And I Did Eat by Jonathon Penny

Journal_of_Emerging_Infectious_Diseases_Jan_2013 pic2

The orchard offered fruit,
And I did eat.

The field imparted grain,
And I did graze.

The farm gave up the calf,
And I consumed.

Her mother furnished milk
To quench my thirst.

The market tendered goods
Both fair and fine,

Encumbrances unique
To tempt my tongue

And fill my eyes and ears
With vague desires.

The bending world laid bait,
And I did eat.

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WIZ Profile-1 Jonathon PennyJonathon has taught literature on two continents, and has read, written, and conversed about it on three. He has published poetry, fiction, and reviews in Dialogue, Sunstone, Victorian Violet Press, Gangway Magazine, Mormon Artist, Mormon Midrashim, Mormon Review, Switchback, and WIZ, and was anthologized in Tyler Chadwick’s (Ed.) Fire in the Pasture.

Illustrating painting: Pieter Cornelisz van Rijck (1558?1628), Still Life with Two Figures (1622). Oil on canvas (123.8 cm × 148.6 cm).

Vote for your favorite 2012 Spring Poetry Runoff poems

Hello, WIZ Readers and Contestants!   Thank you for your excellent participation in this year’s Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration!   It’s time to put on the mantle of poetry judges for the next seven days–part of the informal, just-for-fun nature of this contest.   But rather than limit each judge (that’ll be you) to just one vote, we’re asking each voter to choose her or his 3 (count them: one–two–THREE) favorite Spring Poetry Runoff entries of the 31 contest-eligible entries that came thundering down from the heights this spring.   The poll opens today and runs until 10:00 p.m. (Utah time) midnight Wednesday, June 6.

While readers and participants choose the winner(s) of the Spring Poetry Runoff Contest Popular Vote Award, WIZ admin will be choosing the winner of the Spring Poetry Runoff Admin Award.   Winners of both awards will be announced in a post on or shortly after Thursday, June 7.   The winner in each category will receive his or her choice of The Scholar of Moab, by frequent WIZ contributor Steven L. Peck, (Torrey House Press, 2011) or the distinguished new anthology of Mormon poetry, Fire in the Pasture, edited by Tyler Chadwick (Peculiar Pages, 2011).   Tyler has also contributed work to WIZ.

Rules for voting (PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW CAREFULLY!!!):

1.   Each voter should select his or her 3 favorite poems of the 31 eligible. Please, participants–enter three choices for your favorite poems.   It’s more sporting than just voting for your single favorite poem, and it provides our poets feedback for their hard-wrought words.
2.   Each voter can vote only one time–no ballot-box-stuffing shenanigans, please.
3.   Voters are encouraged to read every poem before voting.  Please note: Click here to see a complete list of contest eligible poems, then left click on a poem title.   This will open the complete poem in another window. Alternatively, to read all the poems, you could go to a Google docs page here and click through the links.
4.   Participating poets and WIZ readers may encourage friends and family members to read and vote.
5.   All participating poets are encouraged to vote whether their poems were published in the contest category or in the non-contest category.

Instructions for voting:

Click on the small square box next to the name of the poem that you wish to choose.   A green or black check mark will appear in that box.   If you accidentally check mark the wrong box or change your mind, simply click on the box again and the check mark will disappear.   After you have check-marked your 3 favorite poems (you will see 3 check marks on the page), click on the €œVote € box at the bottom of the page.   Clicking on that box will end your voting session, so be sure you’ve finished voting before you click €œVote. €   To see the tally of votes so far, click €œView Results. €

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WIZ’s 2012 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration comes to an end

