Tag Archives: poems about spring

2013 Spring haiku: Come join the dance!

800px-Winterling-005 purple crocuses

In my part of the spring world, the arrival of the vernal equinox has not felt much different from the arrival of the autumnal equinox. The green flame is burning unusually low for this time of year. Winds have been abrasive and cold. Usually, the Big Green is well on its way by now, but only the dandelions are turning it up.

So I was wondering–how is spring coming along where you are? (For those of you who are moving into spring, that is.) I thought that it might be fun to give and receive reports of spring’s arrival in the form of haiku. That is, any excuse seems good for starting a haiku chain. Tracking spring’s approach–like news stations track Santa Claus’s progression toward their position–lends itself especially well to a sequence of meditative post-it notes.

What is a haiku? A haiku is a classical Japanese poetical form, usually 17 syllables all in a single line in Japanese, but I understand that there are longer and shorter forms.  In English, a haiku often takes the form of one short line of 5 syllables, a long line of 7 syllables, then another short line of 5 syllables, but there are many paths–pick what pleases you.  Often, haiku mention the season under scrutiny–in this case spring, obviously.  If you wish to learn more about haiku, you can go here or here.

For this chain, I’ll post an opener that I brought up out of Crossfire Canyon yesterday when I went down to look for spring there. Imagine my surprise to see that not even the wild buckwheat are bucking up yet. They’re usually the first flower to bloom, after stork’s bill. Then, the wild phlox.

But yesterday, nada.

Or only slightly more than nada.

After I post my haiku, the chain is open for business. Simply post your haiku in the comments below the post. You can riff off the previous haiku or totally cowboy it. Those of you who aren’t springing it up but are actually falling–don’t feel left out. Remind us that hemispheres have minds of their own. Just have fun.

Me:

Spring flickers low in
root embers and cold pith, in
rare red sparks of ant.

Go!

Winners of WIZ’s 2012 Spring Poetry Runoff Announced

Snow_river by Ranveig Thattai

Wilderness Interface Zone’s poets came through once again to present a full field of colorful and mind-brightening spring poetry during this year’s Spring Poetry Runoff.  Spring couldn’t find better heralds of its arrival or celebrants of its renewed greening of those parts of the world that are fortunate enough to get True Spring.  The WIZ admin (that’s Jonathon and me) were thrilled with the participation.  We’d like to express our profound gratitude to both writers and readers who picked up ribbons on our Maypole of vernal verse.

As usual, we had many strong contestants.  And as usual, we feel that we can’t award enough people enough prizes. However, those who did not place sometimes receive consolation prizes as other publications rummage through WIZ’s Runoff poetry, come up with a handful of some Spring Runoff poems–winners and worthy contestants–and republish them.  Dialogue did so last year and Sunstone is doing it this year.  So don’t be surprised if you’re thumbing through Sunstone’s upcoming stewardship issue and discover WIZ poems among the sheaves.  WIZ is pleased to be a gateway for both emerging and established writers to win wider attention for their work.

WILDERNESS INTERFACE ZONE’S 2012 SPRING POETRY RUNOFF WINNERS

The Most Popular Poem Award: Not to belabor the obvious, but James Goldberg’s crowd-pleasing and tender reflection on fathers and sons set against a warm spring background within which stirs snakes and memories managed to pull away from William Reger’s also quite skillful and intriguing “First Robins.”  This was, hands down, the most exciting Most Popular Poem vote in WIZ’s three years of running the competition.  Thanks to both Will and James for putting on a spectacular show and for drawing in a record number of 212 voters.

WIZ admin’s comments on “Since he was weaned”:

Jonathon: What’s not to like in James’ “Since he was weaned”? Spring may be delayed here, and when it comes the fever breaks quietly, cumulatively. It is never much more than implied in bones needing rest, and in the sullen, housebound winterwork the father does. But he is, from the start, infected with love and wonder, and the son for his part with that urgency to Go! we all have carried in our bones, carry still if we are blessed to: an impulse caught in winter worries (where there’s Winter) and released, uncoiled, where there is Spring.

Patricia: Relationships. The world needs more relationship poems as convincing as this one, and, of course, more poems advocating kindness toward snakes. And as a reader, thus a participant in James’ word-world, I felt the language welcome me to its story.  Jonathon speaks of the father becoming “infected” with love and wonder; from “Since he was weaned” emanates simple, native magnetism that likewise draws in the reader affectionately. I have a powerful, sympathetic response to the boy’s whole-body hunger to launch himself (with Papa’s company and aid) into that wider world.  An authentic poem, fully approachable yet artistically savvy.

