip toward poverty of spirit.

Even on this day of
equal light and dark
there is only
instant of perfect balance.
Balance is always moving.

May our still point be compassion.

And may the scales of
our nation move toward hope.



Cait Johnson is the author of six books of spirit-based
nonfiction. She is faculty at the Stonecoast MFA in
Creative Writing Program and a former fellow of the
Black Earth Institute. She also writes and directs
shamanic performance pieces.