Category Archives: 2012 Spring Poetry Runoff

Winners of WIZ’s 2012 Spring Poetry Runoff Announced

Snow_river by Ranveig Thattai

Wilderness Interface Zone’s poets came through once again to present a full field of colorful and mind-brightening spring poetry during this year’s Spring Poetry Runoff.  Spring couldn’t find better heralds of its arrival or celebrants of its renewed greening of those parts of the world that are fortunate enough to get True Spring.  The WIZ admin (that’s Jonathon and me) were thrilled with the participation.  We’d like to express our profound gratitude to both writers and readers who picked up ribbons on our Maypole of vernal verse.

As usual, we had many strong contestants.  And as usual, we feel that we can’t award enough people enough prizes. However, those who did not place sometimes receive consolation prizes as other publications rummage through WIZ’s Runoff poetry, come up with a handful of some Spring Runoff poems–winners and worthy contestants–and republish them.  Dialogue did so last year and Sunstone is doing it this year.  So don’t be surprised if you’re thumbing through Sunstone’s upcoming stewardship issue and discover WIZ poems among the sheaves.  WIZ is pleased to be a gateway for both emerging and established writers to win wider attention for their work.

WILDERNESS INTERFACE ZONE’S 2012 SPRING POETRY RUNOFF WINNERS

The Most Popular Poem Award: Not to belabor the obvious, but James Goldberg’s crowd-pleasing and tender reflection on fathers and sons set against a warm spring background within which stirs snakes and memories managed to pull away from William Reger’s also quite skillful and intriguing “First Robins.”  This was, hands down, the most exciting Most Popular Poem vote in WIZ’s three years of running the competition.  Thanks to both Will and James for putting on a spectacular show and for drawing in a record number of 212 voters.

WIZ admin’s comments on “Since he was weaned”:

Jonathon: What’s not to like in James’ “Since he was weaned”? Spring may be delayed here, and when it comes the fever breaks quietly, cumulatively. It is never much more than implied in bones needing rest, and in the sullen, housebound winterwork the father does. But he is, from the start, infected with love and wonder, and the son for his part with that urgency to Go! we all have carried in our bones, carry still if we are blessed to: an impulse caught in winter worries (where there’s Winter) and released, uncoiled, where there is Spring.

Patricia: Relationships. The world needs more relationship poems as convincing as this one, and, of course, more poems advocating kindness toward snakes. And as a reader, thus a participant in James’ word-world, I felt the language welcome me to its story.  Jonathon speaks of the father becoming “infected” with love and wonder; from “Since he was weaned” emanates simple, native magnetism that likewise draws in the reader affectionately. I have a powerful, sympathetic response to the boy’s whole-body hunger to launch himself (with Papa’s company and aid) into that wider world.  An authentic poem, fully approachable yet artistically savvy.

The Admin Award: Every year since the Runoff competition began, WIZ administrators (that’d be me for the first 2 years; this year, Jonathon and myself) have dipped in and chosen their favorite poem from the Runoff.   The overabundance of truly worthy poems always makes choosing at least somewhat painful; this year was no exception.  This year, the Admin Award goes to Mark Penny for his lyrical, sprung sonnet, “I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring.”

WIZ admin’s comments on “I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring”:

Jonathon: The comment section on Mark’s “I Miss that Time of Year” bears out that “rain-chaffed ions” was an accident, but a happy one, reading Spring as a harvest of the dormant seed of Winter with its “white-robed monarchs” in their “white-leaved bower,” and its cold but coursing water. There’s something of Dylan Thomas at work here–“cloud-licked,” “herd-lord”–but restful, clean, and sober at a holy sonnet, at a sonnet as altar.

Patricia: When I read “I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring”, I thought, “That gets it for me–that longing for spring that makes the mind ache.”  I find the poem a satisfying answer to WIZ’s call for poems to sing up the season.  I loved that line, “Of white-robed monarchs in a white-leaved bower”–thrilling and chilling.  As Jonathon points out, “I Miss” is a sonnet, yet the rhyme scheme dances about freely.  And yes, there’s something holy about Mark’s poem–even in that reflection, ” … dream / Never quite shaken off, a dream of chills.”  “I Miss” scratched my spring itch.

For your enjoyment, below you can read or re-read the two winning poems .

