Category Archives: green language

Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt. 1) by Patricia Karamesines

Crossfire in the Fall

What a mystery is the air, what an enigma to these human senses! [T]he air is the most pervasive presence I can name, enveloping, embracing, and caressing me both inside and out, moving in ripples along my skin, flowing between my fingers, swirling around my arms and thighs, rolling in eddies along the roof of my mouth, slipping ceaselessly thought the throat and trachea to fill the lungs, to feed my blood, my heart, my self. I cannot act, cannot speak, cannot think a single thought without the participation of this fluid element. I am immersed in its depths as surely as fish are immersed in the sea. 

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

Part One of a three-part post.

August 24, 2013. When I head out today for Crossfire Canyon, I step into a world in motion. Currents of surface wind, smooth in texture, cool to the touch, flood out of the south, curling around every solid body be it person, fencepost, or stone, leaning into every curve in the terrain. Weeds and spindly desert sunflowers undulate in it. As I pass my neighbor’s orchard, waves of wind sound in the apple and pear trees’ leaves, oceanic in temperament, noising like breakers crushing themselves against sand.

Here on White Mesa, the character of the desert air ranges widely from spring’s sandpaper winds that rattle windows and flake shingles off roofs, to the sudden dust-ups of sand spouts or dust devils, to dead still, the odd hour where the air’s quiescence reminds me of a motionless pool deposited in a stream bed after a flash flood has rumbled through. Today’s wind surges without half smothering me. I’ve walked into mesa blasts that grapple with me for my breath. This wind is respiration friendly. Continue reading Field Notes #12: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Pt. 1) by Patricia Karamesines

Goat Paths by Patricia Karamesines

Echinopsis_Atacamensis_and_the_Milky_Way

We are the Day Society:

See how we skirt surefooted as goats

the Crevasse of Desire.

God is in the well-placed step that bears us above Death,

while Beauty weeps for us beyond the goat paths.

 

By day, the way is clear, so complete,

the ground floor and ceiling blue.

We see where we are and name it alone and only.

On our tongue, world settles into a few words—

unanswered, unanswerable shouting.

 

Then sunset’s splinters—orange, mauve—

 fade to night’s raw transparency

and the first call of a star.

 

Perfect, calling silence, star following star

like deer stepping from shadow or heavy forest

into the dark’s open, stream-curled meadows.

 

Now we’re in sterner metaphor,

the embrace of the abyss,

brought by goat paths

to the brink of wilderness.

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Patricia KaramesinesPatricia Karamesines has won numerous awards for her poetry, essays, and fiction, including awards from the University of Arizona, the Utah Arts Council, and the Utah Wilderness Association. She is the author of The Pictograph Murders (Signature Books 2004), an award-winning mystery novel set in the Four Corners area.  Her poetry appears in the anthology Fire in the Pasture (Peculiar Pages 2011).   She writes for the Mormon arts and culture blog A Motley Vision and runs the nature writing blog Wilderness Interface Zone that advocates for the “greening of human language”.  She has taught English classes at USU-Eastern off and on since 2006 and now tutors English students for the NASNTI Grant program–a job she dearly loves. She lives with her husband and three children a stone’s throw from beleaguered Recapture Canyon, has put in plenty of foot-time in the canyon, and is currently completing a work of creative nonfiction about her strange and wonderful experiences there.

Memories of a Fallen Branch by Chris Peck

640px-Broken_tree_in_forest

Innocence splintered when I watched the tree branch fall.
Sleeping in tight corners,
the wind, the rain, the mourning trees
all spoke my name as they cried out.

But in those sounds—the creaking, the whining and pounding,
the whistling of the wind between leaves and branches—

There was clarity, the possibility of death
so that we may all sing laments neither for us, nor for our souls,
but for the nature which, through language, we have left.

And I left it, staying within safety, if there was any to be had,
understanding the difference I, a product of selection, shared.

But in passing, in seeing the destruction and its forms,
I returned to the woods, to the breath of what we know and saw
fear in my own eyes,
in the frailty of nature, and of myself, to a birth of civility.

________________________________________________________________________
photo 2Chris A. Peck, currently resides in Provo, Utah with his wife and two boys. He is attending Utah Valley University working towards a degree in English education and philosophy after a long failed stint in the sciences. He is an avid cyclist and loves the outdoors. He has recently published in Warp and Weave as well as with the Utah Valley University Philosophy Conference.

Photo is in the public domain.

