Thanks to WIZ’s People Month Participants

My happy thanks to everyone who participated in WIZ’s People Month.   My list of folks  for whom I’ve  felt deeply grateful includes:

Th.
Nephi Anderson (via Th.’s gravelly voice)
Mark Bennion
Tyler Chadwick
greenfrog
green mormon architect
Elizabeth R.

And, of course, many thanks to WIZ’s loyal readers and commenters.

I appreciate  each writer’s  help keeping People Month on WIZ interesting and fun.   We’ll do it again next year (maybe earlier), so start drawing up your People Month writing plans now.

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Guest Post: Th. reads from Dorian by Nephi Anderson

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”

Guest Post: Letulogy, by Mark Bennion

Listen to Mark read “Letulogy.”

Uncle Howard,

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 it’s a flannel shirt
I see slipping through sliding glass
doors. Something lost in the hunter’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 it’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
I’m not sure where to send
or a eulogy I am too afraid to speak.
Perhaps, tonight I’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.
That’s when I’ll envision you
again, carrying a saddle
into another dawn’s hazy light,  
that’s where the picture fades,
where the horse lowers its head,
eats what’s left out of your hand.

                                     Love,
                                                                    Mark

____________________________________________________________

 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,   Spring/Summer 2007.

The Pear Tree by P. G. Karamesines

Listen to Patricia reading “The Pear Tree.”

When early autumn’s storm wrung from the clouds
Summer, wearing the last thundering rain thin
And sharp on the wind’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 years’ 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 cars’ 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.   It  was published in Irreantum 4.2 (2006): 99.

Vox Humana Week on WIZ

As deeply as I feel the charge from hearing a coyote call close by or catching the wood-and-water chuckle of wild turkeys, as fully as wind flittering through cottonwood leaves inspires me to listen and to breathe, I appreciate the sing-sound of the well-turned human tongue.

Sometimes, in lonely canyons, when there’s no one else there, I’ve heard noises my ear interprets as half-words and singing threading around stone bends like odors rising off home cooking.  While intriguing and beautiful, these voices confuse the human ear, which is always hoping for sounds or phrases of address, the touch of deep-reaching words.

As I’ve said elsewhere, people need to feel that touch of fine language but out of need often settle for less, trying, sometimes desperately, to make more of poor speech than is actually there. We strive, like Rapunzel, to spin gold from straw.  Even when by illusion we half-succeed, we often pay for it by loss of relation. Human language is beautiful when it rises out of wellsprings of feeling for others, when people speak in such a way as to make it possible for others to hear. My experience is that animals can also come to rely on the human voice, similarly hoping to feel its strong effects.

Much of our language is a wasteland of discordant sound and unreaching yet grasping words.  For the rest of the month on WIZ, I hope to post links to poets and others reading or singing their work, good stuff that sits nicely in the ear.  If I’m lucky, we’ll get up some podcasts, including of me reading. Anybody visiting WIZ who thinks he or she might have something suitable for broadcast, please email me at pk.wizadmin@gmail.com.

To start, you can go here (link) to hear Leslie Norris read his poem “Water.”  When you reach the link, click on “Listen to Leslie Norris reading ‘Water'”.

[Edited 12/21/13 to weed out odd formatting symbols introduced by a WIZ update done a few years ago.]

Guest post by Tyler Chadwick: Fruit

by Tyler Chadwick
 

1. First

€œShe’s like an apple
in a water balloon, €
the doctor says. They watch

their fruit unfold across
the screen in light movements.
Submerged beneath her sea

enclosed by silent walls,
slow fluid breaths inspire
her ripening, baptize

the room in innocence.
Within this matrix
of tranquility,

they sense her beckoning
through sound’s translucent waves,
calling from her still place

into time’s raging sea
for a Return. Then Light
ripples from around her world

as from the Garden tree
whence God called Adam
and questioned why his seed
had grown so ripe with blood.

2. Last

Within their yellow tree
atop a falling hill,
shades of spring shadow

the waiting fruit. Chilled rains
stagnate in micro-seas
about their stems, throw drops

of ripened dew across
his face as he climbs
upward, pulls the apples,

and drops them
to her waiting hands.
Pale bruises hide beneath

the golden skin, some from
their gathering, some from
tussles with branches

and hungry birds, and some
from the inside-out
of parasitic guile.

Holding his breath,
he cradles the last fruit
as naked branches steal
the blood from his cold hand.
 

