Valentine Haiku Chain by Patricia K.

Swans Valentine

As part of Wilderness Interface Zone’s Love of Nature Nature of Love Month, we thought it would be fun to run a Valentine haiku chain. This is a just for fun song and dance event for many voices and dancing levels.

A haiku is a classical Japanese poetical form, usually 17 syllables all in a single line in Japanese, but there are longer and shorter forms. In English, haiku often take the form of one short line of 5 syllables, a long line of 7 syllables, and a short line of 5 syllables, but there are many ways–take your pick. If you’re interested, you can find out more about haiku here or here. (For fun, check out the “annoying haiku” at the first website.)

There’s no deadline for this activity and the only requirement is that you focus your feeling in a nature-oriented haiku. You can link your haiku to an image in a preceding one or simply forge a link out of new images altogether.  The chain runs as long as participants continue to forge links in the smithies of their minds.

Considered a mindfulness practice, writing haiku requires discipline–even if you’re writing effectively annoying haiku. So if you like the challenge of cramming your deepest feelings and most perceptive insights (or your silliest ones) into 17 syllables, this activity is for you.

Ready? Here is my opening Valentine haiku:

Tart flowers have shaped
bee’s dance; bee, flowers’ bouquet.
Almost, this is love.


Patricia Karamesines1Patricia Karamesines {} is the author of The Pictograph Murders (Signature Books 2004), an award-winning mystery novel set in the Four Corners area. Her poetry appears in the landmark anthology Fire in the Pasture (Peculiar Pages 2011) and has also been published in Dialogue and Irreantum. A long time ago, she was the founding editor of BYU’s literary journal Inscape, a feat she remains satisfied with. She has won numerous awards for her poetry and essays. She writes for A Motley Vision and runs the nature writing blog Wilderness Interface Zone that advocates for the greening of human language. Currently, she is an English tutor and adjunct at Utah State University-Eastern Blanding where she works closely with the university extension’s Native American student population.

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.


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.

Affectionate thanks to our LONNOL Month contributors!


Heart-iest thanks to participants who contributed to our sometimes sweet, sometimes bittersweet, sometimes citric Love of Nature Nature of Love Month.   The list includes:

Sue Halvorsen
Merrijane Rice
Ali Znaidi
Scott Hales
Enoch Thompson
Lee Allred
Theric Jepson
Karen Kelsay
Sarah Dunster
Percival P. Pennywhistle

Quite a spectrum to love this time around. Thank you all for the colorful month of feeling–smack dab in the drab of winter!

Hands Down by Patricia Karamesines


For many, it’s a simple thing, going to sleep at the end of a day. For me it runs to the difficult side. I sleep with my special needs daughter to keep watch over her through the night. She’s often troubled by discomfort or becomes tangled in sheets and blankets. Sometimes, her arms and legs get caught on or under each other and she can’t sort them out. She may suffer reflux or other problems that need attention. We learned years ago that guarding her sleep reduces seizures to the point of eliminating them. It’s a tough investment that we think is better than the many unfortunate alternatives, including having to spend all night trying to resolve problems that have gone undetected until she erupts in fits of pain, crying–sometimes screaming. I think it’s fair to say that if we’d left her alone in bed all these years, she might have suffered a dangerous accident without our being aware until it was too late.

Every night, we go through the same ritual. We put on Priscilla Herdman’s music DVD Stardreamer for her, turning the balance control ’til the music hums from the speaker on her side of the room. I get into bed. Her dad comes in and we speak the ceremonial words: “Good night,” “I love you,” “Can you say ‘Goodnight’ to Daddy?” My daughter lets him know when she wants to go to sleep. Just before or just after he leaves, she utters to me a two-syllable sound that varies in coherence. Sometimes it’s just those two, softly hooted syllables, hinged by a   sound that seems like a combination between a glottal and nasal stop. Sometimes it takes the shape of a querying word: “cuh-gul?”, “cuhgd-duhl?”


By the time we get to bed, I’m usually worn out. I just want to go to sleep. Sliding across the bed to tuck her knees up on my thigh and spread my left hand over her chest is just plain troublesome. And that isn’t enough. Usually, she wants my other hand on her, too, uttering her cuddle call until I relent. “You want me to cuddle more?” I ask. She hoots a soft yes. My hands together have an 18-inch span. Despite her age–nearly 21 years old–she’s very small, an effect of her microcephaly–reduced cranial size resultant of a severe, prenatal brain injury. My hands spread across her chest and upper abdomen and wrap around her sides.

Lately, despite rumbling hunger pangs for sleep, I’ve started paying more attention to what happens when I lay my hands on her, sometimes long enough that, beneath them, she falls asleep. I’m teaching myself to become more aware of and involved in the sensations of feeling my hands lift with the expansion of her one functioning lung when she inhales then lower again when her breath slides out. I get wrapped up in the rapid fluttering of what I call her butterfly heart against my left palm, straining to hear and feel my own slower heart beat in concert. I wonder over her misshapen rib cage, torqued by scoliosis, the sternum pressed upward, her skin stretched tight and thin across it like a hide over a drum. My still hands learn the shape and measure of it, resting and open, palms down, on the height of that upward curve. I compare the movements of my own breathings with hers. Through my hands, I feel other movements, murmurs, and gurglings in her abdomen.

