Category Archives: Guest post

Earth Day Honorific: George Handley’s Home Waters

512px-Upper_Provo_River_Utah

We interrupt Spring Runoff for an Earth Day pause, in prose, as a way of remembering that, among its many reasons for being, WIZ is a quiet place of earthen bearing, dressed in soil and water and seed, in sun and winter and stone. We come here to read, “o’er the mountains, by the sides/Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams./Wherever nature [leads,]” either to hear the “still, sad music of humanity./Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power/To chasten and subdue” or to feel a “presence that disturbs [us] with the joy/Of elevated thoughts: a sense sublime/Of something far more deeply interfused,/Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,/And the round ocean and the living air,/And the blue sky, and in the mind of man. . . .”*

Few enough of us hear those things, or see and feel them, but fewer still do something about it. George Handley is one of those precious few, and is regularly in the breech. Handley is a professor of Humanities at BYU in Provo, Utah. He is also an active environmentalist and an avid outdoorsman. His recent (and still running) book, Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River, has made a substantial impression as both memoir and important work of environmental theology. George speaks and writes on the issues he raises in his book–and so much else–often and stirringly and in ways that provoke both humility of spirit and a desire to do a little something to help. He has graciously sent along the following excerpt.

Winter has been defeated, no question. It is a glorious spring day today, and I can’t resist the temptation to get in a run early this morning before the kids’ Saturday soccer games. The impression of an evergreen valley, coated in velvet grass, only lasts a month or two before the piercing sun at these altitudes brings the green into submission. I don’t mind the brown like I used to, which is why I feel all the more guilty for my pleasure, which in Utah feels like the sinful pleasures of the carnal mind. So be it. Today I will be a hedonist and I will stare unapologetically at the viridian velvet of the mountain contours.

I pick a stretch of the Provo River Trail that winds along the banks through the city. I pass under concrete bridges and across streets to keep pace with the water, which flows in a controlled and only slightly meandering line. The water is higher than usual but not by much. Before the Deer Creek Dam was built in the 1940s and before the grid of middle class homes began to spread across the land the way thin sheets of ice claim window panes in a sudden freeze, the water regularly breached the banks, depositing the sediments brought from the mountains, providing fertile spawning ground for fish, and renewing and enriching the soils of riparian life. Continue reading Earth Day Honorific: George Handley’s Home Waters

Excerpt from Home Waters by George Handley

Home Waters by George Handley

The twentieth century has gone down in history for a number of ignominious as well as heroic events, but certainly one of its more troubling legacies is its treatment of rivers. As agriculture gave way to industry and massive development of cities, water was victim to an increasingly private and individualistic conceptualization of property. Consequently, rivers suffered greater transformation than in the previous ten thousand years. They were straightened, diked, and dammed, and where I live water was transported from less populous areas and fed into the Provo, all to provide more space for homes, more safety from floods to homeowners, and reservoirs to ensure the perpetuity of modernization. And as Donald Worster reminds us, the Mormons played no small role in this harnessing of water’s wild and unpredictable ways, seeing dams and dikes as the way of the Lord. Several small hydroelectric dams were built on the Provo early in the century, and then two major dams were built, one in the 1940s and the other in the 1990s.

Within a century of the arrival of the white man, 95 percent of the native species in the river and of Utah Lake went extinct, this despite the fact that it had been the meat of the native fish of the river and lake that provided for humans for thousands of years and saved the lives of the pioneers in those early, hunger-ridden years of settlement. But this is only the most overt and measurable of consequences. Aquatic species worldwide are going extinct at much faster rates than terrestrials. When the fish go, that means the invertebrates, zooplankton, plants, and whole swaths of life go, too. Continue reading Excerpt from Home Waters by George Handley

The Antlion by Steven L. Peck

Perched benignly on the sage
he mistook it for a damselfly—so
softly were its wings folded against

its ripening body,
freshly emerged from a confining
pupal case. It seemed resigned

to die, as if it bowed to fate,
despite seeing clearly the trap
descending,

the butterfly net he wielded was a
destiny just too wide, too deep to
muster a pretense of escape.

