Tag Archives: Mormon nature literature

Memories of a Fallen Branch by Chris Peck

640px-Broken_tree_in_forest

Innocence splintered when I watched the tree branch fall.
Sleeping in tight corners,
the wind, the rain, the mourning trees
all spoke my name as they cried out.

But in those sounds—the creaking, the whining and pounding,
the whistling of the wind between leaves and branches—

There was clarity, the possibility of death
so that we may all sing laments neither for us, nor for our souls,
but for the nature which, through language, we have left.

And I left it, staying within safety, if there was any to be had,
understanding the difference I, a product of selection, shared.

But in passing, in seeing the destruction and its forms,
I returned to the woods, to the breath of what we know and saw
fear in my own eyes,
in the frailty of nature, and of myself, to a birth of civility.

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photo 2Chris A. Peck, currently resides in Provo, Utah with his wife and two boys. He is attending Utah Valley University working towards a degree in English education and philosophy after a long failed stint in the sciences. He is an avid cyclist and loves the outdoors. He has recently published in Warp and Weave as well as with the Utah Valley University Philosophy Conference.

Photo is in the public domain.

My Latest Trip to the Berkeley Botanical Gardens by Theric Jepson

Sequoia_geant

My Latest Trip to the Berkeley Botanical Gardens

was accomplished with more than the usual number of boys in tow.
Four in fact. Three mine 
and a friend.

To see the metasequoia and false rocks—and mating newts
(it’s that time of year)
spotted first and immediately by my three-year-old
who can’t see a dirty sock on the floor no matter how I point
but a perfectly still newt under a foot of pond water
is unmistakable to his bright eyes.

He’s wearing a Cars cap over his long blond hair and his
favorite part of this trip seems to be the railroad-tie stairs.

The roses in their garden are dormant in February
But somewhere in the Gardens is my love
(with three other boys)
And I am hers.

______________________________________________________
Now that his wife has bought a membership to the Berkeley Botanical Gardens, Theric Jepson should be able to visit them more often. He is the author of the novel Byuck.

Photo “Sequoia géant” courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Sky’s an Ocean, As All Eagles Know by Mark Penny

Birds_in_flight

The sky’s an ocean, as all eagles know
Who plumb the splendour nest to keel,
A craze of very ships in fleets that flow
On voyages forbidden whale and seal.
Its currents race, chained to the planet’s turn,
Churned by the jilted passion of the sun,
Exacting fervor from the veil-eyed fern
Mured in a pillared abbey like a nun.
Fleet immigrants, protesting falling leaves
And roofless perches, clog the trackless ways,
Pursuing passion while the bosom heaves
Of all creation in its fit of days.
The sky’s an ocean, leaping shore to shore.
So says the urchin on the ocean floor.

________________________________________________
For recent work by Mark and additional links, go here.

Photo “Birds in Flight” via Wikimedia Commons.

What the Winter Means by Mark Penny

Winter_landscape_3

You will be asking what the winter means.

A crack,
A crackle,
A lament.

The flat, sad surface of the earth
Stuck in the ice
That traps a pond.

The green gone gray and white
Alone
Or clothed
As if the crystals of the sky
Had slipped their tassels,
Slid the flimsy loom
And flapped like gulls and eagles
To the ground.

Moments of muteness
When no sight or sound but what comes with us
Dawdles in the glade,
The sounds sucked outward by the space
Between the grains of grounded firmament.
The chance of quiet in the grove,
The roads mere motions over rise
And so no more a measure of the world
Or its slow paces in the searing wind
Than pulse or breath,
Which also slow and still.

It is the restless resting revving up
Between the quick flags of the chase,
The soulless solace sloping to a rage
Of curled up crimsons
Bleeding green;
The ice cube cooling in the fire,
The cold cup sweating by the sea.

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For more by Mark, and additional links, go here.

Photo “Winter Landscape 3″ via Wikimedia Commons.

Ice Walking by Mark Penny

Beaver_dam_in_Tierra_del_Fuego

A nameless beaver sprang the trap.
Must have swum through it on his way up shore.
The two dogs, Jax and Cleo, crouched in their winter coats,
Gripped and pulled,
But the snare held,
Jealous of its prey.
I found them:
Red paw prints in the savaged snow,
Scrabbling blindly at the brink.
They parted for me.
I freed the carcass.
Primate hands
Dripping intelligence,
Carried the trophy to the pen
I’d built
To keep the collies off the goats–
The neighbour’s goats.
I threw the carcass down.
The dogs converged,
Patience and awe giving way to greed.
I watched awhile,
Then turned to human things.

There were two dams below the house:
The calf-deep creek
Bloated to drowning-depth in two black ponds.

Nights with a flashlight, brimstone eyes
Cruising the surfaces.
The still woods bristled:
Gnawed-off stakes,
Brute remains of silent-rooted trees,
Victims of mammal industry,
Torn bones
Woven in muddy, water-rotted domes.

