Tag Archives: Mormon nature literature

The Kingdom of Pissemyre

by J. Max Wilson

East of the cemented waste, the aspen stood, a sapling still,
And there a few aphidian peasants leeched their lives from phloem’s rill.
They lapped the aspen’s sweetest sap; rapt in bohemian blissmare, blind—
And sapped the sapling of its health (though still it prospered of a kind).

Then came the Bishop Barnaby and Stinkfly Deacon forth to feed,
And sanguinary sermons spoke with lurid liturgy and creed.
And so, by priestcraft’s gory glut, their doctrine inadvertently
Restored the tree to verdant form, though only temporarily.

Then from across the crackèd desert came the Piss’myre army, strong—
The ‘nighted nibelungian host marched one-by-one as ‘counts the song.
And up the sapling, up they marched (still one-by-one-by-one) until
With formic might the pissant host subdued the lesser peasants’ will.

The dreaded deacons then received the doctrine they themselves had taught.
The bloody bishops banished were, to starve to death for all they wot.
And in their place the Piss’myre lords set up a new society;
A kingdom grand, a great machine of order and efficiency:

“Divide, assign, to each allot a place, a part, a role to play;
To each his branch, his twig, his leaf, an overseer to obey.
Revoke their freedom every whit, yet to their vice impose no let:
To cultivate and harvest more their sweet, mellif’rous excrement.”

And gladly, gladly did submit the chattel to their slavery,
Contented only to be free to wallow in debauchery.
So nurtured by their overlords the lech’rous population waxed,
And ‘neath the load of sponsored sin the aspen sapling’s blood was taxed.

Through sun-scorched day and dark new moon, the kingdom throve thus for a spell,
And still the tree, all wan the leaves, drew strength from root’s deep, clonal well.
‘Till on a night an august storm with thund’rous wind ‘rose from the west;
The trees all danced ‘fore God’s great breath; from each its wrath obeisance wrest’.

The scent of dawn hung o’re the earth, while sun’s ascent revoked the night,
And lo, what new apocalypse dispensed now was by mourning light?
The jagged edge of xylem cracked; the leaves pressed wet against the ground;
Behold! The Kingdom down is cast! It’s unseen canker now is found!

There! bored by pissants through the pith, an hidden tunnel had been wrought
Up through the trunk, through which the yield of sin-crop might be swiftly brought!
And compromisèd thus the constitution of the sapling’s core,
The aspen could not then endure the storm and tribulation sore.

To ev’ry kingdom, vast or microscopic, certain laws are laid,
And exhortations, prophesies, and types and shadows in them played.
And so a warning sign is raised to kingdoms great and persons small:
Beware the taste of honeydew, lest thou like Piss’myre also fall.

 

For helpful notes on this poem’s content, go here.

J. Max Wilson’s personal blog, Sixteen Small Stones, may be found here.

Watching the Sunrise in St. George, Utah

10 May 2008

by Tyler Chadwick

I wish I knew the names
of all these birds: I’m sure that’s a sparrow,

wings wound tight against the wind,
dropping to the tip of a cypress

before re-mounting the sky; and
two more there, circling the birdfeeder,

vying for seed. And there, a robin, breast flared
even at this hour,

sifting the xeriscape for a meal,
prouding its head to swallow, then

vanishing down a nearby bluff.
And there, scrambling from beneath

a tuft of backyard sage, what must be a mourning dove
throws dust and air at my presence. And yesterday,

as we came into town, I’m sure it was a raven
that arced across the road, tilting its wings

against the updraft from our car
to gather sky around its violet-

blue gloss. But that brooding coo,
too long and low

for the dove, covering the crickets’ trill,
charming light from its clay vessel—

did Adam, at first,
even really know that name?

 

Originally published in Irreantum 9.2 (2007)/10.1 (2008): 206-7.

Tyler’s personal blog:  Chasing the Long White Cloud.

Language as wilderness

This piece is more journal-like in its musings than most of my posts.  In fact, parts have been lifted from my hiking journal.  I hope this doesn’t render its structure or possible meanings confusing.  Also, this post plays around with several rather strenuous threads, like I do commonly when I’m out walking alone.  I thought I’d just throw these ideas out there for fun today, but if you have a headache or are looking for something less troublesome to start or end your day on, you might want to skip this one.

Last year(ish), Moab Poets and Writers solicited a bit of writing that would fit compactly into one of the columns of their newsletter.  I’m not happy with the piece I wrote for them; it wasn’t quite focused and in places the language fumbled badly. 

As underdone as it was, it apparently stirred up some folks.  Earlier this year one of the group’s representatives contacted me.  MP&W was designing a brochure laying out membership information and other goodies.   They wanted to include a few lines from that earlier piece in the brochure.  I was delighted to hand it over … more or less.  Like I said, the passage does contain some serious flaws.

This is the line MP&W selected for their brochure (again, forgive my clumsiness): Continue reading Language as wilderness

Patricia and the beetle

November 2008, I sat in Sacrament Service between my two ambulatory children, daughter aged eleven years, son aged eighteen.  As the program moved into the blessing and passing of the Sacrament, my mind began its shift from observation to meditation.

Movement atop the empty pew just ahead drew my eye.  A beetle about a quarter of an inch long followed the ridgeline of the pew’s wooden back, rear end waggling as its six legs paddled its body along.  It had a dark gray carapace and a rounded, yellowish head with black eyespots.  Two short antennae sifted the air questioningly. Continue reading Patricia and the beetle

Bird in the hand

First published at A Motley Vision, this essay explores the nature of stewardship by wondering if we understand what stewardship is or if we’ve merely assumed that we understand.  Are we fully conscious of the needs of other creatures, as good stewards ought to be? Are we imaginative enough to visualize the possibilities of faithful stewardship, which may include providing other species with opportunities for … oh, I don’t know … progression, maybe … or perhaps gaining from them insight that endows our own progression?

An abridged version of “Bird in the Hand” was published in 2007 in Glyphs III, a regional anthology containing writings by local writers and visitors to southeastern Utah’s redrock country that Moab Poets and Writers publishes every two years.  I’ve written more about MP&W here.  

In July 2005 my brother Jim and I threw camping gear into his new Toyota 4Runner and headed for a canyon in the San Rafael Swell. The object of our trip: try out the 4Runner on real four-wheel-drive roads and see petroglylphs at the canyon’s mouth. We arrived at the canyon at dusk and as evening fell helped each other wrestle up tents in a whipping canyon wind. Continue reading Bird in the hand

Field notes #1

Posts in this series are semi-polished exerpts from the pocket-sized hiking journal I carry when I go out walking in local canyons, etc.  If something interesting happens or a bolt from the blue strikes, I pull out the old journal and get down the basics.  I’ve left Field Notes elsewhere around the bloggernacle, such as here and here, but I thought that for Wilderness Interface Zone and simplicity’s sake we’d just start over again at #1.

As always, if you, dear reader, have field notes or vivid memories of trips taken, you’re invited to make entries you’d like to share in the comments section. 

February 18, 2009, a.m.  Approaching the trailhead into Crossfire, I glance at the knoll northeast where reposes the horse skeleton.  My eye catches a flash of movement.  I stop.  Small deer maybe?  No. The tail end of some other kind of animal slips into a juniper’s scant cover.  Will the animal reveal itself? 

Wait for it. Continue reading Field notes #1

A primer: What is nature literature?

This brief, light treatment of possibilities for the LDS nature writer is excerpted from my unpublished paper “Why Joseph Went to the Woods: Rootstock for LDS Literary Nature Writers,” presented at the 2008 Association for Mormon Letters Annual Conference.  This paper arose out of blog posts at A Motley Vision and Times and Seasons.

Perhaps one reason LDS writers haven’t ventured far into the field of nature writing is because they’re not sure what it is or does and whether or not writing it fulfills covenants they’ve made to help build the kingdom of God.  Furthermore, in my experience, many in the LDS population don’t know how to interpret the anger, misanthropy, or sorrow that crops up in traditional nature writing, especially when the high rhetoric expressing such emotions threatens LDS lifestyles and beliefs.  Important, call-to-action terms like “stewardship,” a word that many if not most LDS accept as an essential component of concepts like “service” and “righteous dominion,” prove uncomfortably mercurial when applied to environmental issues.  Writing nature literature might qualify as exercising “good stewardship,” and thus as an act of building the kingdom, but what kind of writing qualifies as nature writing and what aspects of building the kingdom might it accomplish? Continue reading A primer: What is nature literature?

The fly

Late summer of 2008, I was sitting in Crossfire Canyon (here are parts two and three) at one of my favorite sandstone perches when I became conscious of a persistent buzzing noise. Looking down, I spotted an insect hovering just above the ground about a meter below me. The insect looked something like a yellow jacket, black and bright yellow in coloration, but in morphology it more closely resembled a fly than a wasp. A yellow jacket’s buzz changes pitch constantly as it moves, and it’s always in motion because it has no real talent for hovering. This look-alike hovered like a champ, so it droned at a fairly constant pitch rather higher than a wasp’s.  Continue reading The fly

Welcome to Wilderness Interface Zone

There’s something about walking out of the desert or other wild or marginally wild area that you don’t get walking into it.  Something that you feel in your return to others sharing the fire or that comes from sliding into your vehicle to head home at the end of a hike or campout.  Something about completing the journey on foot, walking through the front door, closing the circuit. Continue reading Welcome to Wilderness Interface Zone