Tag Archives: Jonathon Penny

Look with Wonder on the World by Jonathon Penny

The poet and his maker regard each other.

Look with wonder on the world
And on the walkers in the world
Familiar and strange as if on God,
For gods they are, unknowing. Continue reading Look with Wonder on the World by Jonathon Penny

Dreamhome by Jonathon Penny

J.Penny image for Dreamhome

I wish I had a home—
No, not my own—
A place I’d shared with others
All the summers of my life
Or all the winters.

But, as it stands, the candidates
Are fallen into disrepair
(False friends!), or usurped by
Some false, pretending owner
(Who would, her eyes askance,
Refuse me ingress or relief),
Or scattered as the family bones. Continue reading Dreamhome by Jonathon Penny

Remembered Dream by Jonathon Penny

img_7649

Love wilts. Love whispers.
Love loves to make a scene.
Love wills. Love withers.
Love’s a remembered dream.
Love plants. Love hollows.
Love hijacks every life.
Love grants. Love borrows.
Love still insists it’s right.

Love makes a merry game.
Love kicks you when you’re down.
Love sparks and smothers flame.
Love follows you around.
Love grieves. Love grovels.
Love lifts and love upends.
Love shears. Love shovels.
Love breaks but never bends.

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Jonathon Penny has published poems, reviews, and short fiction in a variety of places. He is WIZ’s poetry editor, amanuensis to Percival P. Pennywhistle, PhD, and a literature professor winding up at one place and looking for another. He loves his wife and children, even when he’s with them.

Photo credit: Wendy Penny, July, 2009–“Ragazza bionda sul balcone di Giulietta a Verona.”

Theodicy (for Connecticut) by Jonathon Penny

Toppled_Stone_in_St.John's_Graveyard by Calum McRoberts

I’d rather it had been a whimper than a bang—
The way the year went out—
In dim-lit winter, while the choirs sang;
I’d trade those screams for joyful Christmas shouts.

I’d mar those deaths with lowdown, high-rise, hallowed Birth,
Were I the wondrous Way,
Cast out the grieving from the hall of mirth;
I’d give that love-lit night for darkened day.

I’d spare no cherub angel, nor her flaming sword
To guard that Eden’s gate—
Would perish one, were I the two-edged Word;
I’d pinch and pluck the sickly cells of hate.

But I am not I AM. And we’ve been here before:
Clean blood has darkened soil
For all of earth’s trite time, and grief and gore
Alike are her familiars, are Salvation’s foil.

As it always does, a haggard, flagging wisdom
Occasions comfort rare:
Our view is short, His long; He takes them home;
All that would be undone were He to interfere,

And He will not; but He’s not silent—Heaven weeps
For sinners and for saints
Alike; for all, alike, were heavenly once, and His,
Bought for pearly price, deposited for taints,

And mantle-made. Perhaps such comfort’s cold right now.
But then, it’s winter there.
The leaves lie bitter brown. A shroud of snow
Might clothe the vacant, precious dead, and clear the screaming air.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

For Jonathon’s bio and more poetry, go here.

Photo by Calum McRoberts  by way of Wikimedia Commons Images.

The Tree of Knowledge by Jonathon Penny

393px-Pears Tree of knowledge

What are we but flawed copies of the gods?
The blind-eyed sons and daughters of the Lord
Sown in the fallow field, a motley yield,
A haunted harvest on the eve of war?

What are we but his tender-bellied babes,
Sky-sprung, far-flung, let-fly, but kept in view?
The watching gods record our wounds and weep,
Not for what’s done, but what we daring do.

As a bright boy—a gangle of loose limbs,
All knees, all ears and elbows, and all heart,
A green and guiltless prophecy of sin—
I learned to ride the vagaries of hurt.

I learned to seek the salvages of joys
Best unsought, the soul-blown bold surprise
Of Godlit, growing girls and feckless boys
Before the world and wisdom claim their eyes.

Before the world and wisdom weather them,
A gangle of loose limbs they ride and run,
As if by running they’ll out-stride the stain,
And keep the fresh-field knowledge of the young.

My love, we’ll get it back. We have it still,
Our heritage essential as the veil,
As thick-and-thin; a sacred covenant
As sure as Christ, as revenant, as real.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Jonathon Penny took his MA in Renaissance literature at  BYU and his PhD in 20th Century British literature from the University of Ottawa. He has taught at universities in the U.S. and Canada, and now lives with his family in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates where he is Assistant Professor of English at UAE University. He has published on Wyndham Lewis and apocalyptic literature and is currently at work on several books of poetry for precocious pipsqueaks under the penname “Professor Percival P. Pennywhistle.” Bits and pieces may be found here. In addition to verse published on WIZ, his poetry has appeared at Victorian Violet Press and in Gangway Magazine and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Several of his poems have also been published in the landmark, recently released poetry anthology, Fire in the Pasture, from Peculiar Pages Press.  Jonathon also is Wilderness Interface Zone’s poetry editor.

Dogged Pastoral by Jonathon Penny

473px-Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_032 Die Hinton

Sometimes the shepherd, too, is lost
And lonely as that sheep;
As tender and as terrified,
As restless in his sleep.

Sometimes it’s him needs looking for
Among his scattered flock.
Sometimes he’s moss and martyr, though
The sheep prefer him Rock.