The Admin Award: Every year since the Runoff competition began, WIZ administrators (that’d be me for the first 2 years; this year, Jonathon and myself) have dipped in and chosen their favorite poem from the Runoff.   The overabundance of truly worthy poems always makes choosing at least somewhat painful; this year was no exception.  This year, the Admin Award goes to Mark Penny for his lyrical, sprung sonnet, “I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring.”

WIZ admin’s comments on “I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring”:

Jonathon: The comment section on Mark’s “I Miss that Time of Year” bears out that “rain-chaffed ions” was an accident, but a happy one, reading Spring as a harvest of the dormant seed of Winter with its “white-robed monarchs” in their “white-leaved bower,” and its cold but coursing water. There’s something of Dylan Thomas at work here–“cloud-licked,” “herd-lord”–but restful, clean, and sober at a holy sonnet, at a sonnet as altar.

Patricia: When I read “I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring”, I thought, “That gets it for me–that longing for spring that makes the mind ache.”  I find the poem a satisfying answer to WIZ’s call for poems to sing up the season.  I loved that line, “Of white-robed monarchs in a white-leaved bower”–thrilling and chilling.  As Jonathon points out, “I Miss” is a sonnet, yet the rhyme scheme dances about freely.  And yes, there’s something holy about Mark’s poem–even in that reflection, ” … dream / Never quite shaken off, a dream of chills.”  “I Miss” scratched my spring itch.

For your enjoyment, below you can read or re-read the two winning poems .

I Miss That Time of Year I Know as Spring by Mark Penny

I miss that time of year I know as Spring:
The rain-chaffed ions on the air, the air
Breathed by the shrew and hawk, the wheat and tare,
Stirred by the green-leafed lyre and the wing.
I miss the swift, infant quaking of the grass
In the first stumbling steps of cloud-licked wind,
The boastful lowing of the herd-lord sun,
The warbling riot of the wild morass.
I miss that setting forward of the hour,
That lunge of drowsy muscles from a dream
Never quite shaken off, a dream of chills,
Of white-robed monarchs in a white-leaved bower,
Of cold blood coursing in the veins and streams,
Of all that revels lying prone and still.

Since he was weaned by James Goldberg

Since he was weaned, my son’s been hungry for the open sky—
so that now, at eighteen months, he’s a seeker and a maker of signs.

A simple knock at the air
comes first.
It means: open this door
and let me ascend the concrete steps
to that greater bliss and those long lines of sight.
It means: let there be light!
Or, if the light is already waiting, let me rise to it.
Let me bask today.

Then there’s fetching the shoes;
that’s much more forceful.
To bring his own shoes is to say:
I am prepared! And don’t let this journey be withheld from me!
To bring my shoes—yes,
to cradle the massive, worn load of each size fifteen ship
and to dump it abruptly, for emphasis, at my feet—
this means:
the time has come, my father,
and can you deny your own destiny?

If all else fails,
there’s the incantation,
the syllable of power.
The hard ‘g’ means: pay attention!
(in the prophets’ terms: behold!)
And then the long ‘o’ either swells into a
bright sound of hope,
or else drags out long and plaintive:
an aching lament, the age-old burden
(the pain of separation the prophets once spoke).
Armed with this spell, he walks up to me like Moses to Pharaoh.
Go? he says. Go. Go!

When he asks, I am always busy.
When he asks, I have work to do. Feet to rest, and bones.
But when my son struggles for these signs
like a drowning man for air,
who am I to resist?
Who am I not to offer him the sweet relief
of knowing absolutely that he has been understood?

We go outside (I tell myself)
for two minutes. Just two minutes.
But soon spring is thawing my tundra-hard heart,
Soon, we cannot be contained even by the backyard.

Under the concrete of the driveway, garden snakes are stirring.
My son and I see one’s striped body from behind a leaning rock
and I remember my father, who taught me love and reverence
when he pulled our van over all at once and stepped out,
when he carried a snake away from the dangers of the road’s warm asphalt,
when he laid it down safe on the soft ground
one spring. Long ago.

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″]

Gatekeeper of Spring by Harlow Clark

Vor dem Gesetz steht ein Türhüter
–Franz Kafka

K. is the gatekeeper to spring
Marching me through February.
Vacuuming the chapel and halls I listen
To K cleaning the schoolhouse
Trying to make a home there
Waiting to be called up.

