Beside serving as the foundation of the world, Turtle surfaces in folk literature as the tricksterâ€™s trickster. It may surprise some to learn that Turtle has the smarts necessary to get the best of flimflammers like Jackal and even Anansi, the trickster spider, but then surprise is part of the strategy. Continue reading Cosmic Turtles, Part Two
This is the first installment of a five-part post.
Always itâ€™s the same: the woods are leaf-fatted, midsummer.Â Low-growing Mayapple and ginseng creep among roots of massive white oaks whose limbs form their own green-clouded groves.Â Ferns half my height unroll from fiddleheads.Â Fiddleheads, with their scrolled fronds, put me in mind of unborn thingsâ€”pale, web-footed, half-creatures in dark, damp places, curling over upon themselves. All around lies the litter of conversion, of life changing over to death, changing to seedbed, to mushroom clusters, to a pink shock of Ladyâ€™s-slipper orchid against decadent leaves. Continue reading Cosmic Turtles, Part One
I love stories like this.
The “Wow-ee!” response of the scientists involved would make for an interesting study, as well as the “maybe it’s the first example of invertebrate tool use but maybe it isn’t” facet of the story.
Everything is smarter than we think and has the prospect of becoming smarter, including us, if we could just get over thinking weâ€™re smarter than we actually are. Continue reading Smarter than we think
The sunâ€™s ten fingers came unfurled.
He gathered struts and made a world.
With careful breath the sphere was blown:
a hollow ball of molten stone.
And with the glass-sharp stars in thrall,
he spun the geodesic ball.
The moon stretched out her oyster hand
and on the struts she lifted land.
In mercury streams the valleys bled:
the mountain shook its hoary head.
She set the rain in silver sheets
upon the oceanâ€™s stormy streets.
The sun shook out his golden beard
and with its heat the land was seared.
The gold-gray ash, â€™neath greening rain,
bristled up in heads of grain.
The trees grew up at his approach,
and closed their gowns with emerald brooch.
The moon unbound her swelling womb
and scattered the world with ruby bloom.
She shrouded its eyes with birds in flight
and veiled its face with silky night.
Then balanced the sphere on a silver scale
and lined the seas with fishesâ€™ mail.
Then the sun and the moon
set the world in a swoon
and clothed it in meadow and wood.
And with bashful glance
began to dance
. . . and called it good.
Danny Nelsonâ€™s â€œCreationâ€ appears in Plain and Precious Parts of the Fob Bible (http://b10mediaworx.com/peculiarpages/fobbible/pppfobbible.htm#creation) and in the complete Fob Bible (http://b10mediaworx.com/b10mwx/peculiar-pages/the-fob-bible/). Nelson studies literature at the University of Washington where he has developed an interest in the many ways of spelling phoenix.
Satan and the snake had watched each other for a long time before either spoke. It was mid-morningâ€”it was always mid-morningâ€”and the breeze was pleasant and warm in the thick tangles of shining dark leaves. The snake, a long purple shadow, was hanging in negligent coils from a branch of the tree hanging with blue-spotted white flowers and dark red fruit. Her large head rested on her casually muscled form and she watched Satan, who was sitting on a rock in a dusty clearing, rubbing his shoulders where his large black wings sprung, grimacing from time to time and keeping a close eye on the snake. Continue reading Guest Post: Excerpt from “Blood-Red Fruit,” by Danny Nelson and Eric W. Jepson
A few years back, after attending a local storytelling festival, I wondered in this post what would happen if I released a story into public domain.Â I resolved to work up the nerve to let go what some might imagine to be my intellectual property, to “breathe it out” into the common atmosphere, where anybody might breathe it in and make use of it.Â
Then two years ago, members of that same storytelling festival committee recruited me to participate.Â I was assigned to write an introduction for the festival, a preamble that would signal to visitors that the storytelling was about to begin.Â Another purpose for the introduction: To support the opening ceremony during which each of the evening’s participants carried a lit candle into the auditorium as they entered single file.Â The candles symbolized the intentional passing of stories–heirloom narrative valuables–from generation to generation.Â Continue reading Setting the story free: Words as worldstuff
My happy thanks to everyone who participated in WIZ’s People Month.Â My list of folksÂ for whom I’veÂ felt deeply grateful includes:
Nephi Anderson (via Th.’s gravelly voice)
green mormon architect
And, of course, many thanks to WIZ’s loyal readers and commenters.
