Category Archives: animal encounters

Spider Line by Dayna Patterson

Photo by James Lindsey, 2003 via Wikimedia Commons

As I walk on a warm evening,
an invisible strand of spider silk
lands across my neck.

Another snags my elbow.
I brush at them,
but they are tricky to unhook.

Where is the spider
who set this clever snare?
I’m not near a tree or pole

or any structure for that matter.
This spider has cast his line far
into the river of open air,

hoping for a yellow hopper,
which he will reel in
and roast over a cookfire.

The smell of his catch will waft
through the grass to make his neighbors’
pinhole mouths water.

After a fine meal, he’ll lie down
in a hammock of homespun
and stare at the sparking stars,

each one a tantalizing firefly.

_________________________________
Dayna Patterson

Dayna recently moved to the Northwest from Texas. She is the mother of two and Poetry Editor for Psaltery & Lyre. Her chapbooks, Loose Threads and Mothering, are available from Flutter Press. Other work has appeared or is forthcoming in BlazeVOX, Borderline, Clover, Decades Review, Dialogue, Flutter Poetry Journal, Front Porch Review, North American Review, Segullah, and Sunstone, among others.

 

 

Photo by James Lindsey, 2003 via Wikimedia Commons.

The happen stance by Patricia Karamesines

800px-Japanese_-_Fuchi_with_Hunting_Hawk border added
Fuchi bowl (Japanese)

This is a rewrite of an earlier post published here on WIZ.

One dark night in January of 2010 Mark and I made a last minute run to the only grocery store within 22 miles. On our return trip home, I drove with the SUV’s highbeams on, because we live on a rural road where, even in winter, we’re likely to come across a wide variety of animals on the pavement, anything from cats, rabbits, deer, mice, coyotes, and foxes to neighbors’ loose horses and cattle. In spring and summer, the variety of animal-on-road is even wider.

As we arced along a curve, the vehicle’s lights splashed against something moving on the road. A small cottontail had emerged from cover, probably looking for something to eat at the road’s edges where the unusually heavy and long-lingering snow had melted back from the asphalt’s edges.

“A bunny,” I said. The rabbit hopped straight for us and I slowed down. As the vehicle edged to a stop, we saw another flash in the headlights, high up in the air to our right. A great horned owl dropped out of the darkness into the swath of our headlights, swinging its talons out toward the rabbit, working its wings to correct its aim.

“Whoa!” we both said, surprised by the sudden drama. The cottontail feinted right, seemingly away from the owl but still heading toward the car. The owl hesitated midair, quite possibly blinded by our headlights, then tumbled to the ground a good two feet off its away-running target. For a moment, the bird sat on the roadside, staring after the rabbit. It looked like it was considering giving chase but, glancing at us, seemed to decide the risk wasn’t worth it. The opportunity had passed. With another flash of wings, the big bird lifted away into the darkness above the highbeams. Continue reading The happen stance by Patricia Karamesines

Degrees of Coyoteness by Patricia Karamesines

Coyote_arizona

This is a rewrite of a post published here on WIZ that I’m including in my book Crossfire Canyon. I’m posting the rewrite today in response to finding a bounty-killed coyote on this morning’s walk.

April 8, 2009. As I walked out of a nearby canyon last week along a trail where I had previously encountered a curious coyote, my nose detected gases given off by putrefaction. Somewhere nearby, bacteria were at work breaking down formerly living tissue to simpler matter, dispersing an organism’s worldly good to its biological heritors.

To this we must all come. But who has come to it now, and where?

Walking deeper into the field of decomposition gases, I searched the ground, guessing what I would find. I was approaching the gravel pit, a dumping ground for domestic and wild animal carcasses and the scene of occasional war crimes of the sort some people commit against animals. It’s common to find coyote remains around the pit, along with elk and deer carcasses, tree prunings, the ashes of bonfires, articles of clothing, and aerosol cans–the residue of “huffing” parties.

My eyes had difficulty picking out the body of the coyote because his full winter regalia of desert-soils-hued fur blended in well where he had been dumped against the weathered juniper barricade a rancher erected decades ago to prevent cattle from wandering. I’m guessing the coyote was an adult male because of the animal’s size. Wind ruffled the luxuriant fur, and my own hand felt drawn to touch. But I didn’t. Touching the coyote might spark a response that under the circumstances I wasn’t prepared to support. Continue reading Degrees of Coyoteness by Patricia Karamesines

Angel by Harlow S. Clark

Bastet Walters Art Museum

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels
— Colossians 2:18

She thinks I am praying to her
Kneeling before her
Extending my hands to her

Her Egyptian ancestors earned their worship
Guarding food from mice, fighting cobras
Giving shape to perfume and ointment jars

