Tag Archives: animal encounters

the coming of spring by Linda Crate

800px-Sturnella_neglecta2 (western meadowlark singing, image by John and Karen Hollingsworth is in the U.S. public domain)

The larks trilled their cries that
Nested in my ears in birdsong.

I saw the thaw of winter had begun.

Soon spring would rush in on her
Pastel heels bringing forth blooms.


To read Linda’s bio and enjoy more of her verse on WIZ go here, here, and here.

winter’s breath by Linda Crate

514px-Northern_Cardinal_Male-27527-2 by Ken Thomas (public domain)

I watched the world around me;

winter swallowed me in snow —

the skies were somber and grey.

Only a cardinal pierced the scene

of melancholy waves that washed

their newness upon the earth with

the promise of renewed hope.  As

the pains of yesterday were taken

from the land in ivory tears, I was

poured into chalices of reflection.


Linda CrateLinda Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh and raised in the rural town of Conneautville. She has a Bachelors in English-Literature from Edinboro University. Her poetry has appeared in several magazines the latest of which include: Skive, The Scarlet Sound, Speech Therapy, Itasca Illinois & Willowtree Dreams, Dead Snakes, Carnage Conservatory, and The Camel Saloon.

Z is for zoology (a pop quiz you have to plan for) by Professor Percival P. Pennywhistle

This is a hunt for natural treasures, rare and beautiful creatures, not-so-rare and fairly ugly creatures, and some new ways of saying familiar things. It is a search for the poetry of life, the magic of the great wide world. It is also a search for odors. Enjoy.

You will need the following to complete the assigned tasks: a zoo (or zoo-like environment, like a college dormitory), a camera (for taking photographs of relatively decent quality, but not likely to be published in National Geographic or Zoology Tomorrow), and a friend or twelve (this is optional if you prefer your own company to that of others, or if they prefer someone else’s company to yours, and therefore no one else is willing to come along).

1.    Collect photos of the following, preferably in action, and preferably not picking their noses (though we will accept nose-picking photos, but not gang signs, and certainly not pictures of you taunting or being taunted by your subjects):
a.    a Pan troglodyte
b.    a Crocodylus niloticus
c.    a Cebus apella
d.    a Pongo pygmaeus
e.    a Canis lupus (but don’t make fun of it: it has a very serious disease);
and of the following:
f.    a gangurru (commonly referred to as a herbivorous marsupial)
g.    a Panthera leo, Caucasian edition
h.    an antelope, dollhouse edition
i.    a follically-challenged member of the family Accipitridae, known for their schlumpy physical presence and a taste for carrion
j.    something long from Burma

If the specimens in question are not visible because you’ve come at the wrong time of day (again), or because they have taken holiday somewhere warm, photos of their identifying placards will be accepted en lieu, which means “instead,” but sounds way cooler. Don’t cheat.

2.    Approach a local and learn the pronunciation for the names of any three (3) animals not included in number 1 above. This is the most fun if you live in an exotic place like Arabia, the south of France, or Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Write the English name backwards and the transcribed name forwards below for each, then say both out loud. Really loud. Louder. Sheesh.

a.    ________________________  _____________________________
b.    ________________________  _____________________________
c.    ________________________  _____________________________

3.    Where are you most likely to be pooped on? Or better, in what area of the zoo? (Hint: its denizens stick together.) Count them. Record your result. Count them again, quicker this time. _____________ (Wrong. Sorry.)

4.    Find something nocturnal. Ask it why it’s awake. Take a picture. Giggle.

5.    Imitate the sounds of five animals you see, as a group if you’ve brought companions, by yourself if you haven’t. Do this as you see them, ignore the people laughing at you, then list them by name, and be prepared to demonstrate. (Okay, the lion. What else?)

Bonus: write a ten-line ode (a poem of praise) to the ugliest creature you encounter.

Rules: i) the “Creature” cannot be a member of your group, or any other group, but must be a resident of the zoo (this also excludes employees); ii) the poem must have regular meter and rhyme; iii) references to snot and other scatologies are disallowed, as these are neither classy nor appropriate for such well-bred individuals as you. The professor would certainly never stoop to them.