I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring by Mark Penny

I miss that time of year I know as Spring:
The rain-chaffed ions on the air, the air
Breathed by the shrew and hawk, the wheat and tare,
Stirred by the green-leafed lyre and the wing.
I miss the swift, infant quaking of the grass
In the first stumbling steps of cloud-licked wind,
The boastful lowing of the herd-lord sun,
The warbling riot of the wild morass.
I miss that setting forward of the hour,
That lunge of drowsy muscles from a dream
Never quite shaken off, a dream of chills,
Of white-robed monarchs in a white-leaved bower,
Of cold blood coursing in the veins and streams,
Of all that revels lying prone and still.

Since he was weaned by James Goldberg

Since he was weaned, my son’s been hungry for the open sky—
so that now, at eighteen months, he’s a seeker and a maker of signs.

A simple knock at the air
comes first.
It means: open this door
and let me ascend the concrete steps
to that greater bliss and those long lines of sight.
It means: let there be light!
Or, if the light is already waiting, let me rise to it.
Let me bask today.

Then there’s fetching the shoes;
that’s much more forceful.
To bring his own shoes is to say:
I am prepared! And don’t let this journey be withheld from me!
To bring my shoes—yes,
to cradle the massive, worn load of each size fifteen ship
and to dump it abruptly, for emphasis, at my feet—
this means:
the time has come, my father,
and can you deny your own destiny?

If all else fails,
there’s the incantation,
the syllable of power.
The hard ‘g’ means: pay attention!
(in the prophets’ terms: behold!)
And then the long ‘o’ either swells into a
bright sound of hope,
or else drags out long and plaintive:
an aching lament, the age-old burden
(the pain of separation the prophets once spoke).
Armed with this spell, he walks up to me like Moses to Pharaoh.
Go? he says. Go. Go!

When he asks, I am always busy.
When he asks, I have work to do. Feet to rest, and bones.
But when my son struggles for these signs
like a drowning man for air,
who am I to resist?
Who am I not to offer him the sweet relief
of knowing absolutely that he has been understood?

We go outside (I tell myself)
for two minutes. Just two minutes.
But soon spring is thawing my tundra-hard heart,
Soon, we cannot be contained even by the backyard.

Under the concrete of the driveway, garden snakes are stirring.
My son and I see one’s striped body from behind a leaning rock
and I remember my father, who taught me love and reverence
when he pulled our van over all at once and stepped out,
when he carried a snake away from the dangers of the road’s warm asphalt,
when he laid it down safe on the soft ground
one spring. Long ago.

Vote for your favorite 2012 Spring Poetry Runoff poems

Hello, WIZ Readers and Contestants!  Thank you for your excellent participation in this year’s Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration!  It’s time to put on the mantle of poetry judges for the next seven days–part of the informal, just-for-fun nature of this contest.  But rather than limit each judge (that’ll be you) to just one vote, we’re asking each voter to choose her or his 3 (count them: one–two–THREE) favorite Spring Poetry Runoff entries of the 31 contest-eligible entries that came thundering down from the heights this spring.   The poll opens today and runs until 10:00 p.m. (Utah time) midnight Wednesday, June 6.

While readers and participants choose the winner(s) of the Spring Poetry Runoff Contest Popular Vote Award, WIZ admin will be choosing the winner of the Spring Poetry Runoff Admin Award.   Winners of both awards will be announced in a post on or shortly after Thursday, June 7.  The winner in each category will receive his or her choice of The Scholar of Moab, by frequent WIZ contributor Steven L. Peck, (Torrey House Press, 2011) or the distinguished new anthology of Mormon poetry, Fire in the Pasture, edited by Tyler Chadwick (Peculiar Pages, 2011).  Tyler has also contributed work to WIZ.

Rules for voting (PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW CAREFULLY!!!):

1.  Each voter should select his or her 3 favorite poems of the 31 eligible. Please, participants–enter three choices for your favorite poems.  It’s more sporting than just voting for your single favorite poem, and it provides our poets feedback for their hard-wrought words.
2.  Each voter can vote only one time–no ballot-box-stuffing shenanigans, please.
3.  Voters are encouraged to read every poem before voting. Please note: Click here to see a complete list of contest eligible poems, then left click on a poem title.  This will open the complete poem in another window. Alternatively, to read all the poems, you could go to a Google docs page here and click through the links.
4.  Participating poets and WIZ readers may encourage friends and family members to read and vote.
5.  All participating poets are encouraged to vote whether their poems were published in the contest category or in the non-contest category.

Instructions for voting:

Click on the small square box next to the name of the poem that you wish to choose.  A green or black check mark will appear in that box.  If you accidentally check mark the wrong box or change your mind, simply click on the box again and the check mark will disappear.  After you have check-marked your 3 favorite poems (you will see 3 check marks on the page), click on the “Vote” box at the bottom of the page.   Clicking on that box will end your voting session, so be sure you’ve finished voting before you click “Vote.”  To see the tally of votes so far, click “View Results.”

[poll id=”6″]

WIZ’s 2012 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration comes to an end

RodneyLoughWaterfalls public domain

Last year, spring in the Four Corners region of the desert Southwest was comfortably cool; this year, mixed business temperature-wise, but brittle-boned, tinder dry.  When the summer rainmakers come, they’ll find plenty of fodder to feed their range fires.  So far, mosquitoes have been rare and the black gnats–“flying teeth,” as a friend once called them–pretty thinly spread, causing little trouble.  The hummingbirds and orioles that frequent our feeders drain the cups twice a day, which is pretty serious sugar water quaffing for May–especially with those thread-like tongues that the hummingbirds have to work with. So far this spring, I’ve removed one hummingbird and one fence swift from the house.  Because of dry weather, the globe mallow–O, ye of the lovely, sherbert-orange blossoms!–is blooming a bit closer to the ground than it has during previous springs.  The invasive alfalfa that over the last five years had built quite a stronghold in our yard is struggling everywhere except in my garden area where I water the peach trees (which, by the way, surrendered all hope of fruit to a week’s worth of chill o’ the night frosts … except for one tree, which put out two flowers two or three weeks after the rest).  The claret cup cacti is blooming out.  Engleman’s hedgehogs are beginning to flash pink frills.  Prickly pear buds have sprouted like toes on the wide green pads of those be-spined plants.  The creek in Crossfire Canyon has gone thin and muddy, then, in places, flaky or sandy and dry-stoned.  The snowmelt on the Abajos to the north seemed to have skipped its trip south to the San Juan River via Crossfire Canyon and cascaded straight up into the air.  The beavers remain the water barons in the canyon, gathering together the springs at their canyon bottom outlets with mud and vegetable dams to hold constant the water levels of their modest ponds.  The last time I entered the canyon, about 30 black Angus cows and calves were strung out along the beaverworks, which provides the only significant, native water for miles.

Unlike the melt-off from the Blues, WIZ’s Runoff has been pretty impressive.  But like all runoffs, it has tapered off. The last poems have posted and deliberations to choose which of the 31 eligible entries might win the Spring Poetry Runoff’s Most Popular Poem Award and the Admin Award are about to begin.  Voting for the Most Popular Poem will be conducted by public poll beginning Monday, May 28 or Tuesday, May 29.  Poets, please come back and vote, and invite your friends and family members to come vote, too.  Winners of both awards will be announced on or around .

Thank you so much, writers, for participating so well.  Poets, readers, and commenters who have already put so much time into the Runoff—prepare yourselves to vote, starting next week.  Each voter will be able to vote for his or her three favorite poems!  Please, participants–enter three choices for your favorite poems.  It’s more sporting than just voting for your single favorite poem, and it provides other poets feedback for their hard-wrought words.

Again, good work, participants, and thank you, readers, for sticking with us and reading all the entries.  There were many delightful surprises in this year’s offerings–a lot of poetry I’ve been proud WIZ hosted.  Remember: Choices for this year’s prizes are Fire in the Pasture, an anthology of contemporary Mormon poetry, edited by Peculiar Pages, and the novel The Scholar of Moab, by Steven L. Peck and published by Torrey House Press.  Which, by the way, opened up to accept submissions on April 25.

It’s been a vibrant spring so far, thanks to all your flowers of speech. (Does anybody besides me remember that phrase, “flowers of speech”?)

Temptations in the Desert by Steven L. Peck

Was that deceiver so lacking
in diabolical imagination that
he appeared loudly, graceless in
full-figured form?
No.
I think not.
Rather he brought to mind sweet
cool Spring mornings, mother’s bread
baking thick and moist. Its smell
tickling every corner, happily.
Broken, pulled apart, steam dancing
upward from two hot halves. Honey losing
viscosity as bread and sweetness meet.

“Surely it would be no crime,”
he whispered,
“Take these rocks, you
made them anyway, and
change them,
(Swiftly!)
to that bread.
Command these bees:
`Bring honey my friends
for this fast of mine is over.’
The Son of God must have his strength
for the mission ahead. Surely
you deserve this.”