Instead she beguiles her reward of me
Butting my hand with her head
Working her head under my palm
Waiting for my stroke along neck, back and tail
A nip on hand or arm if I don’t start over

When I stand she jumps off the bed
Sleeks the cat-lengths to the kitchen door
Leading me, pointing me, to her food
She does not worry that a full bowl may stale
She wants to see my hand go into the bag
To know there’s extra to cover the toy mice who live in her bowl

II

See thou do it not
–Revelation 22:9

“Angel’s gotten into a bag of feathers under the bed”
Soft as down, but not down
Scattered down the floor
Clumps of tortoise shell instead
Too late in the year to shed
No, she’s pulling hair from any place she can groom

No fleas in Utah, vet says, giving allergy shot
Clumps still scatter the floor
Cats can be OCD, Internet says, they don’t like change
She didn’t pull her hair for the rabbits
(Since killed by neighboring dogs)
Just snubbed Matthew for a time, times, half a time

A shot of progestrone helps OCD, vet says, but fur still downs the floor
Even “Listen Missy Moo, what do you think you’re doing?”
Doesn’t clean the floor
Her lower half shifts from tortoise shell to pink
When she sits her haunches, front legs holding her in a half stand
She looks less like Egyptian-mice-fattened Bastet
Than a scraggly, starving stray

Seeking my hand on her head
She looks more like one to pray for than to

_________________________________________________________________________

Harlow Clark lives and writes in Pleasant Grove, Utah, with his wife and son. In the year since Harlow wrote “Angel,” Matthew has transformed the play yard swing set and slide into a dog-proof rabbit cage and gotten two rabbits, who spent much of January and February in the downstairs bathtub after the weatherman advised bringing pets into the garage the family doesn’t have for the night. He is still cleaning the rabbit stains out of the tub. Matthew also has goldfish, bettas, assorted tropicals and 2 acquatic frogs swimming around the house. Angel stopped pulling out her hair for a time, but during the winter it has been appearing all over the house, though not as bad as before.

Path of the Veteran Deer by Lucas Shepherd

Whitetail deer buck  West Virginia by ForestWander

Through tangles of blackberry canes gallops a regal creature of the timber: Odocoileus virginianus, or the white-tailed deer. This one is a buck with cracked antlers, his coat birch brown. He sniffs the air before crossing the man-made paths. This veteran has survived so many hunting seasons because of his respect for orange vests and the pump of a twelve gauge shotgun. The whistle of a meadowlark shrills in a nearby gorge and the deer hops out of sight, perhaps to find an alternate path to the overflow creek where he can drink to his content.

No matter where I travel in the sprawling Sockum Ridge Woods in southeast Iowa, evidence of deer persists, whether in the form of flattened foxtail grass where a fawn hid from the strange newness of this world, a discarded antler on the winding path to Lookout Hill, or the beating sound of a herd moving through the hickory and oak trees to a safer location. At the turn of the 20th Century the white-tailed deer was hunted to devastatingly low numbers, but a regulated hunting system and conservation programs saw a steady proliferation in many sections of the United States. In Sockum Ridge, if you sit long enough in one spot and acclimate yourself to nature, you will surely see the white-tailed deer moving over the carpet of dead leaves, silent as Sunday School. If you are lucky enough, you will spot the patriarch of the royal family: the twelve point buck. Continue reading Path of the Veteran Deer by Lucas Shepherd

The Sky’s an Ocean, As All Eagles Know by Mark Penny

Birds_in_flight

The sky’s an ocean, as all eagles know
Who plumb the splendour nest to keel,
A craze of very ships in fleets that flow
On voyages forbidden whale and seal.
Its currents race, chained to the planet’s turn,
Churned by the jilted passion of the sun,
Exacting fervor from the veil-eyed fern
Mured in a pillared abbey like a nun.
Fleet immigrants, protesting falling leaves
And roofless perches, clog the trackless ways,
Pursuing passion while the bosom heaves
Of all creation in its fit of days.
The sky’s an ocean, leaping shore to shore.
So says the urchin on the ocean floor.

________________________________________________
For recent work by Mark and additional links, go here.

Photo “Birds in Flight” via Wikimedia Commons.

Ice Walking by Mark Penny

Beaver_dam_in_Tierra_del_Fuego

A nameless beaver sprang the trap.
Must have swum through it on his way up shore.
The two dogs, Jax and Cleo, crouched in their winter coats,
Gripped and pulled,
But the snare held,
Jealous of its prey.
I found them:
Red paw prints in the savaged snow,
Scrabbling blindly at the brink.
They parted for me.
I freed the carcass.
Primate hands
Dripping intelligence,
Carried the trophy to the pen
I’d built
To keep the collies off the goats–
The neighbour’s goats.
I threw the carcass down.
The dogs converged,
Patience and awe giving way to greed.
I watched awhile,
Then turned to human things.

