The Poetry of Mike Orlock

The poems currently featured on the trail are by Mike Orlock, the seventh Poet Laureate of Door County. A former high school teacher and coach, Mike is the author of two poetry collections and has won awards from the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and the Wisconsin Writers’ Association.

The purpose of the Door County Poet Laureate is to raise the county consciousness to a greater level of appreciation for the reading and writing of poetry and to serve as a literary ambassador to the community. A selection committee organized by Write On, Door County reviews nominations for the position and selects one finalist. The Door County Board of Supervisors approves the nomination. The appointment is for two years, beginning April 1 to kick off National Poetry Month.

The Poetry Trail at Newport State Park began in 2010 as a joint project of local poetry groups and the Newport Wilderness Society. Since 2016, the trail has become a program of Write On, Door County. The trail is a ¾ mile level loop and can be accessed via the Visitors Center parking area (Lot 1). The trail wanders through a wooded area and out into open land. The ten stanchions along the path allow visitors an opportunity to slow down and experience poetry within the beauty of nature.


Do leaves dream of falling
on a stifling summer’s day?
Of finally finding freedom
when the wind whisks them away?

Have they memory of the trees
that nourished them from birth?
That offered them the sun
and the fullness of the earth?

Are those first few hours of leaving
a delirious, fun-filled treat?
Is that why they burn brilliant
and turn cartwheels in the street?

Do they sense what is forthcoming
as autumn sneaks away?
Do they welcome winter’s stillness
and a landscape cold and gray?

I think these thoughts in watching
as my youngest packs his Jeep.
The leaving is the hardest
on those whose roots run deep.