Tag Archives: LDS nature literature

And I Did Eat by Jonathon Penny

Journal_of_Emerging_Infectious_Diseases_Jan_2013 pic2

The orchard offered fruit,
And I did eat.

The field imparted grain,
And I did graze.

The farm gave up the calf,
And I consumed.

Her mother furnished milk
To quench my thirst.

The market tendered goods
Both fair and fine,

Encumbrances unique
To tempt my tongue

And fill my eyes and ears
With vague desires.

The bending world laid bait,
And I did eat.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

WIZ Profile-1 Jonathon PennyJonathon has taught literature on two continents, and has read, written, and conversed about it on three. He has published poetry, fiction, and reviews in Dialogue, Sunstone, Victorian Violet Press, Gangway Magazine, Mormon Artist, Mormon Midrashim, Mormon Review, Switchback, and WIZ, and was anthologized in Tyler Chadwick’s (Ed.) Fire in the Pasture.

Illustrating painting: Pieter Cornelisz van Rijck (1558?1628), Still Life with Two Figures (1622). Oil on canvas (123.8 cm × 148.6 cm).

Vote for your favorite 2012 Spring Poetry Runoff poems

Hello, WIZ Readers and Contestants!  Thank you for your excellent participation in this year’s Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration!  It’s time to put on the mantle of poetry judges for the next seven days–part of the informal, just-for-fun nature of this contest.  But rather than limit each judge (that’ll be you) to just one vote, we’re asking each voter to choose her or his 3 (count them: one–two–THREE) favorite Spring Poetry Runoff entries of the 31 contest-eligible entries that came thundering down from the heights this spring.   The poll opens today and runs until 10:00 p.m. (Utah time) midnight Wednesday, June 6.

While readers and participants choose the winner(s) of the Spring Poetry Runoff Contest Popular Vote Award, WIZ admin will be choosing the winner of the Spring Poetry Runoff Admin Award.   Winners of both awards will be announced in a post on or shortly after Thursday, June 7.  The winner in each category will receive his or her choice of The Scholar of Moab, by frequent WIZ contributor Steven L. Peck, (Torrey House Press, 2011) or the distinguished new anthology of Mormon poetry, Fire in the Pasture, edited by Tyler Chadwick (Peculiar Pages, 2011).  Tyler has also contributed work to WIZ.

Rules for voting (PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW CAREFULLY!!!):

1.  Each voter should select his or her 3 favorite poems of the 31 eligible. Please, participants–enter three choices for your favorite poems.  It’s more sporting than just voting for your single favorite poem, and it provides our poets feedback for their hard-wrought words.
2.  Each voter can vote only one time–no ballot-box-stuffing shenanigans, please.
3.  Voters are encouraged to read every poem before voting. Please note: Click here to see a complete list of contest eligible poems, then left click on a poem title.  This will open the complete poem in another window. Alternatively, to read all the poems, you could go to a Google docs page here and click through the links.
4.  Participating poets and WIZ readers may encourage friends and family members to read and vote.
5.  All participating poets are encouraged to vote whether their poems were published in the contest category or in the non-contest category.

Instructions for voting:

Click on the small square box next to the name of the poem that you wish to choose.  A green or black check mark will appear in that box.  If you accidentally check mark the wrong box or change your mind, simply click on the box again and the check mark will disappear.  After you have check-marked your 3 favorite poems (you will see 3 check marks on the page), click on the “Vote” box at the bottom of the page.   Clicking on that box will end your voting session, so be sure you’ve finished voting before you click “Vote.”  To see the tally of votes so far, click “View Results.”

[poll id=”6″]

WIZ’s 2012 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration comes to an end