20 points possible. Bonus worth whatever I decide it is. Bonne chasse*!

*That’s French for ‘Happy Hunting!’, is pronounced “bun shass,” and is the etymological origin of our word “chase,” which is, after all, the funnest part of the hunt.

For more of the Professor’s work published on WIZ, go here.

WIZ announcements and link bric-a-brac

Frequent WIZ contributor Karen Kelsay’s new book of poetry, Lavender Song, is out and available for sale here.   Karen’s formalist poetry is a well-kept garden of lovely sensibilities.  For samples of her work published on WIZ, go here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Writers: The deadline for Torrey House Press’s creative non-fiction contest is coming faster than you might think: September 30th.  Entries can run pretty long, 2,000 to 10,000 words, and first place prize is $1,000.  An entry fee of $25 is required, but that’s a standard amount for this kind of competition.

Over at Our Mother’s Keeper, Jason Brown has a wonderful piece on the Sacred Grove that I think qualifies as recommended reading.  Jason’s  writing demonstrates depth of perception.  But more than that, he seems to have a sense for the dynamism and sensitivity of language’s teeming environment and engages well in it.  I appreciate the care his words show.

This story is just so cool I had to link to it.  I have a (very very) soft spot in my heart for chelonians.

A fascinating and thought-provoking story out of India with stunning photos of an enraged leopard waging war against a village.   I hope more information comes out about this incident.  I’m sure there’s more to the story than shows through in print.

How to free a hummingbird from a skylight

Male black-chinned hummingbird

Like most folks, my husband, kids, and I greet spring’s arrival with relief.  The relaxing of winter’s grip, the first crack of color between sepals clutching flower buds, the sun’s liberating warmth all lighten the load my family balances gingerly as we carry it through winter’s dimly-lit cellars.  But as daylight’s gold, pink or orange borders stretch from their winter proportions to become a mazy, five in the morning ‘til nine-thirty at night field of shimmer and electrical storms, we pay particularly close attention to a tweak in light that occurs around April’s third week.  At a certain change of pitch in the sunshine’s angle and intensity, hummingbirds return to traditional nesting sites in our southeastern Utah neighborhood from snowbird resorts in Mexico. Continue reading How to free a hummingbird from a skylight

Bobcat by Steven L. Peck

When the bobcat
flashed angrily through
the headlights
of Alan’s famous
we sliced the
silence to a primitive
stop and wild
grabbed the
.22s resting cold and
anxious on
the back seat

hunting hawks
from the car
wings folded

The canyon echoed the crack
crack, crack as we fired
at shadows

We didn’t know then,
the cat
have cured us
and the quiet Spring night
our burning


To read more of Steve’s poetry and see his bio, click here, here, here, here, and here.

*contest entry*

Late Spring Ringmaster by Mary Belardi Erickson

A lone pelican lands on the slough
beside the barn–
a gawkish bird gliding
onto the murky water,
a flap and beating of wings–
then, a hump of white feathers suspended,
the long orange bill tucked
against his chest.

Pelicans usually stay in large groups
like a carnival of white and orange,
a noisy bunch on parade
content with no less than a feast.
Their feats can marvel, indeed:
gulping and swallowing fish whole,
squawking and swooping to fill pouches.
Young mouths drop open
in hungry wonder.

Many minutes pass
while the moment remains
on the still water
where algae spread
and reeds grow thickly
concealing a thousand watching eyes.
The motionless pelican floats–
posing, as if waiting
to be painted.


Mary Belardi Erickson was born in New Jersey and today lives in the countryside of Minnesota. Her work appears in various online magazines and in print, including the Aurorean, Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, and Avocet: Journal of Nature Poems. Her poems appear in Silver Boomer’s From the Porch Swing—memories of our grandparents, and Sephryrus Press’s No Fresh Cut Flowers: The Afterlife Anthology.  Her e-chapbook, Back-stepping Between Two Bridges, can be read at www.victorianvioletpress.com.  To read more of Mary’s poetry at WIZ click here and here.

“Late Spring Ringmaster” was previously published in Avocet: Journal of Nature Poems.

