Names Carved Upon a Tree

I had originally taken these photos for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge, Names, but I realized after taking the shots that this was the challenge from two weeks ago! Oh well, I still think they are some pretty cool photos. 

Recently, Michelle and I went on a hike at Occoneechee Mountain located in Hillsborough North Carolina. We had a wonderful time on this hike and at one point we found a quiet scene along the Eno River. There was bench overlooking the water with one large tree adding an accent to the view. However, this large tree had multiple names carved into its trunk. Some, might say these names add to the atmosphere of the place as couples left tribute to their love across this tree. While others, might think the atmosphere ruined as the tree stands there in scars.

Names Carved Upon a Tree

Deep into the bark,

I dig my knife,

or my keys

the sharpest thing

that i can find.

Deep, deep into the bark,

I will carve our names

Outlined by a heart

To show our love

that is unending.

Will be together always?


Maybe not, but

At this time,

my heart cries yes.

So, Here I carve

our names

A token to our love.

A token that

this tree must bear

For all to see

Long after

Our love departs.

The bench that quietly sits over the Eno River
A ground view of the tree from the base to the top. There were a dozen different names of various couples who had visited this tree over the years carved into its bark.
Another angle of this tree with a close up on one of the names. A Sepia filter was applied to this photo.

The Orange Wall


Before Michelle and I left for Michigan to celebrate Christmas with family and friends I wrote a poem entitled Your Buildings Be Damned. That piece was inspired by me waking up one morning to hear a logging tractor cutting down trees behind my apartment. After returning from Christmas break we found an orange fence had been erected around the logging zone and that a significant number of the trees had been removed. They were gone.  This is a poem about that orange fence and the removal of those beloved trees.

The orange barricade that has been erected to keep people out of the logging zone behind my apartment.
A shot I took of some of the fallen trees. It is mostly pines.

There it stands,

Far, far in the distance

A barrier separating

            Life from death.

Those trees which stand

            Outside of its blockade

Are safe and may live

            For ages yet to come.

But for those within its border,

            Those poor, beautiful conifers,


                        And deciduous trees

They await certain death.

* * *

Another shot of some of the fallen trees. You can really see the number of trees that have been removed.

From my porch

To the boundary

There stand oak and ash

            Walnut and pine

The floor is covered

            With fallen leaves

            And overgrown brambles

Safe, for now.

Then you reach the barrier

Affording a striking contrast,

            To the earthy hues

            And life all around.

Then you reach the barrier,

            The Orange Wall.

Inside this Orange Wall

            Lay a wasteland

Where great Maples have fallen

            And mighty Dogwoods too.

No more do brambles

            Cover the forest floor

But sawdust and tire tracks

            Are the carpet anew.

* * *

There the Orange Wall stands.

More hideous than Mordor’s

            Black Gate.

A symbol of industrialization,

As every tree is slowly cleared

I can only sadly wait

For the laying of brick and mortar

            That is surely to come

Behind the Orange Wall.

Your Buildings Be Damned

            When I awoke this morning I left bed with heavy eyelids and a grumpy attitude. Athena had decided that last night that if she was unable to sleep, then nobody would get any sleep as she woke me up twice to go to the potty, once by getting stuck in the bathroom, and finally to bark at the things that go bump in the night. Needless to say, rising from bed was a true struggle today.

Athena’s “I’m sorry I kept you up all night” pose

           But, there were some silver linings. It is a Friday morning and that means brewing the special coffee that celebrates the end of a long and tiring work week. However, as I was preparing the coffee cup a loud screeching noise was heard echoing from outside. The screeching noise consisted to attack my ears through my fist cup of coffee and breakfast. Before leaving for work I decided to step onto the back porch of our apartment and see how heavy of a coat the day would require as I stepped onto the porch Athena and I discovered the source of the screeching.

            This morning, when Athena and I stepped out on the porch, we discovered the source of the screeching noise was coming from a saw operated by a tractor. This was a true horror to witness! Our apartment is a terrace level room with a back porch that overlooks this beautiful wooded lot. In the summer, the trees provide plenty of shade keeping our home extremely cool and they provide the other perk of preventing us from seeing cars and people in the middle of Raleigh. The trees are a true blessing. As you can imagine, I proceed to enter a melodramatic rage at the machine destroying our beloved trees. This is what Athena and I yelled.