Human Nature by Merrijane Rice

576px-Birdnests_in_Tanzania_3549_Nevit

In the city,
glass-skinned buildings
like bitmapped mountains
pulse with interior stars.

Streets flow with headlights
like lambent corpuscles
navigating a maze
of webbed capillaries.

My neighborhood crawls
with progeny enough
to fascinate any ant farm gazer.

My house clings to earth
like mudded swallow’s nest,
bright as bowerbird canopy
strewn with colored nothings.

My children, too,
push over the edge
like wild, young larks
falling into flight.

_______________________________
HeadshotMJMerrijane earned a B.A. in English at BYU. She then served for 18 months in the Washington, D.C. North mission at the LDS Temple Visitors’ Center. After returning, she married Jason Rice, and together they are raising a family of four boys in Kaysville. Currently, she works for Deseret Mutual in the Media Development department as a technical writer and editor. See more of her work here, and of course at WIZ.

“Birds of Tanzania” (2010) by Nevit Dilmen 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

Call for submissions plus a few announcements from PK

Geese_Flying_Past_by Tony Hisgett of the U. K.
Migrate your creative work to WIZ

First item of business: Wilderness Interface Zone is issuing a call for nature-themed prose: creative nonfiction or environmental nonfiction, eco-criticism, interviews, hybrid literary forms, and short fiction, including novel excepts, that reflect on humankind’s relationship to the natural world, wherever writers engage it.

We’re especially interested in writing that demonstrates the need for and effects of what I call “green language”–rhetorical prowess that taps into the fertile realm of language’s most vital energies. One of WIZ’s foremost goals is to advocate for better behavior in the teeming yet at-risk environment of human language.

So, got nature in your prose? Please consider sending it to Wilderness Interface Zone. Before you submit your writing, please read our About and Submissions pages.

Item two: Poets, please continue sending your poetry. WIZ loves poetry! Please send your nature-inspired poems to Jonathon at WIZpoetryeditor@motleyvision.org.

Item the third: For the past three years, starting on or around the spring equinox, WIZ has launched its Spring Poetry Runoff, an annual, themed poetry competition celebrating spring’s highly anticipated arrival. Each year, the influx of vernal verse has graced WIZ with a garden of poesy. It’s been one of my favorite times of the WIZ year.

This year, Jonathon and I have chosen not to run the Runoff. We’ll bring it back in 2014 in new and improved form. However, we will host an informal spring fling featuring poetry and prose that revels in the arrival of warmer and brighter days, the annual emergence of life, and the onset of spring migrations that change life’s scenery.

Spring rises before the sun on March 20. Feel free to add a ribbon to WIZ’s literary maypole. Even if your poem, essay, short story or novel excerpt merely mentions spring and nature, please consider submitting it to the festivities.

(Edited 3/12/2013 at 12:10 p.m.)

Better and better by Patricia Karamesines

Wageningen_University_-_Building_Lumen2
Photo of Wageningen University Building in Lumen by Vincent is public domain via Wikimedia Commons Images.

In my quest for perhaps a wrongly-remembered story about beavers in Yellowstone National Park, I’ve watched several national parks shows, including Ken Burns’ America’s National Parks series. Since we finished that show–worth the watch, by the way–I’ve looked for other, nature-toned documentaries. We saw that Amazon Prime would let us view PBS’s Nature series for free, so we’ve tried settling into the 2012 season. The only time I watch television/movies is when I’m feeding my special needs daughter. Watching narrative takes parade across the electrified cave wall of our flat screen TV helps pass the half hour to hour thrice daily that I’m tethered to one spot while I get food into my daughter.

I haven’t watched Nature for 15 years, in part because I’m up to my neck in nature. Every day I’m at it–the struggles of helping my highly challenged family get through an hour, a day, a night, a week–hopefully, without losing anyone. When I watch TV, I really, really, really prefer something that engages me. Hard to find, me being the narrative maven than I am. We’ve watched maybe 6 episodes of Nature’s 2012 season now, and I’m pushing it to journey on. The overall poor quality of narrative in these episodes stuns me. The constant rhapsodizing on the more spiritually nourishing qualities of wilderness, even as we take in scene after scene of death and violence, is so lopsided that I think it does nature a profound disservice, forcing the behavior of other species into zoos of human thought. Not only does such captivating language do wild nature a disservice, I believe it’s doing human nature wrong. Continue reading Better and better by Patricia Karamesines

Love of Nature, Nature of Love Month on Wilderness Interface Zone

Valentine_722 Antique Valentine

Starting February 1st, Love of Nature Nature of Love Month will open its heart at Wilderness Interface Zone.  We’re issuing a call for nature-themed love stuff. Got messages of companionship, connectionship, or of loveship you’d like to send someone? Are you weird like me and your nature is to be crazy about people AND nature? WIZ is looking for original poetry, essays, blocks of fiction, art, music (mp3s), videos or other media that address the subject of love while making references to nature–including to that work of nature as earth-moving and variable as any other natural force, human language.

