(Excerpted from Atlas)

Keep an eye on flowers
during these long months,
for the firm edges
of these ecosystems,
of periodic fire on farms
once forests,
a landscape idealized
by early homesteaders.

Who began to see
the dawn of the grand blaze

of civilization, the hundreds
of small waters, bogs
with heath undergrowth,
tamarack and spruce
strands lay in the low.

Ho-Chunk from the south shores,
Siouan for land of yellow waters
as our refuges reach milestones,
as we glimpse the haven
of our path.


From that trumpet of the morning
words like this: all the kettles boiling
on all the fires, orange and black of all
the wings of butterflies, all sounds
of every sea at work on the shores
at night, absolute fog of no stars,
a mill race swift and powerful
down to the tiniest sand.

The white mouths of ocean coming high,
the sea of short lines so gentle
and human, the worthlessness
of expensive things, the way the waves
at night in consonant tones, the sand
a thousand feet below.

That creek day remembering
this valley must have looked the same
with discrete trees through a thousand
years of falling leaves, of the humus
layers percolating.

Down the creek and into the sea
all the birds on all the crooked branches,
fire blossoms in the night, the present moment
fraught in this wind of all leaves shedding.

Such mountain in a thousand miles
of night scares, dead trees among bushes
so dense to heathers so deep.

To cattle crossing corral gates
on bent posts, worn barbed wire

along rutted road: let the ghosts fly
throwing shadows all over.


Sky stacked in long folds
blackened drift from distant storm,
water brown as sand.

Terns drill against breaks,
tanker smudges cut derricks,
jagged cling to crest.

City’s detritus,
thin horizon of south light,
likely curvature. 

Waves break with bass, fade
in highs over countless rocks,
here, within each breath.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Glenn Bach

Originally from Southern California, Glenn Bach now lives in the Doan Brook watershed of Cleveland, Ohio. His major project, Atlas, is a long poem about place and our (mis)understanding of the world. Excerpts have appeared in jubilat, Otoliths, Plumwood Mountain and others. He documents his work on his websiteand X.