Tag Archives: Patricia Karamesines

The Wall by Patricia Karamesines

Old_door-dakhla-egypt

I.
My neighbor’s light steps
Through gaps between the boards at night,
And my neighbor’s light steps
Drift like leaves among his unguessed furniture.
At sunset, the sun leaks from his room.
We have never spoken through the wall,
Though we have, at other times, spoken,
And we have, at other times, thought
Of each other’s sleeping.

II.
Unfamiliar voices,
Male and female,
Twining like butterflies in the space
Of the wall’s other room.
I guess love
And wait ’til their trembling,
And the wall’s trembling, pass.
Then embers of their conversation
Once more permit sleep.

III.
I hear a woman crying.
I think, “There is a woman in my dreams, crying.”
Then I think, “No, I am crying.”
And then another voice says, “No,
That’s real sadness on the other side
Of the wall–not your dreaming.”
I follow the sounds, but when my eyes open,
They have nowhere to go in the blindfold blackness.
Yet to my ears, the nightingale, a bare-throated woman,
Warbles her sorrows through the wall’s divide.

_______________________________________________________
Patricia Karamesines lives with her family 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. An adjunct English professor for Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah, she teaches English composition but acts at the college mainly as an English tutor, working mostly with the school’s Native American students. She is founding editor of Wilderness Interface Zone and a passionate advocate for the environment of human expression.

Photo of an old door in Dakhla, Egypt via Wikimedia Commons.

2012 Fall haiku by Patricia K

369px-Francesco_del_Cossa_001 Der Herbst

She’s heeeerrrre …

Autumnal equinox: the tipping point between two seasons of light.

Fall arrived on Saturday a little before 9 a.m. I thought it happened today because my calendar says so, but my calendar got it wrong. I wonder what else my calendar has gotten wrong.

For those of us who (like me) may feel the touch of melancholy this time of year but have the impulse to celebrate anyway, WIZ is opening a haiku chain. Many of you know what a haiku is–probably, you’ve know since elementary school or junior high. For those who feel uncertain, a haiku is a classical Japanese poetical form, usually 17 syllables all in a single line in Japanese, but there are longer and shorter forms.  A haiku written in English stacks lines, often in the order of one short line of 5 syllables on top, a long line of 7 syllables in the middle, then another short line of 5 syllables on the bottom.  But there are many paths–pick what suits you.  Often, haiku mention the season under consideration.  If you wish to learn more about haiku, you can go here or here.

How a WIZ haiku chain usually goes is this: Someone starts the chain.  This year, that’s me. Somebody follows me, adding a single haiku in the comments, and then another person takes a crack, and ’round we go.  You may link your haiku to an image in the previous haiku or stud the chain with something wholly original. I kind of like seeing other people’s individual expressions of how the arrival of this season strikes them. Other than the informal, “one-at-a-time-please” tradition, there’s no limit to turns a participant can take and no deadline for this activity.  It runs as long as it runs.

My opener:

Summer’s final words
rasp leaves, shimmer on the lip
of the horizon.

Go!

Athanasia by Patricia Karamesines

Green Apple public domain wikipedia commons

I would say I feel cold but no
that’s not right. I feel dark.
Winter has begun glooming bone
half so bright with fire as once cheered.
This arm and shoulder upon which I fell—
they make a rough fit.  Especially
I feel it there. My eyes rummage
squat days for gleams. In my chest
there’s a catch, as if these lungs
lose appetite, thin instants off each breath.

Spring wells up almost too late,
me panting for light.  Then with summer
the full gasp at last revives
one more solstice in the blood.

During my high and thieving youth,
I gorged on sun’s confections—cherries,
peaches, apples—climbing to the high reaches
among the wind’s fits and passions.

Now I hoard against the lightshed
of winter equinox fruit
others pick.  But these run out
and the sun gets no better.
Oblique, if not of its own angle,
from slants of storm.

When we think of resurrection,
(and we must think of it—
science writhes from that grave
cocoon toward winged athanasia),
should that day of first glory break
on winter’s dawn and I by some
unforeseen chance am called,
I shall not answer by any name.
There will not be enough holy apples
growing in God’s green mind to give me rise.
Sweetest science could not coax me
past the thin, grey snows.

But for whatever glory ascends summer’s spire,
with the wisdom of a potato in a root cellar,
my strands will feel end and beginning
bind up my spine and the earth lurch beneath wing
beats of swallows working airy theorems
across the blue board. “That,” I will say,
“that is the word I lay wanting.”
And up I’ll come from must with earthwise toads.

[Edited 12/21/2013 to remove introduced formatting symbols and to update the version.]