*contest entry*

Owl by Barry Carter

An owl in spring smuggles moonlight
within the cowl of his
flight, sits on my roof,
replays his haunts from
the night before. Dreams
and I part, panels on
the roof drink sunlight,
the owl collects his cache
of sunlight that will
fire the flight of
his dreaming incarnation.
Will he dream of me in a
future reverie? That night,
I dream in silver and gold
I have a skin of feathers
the owl summons me but
my wings will not unfold.


Barry was born and still lives and works in Kingston upon Hull England. He has been reading and writing poetry for as long as he can remember.  His favourite poet is Walt Whitman. He encourages anyone who is interested in poetry to read and re-read Leaves of Grass–the greatest book ever written.

*contest entry*

Deer in the City by Patricia Karamesines

When winter beats its broad path
across fields, kneeling the weed
and setting, too, over sage and oak,
deep white pavement;
after wasps and beetles
have borne off, crumb by crumb,
rusted plum and apple pulp
so far beyond the last gather
the ground where they fell
no longer smells of cider;
when there is light instead of leaf
on the branch, star instead of pear,
deer walk as far into the city at night
as the park, smelling out sapling tips
and the palatable rare hedge.

Deer in the city after dusk—
they are not owls living in night’s
ruins above the streetlamps,
or feral cats that brawl
in the crawlspace beneath parked cars,
or rats, rummaging dim-lit alleys
for day’s spoils and parings.
Deer step as bare-legged
as strayed nymphs
though harrowed snow.
Their tracks form
in neighborhood schoolyards
like mushroom rings.

When the thaw greens
the high cold country
and suppling twigs may be bitten,
spring’s flower fleece shorn;
when snowmelt wears away lack,
releasing odor and fiber;
and shut trees opening
drop their first pale shadows,
they who have risked
discovery by hunger,
who walked through yard clutter
like pheasants through cut hay,
will go into forests of thunder
on mountaintops,
up onto aging meadows,
where they become themselves:
wild brown deer with black hooves.


Patricia roams and writes in southeastern Utah. She has received several literary awards for poetry, essays, and fiction, including from Brigham Young University, the University of Arizona, the Utah Arts Council, and the Utah Wilderness Association. A poet, essayist, and novelist, she has published in literary journals and popular magazines locally and nationally. Her novel The Pictograph Murders (2004 Signature Books) won the 2004 Association for Mormon Letters’ Award for the Novel. She writes sometimes for the Mormon arts and culture blog A Motley Vision, but her heart belongs to AMV’s companion blog Wilderness Interface Zone , a dream coming truer and truer.

*non-contest submission*

Beautification by Harlow S. Clark

“I’ve always pictured Cedar Hills as a daffodil city. They’re beautiful and the deer won’t eat them.”

“He’s laughing.”
“Sorry. It’s just such a good quote.”
“I’ll look for it in the paper.”

An hour later the reporter stops short of his car.
Three night-lit deer on the lawn,
Across the street three more in the retention basin.

Beautification eaters.
Deer, watchers,
What do they see?
Pasture? Food? Pests?

“Do you have deer in your yard?”
His mother will ask this – many times –
When she sees a deer
Or remembers the buck sitting under the swing set,
Rising in the shadow, walking into moonlight
Moving downhill into the garden.
“They don’t come down this far.
We live too far from the mountain,”
He always says.

Yet they do come down.
He pictures the deer he will see tomorrow
At the top of Lindon hill
As he pedals to work,
Sees the red patch scraped of fur.
Hide? Muscle? Jerky?

Instead he looks at the life before him
Prays them safe passage across the highway
Safe from himself, from other drivers,
Safe passage up the mountain,

And drives away from their green pastures.

Harlow Clark lives works and writes in a subdivided orchard in Pleasant Grove, Utah where people plant fruit trees in memory of those the developer displaced, and deer don’t generally visit. He mostly writes a combination of Marxist literary criticism–“the spirit of Groucho is upon me”–and personal essay. He is a prolific stringer for local papers, 1500-2000 articles and photos published. “Beautification” grew out of a city council discussion he was covering.

*contest entry*