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Alaska to Florida

Not your usual neighborhood

art show!!

Carl Lahser
Copyright © 2004 by Carl Lahser. All rights reserved. If you must copy any part of this work please give the author appropriate credit.
Published by: Pretense Press

6102 Royal Breeze

San Antonio, TX 78239

(210) 657-5139

Other books by the author:

Cabo San Lucas


Green Things

San Antonio Wildflowers by the Month

Hong Kong 1979

Panama Cruise

Snapshots of the North

Teacher, Leaves Don’t Change Color

Forty Years of Fishing

Cryptic Romance

Weather watching

Chasing the Enterprise

Searching for the Phantom Crown

Cross-section through a Rainbow

Flowers of the Air

Backdoor to the Yukon

Ecoview 1 - Not Your Usual Neighborhood

Ecoview 2 - Texas

Ecoview 3 - D.C.

Ecoview 4 - St Louis to Minneapolis

Ecoview 5 - Southwest

Ecoview 6 - Green Things

Summers End

Hey Momma, When we Goin Again

Bigfooting Around

Under the Southern Cross (Under Clouds)

Alamo Road

Texas to Alaska

Mr. Cuul in Yucatan

Thinking of Flying

Do Bears do it in the Woods

Traffic Games

Tyndall Beach

All titles are available from Pretense Press. Booksellers

are encouraged to write for seller’s information.
Printed in USA.

Arctic Noon 1

Downtown Geese 1

Giant Shadows 2


Atlanta Trilogy 3


Charlotte, NC 5


Indiana Relic forest 7


Memphis Oxymoron 8

Memphis Marshalling Slough 8

Cows Cast Long Shadows 9

Missed Opportunity 9

Mississippi River

Deposits 10

Southern Autumn Sextet 11

Mississippi River in the Snow 13


Smoky Mountain Back Roads 14

Tennessee Farms 15

Panama City/Tyndall Beach

Nagauta Beach 17

Tyndall Beach in September 18

Ecoview No. 1 is the first of a series of poetographic portraits. They are sensitive, mater-of-fact, and possibly controversial verbal pictures of man and several cities and their interactions with nature. Wet leaves. Wild flowers. Oxbow lakes. Back roads. Urban renewal. Neither for nor against anything in particular, these are observations, just the way I see things. Feel free to disagree. Even I change my mind on rereading some of these insights.

Anchorage, Alaska

Arctic Noon

I stepped out for lunch

into the late September Anchorage sun

and found my shadow

3 o'clock long

but pointing northward


Downtown Geese
Downtown Anchorage projects upwards,

a dozen tall buildings.

Geese, forming up to fly south,

navigate through

and around

these obstacles

at the ten-story level

in long, honking Vees.

They circle

and turn southward

in the late September sun.



Giant Shadows
An architecturally lighted

white brick facade

of a twelve story parking garage

in downtown Anchorage

provides a large white screen

at night.

A fluttering shadow is projected-

US and Alaska flags

on a four story pole.
A pigeon, sleeping on the rooftop,

awakened from its sleep

flew upward through the light.
Circling, it cast a giant shadow

on this canvas

before settling down,




Atlanta, GA

Atlanta Trilogy -1992


Peachtree St., Atlanta.

quivering like a horny teenage male

wanting to become a man

but not knowing how

indiscriminately ejaculating wealth

on one block like

Brooks Brothers and Macys

and the Omni Hotel

yet knowing the frustration of blight

on the next block where

Tokyo Shapiro's Quick Chinese Food

is closed for an eternal lunch break

and the One-Hour Valet Cleaners

will now take forever.

The city grows fast and matures slowly.



My Hotel
It is one AM.

A room for the night in this hotel

costs more than a day’s wage.

At that it's cheap for Atlanta.

I can hear every door close

and every toilet flush.

It's all better when I hear

a mockingbird

somewhere nearby

singing its heart out

under halogen security lights

and a small sliver of silver moon.




Black Pride.