I appreciateÂ each writer’sÂ help keeping People Month on WIZ interesting and fun.Â We’ll do it again next year (maybe earlier), so start drawing up your People Month writing plans now.
Th. writes of this recording, “This is a selection from chapter three of Nephi Anderson’s Dorian (1921), perhaps my favorite Mormon novel. This chapter will be featured in an upcoming series of posts I’m doing on Anderson for Motley Vision. Dorian may be read online. The birds are from Soundsnap.”
For Th.’s–Eric Jepson’s–bio, go here. Continue reading Guest Post: Th. reads from Dorian by Nephi Anderson
At sixty, your traces stalk the hollows
of grocery stores from here to Snowflake,
Arizona. A thatch of curly gray hair
shuttles past the cash register, your cow-
milking hands pull a list out of an empty wallet.
You are forever in the next aisle over,
shaking a watermelon, picking at your
mustache, laughing with the manager
over an inside joke concerning paper or plastic,
laughing through the vegetables of loneliness
and the continual grind of bare freezers
and birthdays without anything, not even a cake.
Today itâ€™s a flannel shirt
I see slipping through sliding glass
doors. Something lost in the hunterâ€™s
worn down red, a familiar set of stripes
running through the plaid. Tomorrow
in San Diego your fingerprints will appear
on a drinking fountain, and in two weeks
a phone call will course from Oahu,
full of guttural questions and sun.
Yet itâ€™s always yesterday
I imagine you near the backwoods
of Oklahoma, opening large stable doors,
then brushing the mane of a palomino
as a bird warbles through the muffled dawn.
You submerge in growing
light, occasionally smiling at nothing
near the end of the street.
You pat the horse and speak
secrets into a flickering ear.
From here I have only this letter
Iâ€™m not sure where to send
or a eulogy I am too afraid to speak.
Perhaps, tonight Iâ€™ll return
to an obscure shelf in the grocery store,
buy couscous or ask a stranger
to explain the difference between
writing to the disappeared
and speaking to the dead.
Thatâ€™s when Iâ€™ll envision you
again, carrying a saddle
into another dawnâ€™s hazy light,Â
thatâ€™s where the picture fades,
where the horse lowers its head,
eats whatâ€™s left out of your hand.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Love,
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Mark
Â For nearly a decade, Mark D. Bennion has taught writing and literature courses at BYU-Idaho. When not teaching, he can be found watching tennis, playing racquetball, or eating kimchi. He recently published the poetry collection Psalm & Selah: a poetic journey through the Book of Mormon (Parables Publishing). Within three weeks, he and his wife, Kristine, will welcome their fourth child into the world.
“Letulogy” was originally published in The Comstock Review ,Vol. 21, No. 1,Â Spring/Summer 2007.
When early autumnâ€™s storm wrung from the clouds
Summer, wearing the last thundering rain thin
And sharp on the windâ€™s rasp; when thorns
Of the first frost bloomed over the grass,
And the morning glory hung brown and bitten
On the garden fence; on those first nights
Of cold window glass and the drip of chill
Onto the plank, when I wrapped in the blanket
And the dog curled at my feet, I heard,
Above the clay clink of wind-churned chimes,
Above the wag of the unlatched screen door,
Round blows of fruit fall against the ground.
I have been here three yearsâ€™ windfall
Not hearing the bump of pears, but when the tree
Burst blossoms against the window, I watched
Crawl across the floor shadow from thousands
Of swaying cups lifted into the storm of pollens,
And when after petals leaves screwed from the nodes,
I looked out into green overcast: fruit had pushed
Off flower and bent down boughs as with old age,
But more mystic that blunt drop of fruit earthward
That jerked my ear like a new word.
Someone else should hear it: I could better tell
How, when the wind rattled its sticks upon the houses,
I heard a pear fall to a bruising; how it struck
Above the rip of water from passing carsâ€™ tires;
How, as I let slip with sleep my garment of senses,
A tree caught the last thread and plucked it
With a ripe pear; and how I lay awake beneath rainy
Leaves or sat for spells by the window, as one haunts
Heaven those nights her globes bear down the branch
For a single star to fall away in flame.
“The Pear Tree” was the winner of the 1987 BYU Eisteddfod Crown Competition for a lyric poem.Â ItÂ was published in Irreantum 4.2 (2006): 99.