turning over leaves poems by V. Jane Schneeloch

picture of Jane Schneeloch

Photo by Jim Sharrard


In V. Jane Schneeloch’s Turning Over Leaves, humanity, divinity, and wit underlie the volume’s “nature poems,” which belie the term, since their energy and occasional descents into darkness are not common in poems about the beings of wood and field the poet celebrates, along with friends living in harmony with nature. This is a field guide for life we should all carry with us. About the book, Pat Schneider says this: “V. Jane Schneeloch has given us a celebration of trees and their intimate companions — squirrels, hydrangeas, earthworms and human lovers of the green world. The poems are sometimes witty: ‘It is easy to forget / while I am writing about trees / that I am writing on them.’ And sometimes they are lyrical: ‘Brown beetles know secret passages . . . / wily earthworms dodge / the angler’s trowel / All the while / seeds / dream.’ In at least one poem Schneeloch takes us into darker places, the cutting of logs as a metaphor for the cutting of the human body in breast cancer surgery. It is just enough of darkness to cause us to hunger for the light, for the dance of leaves. We inhabit the lives of trees, and we respond with lines from her poem, ‘Gramercy’: ‘Thank you for tree / tree / tree / and again tree.’ ”
  turning over leves by jane schneeloch cover image
  Front Cover Photograph by Rob McQuilkin

V. Jane Schneeloch has been either writing or encouraging others to write for most of her life. Retired from teaching English at East Hartford High School, she has led writing workshops for youths, senior citizens, and incarcerated women. Her poems have been published in numerous journals, and her chapbook, Climbing to the Moon: Poems Inspired by the Art of Georgia O’Keeffe, was published in 2009 by Finishing Line Press. Her plays In Hiding and The Test were produced at the Drama Studio. She lives in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she continues to be inspired by her walks in Forest Park with her Lhasa Apso, Riley.

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ISBN 978-1-936482-96-2

Copyright © 2015 by V. Jane Schneeloch

5.5" x 8.5" paperback, 72 pages



Copyright ©2015 by V. Jane Schneeloch


It is easy to forget
while I write about trees
that I am writing on them.
Not the old copper beech,
that generous publisher,
who accepts all
incisive submissions.

No, what I write on
was fed into a mill
like the one in Rumford
where the log is sacrificed
for the sheet,
and the stench of it
permeates the air –

spruce, pine
sawed, pulped,
offered up
as sacramental gift –­
a leaf before me.
What will I make of it?

Original Gift

Thank you, Eve,
for approaching the tree,
for yielding to temptation,
for choosing knowledge
over obedience.

Thank you for
the fruit of choice,
a taste of possibility
beyond the soft, green
walls of Eden.

How is it paradise
not to taste the sweetest fruit,
not to know what lies beyond,
to live forever
comfortably unaware?


surround me
like hard parentheses

I cannot touch
beech story
I cannot dance
birch catkin
I cannot sing
maple sweetness

these stubborn curves
I await
silent release.


Belief is as hard as a hickory nut
that, cracked, holds many mansions.
Pat Schneider

If my belief were a hickory nut
I’d keep it safe in my pocket
easy to find with fumbling fingers.
When challenged
I’d take it out
say “Here, see this.
This is what I believe.”

But my belief won’t be contained,
won’t stay in pockets
any more than the green gloves
lost last week,
or milkweed fluff
or dry oak leaves
or yellow butterflies.

A Clover, One Bee, and Revery

My students did not understand
why she wrote alone in her room
at that tiny table,
why she hid from visitors,
shared bread and verse
in a basket lowered from her window.
They said “boring” and “hermit” and “weird.”

Perhaps, I suggested,
the world beyond the fence
was too huge and sharp
for one who studied
butterfly wings and slithering snakes.
My answer did not accommodate
their view of the world,
nor did it satisfy me.

On this bluest of July days
I consider their questions again.
The sparrows chatter,
the mourning dove coos,
a child on the next block
practices her whistle,
the stargazer lily
leans out toward the sun.
I feel the brush of Riley’s tail
as he scouts the gray squirrel
walking the points of the fence.
I smell the basil by the back door.
It is enough.



Excise excise excise
tree limbs
cut out
bad from good
sick from well
old from new

Excise excise excise
shining axe
where do you land your edge
where is the border
between sacrifice and spoil?


Prune back the hydrangeas
and they will grow fuller next year
Surrender the full pink blossoms
for the promise of future blooms.


the third surgery
Green edged blossoms beginning to open
will be brown by the end of radiation.


Old arching branches
that bent to the ground are gone
gnarled trunks now visible
no longer shaded behind the flowered skirt.


Last Visit with Gertrude

I sit between
her bed
and the window

She spoons
yogurt and honey
from the mug
into the small red pillow
on her chest

an old maple
casts its giant shadow
on fresh snow
birds forage
for sustenance

She licks
the last
of the yogurt
from her spoon

Alice adjusts
her pillow
so she can
look at me
and the window

We talk
of poetry
and inspiration

She tells me
have a paper and pencil
to catch
the firefly moment
before it passes

It is the light
in her eyes
that catches me

the illumination
that shines
her words

light escaping
the slats
of the barracks.