By Timothy P. McLaughlin

As is usual, as is basic as bread, each week
I heed the call to abandon this whirring machinery,
to gather my essentials and head for the hills.
Like any of us who live from the unsullied energy
of hidden places, I follow the trim-cut paths
with a familiar pleasure, easing along their smooth,
sure way through the mountain’s innards. 

Seeking calm, seeking to shake off the static
collected along the denser, treeless trails of our age,
wanting to plant a prayer somewhere in Earth’s good garden,
I do it all well enough over the steady miles,
in the ancient dance of feet in time: lifting, gliding, pressing. 

Before long, my blood thumps in waves inside the throat,
my pores weep my waters in cooling slides down the spine,
my sore bits and cracked pieces begin to mend;
everything within sighs with river’s easy sweep,
slows to breathe with leaves sipping and
streaming breeze like old men on their pipes. 

Now, it’s often I’m called a little deeper still:
I must cut loose from the scripted route—jag through brush
in fleet fits and starts—allow the push of instinct’s firm,
weathered hand. And so it was today: I shinnied up
a slanted slope of continuous stone, my fragile self
held close to the jagged rock: needing hands and toes
and even knees to ascend and reach an unnamed perch. 

There, then, my heart was completely alive again.
I raised my hands and was stretched up sudden
through the clouds along a blazing sunbeam.
In a flash, I was giant: towered above, pulled out huge,
someway everywhere at once. 

And having glimpsed the world that way,
I’ve been a giant ever since, and all I’m meant to do is play:
cup the silver moon into my hands for a kiss,
splash joy in and out of dark oceans,
blow old fuzz and seeds from rising trees,
suck lovingly on fallen icebergs.

Timothy P. McLaughlin is a poet, spoken word artist, and teacher. He founded the Spoken Word Program at the Santa Fe Indian School and he and his students received numerous awards and were featured in many media publications and programs, among them The New York Times and The PBS New Hour. He is the editor of the award-winning book Walking on Earth and Touching the Sky: Poetry and Prose by Lakota Youth and the producer of a poetry album and documentary film both titled Moccasins and Microphones: Modern Native Storytelling through Performance Poetry. McLaughlin received a Lannan Writing Residency Fellowship in 2011 and his writing has appeared in a variety of journals. His debut collection of poems, Rooted & Risen (Hiraeth Press 2016), chronicles an inspired intimacy with the still wild places & presences of the Earth. He is best known for his powerful style of embodied recitation and his commitment to revitalizing ancient oral traditions in fresh contexts. Visit him on the web at

Timothy is part of our Becoming a Nature Evolutionary Teleseminar Series.  You can listen to his talk, "Rooted and Risen: Oral Poetry in Dialogue with the Earth" on July 24th at 3 PM EST.  For more information go to: