Category Archives: Stewardship

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.

Memoirs Written in Rain by A. J. Huffman

Drops_Of_Cosmos_by Audrey from Central Pennsylvania

The lavender sky turns.  Soundless.
Its silvered breath falls,
sliding slowly over veined silk.
The tiny bud ruptures.  Bending
backwards (in time) it beads
the ground with miniscule reflections,
iridescent images bursting the same ideal:
a perfect mirror of every dawn’s bloom.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  She has previously published six collections of poetry all available on Amazon.com.  She has also published her work in numerous national and international literary journals. Most recently, she has accepted the position as editor for four online poetry journals published by Kind of a Hurricane Press. You can read more about A.J. Huffman, including additional information and links to her work. Huffman has published with WIZ previously.

Photo by Audrey of Central Pennsylvania via Wikimedia Commons.

Kristalltag by Sy Roth

512px-Leonid_Meteor by Navicore via Wikimedia Commons

Space exhaled a puff of air.
Caught in its stream
pathless terrene thought it well
to cleave a fresh path
form a new road
unzip the miles-thin protective layer.

Aeriform meteoric hand punched through.
Glass jugs exploded in a cosmic grand plie
windows shattered
crystalline light show
creation’s crumble
celestial chaff in its random wind.
Chimes clinking in twenty-part dissonance.

Cataclysm in its whimsical wake until
the bagmen scavenge bits to sell on eBay.

__________________________________________________

Sy Roth bio picHe rides in and then canters out. Oftentimes, head bowed by reality; other times, proud to have said something noteworthy. Retired after forty-two years as teacher/school administrator, Sy Roth now resides in Mount Sinai, far from Moses and the tablets. This has led him to find solace in words.  He spends his time writing and playing his guitar. He has published in many online publications such as Red Ochre, Bong is Bard, Danse Macabre, Mel BrakE Press, Larks Fiction Magazine, Exercise Bowler, Otoliths, BlogNostics, Every Day Poets, en brief. One of his poems, “Forsaken Man”, was selected for Best of 2012 poems in Storm Cycle.  Sy was also selected Poet of the Month in Poetry Super Highway, September 2012.  His work was also read at Palimpsest Poetry Festival in December 2012. He was named Poet of the Month for the month of February in BlogNostics. His work was also included in Poised in Flight anthology published by Kind of Hurricane Press, March 2013.

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

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

An Ode to Coal by Lee Allred

FIRST_SHIFT_OF_MINERS_AT_THE_VIRGINIA-POCAHONTAS_COAL_COMPANY_MINE_^4_NEAR_RICHLANDS,_VIRGINIA,_LEAVING_THE_ELEVATOR...._-_NARA_-_556393

Black seams skitter
Through mantled rock,
Crisscrossing mountains.
Encrusted veins of blackened heart
Hide within its poisoning death
Until exhumed by grave diggers,
Faces black with toil-worn greed.
 
Black smoke bellows
In high desert air,
Seeding clouds.
Sooted walls of blackened lung
Hide within its poisoning death
Until exhaled by grave fillers,
Faces white with aged fate.
 
Infant heart struggles
Within plastic tent
As bellowed tubes and gauges pump
And beat louder than Death’s blackened wing.
Piston-power cremation-called
Hides within its poisoning death
Until excised by wondrous grave emptiers,
Faces pink with reborn life.

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Lee Allred lives alone in a small gray house on headlands overlooking the windswept Oregon Coast. Lee has lived and travelled extensively across the globe. He is a professional fiction writer and much of his published work incorporates poetry—lines from the classics and lines from his own.

Photo by Jack Corn, 1974, via Wikimedia Commons: “First shift of miners at the Virginia Pocahontas Coal Company Mine #4 near Richlands, Virginia, leaving the elevator.”

The Curse of Eve by Scott Hales

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*

The girls stand together, arm-in-arm, at the lip of the desecrated grave. The night before, as they lay in bed, they had listened to the wolves yelp and snarl over the corpse. As widows both before the age of twenty, they’d held each other until the noise died down. At dawn, they loaded their dead husband’s shotgun and hiked up the mountain to see what remained of him.