We’ll take the other side of the coin of affection, too: We’ll publish work about nature spun up with themes of love.  And as always, you’re welcome to send favorite works by others that have entered public domain.

Some of us have been around long enough to have the authority to urge you to let people you care about know how you feel at each opportunity that flies up in front of you. So if you have a sweet song or sonnet you’ve written to someone beloved–or perhaps a video Valentine or an essay avowing your love for a natural critter or space near and dear–please consider sending it to WIZ. We’ll publish it between February 1 and February 28. Click here for submissions guidelines.

Our fondest hopes for LONNOL Month: Putting into the currents of language flowing around the world some of the deepest, warmest, freeze-busting words we can find. And if things work out, we’ll also be running one of WIZ’s DVD giveaways, a Pre-Hays Code movie, King of the Jungle, starring loincloth-clad Buster Crabbe as Kaspa the Lion Man.

We hope you’ll join us for this month-long celebration combining two of the most potent forces on the face of the planet–love and language.

We love the things we love for what they are.  ~Robert Frost

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.  ~William Shakespeare

Apple by Patricia Karamesines

Fuji Apples public domain image via Wikimedia Commons Images courtesy of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture2

Michael, think of an apple, how its taste
saturates all memories of first fruit.
Probably before you grasped the word, “apple,”
a pome caught hold of you, flavor and firm body
biting through your thin skin.
Don’t you still recall “apple” by charms
more defined, more seasoned,
more round ripe than the word?
Agitation by a few grains from another blossom,
bulb of pale flower swollen in streams of light,
it bobs for weeks in the weather, distilling.
It sweetens in cool cellars of the moon.
It shapes into all that you remember:
Taste verging on fragrance; crisp, wooden meat;
and color like you like to imagine a heart has—
life-red and glistening, wet.
Your hand is no stranger to apple-hearts.
Somehow that clarifies what your mind knows,
apple not just as word but as living full savor.

Michael, don’t carry in pocket the word only;
keep the whole fruit ever at hand.
Nor should you rely upon the name,
an apple doesn’t answer to its name.
Nor do we, but to the quick of the season,
immanent, juicy, red-freckled, standing our senses
on edge, now.  Forget the word, “apple.”
From such vagaries people walk away hungry.
With out-held words and ripe, swaying language,
make apples to fill the brain’s deep belly, having first
weighted your own hand, cupped your own palm.

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Patricia Karamesines lives with her family in the Four Corners region of the southwestern U.S. She has won many awards for her poetry, essays, and fiction. She is the author of The Pictograph Murders, a mystery set in the area where she lives. An adjunct English professor for Utah State University-Eastern, she teaches English composition and also works as a tutor for English. She is founding editor of Wilderness Interface Zone and a passionate advocate for the environment of human expression.

This poem was originally published on WIZ on February 2, 2011. But I thought it fit here, with other language posts, maybe a little better.

This is a GREEN LANGUAGE post.

Patricia reviews Adam’s Tongue by Derek Bickerton, Part Two

Part One here.

This is a GREEN LANGUAGE post.

Adam's Tongue cover1

New kid on the block niche construction course-corrects the previous scientific proposition that evolution is a one-way road: “Adaptation is always asymmetrical; organisms adapt to their environment, never vice versa” (Bickerton quoting George Williams, p. 92).  The niche construction light switched on for Bickerton when he attended a conference where niche construction theory co-founder John Odling-Smee spoke on the idea. An avowed skeptic of “new theories,”  Bickerton became a quick convert, snapping up niche construction and building it into his developing theories of language evolution. Here, in Bickerton’s words, is the gist of niche construction theory:

…animals themselves modify the environments they live in, and … these modified environments, in turn, select for further genetic variation in the animal. So a feedback process begins, a two-way street in which the animal is developing the niche and the niche is developing the animal, until you get the lock-and-key fit between animal and niche … (99) Continue reading Patricia reviews Adam’s Tongue by Derek Bickerton, Part Two