“Winter Relapse” by Alan Mitchell

A solitary hawk beneath
a sky of lavender and gold,
assumed the vantage of a tree
and there reconnaissanced the cold.

Once-melting drifts of speckled snow
grew stiff against the freezing ground.
The humid gusts abandoned hope
and left the air without a sound.

What once was flowing now was tamed;
the rivulets, muddy and curled
lost strength and stream, as puddles became
glass windows to the underworld.

As April’s harbinger, the hawk
should sense the shifting of the sun.
A general in retreat would know
what day the winter war be won.


Alan Mitchell has served on the AML board, and is the author of an award-winning novel, Angel of the Danube. He has recently started an LDS publishing company, Greenjacket Books (greenjacketbooks.com), and has a new book that expounds the global economic crisis in view of latter-day prophecy. He has served in numerous ward callings and currently as ward music leader. He ranches in the west desert of Utah, where he and his wife have been named 2008 Ranchers of the Year by the Society for Range Management.

*Contest entry*


“Easter Sermons” by Harlow Clark


The Rancher Speaks

I was in the sheep business for years.
Sold off my sheep and got into the cattle business and now I have friends.
The cattle men talk to me.
I suppose what finally drove me out was the predators.
The eagles swooping down and taking newborn lambs
and there was nothing we could do about it.
We tried noisemakers and other things.
Finally we heard about Great Pyrenees dogs.
You put 2 in the pen and they protect the sheep.
Well, my cousin and I drove up to Idaho
and the fellow wanted $500 apiece for them.
We each bought two.
We put them in the pens and they started right in doing what they were supposed to.

Bringing the sheep in from the spring field we found 30 head and a dog missing.
We had a higher pasture so my wife and I drove up there.
We found the 30 head and the dog
— limping and thin and shaggy.
It was apparent he had fought off some predators,
and he had worn out his feet.
I put him in the back of the truck,
but he wanted to get out so I tied him in,
and my wife started down to the lower pasture to put out food and water,
and I walked the sheep,
but she stopped.

The Great Pyrenees was hanging over the edge of the bed.
Well, I tied him in tighter,
but he started hanging over the side of the bed and he managed to slip out of his collar.
He wasn’t going to let anything keep him from his job.
When we got down to the lower pasture he barely stopped for a drink,
then went back to his sheep.
He died a few days later.
I was a sheepman, he a shepherd.
The cost to be a good shepherd is everything.


The Rancher’s Wife Comes to the Pulpit

Not a shepherd? Perhaps, but let me tell you about his ducks.
He bought a new batch of chicks and ducks, keeps them out in the garage.
He’s really good about keeping them fed and watered and the box cleaned out.
He had them in the same box but the ducks weren’t being nice to the chicks.
He told me one day. “I’m worried about this one. Its feet are cold.”
When he worries I worry.

Going down to the basement I heard water running in the bathroom.
He was washing the duck’s feet.
I thought about the Savior washing Peter’s feet
And how at first Peter didn’t want it.
Sometimes we let our pride get in the way of what the Savior needs.
When Peter understood this he said, “Lord wash all of me,
Hands, head, feet and all.”
But the feet suffice to warm the duck.


Harlow Soderborg Clark grew up in Provo, spending many an hour on the living room carpet listening to a couple of Smothers Brothers albums.   He thinks of their character, “poor, dull, mediocre Fred,” as an alter ego. He also has an altar ego writing a fiction called Sacrament Meeting in the Alzheimers Ward, which includes a character who turns peoples’ talks into poems. Harlow is on hiatus (soon to end, he hopes) from blogging on AMV about Book of Mormon textual changes. He thanks Leslie Norris for ideas about simplicity which allowed him to recognize this poem when he heard it.

*Contest entry*

“Naming Spring” by Sandra Skouson

Today the secret names of everything
come back, the ancient names.
Tribe-of-the-morning names
call to me from the wind, which I know
as shut-your-eyes-breath,
hands-over-your-ears, gone-with-the-ice-song,
Smell-of-dogwood; it is called,

Daffodil has become again

This morning has its own name,
separate from all other mornings,

And now spring has brought
to make soft soil in the garden
where I kneel for the first time
on the almost-warm-gift-to-growing
and work my spade toward summer.


For Sandra’s bio and other poems submitted to WIZ’s Spring Poetry Runoff, click here and here.

*Contest entry*

“The Morning View” by Travis Burnham

At five in the morn I gaze upon the Earth
Holding my little one so innocent and mild.
Hoping that I might have a chance
To feel her trails of glory

The midnight rain ended soon,
Leaving clean the outside world
I glanced through a crack to catch a glimpse
Of   Nature’s hallowed view.

Crisp, Clean, Calm the scene lay before my eyes.
Each tree that stood was a glory to itself
Unstained by human hands,
They did not need nor did they want
Help from tainted man.
Their holiness from nature came
To that I could not add.

The air itself was pure, pristine
I could see it had been cleansed.
To be outside would be bring great joy;
To be rapt in that;
To be in Nature’s arms
I feel would clean me too.

The mountains loomed, lords of all,
In fearful, frightening stare.
The driven snow adorned their caps
Unsullied by man’s cares.
To be in their view held me in awe;
The giants of the world.
They had naught to be ashamed
As pure as the snow they bore

I looked upon this scene and wondered:
Could I find something such as this?
How can I, tainted as I am
Embrace this holy view
That I might hold forever,
That I might grasp and make it mine,
That I might have it too,
To be washed clean from filth and dirt,
That I might be pure too?

Then I looked at my child
This Innocence in my arms.
I realized then I had something
That the World refused to find.
Her purity can not be matched
Except by one small Lamb;
And I can hold her innocence,
And love her all I can.


Travis has always wanted to write poetry and prose but never seriously did anything about it until he took an Introduction to British Literature class and read the Romantic, Victorian and Modern era British poets. Inspired by Wordsworth, Hardy and others, he finally began writing while he continues to finish his Bachelors in History. His current project is an epic poem written specifically for Latter-day Saints, which he hopes to have published within two years. He currently resides in Montana with his wife of 6 years and two children with a third on the way.

*Contest entry*