RodneyLoughWaterfalls public domain

Last year, spring in the Four Corners region of the desert Southwest was comfortably cool; this year, mixed business temperature-wise, but brittle-boned, tinder dry.  When the summer rainmakers come, they’ll find plenty of fodder to feed their range fires.  So far, mosquitoes have been rare and the black gnats–“flying teeth,” as a friend once called them–pretty thinly spread, causing little trouble.  The hummingbirds and orioles that frequent our feeders drain the cups twice a day, which is pretty serious sugar water quaffing for May–especially with those thread-like tongues that the hummingbirds have to work with. So far this spring, I’ve removed one hummingbird and one fence swift from the house.  Because of dry weather, the globe mallow–O, ye of the lovely, sherbert-orange blossoms!–is blooming a bit closer to the ground than it has during previous springs.  The invasive alfalfa that over the last five years had built quite a stronghold in our yard is struggling everywhere except in my garden area where I water the peach trees (which, by the way, surrendered all hope of fruit to a week’s worth of chill o’ the night frosts … except for one tree, which put out two flowers two or three weeks after the rest).  The claret cup cacti is blooming out.  Engleman’s hedgehogs are beginning to flash pink frills.  Prickly pear buds have sprouted like toes on the wide green pads of those be-spined plants.  The creek in Crossfire Canyon has gone thin and muddy, then, in places, flaky or sandy and dry-stoned.  The snowmelt on the Abajos to the north seemed to have skipped its trip south to the San Juan River via Crossfire Canyon and cascaded straight up into the air.  The beavers remain the water barons in the canyon, gathering together the springs at their canyon bottom outlets with mud and vegetable dams to hold constant the water levels of their modest ponds.  The last time I entered the canyon, about 30 black Angus cows and calves were strung out along the beaverworks, which provides the only significant, native water for miles.

Unlike the melt-off from the Blues, WIZ’s Runoff has been pretty impressive.  But like all runoffs, it has tapered off. The last poems have posted and deliberations to choose which of the 31 eligible entries might win the Spring Poetry Runoff’s Most Popular Poem Award and the Admin Award are about to begin.  Voting for the Most Popular Poem will be conducted by public poll beginning Monday, May 28 or Tuesday, May 29.  Poets, please come back and vote, and invite your friends and family members to come vote, too.  Winners of both awards will be announced on or around .

Thank you so much, writers, for participating so well.  Poets, readers, and commenters who have already put so much time into the Runoff—prepare yourselves to vote, starting next week.  Each voter will be able to vote for his or her three favorite poems!  Please, participants–enter three choices for your favorite poems.  It’s more sporting than just voting for your single favorite poem, and it provides other poets feedback for their hard-wrought words.

Again, good work, participants, and thank you, readers, for sticking with us and reading all the entries.  There were many delightful surprises in this year’s offerings–a lot of poetry I’ve been proud WIZ hosted.  Remember: Choices for this year’s prizes are Fire in the Pasture, an anthology of contemporary Mormon poetry, edited by Peculiar Pages, and the novel The Scholar of Moab, by Steven L. Peck and published by Torrey House Press.  Which, by the way, opened up to accept submissions on April 25.

It’s been a vibrant spring so far, thanks to all your flowers of speech. (Does anybody besides me remember that phrase, “flowers of speech”?)

Meadow Talk by Sarah Dunster

Wade BrightPurpleFlower via Wikimedia Commons

There is no better talk

than

thoughts shared in violet hollows

where not so much praise as scent

not so much words as velvet—

soft petals on our faces—

speak our language.

So, love, make plain

what

you might wish in digging out

green hills for four-leaved omens

we might taste in stems of waiting clover

and I might see in hollows of your

throat, your lips, your eyes.

______________________________________

Sarah Dunster contributes regularly to WIZ as a writer and a reader. Her wide-eyed wonder at the world and at words embodies the spirit of LONNOL month. She has published in Dialogue and Fire in the Pasture. For more, go here.

By the Wayside by Ashley Suzanne Musick

de/ex macchina British Columbia 2007--Jonathon Penny

A baby blue bowl, overturned,

Sums it up somehow:

Trees march up the hills,

Casting a green cape across the soil.

A gray ribbon winds between the mounds of earth

As cars—bright, boldsome gems—speed along the path,

Glinting brilliantly in the sunbeams,

Rushing from one place to another,

Thoughtless of the beauty surrounding them.

______________________________________________________

Ashley Suzanne Musick was born in Fountain Valley, California, on February 26th, 1989, and raised and homeschooled in Anaheim. In 2010, she moved to southwest Kern County, where she lives and works on a farm and writes in her spare time.

Making Friends With Winter by Sarah Dunster

800px-Fence_after_snowstorm2 by Julian Coulton

It snowed today, for the first time. October 6th.

When my family moved to southeast Idaho, we knew that Winter was one of the by-products we were choosing. That “W” is capitalized, because winters here are real winters—you couldn’t survive without shelter. In Utah Valley, where we’ve lived the last ten years, you likely couldn’t either, easily… but there’d be a chance. Some random steaming garbage pile might keep you warm at nights if you found yourself homeless.