Perhaps it remembered the ants.

This was an antlion adult, who,
(named coldly in Greek Myrmeleontidae)

as a young larvae built cone traps
in the ochre sand, teased from the
weathering canyon walls.

In those days, it lived as a wingless larva,
a monster with jaws almost as long as
its body, buried in the center
of an ideal earth-grain
vortex, where it waited for

a hapless feast to tumble
unaware into the cone of
sand, where its empty jaws
waited eagerly, patiently,
watchfully silent.

As the ants fought
blindly to escape,
spilling sand
across a vanishing
pheromone trail—the trap’s clever
construction forcing the
beast’s struggles
to collapse the diabolical
topology towards the
vertex, coaxing the sentinel’s prey
to the center. To the place
where ant becomes antlion.

He tries to explain his
easy triumph
with the net,
into which he swept up the creature
for cataloging,
collection,
for science at its most
unforgiving blindness.

He imagines
that its mind was yet foggy—its
wings not yet dry, it was freshly

awakened new into the world, like
a mythic God.

He stoops down and sees
its pupal case lying in
the red sand, being scavenged

by harvester ants. How odd it seems
that this fine sand was
once sandstone, which

in turn was once sand dropped
by an ancient and
forgotten river and is now used to
house ants—

And there lying on the sand
an antlion pupal case, formed
from ant, being converted

back to ant,
completing
necessary circles.

__________________________________________________________________

Steve Peck is an ecologist at Brigham Young University. Creative works include a novel: The Gift of the King’s Jeweler (2003 Covenant Communications); a self-published novella A Short Stay in Hell (reviewed here and here), a short science fiction story: The Flaw in the Lord Harrington Scenario, published in HMS Beagle (online journal by Elsevier); poetry in Dialogue, Bellowing Ark, BYU Studies, Irreantum, Red Rock Review, Glyphs III, Tales of the Talisman (in press), and a chapbook of poetry published by the American Tolkien Society called Flyfishing in Middle Earth.  A version of “The Ant Lion” appeared in Glyphs III (2007), 141-143. He blogs at bycommonconsent.com and has a faith/science blog called The Mormon Organon.

Victorian Violet Press seeks poetry

Victorian Violet Press editor Karen Kelsay, a frequent contributor to WIZ, sent this announcement:

Victorian Violet Press, an online poetry magazine, is seeking submissions for the December issue. Please check out the magazine to get an idea of what type of poetry is published. You can find the magazine here.

Guidelines: Our taste in poetry is eclectic, but these subjects are preferred: inspirational, poetry for children, poetry about children, nature and life. Formal and free verse are both accepted, we particularly enjoy metrical poems that have lyricism, originality, accessibility and beauty.

Poems should not be obscure or overly abstract and should have a strong element of rhythm and a strong metrical element whether they are free verse or formalist.

Send 3-5 poems pasted in the body of an email with your name in the subject line. Simultaneous submissions and previously published poems are okay. Please wait three months after your last submission, before sending more poetry.

“Rough Translation” by Lance Larsen

I slip outside into a corridor of clarity and breeze—
that pinking time when owls home to barns, when bats

fold their hunger into gloves of sleep and cranes
whoop in the morning like freckled boys on stilts.

One body: some days, I swear, one is almost enough.
But today?  I want to climb free of this narcotic dark,

squeeze into that broken parable we call first light.
Sadness and wind, meadow and awe.  Who will teach

me to listen with leaves, make sky my skin?  I lean,
wondering which of my faces morning will erase first.

______________________________________________________________

Lance Larsen’s most recent poetry collection is Backyard Alchemy (Tampa 2009).  His work appears in such venues as New York Review of Books, Orion, Slate, Poetry Daily, Raritan, LIT, Southern Review, and Best American Poetry 2009.  He has received a Pushcart Prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  He teaches at Brigham Young University, where he serves as associate chair.  In spring 2010, he will direct a theater study abroad program in London.  “Rough Translation” was previously published in Field.

