Monday, November 6, 2023

Poetry: Woods-Speak

Leaves on a forest floor

By Jack Carney

The winds blew fiercely across
the lake for three days without
letup – no weathervane needed
to know they were nor’easters.
The trees lakeside told me,
whipped about, bowing and scraping to the
southwest, oranges and reds stripped away.


Shimmer (our cat) and I tracked the
three-day blow, on the lookout
for the robin fledgling that had spent
much of the month foraging for worms
and grubs in our south field, born late and
left to fend for itself. Unusual, as was the
sudden onset of winter’s first days.
When the weather cleared, the bare trees
signaled “no shelter.” No sign of our robin
and we accepted it was gone. We would await
Spring, when the robins would return to
nest in our eaves or in the nearby trees,
summoned by green buddings.
Pure chance, the evening of our first
snowfall, we heard a robin’s song
from the top-most branches of a
tall tree in the woodlot to the north, a final
and reassuring “adieu”, from the fledgling.
Or so I’d like to believe, ever hopeful in a
land that often warrants little.

Photo at top: Leaves on a forest floor. Wikimedia Commons photo.

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Jack Carney is a clinical social worker who retired after fifty years of practice, nearly forty of which spent working in the public mental health system. He received his MSW from UCLA in 1969 and his DSW from CUNY in 1991. He is also a trained family therapist, trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and has devoted a good part of his professional life to teaching and training mental health professionals, to developing and implementing innovative treatment approaches and programs, and to conducting clinical practice research. He retired in 2010 from a large New York social welfare agency. He now lives with his wife and their two cats in the Adirondacks of northern NY State, where he spends much of his time writing provocative tracts and working as a community and healthcare advocate, heavily involved in the Campaign for NY Health and the enactment of single payer healthcare on a statewide – the NY Health Act – and national – Medicare for All – basis. He is the author of a book of essays – Nation of Killers: Guns, Violence, White Supremacy – The American Dream Become Delusion, published in 2015 and available via Amazon. He has also published over 40 blog posts on Mad In America and Op-Ed News, all concerned with the political deterioration of the American state and its institutions and the measures that ordinary Americans can take to oppose an oppressive corporatist ruling class that is squeezing the life and vibrancy out of us. A nearly complete listing of all his writings – a work in progress – can be found on his website, www.paddling upstream.org.


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One Response

  1. Betsy Comeau says:

    Beautiful poem with lovely, haunting imagery of our stunning, yet sometimes unforgiving mountain region.

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