Sometimes she grunts to let me know she’s done with the ritual–she’s ready to fall asleep and wants her space. Cuddle over. In recent past, that moment came as a relief as I unbent and rearranged my body into more comfortable shapes. Sometimes, I lost patience, pulled away, and told her, “Go to sleep.”

That’s changed. Sometimes, through my hands, I feel her relax into the foam topper we’ve put on the bed to make it more comfortable for her bone-jammed body. Her breath acquires soft, near regular depth, becoming rhythmic and peaceable. She sinks into sleep. Then I slowly lift away my hands and squirm back to my side of the bed, where I savor the sensations she’s given rise to in me. Sleep wells up then, not as abrupt relief from exhaustion, like the wind’s slamming a door between the world and my worn-thin senses. It comes more peacefully, like the slow glide of late evening into dusk, into night, complete with sunset displays of dreams. Going to bed still takes work, but the effort’s effects have become less oppressive and more revelatory.

The literally tiresome ritual is becoming, for me, a final, pre-sleep act of wondering over another deep layer of my life, another engagement in the mysteries. It exposes an added layer to the stratigraphy of connectedness and its ever-increasing expanse, linking up, diving then resurfacing elsewhere in our lives. There’s no end to the wilderness we call life. It changes even as we fix a gaze on it, taking the gaze with it, so that our seeing becomes part of the changing. The world gives rise to something new.

That first twenty minutes or so of bedtime is now a looked-for meeting time with Something Else as I place my hands on my little, living seer stone. We shouldn’t label them “special needs children”–unless we mean that they can meet and provide for our special needs. I’ve said this before, but I keep learning it, over and over, in new forms: The limitations here are not hers, and they’re not the developmentally delayed conditions of hundreds of thousands or millions of children like her. Those delays in development are ours–they belong to the rest of us who lie near to these souls yet are incapable of seeing through the windows they open, we who draw the curtains and put space between them and us because, we think, they ask too much of us. It’s too hard. It’s too late. We just want sleep. Like any profound question, they do ask too much, over and over. Cuddle? Cuddle? Cuddle? We are the ones who often fall short of intimate response. Even when my daughter is falling asleep, she catches me up.

A few days ago a 20-something Navajo student named Danielle Yazzie brought in her annotated bibliography for my review. Clearly, she felt passionately about her topic–special education, how the public school system treats special needs children, and how special needs categories have changed over the last 50 years. She couldn’t help but put in her own heartfelt views–not exactly appropriate for a bibliography. I tried to guide her away from that, just so she could meet the requirements for the assignment. I suggested that she save those thoughts for her essay.

But at the end of the bibliography she included a personal annotation that I decided to leave in place. This is what she said: “To me, the category gifted and talented students includes disabled students because they offer so much insight into the world around us.” A spectacular perception from such a young woman. I said I agreed and looked at her dark eyes. There was no exchange of secret acknowledgement of the sort that those of us who are mothers to brain variable children sometimes flash to each other. This bright girl, not a mother herself, took her truth completely in stride.

So maybe we are catching up, moving past the edges of our limitations. Maybe we’re becoming caught up. And these kids are spurring our development, enabling breakthroughs. Teaching us to walk with better balance, speak ourselves more fully, become more involved in this world. Maybe they’re moving us past ourselves to deeper meaning and more fully realized life.

I live with a cutting edge being. This cutting edge person wants me to cuddle with her. Hands down I am the luckiest unlucky person I know.


To see Patricia’s bio and other work, go here, here, here, and lots of other places, including WIZ’s sister blog, A Motley Vision.

Quote from Danielle Yazzie used with her permission.

Edited 2/21/2012 at 9:52 a.m.

The Twisted Butterfly by Laura Hilton Craner

Butterfy by Laura Cramer

(written with love and in honor of my Nana upon the event of her passing in Sept 2011)

The cigarette flared red then dimmed as Nana took a drag. She and tapped its ashes into my mother’s pansy box. In the summer twilight, I could barely make out the silhouette of her shoulders as she leaned against the deck railing and exhaled. They were slumped shoulders, burgeoning out of the curvature of her spine and rump. The lines of her legs were thin and smooth inside her pants, feet and knees close together in perfect line with the deck slats.

This visit was the first I could ever remember seeing Nana in person €”there had been a rift in the family that took years to bridge, so many years that no one could even tell you why it started. Even though I had called her and interviewed her for all sorts of school projects (my grade school reports on New Mexico, Billy the Kid, the Depression, and even Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds were all based on Nana’s colorful retellings) we never connected. She was distant, a voice over the telephone line, a picture filed in a cabinet.

Until today, August 20th 1998, five days before my older sister’s wedding.