But rising, the Master
smiled at his memories, brushed the
dust from his robe. And walked homeward
over the rocks
tired and hungry.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Steve Peck is an ecologist at Brigham Young University. His novel, The Scholar of Moab, by Torrey House Press was awarded the Association of Mormon Letters award for best novel of 2011. Other creative works include a novel: The Gift of the King’s Jeweler (2003 Covenant Communications) and a novella A Short Stay in Hell was recently published by Strange Violins Editions. He has published numerous short stories and his poetry as appeared in Dialogue, Bellowing Ark, BYU Studies, Irreantum, Red Rock Review, Glyphs III, Pedestal Magazine, Tales of the Talisman (nominated for the Rhysling Award), Victorian Violet, and a chapbook of poetry published by the American Tolkien Society called Flyfishing in Middle Earth. Steve blogs at bycommonconsent.com and has a faith/science blog called The Mormon Organon.

*Non-competition submission*

The Olive by Harlow Clark

This Tree is light to the world.
The fruit of its fruit light to the mind
Fire to the lamp, calm to troubled waters.
The fruit bears its fruit by being crushed:
Salt well in a stone box
Add purgatives–vinegar is good
Let sit.
Crush between two grinding stones driven by a mule
Kissed by a whip
Till the skins break
Repeat to the lees, then burn the mash on a torch.
If the oil enlightens your soul
You will see the beaten traveller
There, by the side of the road, as you head down to Jericho
Pour it on his broken skin.

This man, light of endless worlds,
Praying near the trunk
Feels the branches enfolding him,
Folding him in–kneading, pressing
Till the skin breaks and it is not oil
Which will spill on ground that will shake tomorrow
Like waves tossing the boat
His nearby friends dream they are sleeping in–unaware
A friend will whip him with a kiss
Enemies whip nails through his palms and wrists
And spear him up a sponge of vinegar through his ribs.

After the healing has all flowed out
Layer him in linen
Salt him away in a stone room
Post sentinels to guard the rock that guards the room
That guards the shroud that keeps the dead
Dead–till the earth rolls the death stone like a boat
Tossed in stormy dreams and the empty cloths fold themselves
And Mary hears her name spoken
Not by the gardner.

But first, now, the tree draws him closer, tighter
Glowing in the approaching torchlight
As if dripping oil.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

To read Harlow’s bio and other entry, go here.

*Competition entry*

Gatekeeper of Spring by Harlow Clark

Vor dem Gesetz steht ein Türhüter
–Franz Kafka

K. is the gatekeeper to spring
Marching me through February.
Vacuuming the chapel and halls I listen
To K cleaning the schoolhouse
Trying to make a home there
Waiting to be called up.

Biking town to town and street to street
I hear the mazes of Amerika
The gatekeeper before the gatekeeper before the gatekeeper
Before the law, vor dem Gesetz,
Knife passing from hand to hand
Before the final plunge and twist.

Hearing twenty-one hours I found myself back
In Brent Chambers’ German 3 class at Provo High.
“Time for a donut run,” Herr Chambers said,
“Take my car.”
“It’s just across the street.”
He threw me his keys anyway.

The parking lot became a steep climb
Till I saw the rollercoaster cars
Coming straight for me.
A movie cliché rescued me
As I jammed the car in reverse
And roared backwards down the tracks
Just ahead of the coaster.

Back on the ground
The parking lot gatekeeper stopped me.
“No leaving the grounds during school hours.”
“I’m coming right back.”
“No leaving.”
“I’m not even a student here,
Just come for a visit.”
“We’ll see about that.”

I defeat the gatekeeper by waking up–
Down the hall, down the stairs, back up the hall
To the bathroom.
Stepping through the curtain at the foot of the stairs
I glance across the family room.

Outside the sliding glass door
A tall brown head
Cylindrical like a Tiki god carved from a coconut log.

I step forward to examine the texture of the bark.
The head turns to me,
I see the body sitting at the edge of the lawn
I back away, knowing when I bring back camera the deer will be gone.

For a year I mull this scene
Till one Saturday night
My friend e-mails an invite to celebrate
Spring with a poem for her blog–
Ends Monday.

The next day in Sunday School as King Benjamin teaches Atonement
I remember today is Orthodox Easter.
K. Chi. Chi Rho. Chi Rose.
Like a medieval deer he bounded
Over the gatekeepers,
And the gatekeepers of gatekeepers of gatekeepers.
No gatekeeper,
No twist of nine inch nails,
No stone coasting down a roller before a garden tomb
Could keep him from springing the gates of death.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Harlow Clark pedals to work down what was a 2-lane country road when he moved to Pleasant Grove, Utah 18 years ago. Since the I-15 interchange went in Sam White Lane (Sam White’s) has been bisected by Pleasant Grove Blvd and partly rerouted. Just before the lane goes over the freeway there used to be a veterinary practice. In an interview for a news story the vet told Harlow he could gauge the transformation of north Utah County from rural to urban by the disappearance of large animals from his patients. Harlow traces the transformation by the disappearance of the home and veterinary hospital and the appearance of a two-story office building (though by New York City standards the whole state is rural). He became aware awhile back that he has written several poems featuring animals, and is working them into a chapbook called Dinosaur Water.

