Spooky by Sarah Dunster

blue eye art

You watched her pass, the woman you
were with while you learned Poetry.
Black hair—she smiled with such grey eyes—
you watched  her pass without goodbyes,
and these hills blind me, golden; fierce
with bristling grass, smoking in the sun:
a cloud kicked up, an offering
to sanctify our suffering.

She lay down for a minute
to allow that one to come. Only
think, while holding him, a child
once held in warmth and now, exiled:
blue eyes, all. And hair like lightning.
That’s us, our full cheeks swelling,
full eyes dripping with questions still,
bellies and hearts and arms to fill.

That’s us. Black hair—she smiled with such
grey eyes. You watched her pass without
heart-ill goodbyes, at least in words.
And summer passed, and autumn turned
to place her in the pines, in heaps
of needles, sharp with what you felt
but did not say. We found her there:
ponderosas, pitch-dark like her hair.

We sang you out one icy night,
with half-shy notes of grief you would
have quickly silenced. We stood there
by your bed and sang the trio, though
you were joking when you asked; how
truly black she was beside you—
Tongue lolling, and that spooky eye
watching even as we said goodbye.

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Sarah Dunster picSarah Dunster is wife to one, mother to seven, and an author of fiction and poetry. Her
poems have appeared on the online LDS poetry blog Wilderness Interface Zone as well as in
Victorian Violet Press, Segullah Magazine, Dialogue: Journal of Mormon Thought, Psaltery
& Lyre and Sunstone Magazine. She has published two novels with Cedar Fort under their
Bonneville Books imprint: the award winning historical fiction novel Lightning Tree, and Mile
21, which is a contemporary fiction/romance novel. When she is not writing Sarah can often
be found cleaning, cooking vegetarian or international meals, holding small people in her lap,
driving kids to soccer and piano lessons, singing in local musical productions with her family
or taking long walks after dark, especially in thunderstorms.

Visitors to Canyonlands by A. J. Huffman

Red_Cliff_along_US287_between_Lander_and_Dubois_in_Wyoming by Wing Chi Poon

The rocks were caught by child’s eye,
and changed with the sunset
into horns and antennae,
goring and grinding, and going off.
Bumped into the night.

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You can find more of A. J. Huffman’s work here, here and here.

The Tree of Knowledge by Jonathon Penny

393px-Pears Tree of knowledge

What are we but flawed copies of the gods?
The blind-eyed sons and daughters of the Lord
Sown in the fallow field, a motley yield,
A haunted harvest on the eve of war?

What are we but his tender-bellied babes,
Sky-sprung, far-flung, let-fly, but kept in view?
The watching gods record our wounds and weep,
Not for what’s done, but what we daring do.

As a bright boy €”a gangle of loose limbs,
All knees, all ears and elbows, and all heart,
A green and guiltless prophecy of sin €”
I learned to ride the vagaries of hurt.

I learned to seek the salvages of joys
Best unsought, the soul-blown bold surprise
Of Godlit, growing girls and feckless boys
Before the world and wisdom claim their eyes.

Before the world and wisdom weather them,
A gangle of loose limbs they ride and run,
As if by running they’ll out-stride the stain,
And keep the fresh-field knowledge of the young.

My love, we’ll get it back. We have it still,
Our heritage essential as the veil,
As thick-and-thin; a sacred covenant
As sure as Christ, as revenant, as real.

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Jonathon Penny took his MA in Renaissance literature at   BYU and his PhD in 20th Century British literature from the University of Ottawa. He has taught at universities in the U.S. and Canada, and now lives with his family in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates where he is Assistant Professor of English at UAE University. He has published on Wyndham Lewis and apocalyptic literature and is currently at work on several books of poetry for precocious pipsqueaks under the penname €œProfessor Percival P. Pennywhistle. € Bits and pieces may be found here. In addition to verse published on WIZ, his poetry has appeared at Victorian Violet Press and in Gangway Magazine and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Several of his poems have also been published in the landmark, recently released poetry anthology, Fire in the Pasture, from Peculiar Pages Press.   Jonathon also is Wilderness Interface Zone’s poetry editor.

End of the Drought by Sandra Skouson

I
Rain comes to the man in the field, steady
rain that soaks his shirt.   He makes himself
alone a few paces from his tractor, takes
off his hat, lifts his face to the clouds.
The woman runs from the house to drag
clothes off the line, but having done it
she stands outside the back door, her arms
full of wilting sheets, and breathes again–full
deep breaths for the first time in ten years.

Children bind sticks together for a raft
to float in the gutter.   Laughing, they follow
it downhill to a small dam of sopping weeds
and silt, catch it and bring it back to sail again.
Their feet brown and wet, they come home,
bringing small rocks shining with new colors
to make a row on the window sill.

II
The desert drinks herself to returning life. Red
clay darkens, gleams, and softens.   Roads crack
and break away.   Washes widen.   The heart
of the mountain draws water to deep shale where
coolness pools and oozes toward the seeps.

Seeds, the wind has stirred with sand through
circles of time, soften and sprout.   The desert
blooms and rejoices against her own identity.

III
Our prayers are answered, blessings open
the pores of our skin. Our hair looses its
crispness.   Our shoulders loose their tension.
Roses bloom against the eastern wall.

Rain fills our rain gutters, swamps our sewer,
and floods the lower garden.   The house floats
heavily now on an underground river.   We feel
no movement, but we are forced to bale water
or abandon ship.   We live to a new pulse;
the sump pump throbs water out of the basement.
We carry books and boxes upstairs, pull up
the carpet, and set the beds on blocks.   Children
sleep wrapped in blankets on the living room floor.

One day the sun will burn again, the water drain,
the wind fill up with dust.   The desert will come
to her own.   Until that day, our house rides
the jubilee current.   We stay with it.

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To read another of Sandra’s Spring Runoff entries and her bio, go here.

*Competition entry*