Tree on the Horizon

I know winter is not over yet, but my favorite time of the year is snowmelt season in Syracuse. A blanket of white still covers the ground, but the roads are mostly clear. I have probably jinxed us with a big lake-effect mess in the near future.

I like how the trees remain stoic with their naked branches (prior to blooming in spring). I captured this photo while traversing through my neighborhood on my Sunday walk.

Tree on the Horizon. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

March is filled with good things. We have Lenten fish fry specials and St. Patrick’s Day. And I think it’s the best time of year for sports fans. The NCAA basketball tournament, NHL and NBA playoffs, and the start of the MLB season all loom on the horizon. So I will enjoy these March days as we get ready to transition from winter to spring.


Backyard Forest

Since the warm weather has come to upstate New York, I wanted to share a poem that seems fitting for a season of humid nights, swaying trees and buzzing insects.

Photo by Luke Palmer

Enchanted Forest

When I was a young boy,
I dreamed of a forest for a backyard.
I wanted to open the sliding glass door
on the bottom floor of our raised ranch home
and step outside, entering a tract of land
with acres and acres of evergreen and deciduous trees.
No neatly trimmed lawn, no tool shed,
no swimming pool or garden with basil and tomato plants.

I longed for a secret place I could run to and get lost in,
the green canopy shimmering above me
as my feet struck a rocky path
leading deep into the woods.
A place where I could be still and quiet
and make friends with forest companions.

I created this place in my mind so the cacophony
of screeching woodland birds and hissing insects
would muffle the sound of my parents
screaming on the other side of the drywall.
That’s what I wished for at night,
while closing my eyes and trying not to hear
the yelling coming from the next room.

And when I couldn’t fall asleep, I’d pull myself up,
part the navy blue, sailboat-adorned curtains
and look outside my bedroom window,
where, to my dismay, I would see nothing
but a plot of green grass in our backyard.

Photo by Lum3n.


A Poem for the Season

Autumn Acknowledgement

On this glorious autumn day—
with bright sunshine, blue skies
and refulgent orange, red and golden leaves
shimmering on the trees—
I am not thinking about
freezing temperatures and lake effect snow.
I know winter will eventually come.
I know we cannot stave off
the inevitable despair that accompanies
the turn of the seasons.

But winter is not here yet.
So I will enjoy this fall weather
while I still have the chance—
while the green grass remains uncovered
and while the warm sunshine lasts,
at least for another day.

©2019 Francis DiClemente


Hike: A Poem

Here’s a speculative poem that seems to fit an autumn theme.

Tree Canopy. Photo by Francis DiClemente.


The trees are haunted with ten-thousand eyes,
hanging in the place where leaves should be—
the remains of those who came this way before,
but did not survive in the forest.

They study me as I hike along the path,
searching for an opening to the other side.
I grow weary and stop to rest.

And then ten-thousand eyes blink in unison.
It seems like a signal.
And as I look around,
buzzards and crows fly at me,
then peck away at the flesh.
I fall to the ground and
the birds snatch pieces of me
as they take off in flight.

When I wake up, the sun is shining
and my eyes are now hanging in a tree.
Another man is walking on the path.
I look down on him and
when he looks up at me,
I give him a wink and then close my eyes,
as the birds circle him and dive in to attack.

©2017 Francis DiClemente
(Sidewalk Stories, Kelsay Books)


Black Trees: A Poem

One of my poems, Black Trees, was recently published in Issue #5, The Poetry Issue, of Spirit’s Tincture, a literary magazine that publishes speculative fiction and poetry. Here it is:

Trees in Toledo, Ohio. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Black Trees

The limbs of the black trees
cradle the roadkill porcupine
splattered against the asphalt.
The leaves of the black trees
whisper to the deceased animal,
telling it: “With the spring rain
your bones, blood, and quills
will flush into the soil
and fertilize our roots.
Your death sustains our life.”
But the porcupine
is long gone from this earth,
snuffed out by a texter or tweeter who
failed to notice it crossing the street.
And the black trees stand erect
as a storm roils in the distant.
They remain impassive,
aware the forces of nature
could target them next—
uprooting their trunks,
shearing their branches.
And the black trees know
they could soon occupy
the same ground
the dead porcupine rests upon.


Night Moves

Marco Polo Arts Mag, an online literary and arts magazine, has published a prose poem/experimental essay I wrote. It’s entitled Night Moves and the text follows:

Who says the trees don’t dance when no one is looking? A 3 a.m. when darkness surrounds the neighborhood, they might catch the wind in their leaves and amplify it. They might wave their limbs and shake their trunks and jump around on the front lawn.

Slanting Desert Tree. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Slanting Desert Tree. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Who says trees have to act stoic all the time—just stand there like boulders and endure the weather? Why can’t they have some fun?

For all you know, while you’re sleeping, they may choose sides and face off in a team dance competition. The maple and oak would have to be the captains because they are the most athletic trees. But all varieties would get to dance: the poplar, birch, elm, ash, hickory, locust, walnut, sycamore, etc. Even the evergreen trees—the pine, spruce and fir—would participate; however, they get picked last because they have no rhythm. All they can do is sway their tops a little.

Waltz, salsa, tap, modern, ballroom and line dancing—you name it, these trees can do it.

While you’re in bed you hear the wind rattling against the house and leaves rustling outside your window. But this is nature’s night music and the trees are showing off their moves, gyrating in the backyards, parks, cemeteries and forests of North America. They make the stars jealous because the stars can’t dance; they aren’t in tune with the Earth vibe. They can only look down on the green canopies and shine some light.

Fall Trees. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Fall Trees. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

The trees draw other spectators too, as deer, cats, skunks, dogs, squirrels, crows and rabbits gather to watch the action. Sometimes the insomniac Mr. Johnson will stand at the curb and observe the trees when he’s out walking his collie Garrett at 3 a.m.

Mr. Johnson told me the secret of the dancing trees while I was raking leaves one October day. He said he heard a rumor that the winning regional team will travel by chartered semi to California to compete against a team of palm trees.

The maples and oaks don’t like them anyway. The palm trees think they’re such hot shit because they don’t lose their fronds with the seasons and get to bask in the sunshine all year long.

The trees of the Northeast and Midwest want to remind the palms that while deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn, at least they don’t have to worry about water running out.

The maple team captain already has some smack planned for the palms. When he sees them, he’s gonna say: “Are you guys thirsty? Well, too bad. You only get seven inches of rain a year. Don’t drink it all at once.” The oak captain thought it was funny and said he’d steal the joke if his team beats the maples.

Maybe one of these nights when I can’t sleep, I’ll look outside my kitchen window in the predawn stillness and catch the trees in the act of dancing. Maybe if I step outside they’ll allow me to keep score or judge the dancers. Maybe they’ll even let me hear the music they make so I can dance too.