*Non-contest guest post*

Guest Post: “Field Notes from Pittsburgh,” by Lora

I live in the Pittsburgh area, in the suburbs. Several mornings ago I was up a little earlier than usual, and the sun seemed to be coming up later than usual. I had the opportunity to watch out my kitchen window as dawn came to my neighborhood. Looking one direction out my window gives me a westerly view of the neighborhood below the little hill where my house is situated. There are rows of 1950s houses surrounded by layers of tall bare trees. The trees wind into the distance over gently sloping Appalachian hills as far as the eye can see, probably three miles at most. The yards were covered with snow, which was pale grey in the beginning half-light. The sky was every shade of grey, from white grey to blue grey, wispy layers that would soon blend together. The sun began to rise behind my house. Before me a soft pink shade spread across the browns and greys. I could easily recognize the tree line behind my house superimposed across the trees and houses down the street in front of me. I watched as the sheen of pink flowed down the hills and the shadow of the eastern tree line receded. The neighborhood was waking up to the soft light of winter.  Continue reading Guest Post: “Field Notes from Pittsburgh,” by Lora

Guest Post: “Hymn of Autumn,” by Karen Kelsay

When the moon becomes a mellow pear
on twilight’s bough, and stars swirl up like maple leaves
before they’re swept into the dawn, I’ve often
walked this garden where the voice of whippoorwills

would carry remnant melodies across long, dusky
hours. At times I feel this eastern breeze has lifted
me, somehow, beyond the soft-lit sloping fields
and conifer lined hills. To lands where only goldenrod

has known me by my smile, and dampness soothes
the head of every yellow aster bloom. Tonight, before
the morning’s crest of ruby will extend through broken
clouds, I whisper prayers again to autumn:
take me there once more.

_____________________________________________________

“Hymn to Autumn” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  It was published in Joyful!, an online Christian magazine, in October.

For Karen’s bio, go here.  (Scroll down to end.)

Guest Post: Excerpt from “The Faith of the Ocean,” by Arwen Taylor

As we join the story, Jonah has earned free passage onto a ship to Tarshish by means of winning a camel race; instead of taking his winnings and purchasing a ticket to Nineveh, he instead takes the free trip, upon which the voice of God leaves him.

The first three days on the way to Tarshish were beautiful. The sun played in a sky ornamented with the most delicate of cirrus clouds, and the water was a fortune in blues, purples, and greens, shot with gold where the light tumbled into it. Zabah lounged on the starboard deck, in a chair which he had specially constructed to recline and fold back up, sipped olive wine, and composed chiastic poetry to his favorite harlot back in Midian. The Amalekite who had come in third sat in his cabin sulking because he had lost to a crazy Israelite. Jonah paced the deck, distracted, usually in the way of the ship’s crew. Fortunately Zabah, with the very best of intentions, had inquired about a bit as to whether the Israelite camel champion might not be a bit insane, and so word was had around the ship that he was crazy.

When Jonah had said to get off, it appeared that the voice had taken him at his word, and stayed behind in Joppa. “I’m sorry,” he growled into the silence. “Look, as soon as I get to Tarshish, I swear, I won’t even race, I’ll turn right back around, I’ll swim to Nineveh if I have to.” His head stayed quiet.

“I don’t know,” Zabah told the sailors. “I’ve heard some strange things about the interior of Judaea. But still, he’s a phenomenal camel racer.”

“I know, I didn’t even win that race, you won that race, I’m sorry!”

“You’re no better than Abiezer,” a voice in his head told him, but it was only his own mind. He didn’t know how he knew the difference. His own thoughts were oranger, somehow. The other thoughts came in darker, and blue.          

“There may be something in the water there,” Zabah had said. “But he’s a good-looking kid.”

“Damn nutty Israelites,” the Amalekite said.

“I’ll go to Nineveh right now, just give me a way!” Jonah shouted to the ceiling of his cabin on the night of the third day, and promptly fell asleep.