Biking town to town and street to street
I hear the mazes of Amerika
The gatekeeper before the gatekeeper before the gatekeeper
Before the law, vor dem Gesetz,
Knife passing from hand to hand
Before the final plunge and twist.

Hearing twenty-one hours I found myself back
In Brent Chambers’ German 3 class at Provo High.
“Time for a donut run,” Herr Chambers said,
“Take my car.”
“It’s just across the street.”
He threw me his keys anyway.

The parking lot became a steep climb
Till I saw the rollercoaster cars
Coming straight for me.
A movie cliché rescued me
As I jammed the car in reverse
And roared backwards down the tracks
Just ahead of the coaster.

Back on the ground
The parking lot gatekeeper stopped me.
“No leaving the grounds during school hours.”
“I’m coming right back.”
“No leaving.”
“I’m not even a student here,
Just come for a visit.”
“We’ll see about that.”

I defeat the gatekeeper by waking up–
Down the hall, down the stairs, back up the hall
To the bathroom.
Stepping through the curtain at the foot of the stairs
I glance across the family room.

Outside the sliding glass door
A tall brown head
Cylindrical like a Tiki god carved from a coconut log.

I step forward to examine the texture of the bark.
The head turns to me,
I see the body sitting at the edge of the lawn
I back away, knowing when I bring back camera the deer will be gone.

For a year I mull this scene
Till one Saturday night
My friend e-mails an invite to celebrate
Spring with a poem for her blog–
Ends Monday.

The next day in Sunday School as King Benjamin teaches Atonement
I remember today is Orthodox Easter.
K. Chi. Chi Rho. Chi Rose.
Like a medieval deer he bounded
Over the gatekeepers,
And the gatekeepers of gatekeepers of gatekeepers.
No gatekeeper,
No twist of nine inch nails,
No stone coasting down a roller before a garden tomb
Could keep him from springing the gates of death.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Harlow Clark pedals to work down what was a 2-lane country road when he moved to Pleasant Grove, Utah 18 years ago. Since the I-15 interchange went in Sam White Lane (Sam White’s) has been bisected by Pleasant Grove Blvd and partly rerouted. Just before the lane goes over the freeway there used to be a veterinary practice. In an interview for a news story the vet told Harlow he could gauge the transformation of north Utah County from rural to urban by the disappearance of large animals from his patients. Harlow traces the transformation by the disappearance of the home and veterinary hospital and the appearance of a two-story office building (though by New York City standards the whole state is rural). He became aware awhile back that he has written several poems featuring animals, and is working them into a chapbook called Dinosaur Water.

*Competition entry*

When the Rains Come–Quatrain by Lou Davies James

When the rains come I tilt my face,
Letting life soak me to the skin
With welcome to each drop that falls,
Sliding soft like tears to chin

Regarding each as hours spent
When the rains come I tilt my face,
A mingling of joy and tears,
Of paths that led me to this place

Where Sorrow hand in hand resides
With Gladness as she brightly sings.
When the rains come I tilt my face
Toward each gift that living brings.

I will not turn away again
But meet each dawn with truth and grace,
Accepting all that life bestows.
When the rains come–I tilt my face.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To read Lou’s other entries to the Spring Runoff, go here and here.

*Competition entry*

Catching Bliss by Lou Davies James

Sunlight spills and pools on
my grandmother’s patchwork quilt
through the thin, embroidered
curtains in my room.

I step into the day…
opening doors and windows,
drawing in the morning air
cool off the ocean,
feeding cats and kittens on the deck,

squeezing juice and sipping as I write
what spills and flows,
feeling it come, letting it go,
lulled by errant phrasing as I stir

dusky berries into batter,
fresh cut lemon stinging
winter-weary splits on my thumb,
singing Joni Mitchell…

as I wash the spoons and bowls
and smell the muffins rising in the heat…

sweet days and dreaming,
bliss measured in moments,
fleeting in the light that pours
through my open windows.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To read Lou’s bio and other Spring Runoff Entry, go here.

*Competition entry*

One Cup for Turning by Lou Davies James

Draw me water sweet from out the well
when winter storms replenish all we know.
Long before the trees with blossom swell
the ice-bound season gifts the world with snow.

Snow that saturates the thirsting ground
as aquifers imbibe and drink their fill,
unleashed toward the sea where they are bound
when spring unties the thread of winter’s chill.

Chill that painted roses on your face
in March now slips away but still the blush
remaining as your fingers shake, unlace
the garments April sheds in such a rush.