RodneyLoughWaterfalls public domain

Last year, spring in the Four Corners region of the desert Southwest was comfortably cool; this year, mixed business temperature-wise, but brittle-boned, tinder dry.   When the summer rainmakers come, they’ll find plenty of fodder to feed their range fires.   So far, mosquitoes have been rare and the black gnats–“flying teeth,” as a friend once called them–pretty thinly spread, causing little trouble.   The hummingbirds and orioles that frequent our feeders drain the cups twice a day, which is pretty serious sugar water quaffing for May–especially with those thread-like tongues that the hummingbirds have to work with. So far this spring, I’ve removed one hummingbird and one fence swift from the house.   Because of dry weather, the globe mallow–O, ye of the lovely, sherbert-orange blossoms!–is blooming a bit closer to the ground than it has during previous springs.   The invasive alfalfa that over the last five years had built quite a stronghold in our yard is struggling everywhere except in my garden area where I water the peach trees (which, by the way, surrendered all hope of fruit to a week’s worth of chill o’ the night frosts … except for one tree, which put out two flowers two or three weeks after the rest).   The claret cup cacti is blooming out.   Engleman’s hedgehogs are beginning to flash pink frills.   Prickly pear buds have sprouted like toes on the wide green pads of those be-spined plants.   The creek in Crossfire Canyon has gone thin and muddy, then, in places, flaky or sandy and dry-stoned.   The snowmelt on the Abajos to the north seemed to have skipped its trip south to the San Juan River via Crossfire Canyon and cascaded straight up into the air.   The beavers remain the water barons in the canyon, gathering together the springs at their canyon bottom outlets with mud and vegetable dams to hold constant the water levels of their modest ponds.   The last time I entered the canyon, about 30 black Angus cows and calves were strung out along the beaverworks, which provides the only significant, native water for miles.

Unlike the melt-off from the Blues, WIZ’s Runoff has been pretty impressive.   But like all runoffs, it has tapered off. The last poems have posted and deliberations to choose which of the 31 eligible entries might win the Spring Poetry Runoff’s Most Popular Poem Award and the Admin Award are about to begin.   Voting  for the Most Popular Poem will be conducted by public poll beginning Monday, May 28 or Tuesday, May 29.   Poets, please come back and vote, and invite your friends and family members to come vote, too.   Winners of both awards will be announced on or around .

Thank you so much, writers, for participating so well.   Poets, readers, and commenters who have already put so much time into the Runoff €”prepare yourselves to vote, starting next week.   Each voter will be able to vote for his or her three favorite poems!   Please, participants–enter three choices for your favorite poems.   It’s more sporting than just voting for your single favorite poem, and it provides other poets feedback for their hard-wrought words.

Again, good work, participants, and thank you, readers, for sticking with us and reading all the entries.   There were many delightful surprises in this year’s offerings–a lot of poetry I’ve been proud WIZ hosted.   Remember: Choices for this year’s prizes are Fire in the Pasture, an anthology of contemporary Mormon poetry, edited by Peculiar Pages, and the novel The Scholar of Moab, by Steven L. Peck and published by Torrey House Press.   Which, by the way, opened up to accept submissions on April 25.

It’s been a vibrant spring so far, thanks to all your flowers of speech. (Does anybody besides me remember that phrase, “flowers of speech”?)

Meadow Talk by Sarah Dunster

Wade BrightPurpleFlower via Wikimedia Commons

There is no better talk

than

thoughts shared in violet hollows

where not so much praise as scent

not so much words as velvet €”

soft petals on our faces €”

speak our language.

So, love, make plain

what

you might wish in digging out

green hills for four-leaved omens

we might taste in stems of waiting clover

and I might see in hollows of your

throat, your lips, your eyes.

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Sarah Dunster contributes regularly to WIZ as a writer and a reader. Her wide-eyed wonder at the world and at words embodies the spirit of LONNOL month. She has published in Dialogue and Fire in the Pasture. For more, go here.

By the Wayside by Ashley Suzanne Musick

de/ex macchina British Columbia 2007--Jonathon Penny

A baby blue bowl, overturned,

Sums it up somehow:

Trees march up the hills,

Casting a green cape across the soil.

A gray ribbon winds between the mounds of earth

As cars €”bright, boldsome gems €”speed along the path,

Glinting brilliantly in the sunbeams,

Rushing from one place to another,

Thoughtless of the beauty surrounding them.

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Ashley Suzanne Musick was born in Fountain Valley, California, on February 26th, 1989, and raised and homeschooled in Anaheim. In 2010, she moved to southwest Kern County, where she lives and works on a farm and writes in her spare time.

Making Friends With Winter by Sarah Dunster

800px-Fence_after_snowstorm2 by Julian Coulton

It snowed today, for the first time. October 6th.

When my family moved to southeast Idaho, we knew that Winter was one of the by-products we were choosing. That €œW € is capitalized, because winters here are real winters €”you couldn’t survive without shelter. In Utah Valley, where we’ve lived the last ten years, you likely couldn’t either, easily €¦ but there’d be a chance. Some random steaming garbage pile might keep you warm at nights if you found yourself homeless.

