Tag Archives: language

The Trap, Part Three by Patricia K

Stone and junipers in Recapture Canyon. Photo by Saul Karamesines.  Click image for larger view.

Part One here.  Part Two here.

I wasn’t enraged, like a trapped coyote, because I hadn’t been really trapped, but I felt plenty angry as I put the Danger Tree behind me.  What a dumb trick, I thought, quite possibly one that could have ignited more trouble.  And yes, probably, it had been intended for BLM personnel.  That being the case, I was glad I’d triggered the gadget instead of a BLM officer, who might have not only taken its message more seriously but also regarded it as a threat, especially in the wake of the of local agones in which the BLM had played either black hat or white hat roles (sometimes both), depending on the angle from which you viewed their actions.  After the 2009  artifact raid, they’d pulled some of their rangers out of back country recreational areas for their safety. The mood of San Juan County residents simmering at the high heat it was, authorities harbored concerns that more radical elements might express outrage over Dr. Redd’s tragic loss and arrests of friends and relatives through violence rather than by the traditional outlets of Fourth of July anti-environmentalist floats, ATV activism and rallies, and the usual long, rambling letters to the editor that typically publish in local newspapers. Continue reading The Trap, Part Three by Patricia K

Death of an old dog, part one, by Patricia

Our dog Sky in 2007

This multiple-part series is from a longer work-in-progress I’ve begun that recounts my experiences in Recapture Canyon in southeast Utah.  Woven throughout the longer narrative are my ideas about language’s part in evolution, culture, and relationship–including what language reveals about and how it affects the ways we treat with people who live with what I call “brain variables”–conditions of the brain that require those of us with “normal” brains to make an extra efforts to travel beyond ourselves in order to encounter and stand with the people that live with them. As with some of my longer series, this may not be an easy read. It certainly hasn’t been an easy write.  I respectfully request that readers not download this piece.  If you are in need of any language or information in this series, please email me at pk dot wizadmin at gmail dot com to request a copy.

On Thanksgiving Eve, Sky, our family dog, died of conditions related to old age.  If she’d reached her birthday at December’s end, she’d have turned fourteen years old.  Up to four or five weeks before her death, Sky still raced my fourteen-year-old daughter around the yard, loping creakily on arthritic hips.  Running must have hurt but when she threw herself into the competition her blue eyes sparked and her mouth curled back along her muzzle into a wide, tongue-lolling grin.  During those runs she felt herself part of a pack and like a good Siberian husky jockeyed to take lead position. She’d become deaf over the last year; to draw her attention we shouted her name and clapped our hands.  She turned and looked but seemed unsure that she’d really heard anything. I suspect that in the last few weeks she’d started going blind. Continue reading Death of an old dog, part one, by Patricia

Confluence by Paul Swenson

Colorado River and Green River confluence NPS

Strange vibrations, east of coal country.
Black sky, dusted by filmy cirro-nebula.

Rumbling on a trestle, high above the Green,
train whistles legend’s high, lonesome sound.

Highest water in a decade, but river’s
calmed tonight, lapping in a little cove.

Noses streaked with sunblock, bodies
with Skin-so-Soft, hair silted with residue

of a day on the water, we’re children
on the verge of adolescence, adults on the verge

of longing. Our black-white-&-yellow tent
is pitched near the night light of the women’s room.

Beneath the cottonwood, Coke machine’s a shining totem
—Liquid logos, little pockets of thirst, pulsing under glass.

Sipping Squirt in the dark, I see her yellow
hair—the world’s last child entering nubility.

She turns briefly; we exchange greetings. Neck
straight, eyes resolute, she moves into the night.

Next evening, safe at home, convex
glass of TV screen brings news

of two old men who earlier that day
had accidentally turned their motorboat downstream.

Confused by rapids in a canyon
they call Cataract, their craft capsized.

Past the confluence of the Colorado with the Green, they died.


To read more of Paul’s verse, go here, here, and here.

To read the National Park Service incident report of this accident, go here.

Winners of WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest Announced

Snow_river by Ranveig Thattai

It’s been a privilege and delight for Wilderness Interface Zone to host a spectacular flourish of spring poetry during this year’s Spring Poetry Runoff.  In the kick-off post, I called for a show of green language, of creative élan and prospect-opening words.  I asked for poetry that contained the recombinant stuff of fertile, world-making expression that gets into others’ consciousness and gives rise to new thoughts or that perhaps resurrects a memory.  This year’s Spring Poetry Runoff Contest entries did all that and more.  Among the poets’ overall accomplishments is the intertwining of song and dance that erupted on WIZ in response to the call for spring verse—a sight that not only was worth seeing but also that was my deep pleasure to join.  It was a good crowd to work with and reminds me of a recent experience watching violet-green swallows mixing it up over beaver ponds. Not only do the birds snatch up insects, each bird for itself, but obviously, they’re flying together and enjoying it, tumbling above and below each other, every bird forming its flight off its comrades’, wheeling, barrel rolling, one bird drawing up short of collision to let another flyer pass under then swooping out of its hover into a long, twinkling glide that weaves right back into a living fabric of free-flight. Continue reading Winners of WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest Announced

WIZ announcements

While we’re teetering on the very edges of our seats gripping our arm rests watching the heated race for the Most Popular Poem Award, I have a few announcements I’d like to make. Continue reading WIZ announcements

Apple by Patricia Karamesines

(for Michael R.)

