How to Take a Walk
by Leo Dangel

This is farming country.
The neighbors will believe
you are crazy
if you take a walk
just to think and be alone.
So carry a shotgun
and walk the fence line.
Pretend you are hunting
and your walking will not
arouse suspicion.
But don’t forget
to load the shotgun.
They will know
if your gun is empty.
Stop occasionally.
Cock your head and listen
to the doves you never see.
Part the tall weeds
with your hand and inspect
the ground.
Sniff the air as a hunter would.
(That wonderful smell
of sweet clover is a bonus.)
Soon you will forget
the gun in your hands,
but remember, someone
may be watching.
If you hear beating wings
and see the bronze flash
of something flying up,
you will have to shoot it.
“How to Take a Walk” by Leo Dangel from Home From the Field. © Spoon River Poetry Press, 1997. Reprinted with permission

Leo Dangel

Poet Details

b. 1941

Leo Dangel was born and raised in South Dakota and attended colleges in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Kansas. He earned both a BA in social science and an MA in English from Emporia State University.

Dangel’s collections of poetry include Keeping between the Fences (1981), Old Man Brunner Country (1987), Hogs and Personals (1992), and Home from the Field (1997), a Minnesota State Book Award nominee. His most recent collection of poems is The Crow on the Golden Arches (2004).

Dangel has taught at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota.




“They are tearing down my childhood home today,” he said, wishing instead he were already dead. “I should not watch. It is a sad thing to see,” he said, thinking softly of the past, wishing it could forever last.

images-1“I wish I could have done more to save it,” he mused, feeling the blues as it oozed from the news.


“I ate watermelon at the kitchen table, sweet as summer’s breath,” he said, tasting the juice that his mind reproduced.


“We had many a memory in that house,” he understated,


watching as his reality was castrated.


“I wonder it I was happier back then than now,” he exclaimed, unashamed that he had no fame. “Probably not,” he said to himself, knowing he had not mastered laughter in the face of disaster.


“Some folk’s homes become museums,”he pondered as his thoughts wandered. “I was never that important,” he concluded, as he brooded.





by Tom Atkins ©2014

Quarry House

round barn

In The Emptying

The barn is empty,
slowly stripped of the debris
that has crept in for generations,
the piles of broken things,
of abandoned things,
of useless things, not wanted,
no longer cared for,
but still clung to,
things of theoretical value,
and only that.

It has taken ages to pry these things loose,
to admit their uselessness to your life,
to confess your clinging
to dead things,
and begin at last to expose them
to the light
and let them go.

Some will be claimed by others,
tinkers perhaps, with a will to wrestle
them back to usefulness,
or to other collectors of the broken.

And in the giving, in the emptying,
you are the winner, for your old barn,
once so full there was nothing
is suddenly full
of possibility.

About this poem

We do this in our spaces. We do this in our lives.


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by Hannah Miles  ©2014




Self-compassion is the garden

that I’m tending tenderly,

nourishing the roots and shoots

of all that makes up me.

It’s time to rake things over,

to unearth the weeds and stones,

uprooting the lies that held me back

and worked me to my bones.

I’m shaking loose the soil

that became so dry and dead;

as I shake loose those clumps of doubt,

that overtook my head.

If others ask for nurture,

I provide with tools and seeds.

so why not turn to my own ground

and work through all my needs?

The season’s come to cultivate

a growing sense-of-self:

to celebrate, and sow into,

my happiness and health.

I’m pulling out the poison plants

and germinating care.

I want to harvest sustenance,

not fears that just ensnare.

I’ll water each new truth in deep,

with streams of gentle peace.

I’ll sit and soak within the flow,

and let self-hatred cease.

For here within life’s garden

self-compassion creates room.

It slows the pace, and clears out space

For me to boldly bloom.



Hannah loves studying textiles and design. She says: “I use words to explore, grapple, discover and remind myself of the wonder of being alive. I love to write long letters to people and decorate the envelopes all bright and fun to surprise the postman. Basically, I hope to make people smile or, failing in that, to at least make myself smile.