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Superstition Mountains by Bradley McIlwain

Superstitious Mountains

McIlwain Mountains

McIlwain PhotoBradley McIlwain is a Canadian-based writer and poet who lives and works in rural Ontario. His poems have been published in national and international print and online magazines. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours, from Trent University, with a major in English Literature. His first book of poems, Fracture, is now available.

Photo, “Lightning, Superstition Mountains,” by Robert Quinn via, 2008.

WIZ Works(hops it) Out


Folks, we’ve kicked around the idea of a workshop space for some time: a place where we can post a promising bit of poetry and elicit comments from our contributors, readers, and curious onlookers.

The magic will take place over at our Facebook page, so if you’re over there, like the page and join in.

The rules, evolving ever, will be these:

1) editorial staff will post a poem a week (tops) to allow adequate time and attention;
2) compliments are encouraged, criticisms are invited, suggestions are welcome;
3) keep it courteous.

The objective is to groom poems for publication, so we’d like to see rigorous and productive discussion about the poems we workshop. We’d also like to see comments that bear in mind WIZ’s general culture and purpose. For some insight into what that is, read this.

Chris Peck has agreed to be our guinea pig. Starting today, we’ll engage with him and his already very fine and very interesting poem “Memories of a Fallen Branch.” Come on over and weigh in. We’d love to hear from you.

Image: Georges de la Tour’s “Saint Joseph charpentier, ca. 1640.

The Love Song of Ghouls Verne by Percival P. Pennywhistle


The Love Song of Ghouls Verne, formerly of Aarhus, DK
(Decomposed by Ghouls Verne, Esq, and Communicated to Professor Pennywhistle, PhD, Ed, via the medium of a Medium on 14 Feverary 1893, in the Low and Tortured tones of a Heartbroken shade, and a thick Danish accent)

Ten t’ousand leagues under de zea
Dat’s me
Doze ashen flakes you zee

For Yulia could not bear nor loss
Nor cost
And zo my ash she tozzed

Vrom off de rocky Danish reef
Her grief
Azzuagéd by relief

But mine vas not. Zo, pale and gaunt,
I haunt.


©2012 Percival P. Pennywhistle, PhD/Peas Porridge Press

About the author

Ghouls Verne was burn on the Worst of Dismember, 1783, in a little crematorium outside of Aarhus, Denmark, on the Horsens side. He was revived by his parents, Karl and Grete Verne, twice, and by his new bride, Julia, once, but it didn’t take. Hence the cremation.

Percival P. Pennywhistle, PhD, is a poet and a purveyor of poetry for perspicacious and precocious people of all ages. “The Love Song of Ghouls Verne, formerly of Aarhus, DK” is part of a planned anthology of sickly sweet and darkly ironic poems and prose called Gothic Dreams and Other Things. You will wish to purchase it. You will also wish to sleep light after reading it.

Portrait 1 is a representation of what Ghouls and Julia might have looked like if they had married, lived in the late nineteenth instead of the late seventeenth century, and were named Peder and Severin Krøyer.

Portrait 2 is of Ghouls in happier times, when men whose heads were heavy with sleep or worry had the option of carrying them in the crooks of their fashionably (if somewhat poofily) clothed arms.

Of Orange and Desire

At the doorstep
of winter
desire boils
like magma:
an orange
stands erect—
ripe and sexy
in a twilit dress
on a trembling
Ali Znaidi (b.1977) lives in Redeyef, Tunisia where he teaches English at Tunisian public secondary schools. His work has appeared in Otoliths, The Tower Journal, streetcake, Ink Sweat and Tears, Mad Swirl, Unlikely Stories: Episode IV, Red Fez, Carcinogenic Poetry, Stride Magazine, and other ezines. His debut poetry chapbook Experimental Ruminations was published in September 2012 by Fowlpox Press (Canada). He also writes flash fiction for the Six Sentence Social Network.

Painting by Émile Vernon, “Starlight,” date unknown.

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

Crocodiles by A.J. Huffman

Crocodiles backup2

At first it could be any shore.
and a little dark maybe,
but still intriguing.
Then a flash of green
throws your eyes off center.
Then another.
Until the ground you were about to walk
is walking for you.
Is waiting for you.
With a million teeth
in a permanent smile.

