On the Trail

At any one point, I can only see so far ahead

or behind.  Whenever I get there is when I arrive.


Tell time from the way fir shadows fall. 

Call down canyons . . .


Sing with my echo,

a ball that always bounces back.


When my retriever tires of being the leader,

his wet nose behind my knee nudges me forward.


Camping by a small nameless lake,

gather pine cones and pitch to kindle a fire. 


Meteors shoot like sparks across constellations,

smolt darting in a stream.


Keep clear of bears.  Recite “The Road Not Taken”,

so they know I am there.


Chipmunks make the best friends.

If coyotes howl at the moon, join the choir.


Pace myself.  Move at a steady beat.

Be persistent as rain.


Mark Thalman is the author of Catching the Limit (Fairweather Books 2009). His poetry has been widely published for four decades.  His work has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, CutBank, Pedestal Magazine, and Verse Daily among others.  He received his MFA from the University of Oregon, and has been teaching English in the public schools for 32 years.  Thalman is the editor of  He lives in Forest Grove, Oregon.