James Reardon
New Zealand

Karakia Precari - Penny Howard 2016
James Reardon is a retired psychiatrist who has been writing poetry for over 55 years. HIs poem reflects  a walk in the forest in the Pacific Northwest of America in the state of Washington.


The trail is marked and maintained
"Horseshoe Bend Trail" (Forest Graveyard)
The Nooksak rushes by
White sound, constant, continuous
A distraction of white foam
Green water, moss-covered rocks.

The forest floor is soft, needle-covered
All is green, cool, dark.

An arch of moss-covered saplings appear
Row after row, forming an entrance
An entrance that frames chaos

Along the hillside
Lie the bare bones of giant Fir and Hemlock
Covered with green.

And overall, the limbs of orphans
Young trees bent by the weight of
Life, vegetation,

The trail broadens between
Hillside and stream
Revealing a  battlefield between man and nature
Along the hill, potted and scarred
Fractured trees pointed and stripped
Buried branches gone, brown, dead.

A surreal landscape appears
Remnants of a horrendous battle
Giant trees, centuries old
Majestic, serene, contemplative.

Suddenly surrounded by loggers
Soldiers of industry
Mercenaries of profit and destruction.

The air fills with the whine of saws
Pop pop of steam donkey yarders
No place to run, no place to hide
Stand up to the saws, the buckers, the chokers

Limbs gone, bodies lashed and dragged
Screaming up the hill
Gouging, scarring, defiling the ground.

The remains of the victims left to rot
Not even a decent burial.

The cry of pain and destruction fades.
Covered by the sound of water
There is no peace in this graveyard

Huge bodies, long forgotten, still present
Grim reminders of the mayhem of this war

Uprooted families, young offspring
Abandoned, orphaned in battle
Some are fallen, upended by wind
Lost through time, no protective
Cover overshadowing them.

There are few seedlings here
Only trash trees, birch, alder
Eking out an existence in the cold, cruel destruction

Soil  bereft of life, warmth, protection
Moss covers all, ghastly pale green
Nature's effort to hide the holocaust
Of a once pristine forest.

There are no animals here, no birds, no life
Only the grotesques remnants of life.

The river colludes with the moss
Appearing to cleanse the earth
Leaving gashed hillsides, uncovered, barren
Choked with gravel,  stone, and rock

Each boulder a headstone with inscription
"Here lies Douglas Fir
1000 years of life, 100 years of death"

Stumps mark the path
Gaping, open wombs
Never to bear an evergreen generation.
Trunks lay buried, limbs scattered
Piles of debris, covering all

Rest in peace dear forest.

Let each visitor take back
This vision of destruction.

Use it to dedicate themselves
To a new respect for life
In memory of natures' loss
Of man's defiling