A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  She has previously published six collections of poetry all available on  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 credit: A.J. Huffman, Orange County, FL, January 2013.

A Break in Drops by A. J. Huffman

A Break In Drops

The storm rises, exquisite
dawn. Sun forcing backlit bows
of silver streaming about
the blustering black. Wind
rolls the picture; motion
floods the sky. A gravel’s whisper
now, but the image remembers
just how loud the lightning cried.

A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  She has published four collections of poetry: The Difference Between Shadows and Stars, Carrying Yesterday, Cognitive Distortion, and . . . And Other Such Nonsense. She is also published in national and international literary journals, including Avon Literary Intelligencer, Writer’s Gazette, and The Penwood Review.  Find more about A.J. Huffman, including additional information and links to her work here and here. 

“A Break in Drops” is the first of a triptych of poems. Look for the second and third over the next two days.

Photo by the poet.

Questions of Wilderness

We’ll take advantage of a short hiatus of sorts (don’t worry: we’ve seen the WebMD, and have been assured it’s not serious–we’ve decades left in us!) to draw attention to some other things going on that will, no doubt, be of interest to the sensible (and sensitive) readers of and contributers to the WIZ Community.

First up: George Handley waxes on and off, and wisely, about wilderness as a backdrop to and a factor in the way we humans relate and communicate. His work here is subtle: more subtle than usual. Perhaps that’s because, generous of spirit and passionate of cause, George isn’t interested in winning friends or enemies, but rather in giving pause and a space for consideration.

I’m particularly taken with what George does because I live in a place that as yet has not developed a culture of conservation, though steps are being taken: we’ve grown soft, and the a/c pumps all day long, cars are left idling in parking lots for extended runs, the windows are shuttered, the complaints are thick with indolent anger and slick with sweat. During Ramadan, it’s even worse. The environment impacts mood and manners essentially and almost necessarily: we are few who love the heat and worship the sun even when it aims to kill us. And we few, (we happy few), are inclined to each other and to others in ways (a nod, a quick tap on the shoulder, a smile, and many other muted signs) that redeem the heat, that sacralize our over-arching desire to conserve not just a resource or a land, but human ecology, too: that thing we call community.

George reminds us that we are stewards, not masters, and will be judged by the conditions of stewardship. If we cannot cultivate a place or a community, cannot leave it better than we found it, then at very least we ought to leave it no worse for our being there by taking pains to mitigate our tracks and traces, collect our own rubbish, dispose of it responsibly–not leave it to moulder or poison, not bury our inheritance in waste and wanton pursuits.

In his second post, George asks us to disagree, and boldly, but without rancor and without guile. We ought, it seems, “to speak the truth in love,” both to each other and to this ramshackle place we’re squatters in. If we need, we ask and receive, as gently as we can, and plant something where we’ve left a void: a seed, a conversation, a compliment, plain thanks. We ought, it seems, to stay small.

Elder Marlin K. Jensen, speaking at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service said the following about the question of community, culture, and wilderness in Utah’s own history (read the full account in the Desert News):

“Regardless of how one views the equities of Indian-Mormon relations in those times, the end result was that the land and cultural birthright Indians once possessed in the Great Basin were taken from them,” he said. “As tragic as that is, history cannot be unlived. What we can do, the least we can do from a distance of 160 years, is to acknowledge and appreciate the monumental loss this represents on the part of Utah’s Indians. That loss and its 160-year aftermath are the rest of the story.

“We can also work until the rest of the story becomes an integral part of the story; until Wakara, Wanship, Washakie and Black Hawk have their appropriate place in Utah’s history books as well as Brigham, Heber and Parley; until Utah’s history includes Indian history and July 24th commemorates everyone’s contribution to our state’s unique past.”

Indeed. And the same can be said of place after place, civilization after civilization, right down to Dylan Thomas’ bright and spinning place, that first garden, which was and is, of course, God’s, given to us with a charge to care for it, and for each other.

To finish up (if you’ll forgive the indulgence), this:

This is a rather wretched place,
All things considered:
More paradox than paradise;

A poky little patch of dust and scrub
Now parched, now drowned,
Shaken and, as often, stirred;

A heaven gone to ground,
Ground gone to seed,
Thorn- and thistle-crowned

And for the very birds—
The dove, the hardy thrush,
The brown chat with his melancholy word.