When she arrived earlier today in full color and complete with her retinue of fat, randy poodles, Chico and Chipper, I was surprised. I knew she was coming €”I was ousted from my bedroom and my bathroom for her and her dogs. But meeting Nana in person was uncanny.   She was loud and relentlessly dressed in patterned neons and jewel tones. At dinner she had eaten more Mexican food than the rest of the family combined and was constantly laughing, crowing, €œho, ho, ho! € By turns delightful and flirtatious then sarcastic and cunning, Nana was mesmerizing and frightening. She left me speechless.

€œYou know, I still got it, € she had greeted me. €œI might be old, but I still got it. I used to be a real looker. Hooo, wee. Bet you didn’t know that about your old Nana. €   She gave her hips a shake as she sauntered toward the house, whistling at the dogs.

She was seventy-one years old. I was seventeen.

Tonight on the deck, I let the screen door slam closed to alert her to my presence. €œWhere are the dogs? € I asked as I leaned awkwardly against the porch railing, my elbows parallel to hers.

€œDown there. Poopin’. € She gestured at the darkened yard. An almost infantile smile flitted across her lips where her cigarette hovered, daintily settled between two fingers.

€œDid they like their dinner? € I had watched her carefully open a can of cooked chicken and shred it lovingly over freshly made rice. The concoction was then meticulously stirred as she called the dogs over to her and fed them bit by bit straight from her hand, their dull pink tongues wrapping stickily around her fingers.

€œEt ev’r bite, € she said, lapsing into her country Texas accent. €œThey love my cookin’. € She stretched out the word love, making the €œuuv € rise smoothly for emphasis.

€œThat’s good. €

€œYou ev’r decide to come down t’ New Mexico and see me, I’ll make you chile rellenos. Mm-hmm. I love €˜em. Then I’ll show you how to make necklaces and lace. I’m pretty good at those things too. €

She lit another cigarette and I tried to play cool, even though I imagined her lungs turning blacker every second and could feel my own throat tighten at the acrid smell. Growing up in Utah the only people I’d ever seen smoking were disgruntled teenagers, who didn’t make it look near as good.

€œIt’s a nice night, € I said to distract myself.   €œLots of stars. In the summer I usually sleep out here. It’s so peaceful. €

€œI know about the stars too. € She smirked a little as she said this. €œAnd all them, you know, what’re they called . . . € She struggled for the word, sounding her age for a moment.

€œConstellations? € I guessed.

€œYep. That’s them. Constellations. €

€œI never learned much about those. €

€œThey’re each a story. See that one up there with that line of three stars and the kind of square above it and below it. That one is a story.   It’s a. . . a   . . . € She trailed off, smoking and thinking. €œOron. The Twisted Butterfly. That’s what it is. I can’t remember the story, but that’s what it is. €   She looked unsatisfied, her face grimacing from mental indigestion.

I followed her gaze into the sky and the constellation popped out at me. It was actually Orion, complete with his lovely three-starred belt. But then I tilted my body a little towards Nana’s, lining my shoulders up with hers, and tried to see the sky the way she saw it. And there in the night sky was a twisted butterfly, trying to turn its flight around, trying to fly up into the sky.


Laura Hilton Craner is a mommy and sometimes-writer. She lives in Colorado with her husband and four children.   She blogs at and is a contributor at the Mormon Arts and Culture website, A Motley Vision (  When she isn’t reading, writing, or cleaning up after someone, Laura spends her time hiking, canning, scrapbooking, and dabbling in the expressive arts.

Shuddering by Mark Penny

There was
A shuddering of dust
Light followed
Sharp as knives
Riving the interstice of mind
Crimson and lucent flared the dawn
The mountains lapped it like a rain
Down flowed the waters
To lakes
To oceans
Restless sand
Swirled in the aftermath of breath
The sighing planet
Fumed and stirred
Smoke overwhelmed it
Curled and fled
Stuck to its surfaces like sweat
Hardened and sloughed
And joined the sand
The sun rose upward
In a last vanishing of fire
All the vast cohorts of wild stars
Spread themselves madly
Spark by spark
Then hushed
And lay still
In the dark

Mark Penny lives in a world of people, books and guitars seasoned with a laptop and a bodhran. He first came to light on March 9, 1964 in the mill and market town of Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England, and led a nomadic existence between British Columbia, Orem (Utah), Haiti, Alberta (Canada), and Ukraine before settling in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, where he teaches English and raises feral children. In addition to sporadic pulses of poetry, he writes songs (music and lyrics), fiction (short, long and serial) and carefully graded TESOL materials, examples of all of which are available here.

The image, “The Eagle is Rising,” is from the Hubble gallery.

Acceptance by Karen Kelsay


Like trees that shade a path and intertwine
to form a summer arch that guards the walk
where daffodils and buttercups recline
while leaning by the sycamore to talk,

our days are linked with laughter, love and sorrow,
always embracing gently as they spread.
Small buds enhance the pathways of tomorrow
by flourishing in shade from overhead.

And when chill winds, careering from the east,
make summer turn away her golden face
and greenery and blossoms all have ceased,
our graceful winter boughs will interlace.

For a recent bio, go here. For more of Karen’s work on WIZ, see here.