A boutique in the hotel district

that sells African art

to black Americans.
The art is new

from Nigeria and Tanzania.

New art.

Not antiques

but at antique prices.

High prices.

This art depreciates

when it leaves the shelf.

Should a brother do this to a brother?



Charlotte, NC

Charlotte could be a smaller twin of many small cities

and some big ones, too.

Urban renewal gutted downtown,

ran the retailers off to the malls,

displaced the inner-city homeowners

and demolished old neighborhoods.

The city, on most of the downtown

urban renewal land,

encouraged hotel complexes

and high rise office buildings

then wondered where the people went.


Urban renewal projects were completed.

New brick streets and sidewalks.

New benches and bus shelters.

New trees planted along the sidewalks.

New raised flower beds (city maintained).

New grass and trees in the medians.

Where are the citizens, the people

for whom this was done?

(There must be an echo in here somewhere!)


Yuppies from the 'burbs

occupy the corporate desks by day

but downtown is deserted

after the quitting time.

Commuters hurry home to the ‘burbs.

Restaurants and shops close.

Nothing moves downtown

after working hours.



But Charlotte had an idea.

The library was renovated, enlarged.

Spirit Square was completed with

five art galleries,

three small theatres,

and workshops for dance and crafts.

Discovery Place has a zoo,

a rain forest and aquarium,

the museum of science and natural history,a planetarium,

and an Imax theatre.

Children are bussed downtown

to see these wonders and

to begin getting the next generation

back to downtown.


The Charlotte power brokers want

a professional football franchise

but the PEOPLE prefer

to watch college football.

They WILL learn to like pro ball.


Most cities have no plan

other than that which power brokers

tell the ignorant mass of voters

is good for them.

The few rich and powerful get more so

while small businesses

and the taxpayer suffer.


People don't live in cities

People live in communities.

With farsighted and unselfish planning

any city could become a community

but don't hold your breath.



Flying over Indiana in the Fall

I see relic forests that once covered all.

These forest, thin and serpentine,

follow streams.

Forests not at all like those found

by resourceful Indians

or by hardy European settlers seen.
The great trees were taken from the Indian

and laid to earth

to free the land for village

and farm

and hearth.
A relic forest now yellow and red,

still harbors endangered plants

and sheltered copses where

wildlife young are fed.

Our new, dynamic instrument

replacing an ecosystem

that was, itself, a postglacial immigrant.



Memphis, Tennessee
Orderly rows of warehouses,

parked tractor trailers,

apartment complexes,

subdivision cull-de-sacs,

docks and barge strings

Try to fit on an irregular flood plain

along the sweeping bends

of the Mississippi River.

Square pegs in round holes



A marshalling tug pushes

barges into a mile long train

and stirs up sediment until the slough

is tan as the dry flood plain.



Flying into Memphis in the early morning

trees cast long shadows.

So do the power poles and water tanks.

The shadow of the plane

falls darkly on the low white clouds.

A lone milk cow standing in a meadow

patiently grazing casts a long shadow too.



We taxied north at Memphis

on Northwest flight 1161.

A red sun set behind blue clouds,

summer solstice eve was done.
If we had taken off just minutes before

we might have seen the sun rise in the west

but at the end of a long hard day

perhaps just one sunrise

and one sunset in a day is best.


Mississippi River
Sand deposits two feet deep

cover fields and smothers trees.

The sand stops grass and crops

and will cost a bundle

to remove or plow under.
These bottomland fields

got top soil and silt gifts

all tan and white

from careless Minnesota farmers

Trees in the bottoms are dead

from a six month immersion

that cut off oxygen

and killed the roots

They are just waiting to lie down.
Light tan patterns in reddish fields

mark the low spots where water stood

concentrating seed banks in these swales


Six forest fires

pumping white wood smoke

into a white, polluted sky.

White, wet wood smoke

spread in a horizontal layer

under an inversion lie.

Visible for a hundred miles

pink sand fields in the floodplain

encroaching on slash pine forests

Farm and forest, both for man's gain?