*Competition entry*

When the Rains Come–Quatrain by Lou Davies James

When the rains come I tilt my face,
Letting life soak me to the skin
With welcome to each drop that falls,
Sliding soft like tears to chin

Regarding each as hours spent
When the rains come I tilt my face,
A mingling of joy and tears,
Of paths that led me to this place

Where Sorrow hand in hand resides
With Gladness as she brightly sings.
When the rains come I tilt my face
Toward each gift that living brings.

I will not turn away again
But meet each dawn with truth and grace,
Accepting all that life bestows.
When the rains come–I tilt my face.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To read Lou’s other entries to the Spring Runoff, go here and here.

*Competition entry*

Catching Bliss by Lou Davies James

Sunlight spills and pools on
my grandmother’s patchwork quilt
through the thin, embroidered
curtains in my room.

I step into the day…
opening doors and windows,
drawing in the morning air
cool off the ocean,
feeding cats and kittens on the deck,

squeezing juice and sipping as I write
what spills and flows,
feeling it come, letting it go,
lulled by errant phrasing as I stir

dusky berries into batter,
fresh cut lemon stinging
winter-weary splits on my thumb,
singing Joni Mitchell…

as I wash the spoons and bowls
and smell the muffins rising in the heat…

sweet days and dreaming,
bliss measured in moments,
fleeting in the light that pours
through my open windows.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To read Lou’s bio and other Spring Runoff Entry, go here.

*Competition entry*

One Cup for Turning by Lou Davies James

Draw me water sweet from out the well
when winter storms replenish all we know.
Long before the trees with blossom swell
the ice-bound season gifts the world with snow.

Snow that saturates the thirsting ground
as aquifers imbibe and drink their fill,
unleashed toward the sea where they are bound
when spring unties the thread of winter’s chill.

Chill that painted roses on your face
in March now slips away but still the blush
remaining as your fingers shake, unlace
the garments April sheds in such a rush.

Rush toward summer’s arms when ours are old
and frigid winds of change are fresh with cold.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Lou Davies James grew up on the beaches of Eastern Long Island and currently lives in North East Florida with her husband Wes and far too many cats. She is the author of one full length volume of poetry, Adrift in the Holy, and two chapbooks; Drawn as Ever and Internal Insomnia. She has been published in Victorian Violet Press, Wilderness Interface Zone and JBStillwater.

*Competition entry*

Jet-Lagged Spring Therapy by Ángel Chaparro Sainz

It’s weird now to think about this
(Time to destination: 10:50
Local time: 4:50 pm
Distance traveled: 0 km
Altitude: 0 m
Ground speed: 0 m
Head wind: 0 km/h
Outside Air Temperature: 26 c)
But I’ve just remembered that last night
I was sitting in the curb smoking behind the trashcan,
Could hear kids playing in other yards.

The day had gone by in a flash
Sun was fading in the west
Ash-gray clouds making his bed
But I turned east to stare at the Wasatch
And I wondered
That my first spring in the valley
Was almost over.

Now I see the melting peaks
Quite closer,
Hovering over them:
Less than 35 feet, still V1, and more than ten hours to
Get back
The day
I run younger to come here.

Twelve fake hours of my life
That I have used to bury my ego
In this foreign plain surrounded by heaps
Of pioneering dreams become true.

Next year I’ll celebrate the day I creamed
My neck
Watching in awe how spring was sun
Caressing the stony lips of Princess
Timpanogos
While she was resting wrapped
In white blankets.

I already traveled back home.
A home I’m leaving and heading to at once.
Sparrows play in civic chestnut trees
And quails wriggle in the dust of Liberty Park.
It’s weird now to think about this
But I love to dream
That I’ve been disjointed by spring.

(Time to destination: the rest of it
Local time: no need
Distance traveled: always the longest
Altitude: too close to
Ground speed: please, slow it down
Head wind: dry feet
Outside Air Temperature: who cares!)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You can find Ángel’s other Spring Runoff entries here and here.

*Competition entry*