3. Return

The pair, fallen with years,
returns to their garden,
straining for shades of green

within withered gold.
Arm in arm, they step
beneath their tree

and rest against the trunk.
His eyes pursue the land
into a blurry field

and hers cover his face
in reminiscent strokes.
As the sun departs his gaze,

dark winds carry
the breath of swollen fruit,
pooled around their feet. He sighs;

she leans against his arm
and waits with him as night
folds across his frame.

Her tears swell with their fruit,
distilling through Earth’s skin
into the flowing blood
of their generations’ veins.

____________________________________________________________

For Tyler’s bio and blogs, go here (scroll to  the end).  

Originally published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 39:3 (2006).

Guest post by greenfrog: Iona

It seems strange to think that sitting with what’s left of a woman who second-mothered me most summers and for two school years of my life is yoga, but it was the most heart-opening practice I’ve done.

What’s left? A bag of bones, draped with a thin and mottled fabric of skin. Bits and pieces of the sharp-tongued intellect, the manipulative middle sister, the telecom executive mind, the loving aunt to a dozen or so nieces and nephews.

€œ €¦aaaaaaaaaarrrraaaaaeeeaaaerrammmmaaaarrreeeaa €¦ €

She’s stuck in the middle of a word, intoning it until the breath of the word runs out. She looks at me, confused — unsure of whether it’s the word or her mind or my presence that is out of place, not right.

Eyes look out from deep hollows in her skull, the upper lip drawn up, exposing the greyed and yellowed front teeth. The eyes seem to have shrunk, eyelid skin disappearing under the ocular orbits of her skull, a bottomless crevasse, reappearing hugging the round eye.

How can an eye look uncertainly? Is it the shape of the eyelids? The brows? Hers never move.

A sentence about the dogs she cared for 30 years ago comes out clearly, intoned with the wry sense she used when managing us as kids, telling me of a white dog trying to hide in the greenery of her backyard.

€œeeeeeehhhhhhhaaaaaaaahhhhhhheeeeehhhhhh €

She gets stuck on another word; runs out of breath. Stops to inhale.

Yesterday, the daylight from the window at the head of her bed cast artists’ shadows across her face, framing her skeleton head in a silver halo of clean, frizzy hair. Despite her complaints, the room is clean, the temperature is pleasant, she’s only ten steps from the nurses’ station.

She tried to get out and about on her own a week ago and fell. The scabs and bruises mottle her skin even more than age. She’s got a clear adhesive bandage on a wound on her wrist, too tempting a target for the hen’s pecking instinct, the unwatched fingernails’ primate-picking-grooming instinct.

Yesterday, she was sleepy, drifting off, startling awake when doors closed in the corridor. The light was really perfect for drawing. I had a sketch book in my bag, but I was seated beside her bed, her cool fingers holding my hand. Once when she drifted off, I thought to slip my hand from hers and retrieve my sketchbook. But even a millimeter of movement brought her back awake in a moment. I resisted the sketching urge and held still. I was the one posed.

Today, the light is more muted, as the advance guard of a snowstorm moves into the valley. I can still see the bone shapes in her face, the drooping cloth of her skin lying across the skull, her front teeth protruding from aging, drawn back lips, the weight of her skin draping toward her ears. With a sketch today, I think I could capture the light I saw yesterday.

What’s with this urge to sketch? Just to free my hand, my self from this diminishing biome? Create distance from her, to turn her into an abstraction of darkness and light? Or maybe a desire for the intimacy of drawing someone, my eye touching each edge, each curve, probing each shadow of her face, an intimacy we once shared through words, an intimacy that too many strokes, each cutting off blood to a different fragment of mind, now deny us?

She reaches for my hand again. I receive hers.

She articulates as carefully as she can, €œI would find it quite pleasant if you would remove this bandage, € lifting her bandaged wrist. I tell her that the doctor would be unhappy with me if I did that. We repeat this conversation five or six times during the hour. Sometimes I defer to medical expertise. Sometimes I lie about doing it later. Sometimes I look her in the eye and tell her that I think she’d pick it raw without a bandage. My responses seem to matter more for the sound of my voice than the content of the words. Do I mislead myself that the actual words don’t matter?

I pause to take a breath myself. It doesn’t bring me back to center, but it does stretch, then relax more deeply the intercostal muscles. I’m reminded that I’m the mind of a body. I rest, holding her cool fingers in mine.

Walking back to my car in the parking lot, my heart feels strange, entangled, alive.

____________________________________________________________

For greenfrog’s blog, In Limine, go here.   For  his bio, go here.