Not here.  We now live in Idaho’s Siberia. You’d think that, farther north in places like Sandpoint, it would be much colder, but no. The carryover from Washington state’s more temperate coastal climates makes the panhandle and other, more northern places a much easier place to grow things like tomatoes, for instance.

Here in Idaho’s Siberia there are miles of landmass and ridges of mountains to keep us from any friendly ocean breezes. In January it dips down toward negative twenty. And the winds are to be reckoned with—tearing in from the southwest, lifting sod off the fields before the ground freezes, withering the branches of any non-hardy fruit tree.

You plant your Polly peaches northeast of your house, here in southeast Idaho. The Honeycrisp apples and sour pie-cherries and, perhaps, the pears and plums might survive (all these are currently imaginary—a vision dancing in husband’s head and mine.) But not the peaches.

Our new home is hyper-insulated. Six-to-ten inches of polyurethane foam keep the elements away, and our body heat, so far, has been enough to keep us toasty and warm, even at that lethal six-o-clock hour when bare feet hit concrete floors and children shiver through showers.  But it’s coming. I know it is. My Viking blood is waking up, warning me, prompting me to drag out the giant tupperwares full of snow rompers and wool socks and mittens and hats and thermal underclothing.

We have neighbors close by who warned me that the key to life in our new little city is to “live it up in the summers and fall. Take every second you can and enjoy them… because when winter hits, everyone shuts themselves indoors. You don’t see anybody. And it drags on so long… the snow. The cold. The isolation.”

I asked him, don’t you go out to play in the snow.

He shrugged. “Yeah. But it gets so cold. Cross-country skiing and sledding just aren’t fun in below-freezing weather.”

Of course, he’s part Samoan and part Jamaican—he’s not used to this. Well, neither am I; I grew up in Northern California. But my Viking ancestors will jeer at me from the other side of the veil this winter if I don’t make the attempt…

Winter and I are going to be friends. I’m determined.

So this morning when the first snow started slanting down, soaking our alfalfa field and bringing out the sweetness of it’s purple smell and swelling the gutters with puddles, I shook it off. I  piled coats on my kids, snapped the baby into her fleece bear-hoodie and we walked to our homeschool co-op.

On the way home, two of my children slogged through a puddle. They were chattering by the time we got home and whimpering a bit. They will learn about winter, that the friendship has boundaries.

I fed my kids lunch and made my year’s first pan of cottage-friend potatoes, the most wintery of foods. My husband came home from work tonight and spent eight hours prying the lid off the boiler that heats our house and examining the rusty innards. I sense    already that his friendship with winter will involve more of a wary respect. And I admit I’m nervous. For me, friendships can be awkward at first. I get overwhelmed. I have my moments of despair: Did I say the right thing? Did I do something that revealed too much of my vulnerability, too soon?

Today I watch the snow fall through the big French doors and the windows that look south, east and north from our kitchen/dining room. I pretend nonchalance and think of the flakes as gifts. I allow the excitement to well up inside me at the prospect of four-foot drifts, of building a sled hill in the backyard, of cross-country skiing on the groomed trail by the icy-jade river that runs through our town. Of family snowball fights and cozy evenings cuddled around a TV screen watching movies that aren’t too scary but are scary enough to send my five year old shuffling to our room in the middle of the night, asking to be kissed and tucked back in.

We chose winter, and so winter will be a highlight of our year. We will make friends with winter. I’m determined.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sarah Dunster photoSarah Dunster is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. Her poems have been published in Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought, Segullah Magazine, and Victorian Violet Press. Her short fiction piece, Back North, is featured in Segullah’s Fall 2011 issue. In addition, Sarah’s first novel Lightning Tree will be released in spring of 2012 by Cedar Fort. Sarah has six children and one on the way and loves writing almost as much as she loves being a mom.

Canadian Shield by Bradley McIlwain

Canadian skyscape by Bradley McIlwain

I keep the totem in my pocket
as a harp song sung with a

steady bear paw, wedged
between your photograph

and an eagle feather. Before
we parted, you whispered it

would serve me well on rainy
days when my road was too

much to stand on. This morning
I pulled the car to the shoulder

to watch an osprey hover with
a cold sun. I look out over rock

formations carved by hundred
year old shale, hold my breath

and chant.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To read more of Bradley’s poetry and his bio, go here.