_____________________________________________________________________

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. This version of “Athanasia” is a recent re-write.

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.

_______________________________________
*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.

The Mendicant’s Plea by Patricia Karamesines

800px-Waterdruppel_op_blad waterdrops on leaves public domain

If I came in the dawn, before
Your hard light and straight air,
If I brought a cup,
Would you let drop dew

From your luster onto its curve?
Not for me, mind you—
It’s enough for my two orbs
To reflect on complexions of sky-

Eyed beads, enough for my two
Shells to dote on strands
Of silence.  But others might
Not catch the muddy logic

Of rainstorm runoff, the smoke
Of wit in some animal eye,
The lavender twinkle
Of late-blooming asters;

Might not hear your dog’s
Cackle upend evening’s
Sequence, the raven break off
Night, the raw weed bend.

If it were a plain cup,
Without artistry,
Only your look, your lights
Dabbling its surface—

In each hemisphere of blessing
Would I bear out plenum on a mirror—
Your ascetic bent on prodigality,
Minims stamped with Everness’s twins.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Patricia and her husband, three kids, two cats, and new puppy live at the edge of the desert 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 now 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 provides tutoring instruction.  She is the founding editor of Wilderness Interface Zone.  “The Mendicant’s Plea” was first published in Desert Voices, the Moab Poets and Writers’ literary magazine.

Tree of Life by Coyote (as told to Patricia K.)

This segment is from a longer piece, Plato’s Alcove, which won an honorable mention in Torrey House Press’s 2011 Creative Non-Fiction Contest.  You can read the entire entry here. Plato’s Alcove is about my first trip to the desert back in 1982.

In the desert one day I met Coyote, the Trickster-God.  We greeted each other and sat in the shade.  I opened my canteen and drank then offered Coyote a drink.  When he thought I wasn’t looking he wiped the canteen’s mouth.  Then he drank.

“Thank you,” he said, handing it back.

I asked Coyote, “Why is this place so beautiful?”

He laughed and said, “I’ll tell you a story that explains everything.” Continue reading Tree of Life by Coyote (as told to Patricia K.)

More WIZ announcements, perhaps of interest

Fire in the Pasture from Peculiar Pages Press

Fire in the Pasture: Twenty-first Century Mormon Poetry, edited by frequent WIZ contributor Tyler Chadwick, made its debut at 2011 end in impressive style. Tyler reports that Fire in the Pasture has “risen as high as #2 in both Hot New Anthologies and Hot New Inspirational & Religious and #12 in Hot New Poetry.”  The Kindle edition “slipped into the Kindle Store’s top 100 Best Sellers in 20th Century American Poetry.”  Congratulations, Tyler and Th.!  For WIZ readers’ information, several WIZ contributors, including Sarah Dunster, Jon Ogden, WIZ’s new contributing editor Jonathon Penny, Steve Peck, Sarah Page, and myself have work included in its pages.  Ángel Chaparro Sainz, another frequent WIZ contributor, wrote the anthology’s afterword.  It’s a pleasure to see that so many WIZ folk threw kindling into Fire in the Pasture’s multi-colored flames.  A poem by Elizabeth Pinborough, another poet published in Fire in the Pasture, will appear on WIZ in February.

white violet planter.262173510_std resized2

Karen Kelsay, a fine formalist poet and constant lyrical presence here at WIZ, has begun a publishing company, White Violet Press. You can reach the press’s accompanying blog with submission guidelines by clicking on the image to the left.  While most publications are by invitation only, WVP will look at unsolicited manuscripts year round. White Violet Press is now open for submissions, so WIZ writers–especially WIZ writers of a formalist persuasion–please go have a look and support Karen in her new creative venture.

Torrey House Press3

In November 2011, my essay, “Plato’s Alcove,” was awarded finalist status and an honorable mention in Torrey House Press’s creative nonfiction competition.  The essay tells about my first trip to the desert.  An earlier version won 1st place in the 2003 Utah’s Original Writers Competition.  The version I sent to Torrey House is a more highly stylized, mixed-genre experiment. Want to read “Plato’s Alcove” at Torrey House’s website?  Go here.

Vintage3

Profound apologies for the lateness of this next announcement, but Fortunate Childe Publications published its autumn anthology, Vintage, in October 2011.  WIZ contributors Karen Kelsay and Carla Martin-Wood also have verse published therein (search on their names in the search bar to the left to read their poetry published on WIZ).  Also featured in Vintage: four of my poems, including “Deer in the City,” “Closing Time,” and two poems not on WIZ.  Leslie Ellison, publisher of Fortunate Childe, nominated my poem “Deer in the City,” which also appears at WIZ, for a Pushcart Prize.  This is my second Pushcart Prize nomination. Thank you, Fortunate Childe!  To find information about Vintage or purchase copies of this lovely seasonal anthology, click on the picture to the left.  I will soon be buying a few for myself. Several poets included in the anthology recorded readings of their work that you listen to here.