It’s an abated wish,
This dense and dropping orb,
A momentary, dark, full-throated hush;

A nascent sun, an infant star,
This crib of Adam-Christ:
Worth falling and worth rising for.

Look for George’s next post soon.

Old St. Stephen’s by Percival P. Pennywhistle

David Williams--Thursford Church--2006

Contemporary conditions* at Old St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Dellbottom Parish as recounted by the good Vicar Henry Auden Harrowsmith, Doctor of Divinity, Gardener, Librarian, Cook, Domestic, and Sometime Organist**

There are: bats in every belfry,
Rats in the refect’ry,
Feral cats have claimed the cradle,
Mongrel dogs have claimed the house;***

No sheep are in the sheepfold,
No people in the pews;
And, despite the blasted quiet,
The church still has no mouse.****

* This material is a faithful reproduction of the sum total of the vicar’s 1877 report to Bishop Ague Bitterlemon of the Earstwyle Diocese, Gloucestershire (which is not a kind of sauce, and in which the ‘uce’ is inexplicably silent), UK. The Professor reproduces it here with all the necessary permissions, a solemn bearing, and a heavy heart.
** The organ, like so much else, had ceased working nearly a decade before, largely because it was mouldering, but also because the good vicar, beset by arthritis, no longer had the strength to pump the pedals with adequate force, so that on the whole it sounded rather pathetic and depressing. This was appropriate, but not essential to the overall impression of decay.
*** Being so very alone, the good vicar vacillated between indifference and a kind of amused tolerance of these creatures, for his children were all grown and gone, his loving wife had passed away at the same time the organ had stopped working, and no one ever came to church, since they were far too busy with material pursuits of no importance whatever, and thus the vicar hadn’t anyone else to talk to, never mind catechize (though on the few occasions he attempted to catechize the animals, he noted that the cats, in particular, attended quite brilliantly), or homilize.
**** This was a matter of both consternation and growing disappointment to the good vicar, who had always thought it a bit of a scandal that his cathedral, long since demoted to the status of a simple “church” by the bishop, and although in such glorious disrepair, had failed to attract the services of a mus ecclesiasticus.

Looking at the recent photograph of a picturesque country church (above: 2006), competently captured by a Master David Williams and kindly shared in Wikimedia Commons, one might wonder what all the fuss is about, as the church seems to be faring rather well. One ought to know, before one draws hasty and potentially embarrassing conclusions, that Master Williams’ photograph is, in fact, of Thursford Church in Thursford, North Norfolk, a place which, by its name, strikes the Professor as either redundant or self-indulgent, though kind to country churches. In any case, it bears no direct relation to old St. Stephen’s, except as a representation of what St. Stephen’s might look like today, if anyone had cared, and if it were still there to look at. To imagine St. Stephen’s, picture a dirt track overshadowed by deliciously green trees (only replace it with a 4-lane thruway without trees whatsoever) flanked by a grassy field (only with less grass and more parking spots), with a hedgerow and a wooded area in the background (only looking rather like a concrete barrier and a line of skyscrapers). The man and bicycle are optional, but if you do imagine them, please imagine them somewhere other than the middle of the thruway, or they won’t last long. The church, on the other hand, is entirely absent, so thorough was its decline. Instead, there is a shopping mall or factory or some other nightmare of modern architecture full of purpose and practicality and purchasable underwear and socks, but utterly devoid of life. Sigh.
Professor Percival P. Pennywhistle, PhD, notes that he submitted this poem in response to popular demand, which is to say he submitted this poem at the behest of someone who is popular, whose initials may or may not be PK, which is to say she asked him to, and he is a gentleman, and therefore obliged, gladly.

Deer Skull on Giant Stump by Mark Penny

I’m locked and loaded on a night of curtailed sleep
Curtailed at starting end
The movie was too good to sleep through
What was it called?

That paragraph I wrote for English-with-Foreigner 1-15
Is in my head like the aftershock of a bad-apple head-on with a truck
It gongs and dongs with it
So I’ll tell it here

It was the story of a day
So many days ago I laze to count
Thirty-six years of days, I guess

Remember jamborees?
Great, gaudy gumball gatherings of boys Continue reading Deer Skull on Giant Stump by Mark Penny