Consider the Lilies

                 Find something that speaks to you.
                 Listen to it, learn from it.
                                              ~ Bonnie Thurston

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Past the mid-point of Lent,
good intentions fallen
onto rocky ground,
my breath clouds
the ice-cold window.
I want the fecundity
of warm earth,
these clenched hands
pried open, light to pierce
this darkness.

Outside, wind whips
the tall grass. The red pine’s
branches lift and sway. On its plated
bark, sap has hardened into transparent
beads. Last summer’s leaves,
dry and curled, rattle
on the lower branches
of an oak. I pick up what remains
of an acorn:  cap, cup, bowl;
inside, a perfect circle
of brown, an eye
without sight, its seed
the absence that speaks.

Perhaps, by now, it has leapt,
transformed into muscle, bone,
the blood of a liquid-eyed deer;
or maybe it lies hidden
a yard away where, by instinct
or luck, a squirrel will unearth it
after a snowfall yet to come.
Or it will not be found,
but will lie dormant, forgotten,
until the day it bursts forth
insistent, green, and holy.


.                                               ~  Anna Egan Smucker



Anna Egan Smucker is the author of eight books including NO STAR NIGHTS (Knopf) winner of the International Reading Association Children’s Book Award. Recipient of a WV Arts Commission Artist Fellowship Award, her poems have been published in several anthologies and literary journals.


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The momentary sky
in this drop of dew

will return to the sky,
will be lost there.

What is joy —
definition or release?

~ James Owens


James Owens’s most recent collection of poems is Mortalia (FutureCycle Press, 2015).. His poems, stories, and translations appear widely in literary journals, including publications in The Fourth River, Kestrel, Adirondack Review, Tule Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and Southword. He earned an MFA at the University of Alabama and lives in Indiana and northern Ontario.




Our new home. We stack the old, wood-like deer
bones in the back, among the hedgehog cactus, dry
blue grama, and grey ponderosa cones. A pelvis,
three femora, a vertebra. She picks the grasses for
an inspiration cliff and I point the unfletched
arrow, This Here! That There! This is our first week
at Button Rock House.


Her smile —
I miss the doorknob
once, twice


                                                                ~ Tony Burfield

Tony Burfield, from his prize-winning collection of haibun, Sawhorse (2017 Middle Creek Publishing), used by permission of the publisher. Tony Burfield lives with his wife in Pinewood Springs, Colorado, and works at the Boulder Public Library.

Raiding the Dark


Hunger Moon hides behind the mountain —

golden haze haloing its silhouette.

We stumble to the car, grass stiff and brittle.

This afternoon will be 68, but right now

it’s 23 degrees and the wind knifes right through

our coats, the newspaper’s rage still rolled

in plastic.  There’s a black hole somewhere

sucking in the light — stars and planets,

space dust disappearing faster than synapses collapse.

But here dawn sings in a wren’s clear notes,

neighbor’s porch light beckoning, fiery and bright.


~ KB Ballentine


KB Ballentine’s fifth collection, Almost Everything, Almost Nothing, was published in 2017 by Middle Creek Publishing. Her work also appears in anthologies including In Plein Air (2017), Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017), In God’s Hand (2017), among others. Learn more about KB Ballentine at

Introducing AFIELD Journal

MCP’s AFIELD Journal is a journal of Human Ecology, defined as the relationship between humans and their natural, social, and built environments. publishing works which illuminate the Human experience through words, story or other content which connects us to each other, our environment, our history and our potential. We believe that responding to the world through art is a vital part of being human.

Although AFIELD will spotlight MCP authors and artists, we are also seeking submissions of work from others who feel their work fits our press and journal, and contributes to deepening the connection (or relationship) between people and their natural and built environments.

We welcome single long poems or three short poems, micro-fiction and short-fiction / non-fiction, photography and art. For longer fiction or non-fiction articles please send a synopsis and excerpt. Due credit will always be given for any work accepted for publication. Please include a short two sentence bio in the third person.

Send submissions for consideration to with “AFIELD Submission” in the subject heading.