Tag Archives: Stewardship

The Peach

by P. G. Karamesines

Blake’s angel, for all his winks and nods,
Wouldn’t have it, though it hangs for having:
Drop of down and blush quavering on the rim
Of ripeness, playing at a fall.

Pendant at the tip of a branch astray
From the greater fruited spray
Where sister peaches cluster meekly
Beneath green custom, this one sweet dangle
Trespasses air my side the fence
Where sunlight fires its skin and any breeze
May dance it.

My neighbor who set the tree as start
Is a man of strict authority, armed, invested,
An officer of our active legion laws.
He knows where all the lines are drawn,
Where fences stand, where right leaves wrong,
And keeping his faith good is wise.
Although this juicy prodigal does seem
To trail a gray gulf, he may better know, 
And so the peach appears to plump and glow
With consequence, a nectareous world
Ripening on a branch of orchard heaven
Under scrutiny from many angels’ eyes.

Taking such creature to tongue suggests
That becoming as a god by fell choice:
Will birthing, her first cry, Desire;
Light, on which the eye opens suddenly,
That infant slit of lid permitting
The flash from good and evil springing apart
To change the eye forever; then, vision:
Probability, lively, everywhere at once,
Refiguring the garden, reforming
Every place the eye alights each time;
Gleams of possibility sparking like drops
Of dew, infinite, engorged with sudden sun
As far as the eye dares see—to the stars—
And, clinging to skin, so wet and cool,
Instant thoughts of nakedness
Blush the body and Will seeks clothing,
Her prior choicelessness seeming comfort now,
If unfitting, and inaccessible as the opened womb.

Such first physics infusing All and Now,
Poised to go at breath, I too partake.  So:

Day by day shall the peach hang unmolested.
With its toys of luster it shall bob and sway
Till summer drops its sun, till it is swept
From splendor by timeliness or wind,
Or till he whose lawful peach it is
Decides its fate by his own hand.


Published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Fall 2005): 178.  “The Peach” won Dialogue’s “Best of the Year Award” in poetry for that year.

Guilting the lily

I’ve been thinking about shaming language, rhetoric meant to motivate others to action by attempting to arouse feelings of guilt, unworthiness, or disgrace —how unhealthy it is, not just for people’s psychological well-being but also for the environment.  So I thought I’d run a couple of posts about how using guilt to motivate folks to change their behavior toward the earth and its natural resources might be an environmentally unsound practice. 

“Guilting the lily” appeared originally at Times and Seasons August 30, 2007 .  You might find the discussion that ensued on that post interesting (please overlook the font glitches that appeared in the post and comments when T&S changed its format).

The editors cite in the Preface to New Genesis: A Mormon Reader on Land and Community an unidentified 1991 report* that places each of the thirty largest Christian denominations in one of five categories based on their environmental stances. The categories were: 1) Programs Underway: denominations engaged actively in national environmental programs; 2) Beginning a Response: denominations beginning to engage in national environmental programs; 3) At the Brink: denominations preparing to take the plunge into action on the national environmental level; 4) No Action: denominations not taking any action as yet; and 5) Policies of Inaction: denominations that, as the editors put it, are “formally committed to inaction.”

Bet you can’t guess where this unidentified report set The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: yep, firmly in the “formally committed to inaction” category. Continue reading Guilting the lily

WIZ open for business

The welcome post for WIZ stated the following:

We launch Wilderness Interface Zone knowing nature literature is something of a spiritual and artistic frontier for Mormons…and yet not.  With Joseph Smith’s First Vision, Mormonism certainly stakes a defensible claim in the tradition of finding God in the wilderness.  Couple this claim with belief in eternal progression, add the central role repentance plays in Mormons’ lives, and Mormons really have quite the lenses for gazing upon the grandeur of the Mystery.  With growing LDS scientific and cultural communities, Mormon literary nature writers ought to abound.  Concern does seem to be mounting in the church for taking a different stance toward how we live in this world, for re-imagining our stewardship in the Creation.  One of WIZ’s raisons d’etre is to support stewardship through story.

The intention at the time was to take a few months to establish WIZ’s tone, rough in its nature then open it up for submissions.  Testing the waters, we had our Spring Poetry Run-off, a successful trial that showed there were writers out there with nature-centric—or not so nature-centric—work that fits WIZ’s vision.

Well, a few months have passed.  We think the time has come to issue an open call for submissions.  Along with building a Mormon nature-wring community, “supporting stewardship through story” remains one of WIZ’s goals.  If you have a short creative nonfiction essay that explores the human-nature story in some way, a criticism essay, a lyrical science essay, a novel or long poem excerpt, a poem of 50 lines or less in length, hybrid literary form, review, commentary, etc., please consider submitting it WIZ.  We’ll also consider posting photographs of original artwork.  To view possible subjects, click on the “Categories” post in the lefthand column.  You’ll see that subjects include everything from field notes to gardens to hoverflies, plus many not yet explored here.  WIZ’s audience, small though it be, will offer feedback.  Your work does not need to be explicitly Mormon in tone or content.  If you are not a Mormon but would like to test your work with a Mormon audience, we welcome your submission.

Field Notes #5

From time to time, someone asks why I don’t write about the meaner, nastier side of nature, especially the predator-prey drama.  Until I go on that man-eating African lion-hunting trip or bag me an Alaskan grizzly or happen to be on hand when a puma takes down a mule deer buck, I just don’t have much to offer on predator vs. prey.  Sorry.