Busier than a wedding ring quilt

the oxbows and meanders

have painted the land

from a pastel palette of sand and silt.

from a pastel palette of sand and silt.
Oxbow lakes of fluorescent green

fed by fertilizer from surrounding fields.

Killing miles of eutrophic streams

by increasing agricultural yields.


Acres of rectangular paddies

reflecting many shades of green and blue

The tan ones have been harvested

and the dried rice already sent to you.

Shallow backwaters

with dark cypress trees

surrounded by rafts of green watermeal

up to their knobby knees.




Cold November rain and sullen skies

are left behind

in Washington DC.

We climb through the clouds of gray to find

bright sun and blue skies

more settling to the mind.
West we flew above the overcast

until we passed

the front.

The ground appeared at last.

Tennessee and Arkansas

covered with snow

Roads, fence lines, ponds

and shadowy trees are all that show.

Blue-black against the fields of white

the sinuous Mississippi River

drained of its might

cold and blue-black, silent

waiting for the snow to melt

to renew its power creating a flood tide

a tan mixture of water and topsoil

and pollutants

depleting yet cleansing

the site for the farmers toil




Narrow two lane roads with no shoulders

Rippling streams with pools and boulders

Pine trees with kudzu

crows and chickadees

fallen logs with moss

and solitary carpenter bees

Highways disappear

into fog on many days,

mountain ranges silhouetted

in a smoky haze

Oak Ridge labs

nestled in the wooded hills

placed Plutonium 'neath the mud

of cool, clear mountain rills

Endangered species

- birds and clams -

contend with open pit coal mines

and TVA multipurpose dams.

Land of progress

and contrast -

modern technology

a Rebel past.



New Fields

Fields of sandy loam

wrested from the forest

mottled and streaked tan and brown

where the flooding Mississippi

deposited Minnesota silt and sand


Old fields

Mottled tan sandy fields

where curving terraces

mark constant elevation

retard soil erosion

and retain life-giving water

Green strips of windbreaks planted

to slow the cold, wet winter wind

provide wildlife habitat and food
Soil Conservation Service

specials from the 1930's


Abandoned Farmstead
Small, square clapboard house

with a rusted tin roof

sitting in a field of green

surrounded by FHA trees

no trace on man's recent use

anywhere near the abandoned house.


Old Homestead

A house just so

with trees just so

and outbuildings just so

mark Farm and Home Administration houses financed just so.



The Florida Panhandle
Sand warmed by the sun

squawks and squeeks under bare feet

like fresh moonlit snow
Sand bugs run with waves

fleeing to the ebbing sea

like ducks heading south.
Evening clouds gather

to cushion the sinking sun

large and red at dusk.
Three pelicans fly

across the flaming red disc.

The day ends in peace.





Setting: Predawn through the day and into the night, 24 hours the beach at Tyndall Air Force Base. This beach is located east of Panama City, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico.

Time: September
SCENE 1: Breaking Day
Ghostly birds sit quietly or

run on the beach flirting with the waves

waiting for the sun to rise.

The ghost birds fly as I approach.

leaving no tracks.
At extreme low tide

the beach has a step down

into the moat

where the water depth increases

to several feet.

Schools of juvenile fish,

blue crabs and

occasional stingrays

cruise the step

feeding on the largess

from the incoming sea and retreating waves.


A stingray flies silently

on rippling wings along the step,


and, with a flip of its fringing fins,

disappears into the sand.

Only its eyes and gill slits

remain in sight

A small cloud of sand

and crushed shells

is expelled from its gill slits

and the hunt for clams continues.
A lone Terebellid bristleworm,

(genus Thelepsus),

pulled from its tube in the sand

by a small sandpiper,

lies twisting and gyrating

trying to orient itself

no longer in the confining but

nondimensional sand matrix

like a swimmer in an undertow.


