Tag Archives: Karen Kelsay

On Finding the Great Witley Church by Karen Kelsay

great witley church

We saw your massive golden dome from down
below, a baroque body oddly out
of place. I snapped your picture by the brown
limbs hanging near the roadside fence, devout
old guards, one hundred years had left behind.
We leaned across your speckled balustrades
beside the river, where worn paths entwined
and crisscrossed near the watery cascades.
Then, hiking grassy slopes around the charred
magnificent old court, adjacent to
your holy place, we found a heavy door.
Surprised at how we easily slipped through,
we scramble in like heathens, unaware.
Inside were angels winged with elegance.
Subdued by stained glass, carvings, heaven’s air,
we marveled at your ancient relevance.
The pious moment passed, and then I thought
of all the souls who sat within your pews;
the offerings and sadness that they brought.
Your wood grain’s worn, as if it might transfuse

into a blemished song, or ancient phrase,
that mutely sings of suffering and praise.

Photo by the poet, used with permission. For a recent bio of Kelsay, go here. For a comprehensive list of her poems published at WIZ, go here.

Hard Head Diver by Karen Kelsay

dad diving

He keeps his diving helmet in a shed.
The memories that it buoys up, aren’t dead—
that heavy hat of bolts protects his pride.
He seldom ever has to look inside
the wooden crate beneath the old work bench,
where all his man-things: chisel, hammer, wrench,
as if in dry dock, wait to be reused.
His wife told him to toss it, he refused.
You’re eighty-five, you’ll never need that thing!
But somehow, he can never seem to bring
himself to entertain the thought. The brass
is surely worth a fortune, and the glass…
The chance is slim, but yet he still regards
an abalone dive as in the cards.

Photo is of the poet’s father, and is used here by permission. For more by Kelsay at WIZ, please see the bio here, and a comprehensive index here.

Surprise Possession by Karen Kelsay

mixy lizard

She spends her afternoons beside the tree,
where Mr. Lizard’s made his home. Last week
she caught him in her mouth, and forcefully,
my husband pried him out. She doesn’t seek
this reptile, or a patterned, scaly prize—
just itches for a thrilling chase. For days
she’s turned into a sphinx. Unblinking eyes,
and breath held in her breast. Her mind’s ablaze
with thoughts of how he was in her possession.
He watches from the wall where he’s protected.
They play their waiting game. No intercession
at dusk is needed. She comes inside dejected,
and marches to the house to scheme and plot.
Tomorrow she will have another shot.

karen Bio Picture
Karen Kelsay, native of Southern California, is the founder and editor of Kelsay Books. Her poetry has been widely published in magazines and journals. Nominated five times for the Pushcart Prize, she is also an award winning poet. Her latest full length book, Amytis Leaves Her Garden, was published in 2012, and received the AML award. Karen lives in Hemet, California, with her British husband.

Photo of the poet’s cat, used with permission.

Finding the Powderham Sprite by Karen Kelsay

Foggy_Pond_by Dwight Burdette2

I sensed her by the fallow deer that fed
upon the oak leaves near the sea, and then
around the flooded estuary bed
where egrets hid between large willows. When

a heron waded through the narrow pond
and mingled with the geese, I almost saw
her cherry lips flash like a regal wand,
or damselfly, who quietly withdraws

when humans catch a glimpse. I know she’s here
to gather peacock-butterflies and shells,
until thin moonbeams slowly draw her near
and ghostly forms ring silent vesper bells.


Karen Kelsay is a frequent contributor to Wilderness Interface Zone. To read her bio and see more of her work, go here, here, here, here, here, and assorted other places on WIZ.

“Finding the Powderham Sprite” was first published in Trinacria.