Valentines1-0124-300x192

WIZ will be running its popular Love of Nature Nature of Love event again in February.  To celebrate Valentine’s Day, all month long we’ll publish poetry, essays, blocks of fiction, art, music (mp3s), video or other media that address the subject of love while making references to nature.  Or it could go the other way around: We’ll publish work about nature that also happens to give a nod to love.  We’re seeking submissions of original work or you can also send favorite works by others that have entered public domain.  So if you have a sonnet you’ve written to someone dear to your heart–even and perhaps especially your pet hamster Roley Poley or faithful horse Old Paint–or perhaps a video Valentine or an essay avowing your love for a natural space dear to your heart–please consider sending it to WIZ.  See the submissions page in the navigation bar above for submissions guidelines.

Deer in the City by Patricia Karamesines

When winter beats its broad path
across fields, kneeling the weed
and setting, too, over sage and oak,
deep white pavement;
after wasps and beetles
have borne off, crumb by crumb,
rusted plum and apple pulp
so far beyond the last gather
the ground where they fell
no longer smells of cider;
when there is light instead of leaf
on the branch, star instead of pear,
deer walk as far into the city at night
as the park, smelling out sapling tips
and the palatable rare hedge.

Deer in the city after dusk—
they are not owls living in night’s
ruins above the streetlamps,
or feral cats that brawl
in the crawlspace beneath parked cars,
or rats, rummaging dim-lit alleys
for day’s spoils and parings.
Deer step as bare-legged
as strayed nymphs
though harrowed snow.
Their tracks form
in neighborhood schoolyards
like mushroom rings.

When the thaw greens
the high cold country
and suppling twigs may be bitten,
spring’s flower fleece shorn;
when snowmelt wears away lack,
releasing odor and fiber;
and shut trees opening
drop their first pale shadows,
they who have risked
discovery by hunger,
who walked through yard clutter
like pheasants through cut hay,
will go into forests of thunder
on mountaintops,
up onto aging meadows,
where they become themselves:
wild brown deer with black hooves.

____________________________________________________________________

Patricia roams and writes in southeastern Utah. She has received several literary awards for poetry, essays, and fiction, including from Brigham Young University, the University of Arizona, the Utah Arts Council, and the Utah Wilderness Association. A poet, essayist, and novelist, she has published in literary journals and popular magazines locally and nationally. Her novel The Pictograph Murders (2004 Signature Books) won the 2004 Association for Mormon Letters’ Award for the Novel. She writes sometimes for the Mormon arts and culture blog A Motley Vision, but her heart belongs to AMV’s companion blog Wilderness Interface Zone , a dream coming truer and truer.

*non-contest submission*

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,
Quicksand.

Lightning—
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.

“Seasonal Attitude” by Patricia Karamesines

I would say I feel cold but no
That’s not right—I feel dark.
Winter has begun glooming bone
Half so bright with fire as once cheered.
This arm and shoulder upon which I fell—
They make a rough fit.  Especially
I feel it there. My eyes rummage
Squat days for glints. In my chest
There’s a catch, these lungs losing
Appetite, thin instants off each breath.

Spring brightens nearly too late, me panting
For light.  Then with summer the full gasp at last
Revives one more solstice in the blood.

In my high and thieving youth
I gorged on the sun’s confections—
Cherries, peaches, apples—
That spring’s flower and summer’s
Hot honeyed shine bent
To my fingertips.

Now I hoard against the lightshed
Of winter equinox fruit
Others pick.  But these run out
And the sun gets no better.
Oblique, if not of its own angle,
From slants of storm.

When we think of resurrection,
(And we must think of it—
God’s Will or No
Science writhes from that grave
Cocoon toward winged athanasia),
Should that day of first glory break
On winter’s dawn and I by some
Unforeseen chance am called,
I shall not answer by any name.
There will not be enough holy apples
Growing in God’s mind to give me rise.
Cute Science will not tease me past the snow.

But for whatever glory ascends toward summer’s spire,
With the wisdom of a potato in a root cellar
My strands will feel end and beginning
Peel apart and the earth lurch beneath wing
Beats of swallows working airy theorems
Across the blue board. “That,” I will say,
“That is the word I lay wanting,”
And up I’ll come from must with earthwise toads.

_______________________________________________________________

*Non-contest submission*