SCENE 2: Mid Day

A wave retreats

Ans a herd of small shapes scurry

in random patterns

beating the retreating wave

back to the ocean

they disappear

diving into and swimming through the fluid wet sand

Emerita (Hippa) talpoida, the sand bug

their molted exoskeletons litter the beach.

In a mass of eel-grass

stranded on the beach by a retreating wave

lie several empty skate egg cases

their purpose achieved

this kin of the stingray lays its eggs

in black, leathery protective pouches

The Devil's Coin Purse, five inches long

with a horn on each corner.


A hundred species of shells

decorate the beach

most are broken not by storms

but crunched by octopus

or fish like the Drum

many are pierced by small round holes

of the predatory Urosalpinx cinerea

feeding on their cousins

others are pulled open and devoured

by the starfish, Echinaster sentus

A three by five inch sea slug

a nudibranch of the family Dorididae

lies stranded above the last wave

its translucent oval body

cream and lemon yellow

half buried in the sand

Placed back in the sea

it swims away slowly

SCENE 3. Towards Evening
White sand dollars are dead

Whole or in pieces sand dollars

lie on the beach among the shells
Live sand dollars live in the surf

just below the low tide line

brown-green circles decorating the sand

small, thin and rounded Dendraster

larger, fatter Echinarachnius parma

Both charm the beachcomber

Warm afternoon sand squawks

under bare feet

like footsteps in fresh snow

in the moonlight.

I never tried bare feet in the snow
The afternoon cumulus clouds

gather on the horizon

as if to cushion

the red sinking sun

Three pelicans in formation

fly across

the inflated red ball

and crash into the sea


SCENE 4. Night
Board walk
From the lighted parking lot

past the bath house

where a dozen tree frogs seek mates

to the boardwalk

where the hum of mosquitoes

is muted by passionate calls

of five kinds of frogs and toads

playing a symphony

as my hollow thunking footsteps

take me to the moon lit beach

Beach and Surf
A full moon approaches its zenith

lighting the beach

the sand glows a milky white

wet broken shells sparkle

in the moonlight
A coyote hunting crabs, spooked,

runs off into the dunes


An ebbing tide is near its lowest point

quiet ghostly waves slosh on the sand

waves pursue and attract

feeding Plovers and Sandpipers

dark running shapes running

up and down the hard packed beach
A Blue Crab, Callinectes sapidus,

scuttles sideways

into a retreating wave,

retreating from my muffled footfalls

Ghost crabs of the genus Ocypoda

With eye stalks raised, they hesitate then

run on tip-toes in the moon light

to their burrows in the sand

Bites of Salt Marsh Mosquitoes

their hum almost drowning the returning surf

finally drive me

from the early morning beach

SCENE 5: Hurricane Opal
1. The Storm
The boardwalk leads to the beach

as cold gray clouds sit on the horizon

The strangely lit sea is uncommonly flat

with the impression of being oily

Cumulus clouds build

sundogs and itinerant showers

walk across the bays

and down the beaches

The wind rises and the surf builds

huge swells run over the barrier islands

and break on the beach with a rumble

and an explosion of flying spume

The waves press higher on the beach

until they lap at the base of the dunes

rising wind howls and blows the surf higher

large drops of stinging rain fly horizontally

the stinging drops cutting into the dunes
The storm surge carries the sea

and its flotsam over the dunes

into spartina marches

and pine forest a mile inland

The wind falls off and the surf declines

as the eye of the hurricane

passes fifty miles to the west
The boardwalk has gone with the wind


2. Aftermath

The wind dies

its roar fading to a moan.

Clouds and rain slacken and

sundogs again walk the ocean

Pine, oaks and seaoats die in the salt water

or are burned on the windward side

desiccated by the salty spray

or hundred mile winds

The beach is rearranged

Dunes are gone

replaced by five-foot piles of relic sand

several deep cuts almost succeeded

in punching through to St Andrews Bay
Headwalls, docks and other beach structures

are gone or non-functional

but the observation tower remains

A 24-foot sailboat lies stranded on the beach

far from the water
Gulls have a field day harvesting

hurricane casualties


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