Ice Age Trail Inspired Limerick Sequence by The Portly Bard

Try the trail of the Ice Age today,
nature’s glacial destruction display.
Hike the terminal path
of the cold weather wrath
where Wisconsin held fast in the way.

From the Sturgeon Bay calm of its shore
to the Falls of St. Croix and their roar,
it’s history’s trail
through nature’s travail
that would alter forever earth’s lore.

It’s adventure that fits to a “tee”
spirits yearning for splendor to see
— whether done end to end,
or by segment, or bend —
time remembered as all it can be…

…amid features of rock to exalt
in the bluffs and the cliffs by default
now natural beauty
derived from the duty
of becoming a mineral vault.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, hiker in the fall

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age Scenic Trail, Trail Marker at Night

Journey twelve hundred miles through the joys
of the might that a glacier deploys
to leave silent the work
of its wonders to lurk
as the echo of history’s noise…

…where, as mammoths were still giving birth,
sheets of ice slowly carving the earth
worked to leave in their wake
all the treks we can take
through depressions, upheavals, and dearth.

Geological wonders abound,
some among them the best to be found…
…like the kames that remain
in the Kettle Moraine
as if cones that arose from the ground…

…(though they fell as loose cobble and sand
through their shafts in the ice to the land
as if measured in glass
to mark time that would pass
by the grains that were rising to stand)…

…and the serpentine eskers of silt
tunneled streams would embed in their hilt
to be formed into trails
seeming destined for rails
of a train that would never be built…

…and extinct glacial lakes unsustained
now revealing the beds that remained…
…and each channel-like rut
tunneled streams had to cut
to convey all the melt that they drained…

…and the bottoms of ice lakes bereft
of their walls disappearing that left
so upright on the plains
between lines of moraines
all those mesas of curious heft…

…and the drumlins that melting had built
into swarms like the tufts of a quilt
as if sewn by a thread
of dismay into dread
while the ice fell away from the silt…

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Boardwalk, Plover River Segment
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Flowers, Trail Marker

…and erratics, the boulders so round,
toted miles by the ice to the ground
where they came to reside
when the melting had dried
as if rolling to where they are found…

…and the barrens that desolate span
infertility scarcely a plan
for its life to exist
that is forced to subsist
by the meagerest means that it can…

…and the kettles so long ago bored
where ice buried was finally cored
by the heat of the sun
that would empty when done
craters left as if cleaned from a gourd…

…and the potholes created by pocks
of torrentially tumbling rocks
through a river once wider
with old beds now beside her
that expose her long life of hard knocks…

…as she ran with incredible force
from the glacier enhancing her source
and created dells made
by the melt water blade
that would gouge out her deepening course…

…toward area driftless she breached
with the waters that wetlands
to front valleys descending
from the ridges defending
the lush lands glacial lobes never reached…

…except to spread outwash remains
as their waters escaped end moraines
to be streams of debris
that would flood like a sea
flattened lands into grittier plains.

Portly Bard

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Black and White Tree

Inspiration behind The Portly Bard’s work:

I was absolutely fascinated by the fact that the Ice Age Trail has been preserved as a truly a unique national treasure.

Those who envisioned a continuous, glacier-end park system were ingenious. Those who have actually put it together, those who make it safely accessible, those who care for it, and those who take the time to market it as integral to their local communities have together fashioned something truly remarkable.

As an admiring poet, I tried to narrate informative, visual  praise, using some subtle humor here and there, but mostly confining the limerick form to the memorable, minstrel-like story telling for which it is extremely well suited.

I thought that would be the best way to pay tribute to the majesty and to the many particulars of Wisconsin’s premier recreation attraction. I wrote with the hope that those who read my work would enjoy it and be drawn to the wonders of the Trail.

— Portly Bard

Contest Details:

  • The Portly Bard’s Limerick Sequence was a chosen as a finalist in the Ice Age Trail Inspired Limerick Contest.
  • Limericks were submitted by April 24, 2020 through May 6, 2020.
  • On Tuesday, May 12, National Limerick Day, the winning limericks were posted on social media beginning at 8:00 a.m., and each hour after that.
  • The Ice Age Trail-inspired limerick contest was offered in the spirit of fun and a strict adherence to the traditional limerick structure was not entirely enforced by the judges.

Thank you for your contributions!