WIZ announcements, perhaps of interest

WIZ readers and writers: Remember that the deadline for Torrey House Press’s Creative Literary Nonfiction Contest (2,000-10,000 words) is midnight, September 30th.  First Prize: $1000.  Second Prize: $250.  Third Prize: $100.  There’s a $25 entry fee.

Torrey House is offering a special arrangement for entrants who can present “reasonable evidence” that they’ve bought Torrey House’s first novel publication, Crooked Creek. For more information about this special arrangement and for the competition in general, go here.  For those of you who don’t know, frequent WIZ contributor Steve Peck will also be releasing a novel through Torrey House Press in October.  Look for an excerpt to be published here on WIZ.

Also, Peculiar Page’s landmark poetry anthology Fire in the Pasture has announced a release date of October 1st.  It’s available for pre-ordering NOW!  This is an exciting and, really, quite astounding project.  I’m very pleased to say that many WIZ contributors make a showing in this important anthology (including me–what an honor!).  To view Fire in the Pasture’s product page and to pre-order your copy, go here.  You can also read Peculiar Page’s Theric’s triumphant promotional post about Fire in the Pasture here.

Also, I’ll be making a brief show of poetry in an anthology titled Vintage: A Harvest of Poems from Fortunate Childe Publications.  Carla Martin-Wood, another frequent contributor to WIZ, is one of the beating hearts of Fortunate Childe Publications.  If I remember correctly, most of the poems I’ll have in this anthology were published on WIZ.  Delightfully prolific poet Karen Kelsay will also be making an appearance therein.

Finally, occasional WIZ contributor Val K. has had her essay published first on WIZ, “Our Very Own Toad Hall,” accepted into the first  issue of Desert Voices, a regional anthology published by the Moab Poets and Writers’ group.  Congratulations, Val K.!  Your mother would be proud.

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.

A Patchwork by Steven L. Peck

751px-Green_patchwork_quilt_sewn_by_hand2 by onebyjude

She rests on her grandmother’s quilt,
the Spring air cool, but sun warming—healing
Winter’s darkness.
She, face turned to the sun,
is thinking back on the line of mothers
who gave her being and body . . .  She thinks about
an Eve, way back . . .

Out of some Cambrian longing
her distant grandmother emerged
hard shelled, many limbed,
singular in purpose, only a
crustacean of sorts, but a
crustacean on its way somewhere.
What a piece of work, this creature.

There would be many cuts,
restitchings, corrections, additions,
before her story appeared leaping
onto this wet fabric, around this sun, in this
neighborhood of stars,
in this galaxy, in this cluster, in this universe,
in this multiverse, in this embedding,

in this quilt.

She is a small thing compared to a star,
attached to eternity
by only a pineal of complexity—maybe
netting consciousness from some other
place. Is she some eternal piecework or
does she arise like her
arthropod grandmother
new and shining from lesser things?

On this day, she notices that
a far more distant
relation has shed an apple
leaf, which spirals
downward with grace.

She, saturated in connections, turning
over, leans off the quilt
and breaths in the scent of fragrant
Spring grass,
face first, she smells existence
in the loam, and feels some of
Schopenhauer’s Will
wrapping its arms around her and whispering
sentences that that grandmother knew and
passed on to this mammal woman,
her child’s child and so on.
Mothers running backwards, for eons.

This patchwork on which she lies
is of certain origins, and
she can wrap herself in its squares
and enjoy its warmth and the mercy of
the long chain of its history and
its intent.

__________________________________________________________________

Steve Peck is an ecologist at Brigham Young University. He has a novel soon to be published, The Scholar of Moab, by Torrey House Press. Other creative works include a novel: The Gift of the King’s Jeweler (2003 Covenant Communications); a self-published novella A Short Stay in Hell (reviewed here and here), a short science fiction story: The Flaw in the Lord Harrington Scenario, published in HMS Beagle (online journal by Elsevier); poetry in Dialogue, Bellowing Ark, BYU Studies, Irreantum, Red Rock Review, Glyphs III, Pedestal Magazine, Tales of the Talisman (nominated for the Rhysling Award), Victorian Violet, and a chapbook of poetry published by the American Tolkien Society called Flyfishing in Middle Earth. Steve blogs at bycommonconsent.com and has a faith/science blog called The Mormon Organon.

For more of Steve’s writing published on WIZ, go here, here, here, here, and here.