Guest Post: Waters of Mormon, by Mark Bennion

Listen to Mark Bennion read “Waters of Mormon”

Amid the tingle of forest and shadows,
you ford through the water
to the sway of its purl and girth,
a surge of billow where air arrives
in speckles of light. The only
distance is the reach of your hand
and the life after petition and promise.
Trees rustle in incandescence
as the crowd’s whisper fades.
You have come to the place
where heat and cold start to matter.
This point you approach in dusk,
trust, flashes of maroon and stream.
What you’ve known you may come
to remember when the night returns
its grip. Ease into the ripple
now, feel the numbing of flesh,
let the wave bury you
until the sound of dawn.


For more by Mark Bennion, go here and here.


Guest Post: Sorrow and Song, by Mark Bennion

Listen to “Sorrow and Song” by Mark Bennion


That morning you came to me
I saw the lamp arising in your beard,
a flash of iron and fire
wisping in your robes and hair

dreams full in your mouth like jamid
and your gait uneven on the hardest soil.
I thought I knew what you were about to say,
how sweat and sand would become our clothing,

how silt and thirst would cut
amidst the walking and walking, how we’d
migrate like dunes, carrying the memory
of limestone, rain, and bazaars.

How you said, Jerusalem will burn
until the ash pits rise like mountains
and remnants will be carried away like wood:
that celebratory yet somber look

stung in your eye, your frame shaking
at your own obedience. Together
we swung and fell in this desert refuge,
witnessed our sons turn to tempests,

hunts, lies. The belief that our names,
perhaps, were stamped to tribal codes;
we, the outlaws of Manasseh, plodding past
Aqaba, finding meat in wadis, our flocks
as lost as we were, but submitting
still to the crisping, wilderness sun. How
God chose us to leave when Zephaniah,
Ezekiel and Habakkuk stayed behind,

left to time’s or the dungeon’s swifter,
less fruitful fate. Eight years later we knew
the scorpions, the serpents, the vultures
hovering about; we understood the ruah,
the deadening of salt, the trap-catch between
Jewish pearls and promised land, the
flair of an oasis and the heat stroke
of even the smallest mirage.
Such vassals we were to exile and need,
to passion flourishing in this barren
landscape. The new beginning of sons €”
our concluding harvest €”the lengthening of days

bound to the sea’s endlessness, the energy
of something greener, something more
bountiful and destructive, something more
miraculous than Moses’ call

to the Red Sea. Forgive me, Lehi,
for my complaint and hardness.
I thought I saw the end
as you believed in our beginning.

Praise me, Lehi, for my denial
and acceptance, for my quiet confidence
in a goat-haired tent. You confessed
the vision as I believed the implication

of leaving shekels, pulse, and friendship
for the tough yet merciful cup of prophecy,
the line given to us in our journey
through this burnt offering, unexpected life.

jamid:   a hard round food containing goat’s cheese, grass, and various herbs.
wadis:    usually dry river beds, except during the rainy season.

ruah:   Hebrew word for wind, intellect, or spirit.

This poem originally appeared in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought vol. 38, no. 2, Summer 2005. It recently was published in  Mark’s poetry collection Psalm & Selah: a poetic journey through the Book of Mormon [Parables Press, 2009].

For another of Mark’s poems and his bio, go here.

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:

Nephi Anderson (via Th.’s gravelly voice)
Mark Bennion
Tyler Chadwick
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.

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.



 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.