Sometimes the shepherd’s crooked and
Sometimes he is forlorn.
Sometimes he bleeds and maunders, for
Sometimes the shepherd’s shorn.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jonathon Penny took his MA in Renaissance literature at  BYU and his PhD in 20th Century British literature from the University of Ottawa. He has taught at universities in the U.S. and Canada, and now lives with his family in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates where he is Assistant Professor of English at UAE University. He has published on Wyndham Lewis and apocalyptic literature and is currently at work on several books of poetry for precocious pipsqueaks under the penname “Professor Percival P. Pennywhistle.” Bits and pieces may be found here. In addition to verse published on WIZ, his poetry has appeared at Victorian Violet Press and in Gangway Magazine and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Several of his poems have also been published in the landmark, recently released poetry anthology, Fire in the Pasture, from Peculiar Pages Press.  Jonathon also is Wilderness Interface Zone’s poetry editor.

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.

Thank you, 2012 LONNOL participants!

Valentine_Antique image woman bird cupids

Wilderness Interface Zone would like to thank participants who put their hearts in our Love of Nature Nature of Love Month.  The list includes:

Elizabeth Pinborough
Kathryn Knight
Gail White
Ashley Suzanne Musick
Sarah Dunster
Chanel Earl
Sarah Dunster
Mark Penny
Laura Craner
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Jonathon Penny

You all helped WIZ celebrate love and nature with fair fond tokens of well-worded affection.  Thank you!

Thanks also go to our readers and commenters.  There’s still plenty of room open (until March 24) on our LONNOL month giveaway of Typhoon, starring Dorothy Lamour and Robert Preston.  If you’d like one, please go to that post and leave a comment.  I’ll contact you for shipping information.  WIZ offers these DVDs free to readers in appreciation for your presence here and for your support of WIZ’s mission to create a rhetorically-diverse space for Mormon nature literature (though, of course, all nature writers are welcome–see submissions guidelines here).

Also, WIZ’s 4th Annual Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration will open on the vernal equinox, March 20, with categories for both competition and non-competition, an open-invitation spring haiku chain, another Retro Review, and other revelry.  Please make a note of the Runoff’s pending arrival and watch for announcements detailing this year’s activities and prizes.

Again, deepest affection to you, contributors, and to you, readers and followers of WIZ, for your continued presence here.

Epithalamion* by Gerard Manley Hopkins (and friend)

Danced and dandled Cascata delle Marmore 2009--Jonathon Penny

HARK, hearer, hear what I do; lend a thought now, make believe

We are leafwhelmed somewhere with the hood

Of some branchy bunchy bushybowered wood,

Southern dene or Lancashire clough or Devon cleave,

That leans along the loins of hills, where a candycoloured, where a gluegold-brown

Marbled river, boisterously beautiful, between

Roots and rocks is danced and dandled, all in froth and waterblowballs, down.

We are there, when we hear a shout

That the hanging honeysuck, the dogeared hazels in the cover

Makes dither, makes hover

And the riot of a rout

Of, it must be, boys from the town

Bathing: it is summer’s sovereign good.

Leafwhelmed but Unseen Cascata dell Marmore 2009--Jonathon Penny

By there comes a listless stranger: beckoned by the noise

He drops towards the river: unseen

Sees the bevy of them, how the boys

With dare and with downdolphinry and bellbright bodies huddling out,

Are earthworld, airworld, waterworld thorough hurled, all by turn and turn about.

Sweetest, freshest, shadowiest Cascata delle Marmore 2009--Jonathon Penny

This garland of their gambols flashes in his breast

Into such a sudden zest

Of summertime joys

That he hies to a pool neighbouring; sees it is the best

There; sweetest, freshest, shadowiest;

Fairyland; silk-beech, scrolled ash, packed sycamore, wild wychelm,

hornbeam fretty overstood

By. Rafts and rafts of flake-leaves light, dealt so, painted on the air,

Hang as still as hawk or hawkmoth, as the stars or as the angels there,

Like the thing that never knew the earth, never off roots

Rose. Here he feasts: lovely all is! No more: off with—down he dings

His bleachèd both and woolwoven wear:

Careless these in coloured wisp

All lie tumbled-to; then with loop-locks

Forward falling, forehead frowning, lips crisp

Over finger-teasing task, his twiny boots

Fast he opens, last he offwrings

Till walk the world he can with bare his feet

And come where lies a coffer, burly all of blocks

Built of chancequarrièd, selfquainèd rocks

And the water warbles over into, filleted with glassy grassy quicksilver shivès and shoots

And with heavenfallen freshness down from moorland still brims,

Dark or daylight on and on. Here he will then, here he will the fleet

Flinty kindcold element let break across his limbs

Long. Where we leave him, froliclavish while he looks about him, laughs, swims.

Enough now; since the sacred matter that I mean

I should be wronging longer leaving it to float

Upon this only gambolling and echoing-of-earth note—

What is … the delightful dene?

Wedlock. What the water? Spousal love.

And who the gamboled groom? Kingfish Christ-our-Saviour

Or his son. Who the gangway, brindled, bridling bride to shear the very sheep of him?

Church and churchgoing churchcoming churchliving churchloving

Christkeeping. Who, indeed, the latecome, lightshorn, grinning, gaming guests?

We. Us. Poor. Oh!


After the Wedding Cascata dell Marmore 2009--Jonathon Penny

Father, mother, brothers, sisters, friends

Into fairy trees, wild flowers, wood ferns

Rankèd round the bower leap! assemble! and withdraw the veiling world

And witness there the sunblonde, brightburned waking

And the wedding of the Word: wellspoken, wild, child, grown

Aggrieved, grieved, and greeted

Gastly, good.


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*A fragment posthumously published in Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Poems. Ed. Robert Bridges. London: Humphrey Milford, 1918. The complete text can be found here.

Note: Italicized words are Jonathon Penny’s. The poem ends, originally, thus:

Wedlock. What the water? Spousal love.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Father, mother, brothers, sisters, friends

Into fairy trees, wild flowers, wood ferns

Rankèd round the bower

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

GerardManleyHopkins