However, something did come to mind the other day, musings upon a kind of predator-prey relationship that I jotted down in my hiking journal as I strolled through Crossfire.  It isn’t pretty, but I thought I’d pass it along.

Warning: This post shows Patricia in a mood.  If you’re in a mood today,  you might want to skip this one.   

May 21, 2009

Overcast, humid, cooler-that-has-been morning.  I set out for Coyote Way, the trail leading down into Crossfire Canyon.  As usual, I pass my mouldering friend, the dead coyote  lying off to one side of the trailhead.  I stop to look at him whenever I take this path.  

After a month of decompostion he looks considerably worse for wear, though that lovely triangular earform still holds up well.  Gone, the shine and softness his coat had when he was first dumped.  Matted patches have loosened, as if he were going through a heavy shed, or they have been peeled back in the course of some other scavenger’s work.  A gaping entrance into his inner cavern has formed in his side.   His coat has taken on the patina of old carpet across whose nap mud has been tracked and into whose fibers a wide variety of liquids has soaked.  The flies that earlier clouded his vicinity have gone through their cycle; no insects are visible, though something must be creeping through the body. Every time I stop here, I wonder how and why this animal died.  Anything could have happened, but the dominant reason folks kill these animals—if, in fact, he was killed—can usually be summed up in this word: competition.

 A week ago, winds blowing up out of the canyon carried the scent of the coyote’s chemical crush into the earth.  Today, cliffrose pollen lightly perfumes breezes swirling past. Continue reading Field Notes #5

Dances with hummingbirds

Our homemade hummingbird feeders attach at approximately waist level to the two-by-four railing that runs around our second story porch.  This puts the hummers down with us when they stop by for refreshers between bouts of very small game hunting.  Once they arrive mid-April or so, we wind into the lives of these brilliant dynamos to the point of familiarity.  That is, we share the porch space freely, with the hummers chasing past our heads or otherwise threading their paths through ours. It becomes something of a dance, we humans walking along the porch or in the garden, the hummingbirds dipping, weaving, zipping around us.  Except for unusually marked birds, like one albinous male black-chinned that drops by, I can’t identify individuals.  Some of them, however, have no trouble recognizing me. Continue reading Dances with hummingbirds

Lawnmowing limericks at WIZ

I have a clown phobia and a lawnmower phobia.  If you want to drive me over the edge, hire a clown and send him to mow my lawn. 

But since it isn’t technically clown season and is most definitely lawnmowing season, I thought it would be interesting, and hopefully fun, to try a lawnmowing limerick thread.  If you would like to contribute, here are the rules:

1. Your poem must scan and rhyme according to good limerick form:  a more-or-less anapestic line pattern, 3-3-2-2-3, rhyme scheme a a b b a.   Example:

There was an old soldier of Bister
Went walking one day with his sister,
When a cow at one poke
Tossed her into an oak,
Before the old gentleman missed her.
                                  Nursery Rhymes, Mother Goose

2.  Clever/humorous is good; tasteless/off-colored is bad.  See WIZ’s submissions guide.

3.  Your limerick must address the humor, ironies, or downright absurdities of growing and mowing grass lawns.  Or, if you’re a lawnmowing enthusiast, write a limerick defending this most noisy and noxious warm weather ritual.

4.  Add your limerick to this thread in the comments section of this post.  That way, we’ll have them lined up to be read in succession.

My first:

The grass lawn is a curious invention;
Out West, a most wondrous convention.
There folks force it to grow,
And then they’re forced to mow,
And to Roundup them weeds, not to mention.

Coming out of torpor

Last Friday night my son dug two of the last three holes needed to set our remaining fruit tree starts.  We didn’t manage to plant any of them that night because he and my daughter needed to gather their things together for the early start they faced the next morning.  They were to travel to Moab to take tests for advancement in their Shorinji Kempo classes, and I had to get them to the local Chevron at 7:30 a.m. sharp so they could carpool with the rest of their group.

That morning, after dealing with the “gotcha” moment of my key breaking off in the car’s ignition at the Chevron, I arrived home to attend to the trees.  Planting trees by yourself is a bit tricky, especially with the hammerhead winds we had Saturday (again!) but not impossible.  The kids wouldn’t be back till mid-afternoon.  I didn’t want to make the trees wait another minute for return to more natural circumstances, especially since the stock was bare root. Continue reading Coming out of torpor

Degrees of Coyoteness

As I walked out of a nearby canyon last week using the same trail where I reported having an encounter with a curious coyote, my nose detected gases given off by putrefaction.  Somewhere nearby, bacteria were at work breaking down formerly living tissue to simpler matter, dispersing an organism’s worldly goods to its biological heritors.

To this we must all come.  But who has come to it now, and where?    

Walking deeper into the field of decomposition gases, I looked around, guessing what I would find.  I was approaching the gravel pit, a dumping ground for domestic and wild animal carcasses and the scene of occasional war crimes of the sort some people commit against animals.  It’s common to find coyote remains around the pit, along with elk and deer carcasses, tree prunings, the ashes of bonfires, articles of clothing, and aerosol cans—the residue of “huffing” parties. Continue reading Degrees of Coyoteness

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.

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