Quiet Flame by Karen Kelsay

Dubb_Diary Image is in United States public domain

I read through my old diary tonight.
Inside a sweater drawer is where I found
it—tattered travel log. It had a slight
tear on the spine, but still was neatly bound.
I read my thoughts on some far distant night,
stone turrets wrapped in ivy, summer-crowned
green willow trees with soft Parisian light
across the way. My memory swirled around
each consecrated word, until your name
appeared, a shining brilliance so profound
it burnt the yellowed page with quiet flame.


Karen Kelsay, native of Orange County, has been widely published over the past five years in poetry journals and anthologies. She is the founder of Kelsay Books, a thriving new press comprised of four imprint companies. You can read various articles about Karen, her press, and her poetry at: The Poet’s Corner, The Nervous Breakdown, Katie Hoerth’s Blog, Thick With Conviction, and A Motley Vision.

“Quiet Flame” was first published in String Poet.

Amytis Leaves Her Garden


WIZ is pleased to announce the publication of a new collection of poems from longtime friend and supporter Karen Kelsay Davies. We know Karen as a lover of landscapes, seascapes, and peoplescapes, and an instinctive practitioner of the kind of green and greening language Patricia has recently introduced us to. She is an accomplished formalist, a winner of prizes and a winner of friends. She is also the editor of Victorian Violet Press, and the founding editor of White Violet Press, Aldrich Publishing, and Alabaster Leaves Publishing: all ventures that specialize in the poetry of forms. (For Karen’s views on publishing, check out this recent interview.)

In the foreword, Sally Cook calls Karen a “virtuoso of subtle descriptive twists” who “chooses each word at its peak of ripeness.” This is apropos, for Amytis Leaves Her Garden is, perhaps ironically, a garden cultivated, trimmed and weeded, varied in its produce, pertinent to season, tended wisely and with affection: a garden not abandoned after all. With her permission, three bulbs to plant against the coming winter: Continue reading Amytis Leaves Her Garden

We interrupt this broadcast . . .

. . . for a special announcement and a Spring Runoff Flashback. (Does that make it a flash flood?)

Karen Kelsay, longtime contributor to WIZ, much published and admired poet, and now joyously beleaguered editor presents Aldrich Publishing, a press dedicated to publishing chapbooks of verses lyrical and free and now open to submissions. Keep her busy, folks!

In honor of Karen’s newest labour of love, this from that old master, Father George (not for competition! Click each panel for full view):

Easter Wings

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.

On the English Riviera by Karen Kelsay


We step across the green onto the promenade

and watch a sloop transition past the harbor of Torquay.

It’s late afternoon. Beside me, a German woman

chatters about retirement. Her husband sleeps

in a hired deck chair, his yellow canvas hat

slanted across his face. Beside a long line of beach huts,

a mother rummages through her bag for coins

and sends her daughter to the ice cream stand.

I trace my finger over your skin, feeling

a raised line between the wrist and thumb—

the lonely brief of your own fast-track, wheelwright

ridden past. Its faint glossiness has tattooed

you with your former self, a thin scar from

your racing days. We marvel at the lack

of waves and watch the sun wedge purple shadows

between rows of white Victorians

near the strand. Strange trees line the walk

as easterly winds chicane through their fronds.

They remind me of old people, the trees: minds rustling

over a sea of yesterdays, hands fluttering at foreigners

on the English Riviera—each with a story

ridged along their quaint English palms.


Karen Kelsay is always welcome to play in our sandbox. A brief bio can be found here, and more of her work published on WIZ can be found here. Her White Violet Press is also worth a look.

Acceptance by Karen Kelsay


Like trees that shade a path and intertwine
to form a summer arch that guards the walk
where daffodils and buttercups recline
while leaning by the sycamore to talk,

our days are linked with laughter, love and sorrow,
always embracing gently as they spread.
Small buds enhance the pathways of tomorrow
by flourishing in shade from overhead.

And when chill winds, careering from the east,
make summer turn away her golden face
and greenery and blossoms all have ceased,
our graceful winter boughs will interlace.

For a recent bio, go here. For more of Karen’s work on WIZ, see here.