Rush toward summer’s arms when ours are old
and frigid winds of change are fresh with cold.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Lou Davies James grew up on the beaches of Eastern Long Island and currently lives in North East Florida with her husband Wes and far too many cats. She is the author of one full length volume of poetry, Adrift in the Holy, and two chapbooks; Drawn as Ever and Internal Insomnia. She has been published in Victorian Violet Press, Wilderness Interface Zone and JBStillwater.

*Competition entry*

Jet-Lagged Spring Therapy by Ángel Chaparro Sainz

It’s weird now to think about this
(Time to destination: 10:50
Local time: 4:50 pm
Distance traveled: 0 km
Altitude: 0 m
Ground speed: 0 m
Head wind: 0 km/h
Outside Air Temperature: 26 c)
But I’ve just remembered that last night
I was sitting in the curb smoking behind the trashcan,
Could hear kids playing in other yards.

The day had gone by in a flash
Sun was fading in the west
Ash-gray clouds making his bed
But I turned east to stare at the Wasatch
And I wondered
That my first spring in the valley
Was almost over.

Now I see the melting peaks
Quite closer,
Hovering over them:
Less than 35 feet, still V1, and more than ten hours to
Get back
The day
I run younger to come here.

Twelve fake hours of my life
That I have used to bury my ego
In this foreign plain surrounded by heaps
Of pioneering dreams become true.

Next year I’ll celebrate the day I creamed
My neck
Watching in awe how spring was sun
Caressing the stony lips of Princess
Timpanogos
While she was resting wrapped
In white blankets.

I already traveled back home.
A home I’m leaving and heading to at once.
Sparrows play in civic chestnut trees
And quails wriggle in the dust of Liberty Park.
It’s weird now to think about this
But I love to dream
That I’ve been disjointed by spring.

(Time to destination: the rest of it
Local time: no need
Distance traveled: always the longest
Altitude: too close to
Ground speed: please, slow it down
Head wind: dry feet
Outside Air Temperature: who cares!)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You can find Ángel’s other Spring Runoff entries here and here.

*Competition entry*

Pulling Off Spring by Ángel Chaparro Sainz

I grew up watching mountains as a promise.
A father wasted by the eternal fire on the shop’s furnace.
A mother whose mother was mother on loan.
Loving slopes. I grew up thinking that nature was trees
In a park.
Sometimes I drive my car far,
Pull off
Somewhere out of this urban ocean
And fantasize
That I am diving into wild.
But the wildest here is how we harvested concrete.
This pawn shop of natural spirits:
Landscape framed by the fast windows of the subway.
Today gave birth to another windy spring.
Does it matter anymore?
I sit neat in a terrace just to watch people come and go.
Rain left the asphalt clean and pleased
And I marvel at the flowers planted on the windowsills.
This is it.
Me?
This is him.
Springy boy dotting his landscape with promises of new horizons,
Achievable paradise
Where cars are grassy, buildings leafy and people flowery.
Meanwhile,
Daisies keep blooming upon manhole covers
And I still have hopes.
Spring in cities is rolling down the window
To pursue
The miracle of sight.
Nice rhythm while life cheers up the prosaic tragedies
Of common men like me.
I guess I look stupid sitting in this park,
Alone,
staring at that kid,
Knees deep,
When he caresses daisies before he takes them to his mouth
And sips
The gentle bread of time that he will store in mind
For days to come
When spring is done and darkness catches his breath.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To see Ángel’s other entry and his bio, go here.

*Competition entry*

Walking to the Moon by Sandra Skouson

After breakfast the moon hangs
almost near enough to touch.
I do not resist.  Cutting across the lawn
I walk west past the row
of apple trees, climb the log fence,
crush soggy leaves deeper
into the pasture grass, duck under
the next fence.  From here on
I choose my way carefully through sagebrush,
scuff my shoes against yellow rocks
until the edge of the canyon stops me.

The morning the tree burned,
nothing stopped me.
I followed its shining until
I touched the trunk
and let the branches spill
their sparks, bright cushions,
catkins, clustered flowers
of fire, in my hair.

Behind me someone starts a car.
But for the moon I would go back,
kiss him good-bye, begin my chores.
Instead, half crouching, I grab
the gray branch of fallen juniper
and inch my way into the canyon.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sandra Skouson, poet and teacher, grew up on a farm in Idaho just west of the Tetons.  As an adult she has lived in many places, Japan, German, Massachusetts, Virginia, California and Arizona.  Currently she writes from Monticello, Utah, in the heart of the four corners area.

*Competition entry*