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On the Trail
Mark Thalman


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.
This poem first appeared in Split Rock Review.
Used here with the author's permission.


Mark Thalman has been widely published for five decades and is the author of three poetry collections: Stronger Than the Current, The Peasant Dance, and Catching the Limit. Retired after teaching English in public schools for 35 years, he is also an artist who enjoys painting wildlife and seascapes with acrylics. Mark lives in Forest Grove, Oregon; learn more about him at


Post New Comment:
Lori Levy:
Feels very relaxing being on that trail--despite the possibility of bears!
Posted 10/06/2018 08:16 PM
Don Colburn:
Beautiful, Mark. You, and these lines, move as naturally and persistently as fir shadows or rain. And those meteors -- smolt! Cheers and all best along the trails to come and roads taken or not. Don
Posted 10/06/2018 09:44 AM
I really enjoyed this poem it felt so 'human' and real.
Posted 10/06/2018 08:20 AM

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