Michael, think of an apple, how its taste
saturates all memories of first fruit.
Probably before you grasped the word, “apple,”
a pome caught hold of you, flavor and firm body
biting through your thin skin.
Don’t you still recall “apple” by charms
more defined, more seasoned,
more round ripe than the word?
Agitation by a few grains from another blossom,
bulb of pale flower swollen in streams of light,
it bobs for weeks in the weather, distilling.
It sweetens in cool cellars of the moon.
It shapes into all that you remember:
Taste verging on fragrance; crisp, wooden meat;
and color like you like to imagine a heart has—
life-red and glistening, wet.
Your hand is no stranger to apple-hearts.
Somehow that clarifies what your mind knows,
apple not just as word but as living full savor.

Michael, don’t carry in pocket the word only;
keep the whole fruit ever at hand.
Nor should you rely upon the name,
an apple doesn’t answer to its name.
Nor do we, but to the quick of the season,
immanent, juicy, red-freckled, standing our senses
on edge, now.  Forget the word, “apple.”
From such vagaries people walk away hungry.
With out-held words and ripe, swaying language,
make apples to fill the brain’s deep belly, having first
filled your own hand, cupped your own palm.

Embrace the pure life, part two

Part one here.

Recently, my husband and I were in the City Market in Moab buying supplies for my special needs daughter’s formula.  For fun, we sifted through the motorcycle skullcap rack, looking for a skullcap—with skulls—that my husband might like to wear in addition to the one I bought him following his recent brain surgery.  That one is a black tieback cap ornamented with grey and white skulls clenching their crossbones in their teeth—defiant pirate regalia.  It goes well with his salt and pepper beard.  I glanced toward my next destination—the laundry soap aisle—and noticed a man there, early-to-mid sixties, prowling restlessly up and down in front of the soap.  He glanced at me briefly then returned to studying the shelves.  I thought I detected more than a little bit of address in his glance, and indeed, when I entered the aisle, he whirled around and accosted me. Continue reading Embrace the pure life, part two

Embrace the pure life, part one

One morning last summer I came up out of Crossfire carrying two objects I wasn’t carrying when I entered the canyon.  The first was a fully intact turkey tail feather that I plucked from the trail.  As I admired it, I noticed an oily sheen on the dark-brown barbs near the feather’s tip.  I stopped in the shade of an oak tree and raised the feather into a shaft of light filtering through the leaves. When the sunlight struck the feather, chevrons of rainbow colors appeared in the vane, very rich and vibrant in hue—a bit peacock-esque.  Who would have thought a turkey could produce such a gem?

The feather was a natural object, shed by a canyon resident.  My second found object was in a way the feather’s counterpoint: a container of commercially produced bottled water, over three-quarters full, dropped along a steep part of the illegal ATV trail that has caused such a ruckus in these parts. Continue reading Embrace the pure life, part one

Desert Gramarye* by P. G. Karamesines

It’s like the old Tarzan movies:
White hunters find their way barred
By skulls on sticks.

The Park Service has erected
A pavilion on the rim.
Beware, it says.
Quicksand.  Flash floods.
How to Resuscitate Lightning Strike Victims
One warning tells.
It pretends helpful information,
But it is another white skull.

On a sideboard, the complete caveat—
A man pierced all through with sticks.
We are loath to look on it, but do:
It alone rates five full skulls.

Thirty-five-year-old male, it says.
Not enough water.
Disoriented.  Delirious.
Collapsed.  Convulsions.
Core body temperature one-hundred-and-eight degrees
In an air-conditioned ambulance.
Expected to recover, but—
Suffered liver and brain damage.

I don’t understand.
Did he recover, or didn’t he?
Ah—that is not the point of the skulls.

In the old Tarzan movies
The skulls, the shrunken heads,
The bad juju, B’wana,
They mean, this could happen.
To you.
We hope.
The tribe that inhabits these parts—
The fierce Park Service—
They maintain all hearts of darkness
Beating in these wilderness.
No doubt they know already
We are here.  B’wana,
They have much bad juju.

Yes.  I can see that,
And I wonder what I have brought with me
To ward off potent spells flung at the feet
In the first few steps of a journey.

I breathe:
Flash Flood.  Come.
We have met many times and parted
Always on good terms.
I would like to see you again,
Old friend, Flash Flood.

Quicksand.  Come.
We are no strangers.
You caught me by my ankles,
Then retracted your claws;
I remember
Your tongue’s rasp.
Perhaps we shall wrestle again,
Mud panther,

You I am not so sure about.
When your gray matter thunders
And your synapses
Fire between heaven and earth,
Let me not be found in those corridors.
Fall elsewhere, flash elsewhere, Lightning,
And I will tell all
Of blue quarrels bolting cloud to cloud,
Of electrokenetic harpoons
Havocking lone junipers.

Thus I shoulder my pack
And pass by all skulls,
Speaking soft words
Of relation.


*”Gramarye” is the old spelling for “grammar,” meaning a primer.  But it is also an old word for “magic.”

Originally published in Irreantum (Summer 2003): 20-21.

Snow day and dishwashing haiku

Just as the deep snow here had melted to half-gone and I’d broken usable trails through the month-old snowpack remaining, a new storm blew in, dropped another five or six inches, and undid my hope for a winter thaw.  Two more storms over the next three days are expected to fluff things up even more.  While I work up the energy to go out and re-break trails—for myself and for animals, on whom this unnaturally long winter has been very stressful—I thought I’d try something different at WIZ to pass time.

Traditionally, haiku express insight into the movement of a season across the face of a landscape.  But since the form is of a meditative mind, its nature can be stretched to explore particulars of a variety of conditions.  In a recent conversation with greenfrog, topics of awareness and dishwashing flowed together.  The prospect of dishwashing haiku arose.  Well … and why not?

So for WIZ’s next winter while-away open invitation, the name is dishwashing (which I happen to find especially pleasant in wintertime); the game is haiku.

To begin:

Warm tap water, cool
Winter light pouring in streak
Plates in kitchen sync.

Let the One-liners begin.