Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I’m excited that Finishing Line Press has announced my forthcoming chapbook of poems, all about turtles. There are multiple poetry books about (and “by”) dogs and cats, but turtles? No; and so many people tell me about their turtle loves. On the pages you’ll meet a sea turtle, box turtles, and pancake tortoises, especially those at our Chelonian Connection lab.
My page on the Press’s site, includes an endorsement by Ingrid Wendt, winner of the Oregon Book Award, one of three endorsements that make me very grateful.

 (The publisher offers a discounted S&H rate during the prepublication window: until June 17, 2016. Books are scheduled to ship on August 12.)

Readers of this blog may know that I’m not only an animal behaviorist, herpetologist, and naturalist who—with a bale of box turtles and pancake tortoises who are both socialized family animals and colleagues in our
exploration—has been exploring turtle cognition in our- independent lab since 1979. I’m also a prize-winning poet and nonfiction writer. Of course I write turtle poems!
Here are four sample snippets, followed by one of the back-cover blurbs, this one by Robert Michael Pyle.

 From  “Wafford’s Eyes.” ….Each shining bead reflects a single star but hides / your mysteries behind their blackness. // Tell me, tortoise the size of my hand, how can I read their secrets?

 From “Aesop’s Winter Race.“Like slow tortoise, degreed for persistence, / the snowflakes slowly race / toward piled higher, piled deeper / than ever before in this place. / … / Like rabbit, cars forget the old race / and seek a sheltered place to sleep, / the road abandoned, tracks effaced / while snowflakes earn their Ph.D.

 From Flick of an Eyebrow.” ….What matters is...the surge of her tortoise muscles a motor against my hand / that somehow lifts my feet to follow her will, // and the moments a happy conjunction of words slides together amid the wonder of near-infinite combination.

 From “Communication.” ….Diode, at my feet, attentive, / her head angled up toward the birds / from brown, sun-dappled leaves, // hasn’t moved a muscle since we settled here. / Now the birds are farther off, / and gusts of wind are shaking the canopy. // Trees say to each other, Sway. / We sit still and listen.

"Rosemary Lombard loves turtles so much so that she flies and waltzes them through the air, helps their probing beaks reach the columbines they love, takes their gestures and meaning down in penciled runes. These might not be the luckiest turtles in the world, but close, and we are among the luckiest of readers to get to wander with them the grasses of Kilimanjaro, the trillium woods of home, beneath the Harvest Moon. In poems of great inventiveness, delicacy, and precision, Ms. Lombard teaches us more about the lives, perceptions, and dreams of turtles and tortoises than we might learn in a lifetime trying by ourselves, as we “plod with (our) ground-bound feet on the earth.” Happily, she looks right into their eyes that are “midnight skies of miniature worlds,” and brings those secret worlds of turtles back to us in these magical poems."

 —Robert Michael Pyle, author of Evolution of the Genus Iris and Chinook & Chanterelle; Winner of the John Burroughs Medal for Natural History Writing
Illustrations. Cover image  is a self-portrait by pancake tortoise Willow, who was using a mirror. See the post on art by the turtles. The turtles have demonstrated this ability in many venues: universities, art galleries, a cultural arts center, nature centers, and science museums.
Box turtle Diode with Rosemary at Shotpouch Cabin at our 2014 residency  sponsored by the Spring Creek Project at Oregon State University. Photograph by Lynn Nakamura, Eugene, Oregon, first presented in our report, A Captive Turtle Revisits the Wild: A Human-Turtle Collaboration, limited edition.
Pancake tortoise Willow. Here's lookin' at you!




  1. Replies
    1. Aah I see the snippets now, threw me off with the / for newlines, I'd try to feature them more somehow, though I realize blogger is hard for that!

  2. Hi, Kevin, Thanks for your suggestion. Now that it's published and available (see 10/27/17)), I'll put up complete poems soon.