Not here.   We now live in Idaho’s Siberia. You’d think that, farther north in places like Sandpoint, it would be much colder, but no. The carryover from Washington state’s more temperate coastal climates makes the panhandle and other, more northern places a much easier place to grow things like tomatoes, for instance.

Here in Idaho’s Siberia there are miles of landmass and ridges of mountains to keep us from any friendly ocean breezes. In January it dips down toward negative twenty. And the winds are to be reckoned with €”tearing in from the southwest, lifting sod off the fields before the ground freezes, withering the branches of any non-hardy fruit tree.

You plant your Polly peaches northeast of your house, here in southeast Idaho. The Honeycrisp apples and sour pie-cherries and, perhaps, the pears and plums might survive (all these are currently imaginary €”a vision dancing in husband’s head and mine.) But not the peaches.

Our new home is hyper-insulated. Six-to-ten inches of polyurethane foam keep the elements away, and our body heat, so far, has been enough to keep us toasty and warm, even at that lethal six-o-clock hour when bare feet hit concrete floors and children shiver through showers.   But it’s coming. I know it is. My Viking blood is waking up, warning me, prompting me to drag out the giant tupperwares full of snow rompers and wool socks and mittens and hats and thermal underclothing.

We have neighbors close by who warned me that the key to life in our new little city is to €œlive it up in the summers and fall. Take every second you can and enjoy them €¦ because when winter hits, everyone shuts themselves indoors. You don’t see anybody. And it drags on so long €¦ the snow. The cold. The isolation. €

I asked him, don’t you go out to play in the snow.

He shrugged. €œYeah. But it gets so cold. Cross-country skiing and sledding just aren’t fun in below-freezing weather. €

Of course, he’s part Samoan and part Jamaican €”he’s not used to this. Well, neither am I; I grew up in Northern California. But my Viking ancestors will jeer at me from the other side of the veil this winter if I don’t make the attempt €¦

Winter and I are going to be friends. I’m determined.

So this morning when the first snow started slanting down, soaking our alfalfa field and bringing out the sweetness of it’s purple smell and swelling the gutters with puddles, I shook it off. I   piled coats on my kids, snapped the baby into her fleece bear-hoodie and we walked to our homeschool co-op.

On the way home, two of my children slogged through a puddle. They were chattering by the time we got home and whimpering a bit. They will learn about winter, that the friendship has boundaries.

I fed my kids lunch and made my year’s first pan of cottage-friend potatoes, the most wintery of foods. My husband came home from work tonight and spent eight hours prying the lid off the boiler that heats our house and examining the rusty innards. I sense       already that his friendship with winter will involve more of a wary respect. And I admit I’m nervous. For me, friendships can be awkward at first. I get overwhelmed. I have my moments of despair: Did I say the right thing? Did I do something that revealed too much of my vulnerability, too soon?

Today I watch the snow fall through the big French doors and the windows that look south, east and north from our kitchen/dining room. I pretend nonchalance and think of the flakes as gifts. I allow the excitement to well up inside me at the prospect of four-foot drifts, of building a sled hill in the backyard, of cross-country skiing on the groomed trail by the icy-jade river that runs through our town. Of family snowball fights and cozy evenings cuddled around a TV screen watching movies that aren’t too scary but are scary enough to send my five year old shuffling to our room in the middle of the night, asking to be kissed and tucked back in.

We chose winter, and so winter will be a highlight of our year. We will make friends with winter. I’m determined.

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Sarah Dunster photoSarah Dunster is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. Her poems have been published in Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought, Segullah Magazine, and Victorian Violet Press. Her short fiction piece, Back North, is featured in Segullah’s Fall 2011 issue. In addition, Sarah’s first novel Lightning Tree will be released in spring of 2012 by Cedar Fort. Sarah has six children and one on the way and loves writing almost as much as she loves being a mom.

Canadian Shield by Bradley McIlwain

Canadian skyscape by Bradley McIlwain

I keep the totem in my pocket
as a harp song sung with a

steady bear paw, wedged
between your photograph

and an eagle feather. Before
we parted, you whispered it

would serve me well on rainy
days when my road was too

much to stand on. This morning
I pulled the car to the shoulder

to watch an osprey hover with
a cold sun. I look out over rock

formations carved by hundred
year old shale, hold my breath

and chant.

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To read more of Bradley’s poetry and his bio, go here.