Tag Archives: poems about nature

“In the Sweet Alone” by Karen Kelsay

Sitting cross-legged beneath the cherry tree,
wearing her mother’s seed pearl necklace
and a sprig of jasmine on her bodice—
she offers blossoms to a gravestone.
The gilt and gold of late afternoon washes
through shadows. It’s springtime. Unripened
fruit hangs like quiet temple bells between
flowering cylinders of white, and brides
with dark branches. Somewhere in the sweet alone,
silence caps hilltops and pirouettes across
the tree line, as rows of giant hyssop rise
like spindles from the whorl of earth,
ready to trumpet the black of evening.


For Karen’s bio and another of her contest entries, go here.

*Contest entry*

“Seasonal Ritual” by Jon Ogden

On Sundays in rows of chaos,
Children shouting over a tinny piano,
Spring was popping popcorn —
Week after week, we took it in armfuls.

As a teen, blooming was the last breath of winter.
The snow having seeped into roots of trees,
Pushing methodically to tips of limbs,
Bursting into blossom, then blowing off again in flaky grace.

And there’s still this youth—an ever flourishing festival
At the fringe of a common Mormon town, thousands
Of curious celebrators reveling in a distant
Hindu ritual, still euphoric for the popping colors of spring.


Jon Ogden is a graduate student studying rhetoric at BYU. He has published several poems in BYU’s creative writing journal, Inscape, and his poetic tastes favor Robert Frost’s Collected Works and Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints. He recently won BYU’s Writer’s Portfolio contest and placed first in the Mayhew specialty short story section.

*Contest entry*

“February” by Davey Morrison

“can you smell it?”
“what?” you asked.
“the spring,” said i.
the corpse of lifeless leaf crackled,
cracked, &
croaked beneath the grinding heel of
passersby. You scoffed,
and sniffed,
and scoffed again—a groaning, chill-
wind branch murmured dryly
his assent;
Even the Groundhog fled.

sighed: “perhaps not,” said my heart, and walked on.
i could have sworn
for a glimpse however brief
–it was sunlight lit your curls.
And weren’t those blossoms at my toes?
or merely(maybe)
snowflakes caked in hope.


In addition to being a published and award-winning poet, Davey Morrison is also a screenwriter, a playwright, a director, an actor, and a visual artist. A Media Arts major at BYU, Davey loves his wife, his dog, his family, the outdoors, the springtime, the autumn, movies, music, board games, Russian literature, Kurt Vonnegut, Fred Astaire, Indian food, Woody Allen, and an assortment of other things, and he can frequently be found devouring information in books or on the internet.

*Contest entry*

“Faint Refrain” by Karen Kelsay

Elizabeth Songstaffe, whose name
is inscribed in my gold-edged bible,
how was your life composed?

Did your pockets brim
with grace notes that scattered
like freckles on a shoulder?

Were you awkward
as a lonely clap, sounding after
a symphony’s first movement?

Born one hundred years ago,
your death was not recorded–
yet, I hear a faint refrain.

Did you once hum across prairies
on humid evenings, or lilt between bramble
and heather on mud-soaked moors?

Were you housebound, gazing through
leaded windows while landscapes
blurred into the sea?

I imagine you, a ballad of emotion,
deep with French horns, wistful violins
and whimpering flutes,

ascending quietly into a mysterious
finale, while the cadence of your life
slowly lowered into another accord.

WIZ’s 2010 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest

A compass needle, a lizard, spins half a turn
To keep me in sight, tweaking my sense of direction:
Spring is coming — that way.

According to my 2010 turtle calendar, the Vernal Equinox arrives Saturday, March 20.  To celebrate spring’s arrival last year, WIZ ran a Spring Poetry Run-off that turned out to be lots of fun.  So beginning March 19, we’re running WIZ’s Second Annual Spring Poetry Run-off, this time as a poetry contest!

In keeping with WIZ’s mission to help develop, inspire, and promote literary nature and science writing in the Mormon writing community, we encourage poets to help call an end to winter and midwife the birth of a milder season, a season of gardens, returning flocks, and light that takes the tarnish off the blood.

Contest rules

  • Submit poems to wilderness@motleyvision.org between March 7 and March 31.
  • All poems submitted must be original, published or unpublished work.  If the work has been previously published, please provide publication information and be sure you can grant us rights to re-publish the work.
  • Please submit poems 50 lines long or less.
  • All poems submitted must be spring-themed or at least mention spring.
  • Poets may submit up to 3 poems.

The contest will run from March 19 through March 31 or longer, if enough poems come in to warrant extending the contest. All submissions will be published on the blog, where they’ll become automatically eligible for competition as well as open to readers’ informal feedback in the post’s comments. Authors retain all rights to their work.

Entries will be posted one per day until all entries have been posted.  Following the contest’s closing, readers will vote on WIZ to choose the winning poem.

A winner will be announced within a week after the last poem has been posted and all votes have been cast.  The winner will be awarded his or her choice of either a copy of Lance Larsen’s Backyard Alchemy (University of Tampa Press 2009) or Warren Hatch’s Mapping the Bones of the World (Signature Books 2007).

If you don’t want to compete but would like to participate in the Spring Poetry Runoff, let me know and I’ll mark the poem, “Not for competition.”

So, if you have written a poem which mentions spring or one in which spring figures prominently and that fits WIZ’s themes and content, e-mail it to us at wilderness@motleyvision.org.  Please review our submissions guide before submitting.

Among the Boughs

by Karen Kelsay

Tonight, a slow release of summer rain
sweeps through my pear tree. Gentle is the sound,
a metronomic lullaby that rolls
across each limb and patters on the ground.

Outside my room, traversing streamlets run
along the open pane–I try to count them all.
And leaves are soaked a darker green, while buds
appear to peek between the lattice wall.

The scent of blossoms filters through my screen.
I lie awake, yet, caught up in romance
among the boughs, where whispers hum to me,
and all my evening thoughts have learned to dance.

Karen Kelsay is a native Californian who grew up near the Pacific.  As a child, she spent most of her weekends on a boat. She has three children, two cats and extended family in England, where she loves to visit. Her poems have been widely published over the past few years in journals, including The Boston Literary Review, The New Formalist, The Christian Science Monitor and Willow’s Wept Review. Her first book, Collected Poems, was finished in 2008, and a chapbook, A Fist of Roots, was published by Pudding House Press in January 2009.  A second chapbook of children’s poetry, titled Song of the Bluebell Fairy, will be published later this year.  To visit her website, go here.  To read samples of her verse for children, go here.

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.