The storm came up from nowhere. Zabah was nearly thrown off his chair by the wind and the Amalekite spilled ink on the angry epistle he was writing to the camel-racing commission. The ship rose high on a sudden swell of water. The rain came slamming down on deck like wheat dumped from a sack. Sailors swarmed and bounded from all corners to tie down the sails and bail water off the side. Zabah, in a hurried retreat below deck, chair in hand, heard them crying every man to his god, and went to find Jonah.

“Hey Jonah,” he said. “Sleepy boy. Jonah!”

Jonah woke with a start. “What? I won’t go to Tarshish!”

Zabah took his shoulder and shook him a little. “Is it your god you’re always talking to?”

“What?”

“You talk all the time, to no one. Are you talking to your god?”

Jonah shook his head. “God doesn’t talk back,” he said sadly. “I didn’t go to Nineveh.”

Zabah took a step back. “Your god is angry with you?”

“My God has left me,” Jonah said. “Or I left him.”

“Well, I think he’s back,” Zabah said.

Jonah took in the violent tossing of the room for the first time. “There’s a storm?”

“You might say that.”

A sailor burst into the room. “You!” He launched an accusing finger at Jonah. “Who are you?”

“Jonah son of Amittai,” Jonah said. “I am a camel racer.” He shook his head. “No, I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Hebrew God, who made the earth and the sea.”

“You’re fleeing the god that made the earth and sea,” Zabah pointed out.

“You’re fleeing your God? You’re bringing us to destruction!” the sailor shouted. “We cast lots, and it fell on you! Come on deck, both of you.” He wrapped a burly hand around Jonah’s wrist, lest he try to resist.

“How could the lot fall on me if I wasn’t there to draw one?”

The sailor shrugged. “That Amalekite camel racer stood in for you.”

“Convenient,” Jonah muttered.

“My will may be done even through an unreliable man of Amalek,” the voice said.

________________________________________________________________
Arwen Taylor’s “The Faith of the Ocean” appears in its entirely as part of Plain and Precious Parts of the Fob Bible (http://b10mediaworx.com/peculiarpages/fobbible/pppfobbible.htm#faith) or as part of  the complete Fob Bible (http://b10mediaworx.com/b10mwx/peculiar-pages/the-fob-bible/).

Guest Post: Excerpt from “Blood-Red Fruit,” by Danny Nelson and Eric W. Jepson

Satan and the snake had watched each other for a long time before either spoke. It was mid-morning—it was always mid-morning—and the breeze was pleasant and warm in the thick tangles of shining dark leaves. The snake, a long purple shadow, was hanging in negligent coils from a branch of the tree hanging with blue-spotted white flowers and dark red fruit. Her large head rested on her casually muscled form and she watched Satan, who was sitting on a rock in a dusty clearing, rubbing his shoulders where his large black wings sprung, grimacing from time to time and keeping a close eye on the snake. Continue reading Guest Post: Excerpt from “Blood-Red Fruit,” by Danny Nelson and Eric W. Jepson

Guest Post: “Finding Cumorah,” by Nani Lii S. Furse

Manchester County, New York, 1823

Late September
washes a season’s green
beyond field and village
and age seventeen;
only leaves
rinsed in afterglow
stir at Joseph’s homespun
passing.

He once knelt
in April grove,
drenched with that glory
of Father and Son.
Then summer wove roots
through his harrowed soul
as those parched by mockery
claimed the heavens
closed.

Autumn wind
shimmers into the trees,
quickening vision
of his pending task:
these hands will lift voices
silenced by stone,
fullness like morning
tide gathering
home.

_________________________________________________________

Nani Lii S. Furse is a SAHM*, proof that she’s learning textese in an effort to communicate with her teens and young adult children.  She earned a BA in English from SUU when it was Southern Utah State College and continues to enjoy life in that scenic area with her husband and three energetic sons who still remain at home.

“Finding Cumorah” was first published in the Sept. 2009 issue of the New Era (49).

*Stay-at-home-mom