Winter falls.
Green shapes yield to strangling ash,
Thicken and round out.
Water stills.
I try my foot on the narrow creek.
It holds.
Two feet.
I step.
I stop,
Listen for shifting,
Feel the seams,
Shuffle another pace or two.
All still.
All whole.
The dogs and I
Walk the half-glowing road
Onto the pond,
Ears up,
Knees bent,
Ingrown eye scanning the scratched slab,
The wind-laid pavement.

Now each breath
Savors its passage through the lungs
Upward,
The sky,
Rampant with icy lights–
And tall between,
Lone man
Gaping
As he breathes.
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Mark Penny has published with WIZ, and won last year’s Admin Award in the Spring Runoff. He was a finalist in the Goldberg’s “Four Centuries” competition in 2012. He recently founded “The Lowly Seraphim,” an “e-collective” for speculative Mormon fiction.

Photo “Beaver dam in Tierra del Fuego” via Wikimedia Commons.

Pastoral by Jeremiah Burrow

vt ruin

Against an autumn background
I fall again
into pastures not mine,
dispossessed.

Through young woods I walk
(the old giants have all been felled)
and grow tired;
the footpath is overgrown

and hard to keep.
I stop and rest
upon an old pasture wall—
where are the sheep, the range?

I am this stone wall,
piece-worn by century and half again
of trespass and weathers,
fallen to ruin.

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Jeremiah Burrow writes from Vermont where he is busy getting Stone Cairn Press off the ground. Check out the recent call for submissions. Burrow has published at WIZ, among other places, and more of Jeremiah’s poems are forthcoming next month at Four and Twenty: Short Form Poetry.

Big-backed Rain by Patricia Karamesines

Supercell photo public doman courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Above Four Corners,
nimbus-shouldered gods
rev the engines
of their summer rainmakers.

East in Colorado,
up from Utah’s deep country,
rashes of electrical impulses
bloom on chaffing skins of water
and air-born ice.

One silver-plated maelstrom sheers
from Sleeping Ute’s igneous brow.
It steams into Utah, anvil raised
to the highest stratum of the day,
bottom, pressed black night.
Between the cell’s chassis
and the ground, grey velvet cloudburst
and lightning forging, breaking—both—
bonds hotter than the sun’s face burns.
To the storm’s starboard, Scorpio
surfaces in early twinkle.
Fulmination lights the cloudworks
then tats one billow edge in pearly scallop
as the bulk winks briefly out.
The approaching earthmover’s intermittent
Groan deepens to near constant grumble.

In Arizona, out of hearing’s range,
lightning flakes evening off mountains
in noiseless cracks of light.
A second thunderhead
fires bolts as orange as pumpkins
into the rooted spine of the Carrizos.
Shredding rain, crooked veins
of fire bind both bodies,
filling canyons and arroyos with watery flash.
The frenzy squalls west, lightning intensifying:
Firecrackers going off under a hat.
.
The Milky Way swells then swirls
into southern lightning chambers
until figuring where storm cloud ends
and star cloud begins
poses riddles too expansive
for the mind’s casual play.

The male rain*, the rain with big shoulders,
muddies boundaries between heaven and earth,
splits an evening hour into tiers of high day
and gradations of disquieted,
low-hanging
night.

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*NiÅ‚tsÄ… BikÄ…, Navajo for “male rain”: the rain that falls during summer thunderstorms.

Patricia and her family live in the Four Corners region of the southwestern U.S.  She has won many awards for her poetry, essays, and fiction.  She is the author of The Pictograph Murders, a mystery set in the area where she lives. Some of her poetry appears in the recently published landmark anthology of Mormon poetry, Fire in the Pasture. An adjunct English professor for Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah, she teaches English composition and also works as a tutor for English.  She is founding editor of Wilderness Interface Zone.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

A Break in Drops by A. J. Huffman

A Break In Drops

The storm rises, exquisite
dawn. Sun forcing backlit bows
of silver streaming about
the blustering black. Wind
rolls the picture; motion
floods the sky. A gravel’s whisper
now, but the image remembers
just how loud the lightning cried.

__________________________________
A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  She has published four collections of poetry: The Difference Between Shadows and Stars, Carrying Yesterday, Cognitive Distortion, and . . . And Other Such Nonsense. She is also published in national and international literary journals, including Avon Literary Intelligencer, Writer’s Gazette, and The Penwood Review.  Find more about A.J. Huffman, including additional information and links to her work here and here. 

“A Break in Drops” is the first of a triptych of poems. Look for the second and third over the next two days.

Photo by the poet.

Storm Watch by Bradley McIlwain

The_coming_storm,_Lake_Erie,_by_Bonine,_R._(Robert_K

for Brian G.

Lightning.
A ghost-like stillness

descends over open
water.

Tornado weather.
From the window

you scramble to
recover the CD’s

and boom box, but
Metallica is already

electrified. Party on,
Garth!

as silhouettes bloom
origami boats

paddling like ants
against the current.

__________________________
Bradley McIlwain will be familiar to WIZards as a previous contributor and Spring Runoff contestant. He lives in Ontario, Canada.

Photo by Robert K. Bonine via Wikimedia Commons.