**

The girls had met two months earlier. The older had just arrived by handcart from the streets and textile mills of Manchester. The younger was the orphan of a Salt Lake City drunk whose wife had died one summer day in Wyoming. That afternoon, neither girl had known much about the man they were to marry by day’s end. When they buried him, he was little more than a stranger, a man they had failed to bring through a fever. His name was Henry. He stood six feet tall in his boots. His age, thirty-four, was equal to their ages combined.

***

The younger girl knew Henry from the home of her bishop, a man who had crossed the plains with Henry and Henry’s first wife. That night, Henry told her about his farm in Cache Valley, the solitude of the mountains, the peace of sunsets and sunrises. He told her about the death of his wife and children. She listened silently as he said that no man should live alone as he lived.

The older girl learned of Henry from his brother, Thomas, the missionary who taught her about Zion amid the squalor of her back alley home. You wouldn’t like him, Thomas said, laughing. He’s nothing like me. He never speaks except to pray or shout at his children.

Thomas loved the older girl. She had dark eyes and hair that reminded him of the wheat fields of his childhood in Illinois. They planned to marry in Zion, but he died on the voyage home. She held his hand until the time came to give his body to the ocean.

****

When Henry was alive, the girls passed each day and night in silence. Now, with their husband’s body lost to the desert and the bowels of wolves, they speak to each other with the shyness of a new friendship. The younger teaches the older songs she learned from her mother. The older tells stories of Manchester and England and the Atlantic Ocean. She talks about Thomas as a missionary but not as a lover. At evening, they sit outside and read from the Book of Mormon and the revelations of the Prophet, the only books in Henry’s house.

The nearest neighbor to the girls is three miles away. Their bishop is ten miles to the south. Horses make the girls nervous, so they rarely attend meetings. When they do, the younger drives the wagon. Food and water are always scarce. In their nightly prayers, the girls ask the Lord for preservation and guidance. Together they carry their dead husband’s babies.

*****

Four months after Henry’s death, the girls wake from a noonday nap to find a man on horseback at their front door. He is dressed in a soiled cotton shirt, sleeves rolled to the elbows, and a blue pair of army breeches. His hat covers his eyes and casts a shadow over his face. His neck, forearms, and hands are sunburned and striped with sweat. A pistol is holstered at his waist.

—You women have food? he asks.

—We ain’t, the older says.

—No bread? the man asks.

—No, says the younger. Try the next house. Please.

The man dismounts and enters the house. He removes his hat, unholsters his gun, and levels it at the head of the older girl. With his hat he points to a sack of flour perched on a barrel in the corner of the room.

—What’s in there?

—Get out, the older screams.

—Tell me, the man shouts. He places his hat on his head and slowly makes his way across the room to the sack. The barrel of his gun remains aimed at the older girl’s head. She watches the unmoving tip of the barrel. When the man reaches for the sack of flour, she screams again and rushes the intruder. The gun fires and lead tears through the older girl’s left hand and lodges in her arm just above the elbow. She collapses to the floor, wide-eyed and strangely jerking.

Seeing blood pool on the packed-earth floor, the younger girl cries out. The man, indifferent to the gore, grabs the sack of flour and turns to leave. The younger girl meets him at the door with her husband’s shotgun. She shoves it weakly into his stomach and pulls the trigger. The piece misfires as the man clubs the girl across the face.

******

In the days that follow, the older girl loses her arm and her baby. The bishop, the man who took saw to flesh to save her life, tells her that she and the younger girl can live in his house, be a part of his family. He offers to marry them if they will have him. The girls whisper at night as the collective snores and nightsounds of the bishop, his five wives, and eighteen children settle over the homestead. In the morning, they tell him they will return to the wilderness, to their husband’s home, as soon as they are able. He does not argue with them.

*******

A hard winter settles in as the younger girl’s belly swells with her dead husband’s child. The older girl, her sister in all but blood, tends now to the sheep, the cow, and even the horse. She splits wood one-handed and carries it into the house a few pieces at a time. When she is able, when her knees and ankles and back are not aching from the curse of Eve, the younger girl lights the fire and cooks the evening meal. At night, she reads scripture to her sister by lamplight.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Scott Hales does not usually write fiction, but when he does, he tries to keep it around 1000 words. He blogs at A Motley Vision, Dawning of a Brighter Day, and Modern Mormon Men. He also maintains a personal Mormon literature blog, The Low-Tech World. When he isn’t writing short short stories or blogging or parenting, he is writing his doctoral dissertation on the Mormon novel.