*  * *

“What is this?

What are you doing out here?

Do you not know,

That these trees are mine?

They are not yours,

They do not belong to you,

You cannot chop them down!

*  * *

Why must you chop down

            My trees?

Why must you remove the woods

            From the city?

Are we not aware,

That the beauty of Raleigh

Grows from the dirt.

Tall trunks standing erect

Leafy canopies casting

much needed shade

From the sun’s fiery touch.

How can we be,

             A City of Oaks

If there are no more Oaks?

*  * *

Perhaps, I thought,

This saw was meant to bolster

The woods behind my home.

Removing only those trees

That are dead

            Or sick.

But such a job, requires only a person

            And his saw.

Yet, here I see

A yellow tractor,

A yellow devil

amidst my trees.

Whose engine roars

Drowning out,

 morning birds’ song!

Whose exhaust

Blackens out,

 the early dawn!

*  * *

This yellow beast,

Can mean only one thing.

My Trees are doomed!

No more,

Shall I hear the birds’

No more,

            Will squirrels taunt my dog

No more,

Will the forest’s peace


How can I know, such a thing?

Because it has happened


Last summer, there was a grove

of pines, standing on a corner

They graced both Tryon

             And Walnut

With a releasing green space

Amidst the hurried traffic.

But, green things do not last!

They are forcibly removed,

(as these pine trees were)

In place of warehouses,

            And stores.

            Apartment buildings too!

We say, it is

For progress,

The trees must go.

For city’s growth,

            The trees must go.

For man’s wish,

            The trees must go.

We say, it is

For another building,

            The trees must go.

To this, I say

Let the trees remain

            The Oaks stand.

And your buildings be damned!


An Old Tree in the Woods


This year during Thanksgiving REI created a media campaign, #OPTOUTSIDE, promoting time spent with family and friends in the great outdoors. This campaign recorded over 6 million people who choose to bypass the sales of Black Friday, flee the materialisitic desires of society, and spend a day on a hike, kayak, bike, or some other great activity amidst the natural beauties nature has to offer. 

On Black Friday, my family and I elected to go for a hike along the lake shore of Jordan Lake, NC on the New Hope Trail. During our hike we enjoyed a wonderful picnic (while watching the dog play in the water), searched for the world’s greatest walking sticks, and began to question our sanity as the expected 5 mile hike grew longer and longer (the overall distance walked is still subject to much debate). During this adventure, we found an old weathered tree that enraptured my imagination for the entireitity of our walk. This poem is about that tree. I hope you enjoy it. 

 * * *

Weathered and worn,

Tried and true.

Ages have passed by,

But still you stand

Firm and resolute.

As one walks by

One can’t help

But to wonder…

What sights have you seen?

What stories can you tell?

What mysteries do you know?

* * *

And, here you stand,

Deep in the forest

With Barren limbs,

Eroded bark.

Hollowed by the might’s of

              Ants and grubs.

Shell bleached by years

              Under the sun.

Roots tested and tried

              By unrelenting wind.

But, still you stand

Beneath the shade,

Cast by oak and pine.

Weathered and worn,

Tried and true

A witness of ages past

As you stand

Firm and true.

An old tree I found during a hike along the lake shore of Jordan Lake, NC

It Has Always Been the Woods

I wrote this after Michelle, Athena, and I had returned from our camping trip to Falls Lake. The woods and most importantly the trees within the woods have always resonated with and spoken to my soul. 


It has always been the woods,

          Where solace lives.

It has always been the woods,

          Where my soul rests.

It has always been the woods,

          Where peace endures.

It has always been the woods,

          I ran to first

          To hide ‘neath the trees.

It has always been the woods,

          I found escape

          From grief and rage

          From hurtful words.

It has always been the woods,

          That unites us

          Reminding all

          Of God’s unbound

          Love and glory.

It has always been the woods.