There were two dams below the house:
The calf-deep creek
Bloated to drowning-depth in two black ponds.

Nights with a flashlight, brimstone eyes
Cruising the surfaces.
The still woods bristled:
Gnawed-off stakes,
Brute remains of silent-rooted trees,
Victims of mammal industry,
Torn bones
Woven in muddy, water-rotted domes.

Winter falls.
Green shapes yield to strangling ash,
Thicken and round out.
Water stills.
I try my foot on the narrow creek.
It holds.
Two feet.
I step.
I stop,
Listen for shifting,
Feel the seams,
Shuffle another pace or two.
All still.
All whole.
The dogs and I
Walk the half-glowing road
Onto the pond,
Ears up,
Knees bent,
Ingrown eye scanning the scratched slab,
The wind-laid pavement.

Now each breath
Savors its passage through the lungs
Upward,
The sky,
Rampant with icy lights–
And tall between,
Lone man
Gaping
As he breathes.
______________________________________________________________
Mark Penny has published with WIZ, and won last year’s Admin Award in the Spring Runoff. He was a finalist in the Goldberg’s “Four Centuries” competition in 2012. He recently founded “The Lowly Seraphim,” an “e-collective” for speculative Mormon fiction.

Photo “Beaver dam in Tierra del Fuego” via Wikimedia Commons.

Recognition by April Salzano

Erithacus rubecula  by Kevin Law, France, 2007

You think I wouldn’t be able to tell
one Robin from another, but I know
this isn’t the mother of the two fledglings
unfortunately nested dead
center of the Hibiscus tree
on my deck. No, this one is different,
sort of a tuft of hair on its head instead
of the smooth feathers of the momma bird
I’ve come to recognize. A louder, deeper voice,
more throaty, more demanding. It’s relentless,
persistently demanding that I leave.
I was here first. You go. It doesn’t.
Just keeps squawking at me. The word
territorial comes to mind. Then, angry.
Daddy?

_______________________________________
April Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in Poetry Salzburg, Pyrokinection, Convergence, Ascent Aspirations, The Rainbow Rose, The Camel Saloon, The Applicant, The Mindful Word, Napalm and Novocain, The Second Hump, Jellyfish Whispers, The South Townsville Micro Poetry Journal, The Weekender Magazine, and is forthcoming in Inclement, Poetry Quarterly, Decompression, and Daily Love.  She is working on her first collection of poetry and an autobiographical novel on raising a child with Autism.

Photo: Erithacus rubecula by Kevin Law (France, 2007) via Wikimedia Commons

Chairman Mao by Percival P. Pennywhistle

Chairman Mao

My cat’s named “Chairman Mao”:*
She’s dropped the “i” somehow.
She’s dropped the thing,
But, Marx bless Ming,**
Still has a frightful Yao.***

__________________________________
The image above is a 2012 scan of a 1999 oil on oilcloth reproduction of a 1942 photograph of a late Victorian cameo of an early Victorian watercolour portrait of Chairman Mao’s maternal great-great-great-great-(yawn)-great-great-great … great-grandmother, who looked just like her, but was considerably more pleasant.

* Chairman Mao, otherwise known as Mao Tse Tung, is widely considered the founding ruler of the Chinese Communist Party, which is either revered or despised depending on the holiday and/or who’s looking over your shoulder.
The Miao people together comprise what is called an “ethnic minority,” and a fairly large one at that, which typically means they eat more interesting things than everybody else and are happy to invite you for dinner. They live in Southwest China, in Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan, Hubei, and Hainan provinces, and in the formidable sounding Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Prefecture. They believe that everything has a spirit, even Chairman Mao. Continue reading Chairman Mao by Percival P. Pennywhistle

Caught in Snow by Will Reger

Kalina Reger--Monkey Escaped

Her race presumes
Imperious cuteness

Conquers all—even
Monday snowfall when,

From her comfortable nest
At the top of the stairs,

This scroll of fur and claw
Uncoiled, shot outside,

Her eye distilled
For the hunt: tiger demon
Fell to winter’s ambush—

Snow knives, hawk
Shadow circling,

Coyotes lambent
Among the weeds, iron

Curve of sky—and
Beyond the clouds

Orion tips his sword
At each of us.

______________________________
Will Reger is a history professor at Illinois State University in Champaign. In addition to his contributions to WIZ, he has recently published in Fire in the Pasture and songs/cycles.

Photo by Kalina Reger. Used with permission.