Joan Kresich

Mountaintop Removal



The dead disappear

with mountaintops

gullies, reckless streams and

the dialect they spoke.


A great-grandmother

vanishes, the first county judge

Old Lila’s father

with wood rats and

the tangled wikiups they built.


Graves go missing.


The wildflower bouquet

laid by the living gone

with purple milkweed, marsh

marigold, red bee balm

and the seeds they scattered


Graves go missing.



The Disturbance Poem

for Terry Tempest Williams



The disturbance of telling your truth

of telling a hidden truth

of breaking a cultural pattern


The disturbance of speaking

of asking questions

of asking hard questions

of searching for answers to hard questions


The disturbance of silence

of grief

of using grief to power action


The disturbance of turning I into we

of making common cause

of loving the commons

of defending the commons


The disturbance of hope

of keeping hope alive no matter what


The disturbance of having a vision

of speaking your vision

of being a visionary


The disturbance of noticing beauty

of creating beauty

of insisting on beauty


The disturbance of refusing to be invisible to power

of unfurling yourself in front of power

of withdrawing support for the machinery of death


The disturbance of walking toward conflict

of courage


The disturbance of holding fast to love

of purifying light

of giving all support to Life.



The Golden Mean



A maroon sedan pulls to the curb.

A woman emerges in a detonation of limbs,

and flailing, opens the back door. A young woman

unfolds, her straight black hair falling over her face

like a curtain. Chains wrap around her wrists,

holding them together, and her feet too.

She is shackled. The two disappear up the steps

and into the courthouse.


Under her baggy pants and t-shirt is the body

the young woman was born into. The body that is now

caught in a trap, under a bowl devised for her by someone,

somewhere. She’s a butterfly, a small mouse, stilled,

heart perilously close to bursting.


The proportions of the body are unwavering,

like the waxing of the moon, like the swelling

of the tides, perfection with no rent, no small stain.

In his sketchbooks, Leonardo da Vinci traced the arc

of the thigh, the arch of the foot, the beauty of the thumb.

With ink flowing, he drew the golden mean.


In the courtroom, the young woman stands

before the judge to make her plea. Finger to palm,

calf to thigh, length of head to body,

every ratio already sketched,

already a masterpiece.


Joan Kresich is a writer and educator who has worked in schools for 35 years, both in general and special education. She is the author of Picturing Restorative Justice: A Vision of the World We Want to Live In. She is a climate and social justice activist, joining with others to bring about sustainable practices that nurture and protect people and ecosystems.

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