Photograph of  the statue of a mourning woman by Mutter Erde.

Transformed by Sue Halvorsen

800px-Wild_red_raspberry_plants

Sitting in his doctor’s office reading a National Geographic, a New York stockbroker felt compelled to conquer something other than a portfolio. Thinking of his view of the Hudson River from his apartment in River Place Towers on 42nd Street, he decided to try a primitive nature experience. He signed up for a seven-day wilderness awareness class. He had never been camping.

On day one, he walked into the primitive camp still carrying the hectic pace and stresses of his life in the Big Apple. His vision was tunneled, his awareness remained clouded, and his mind raced like the wind.

On day two, he built a debris hut in the woods from branches, pine needles, and scrub oak leaves. Exploring the cedar swamps, his vision broadened as he noticed the squirrels, meadowlarks, and blooming wild raspberry bushes.

On day three, he touched the sticky sap on the bark of a Ponderosa pine tree. It smelled like vanilla. The wind whistled through the sweet grass, and the chickadees sang from across the pond. Hearing this for the first time, his shoulders lowered and his jaw relaxed. He sat for hours and listened.

On day four, a downy woodpecker woke him as it drummed on a tree next to his shelter. He went for a nature walk and discovered an area covered in light green moss. It felt like velvet. He sat on a log next to a babbling brook. No thoughts of his life back in New York entered his mind.

On day five, he took part in a sweat lodge and afterward sat staring at the stars. He was absorbing things he had never been taught, hearing nature in a way he had never heard before. He felt as though he was in the prime of life.

On day six, he heard God’s voice. They talked for hours.

On day seven, he went home. Transformed.

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Sue Halvorsen is a naturalist who loves to combine nature with spirituality. She lives with her husband, Scott, in Colorado. She enjoys writing in several genres and is currently working on a memoir about a near-death experience she had 24 years ago. She is currently a creative writing student at Red Rocks Community College in the Denver, Colorado area.

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

Torrey House Press issues call for environmental nonfiction

On December 27, 2012, Torrey House Press, publisher of Steve Peck’s novel The Scholar of Moab, among other fine works of literary fiction and nonfiction, issued a call for environmentally-oriented nonfiction. In its call for submissions, THP noted that while it can’t help but like and publish novels and short stories, the literary fiction genre is huge and thus an extremely difficult field in which to make a mark. THP’s thinking is that “Topical, environmental nonfiction has a smaller, more focused market in which it is easier to identify and reach interested readers.”

Acting on this strategy to achieve a workable balance between literary fiction and environmental nonfiction in its publishing line and to brand itself more conspicuously, THP is

calling for lively, controversial, leading edge manuscripts on topics like water catchment, public land use, environmental health, environmental economics, sustainable living, renewable energy, land use policy, the importance of wilderness, the trans-formative power of natural places, environmental building and landscape design, about how small is beautiful, the local food and business movement and other ideas of enlightened, sustainable living. (Torrey House Press)

This looks like a good opportunity for WIZ readers and writers to send work and see if it makes a good fit with THP’s goals. This little press looks to be putting every effort into becoming a literary mover and shaker in environmental writing and environmentally-based literary fiction and, as far as I know, keeps its authors’ interests in mind. Not every writer can say that’s true of his or her publisher. In fact, early last year, THP forged a new relationship with Minnesota based book distributor Consortium Book Sales and Distribution that it hopes will help it achieve its goals of continuing to evolve in a healthy direction. This is not only something they’ve done for their own good but to my eye appears an act geared toward looking out for their writers.

If you’ve been thinking of launching yourself and are looking for a publisher, try Torrey House Press. Check out their site. Have I mentioned that it was me that put Steve Peck onto Torrey House Press, which match-making resulted in the publication of The Scholar of Moab?  In May 2011, THP managing partner and publisher Mark Bailey sent an email thanking me for making the referral. So don’t write this opportunity off. I’m on to something here.

THP has a blog and other means by which you can get to know them. Click here for submission guidelines.