What the Winter Means by Mark Penny


You will be asking what the winter means.

A crack,
A crackle,
A lament.

The flat, sad surface of the earth
Stuck in the ice
That traps a pond.

The green gone gray and white
Or clothed
As if the crystals of the sky
Had slipped their tassels,
Slid the flimsy loom
And flapped like gulls and eagles
To the ground.

Moments of muteness
When no sight or sound but what comes with us
Dawdles in the glade,
The sounds sucked outward by the space
Between the grains of grounded firmament.
The chance of quiet in the grove,
The roads mere motions over rise
And so no more a measure of the world
Or its slow paces in the searing wind
Than pulse or breath,
Which also slow and still.

It is the restless resting revving up
Between the quick flags of the chase,
The soulless solace sloping to a rage
Of curled up crimsons
Bleeding green;
The ice cube cooling in the fire,
The cold cup sweating by the sea.

For more by Mark, and additional links, go here.

Photo “Winter Landscape 3” via Wikimedia Commons.


Ice Walking by Mark Penny


A nameless beaver sprang the trap.
Must have swum through it on his way up shore.
The two dogs, Jax and Cleo, crouched in their winter coats,
Gripped and pulled,
But the snare held,
Jealous of its prey.
I found them:
Red paw prints in the savaged snow,
Scrabbling blindly at the brink.
They parted for me.
I freed the carcass.
Primate hands
Dripping intelligence,
Carried the trophy to the pen
I’d built
To keep the collies off the goats–
The neighbour’s goats.
I threw the carcass down.
The dogs converged,
Patience and awe giving way to greed.
I watched awhile,
Then turned to human things.

There were two dams below the house:
The calf-deep creek
Bloated to drowning-depth in two black ponds.

Nights with a flashlight, brimstone eyes
Cruising the surfaces.
The still woods bristled:
Gnawed-off stakes,
Brute remains of silent-rooted trees,
Victims of mammal industry,
Torn bones
Woven in muddy, water-rotted domes.

Winter falls.
Green shapes yield to strangling ash,
Thicken and round out.
Water stills.
I try my foot on the narrow creek.
It holds.
Two feet.
I step.
I stop,
Listen for shifting,
Feel the seams,
Shuffle another pace or two.
All still.
All whole.
The dogs and I
Walk the half-glowing road
Onto the pond,
Ears up,
Knees bent,
Ingrown eye scanning the scratched slab,
The wind-laid pavement.

Now each breath
Savors its passage through the lungs
The sky,
Rampant with icy lights–
And tall between,
Lone man
As he breathes.
Mark Penny has published with WIZ, and won last year’s Admin Award in the Spring Runoff. He was a finalist in the Goldberg’s “Four Centuries” competition in 2012. He recently founded “The Lowly Seraphim,” an “e-collective” for speculative Mormon fiction.

Photo “Beaver dam in Tierra del Fuego” via Wikimedia Commons.

Pastoral by Jeremiah Burrow

vt ruin

Against an autumn background
I fall again
into pastures not mine,

Through young woods I walk
(the old giants have all been felled)
and grow tired;
the footpath is overgrown

and hard to keep.
I stop and rest
upon an old pasture wall €”
where are the sheep, the range?

I am this stone wall,
piece-worn by century and half again
of trespass and weathers,
fallen to ruin.

Jeremiah Burrow writes from Vermont where he is busy getting Stone Cairn Press off the ground. Check out the recent call for submissions. Burrow has published at WIZ, among other places, and more of Jeremiah’s poems are forthcoming next month at Four and Twenty: Short Form Poetry.

Big-backed Rain by Patricia Karamesines

Supercell photo public doman courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Above Four Corners,
nimbus-shouldered gods
rev the engines
of their summer rainmakers.

East in Colorado,
up from Utah’s deep country,
rashes of electrical impulses
bloom on chaffing skins of water
and air-born ice.

One silver-plated maelstrom sheers
from Sleeping Ute’s igneous brow.
It steams into Utah, anvil raised
to the highest stratum of the day,
bottom, pressed black night.
Between the cell’s chassis
and the ground, grey velvet cloudburst
and lightning forging, breaking €”both €”
bonds hotter than the sun’s face burns.
To the storm’s starboard, Scorpio
surfaces in early twinkle.
Fulmination lights the cloudworks
then tats one billow edge in pearly scallop
as the bulk winks briefly out.
The approaching earthmover’s intermittent
Groan deepens to near constant grumble.

In Arizona, out of hearing’s range,
lightning flakes evening off mountains
in noiseless cracks of light.
A second thunderhead
fires bolts as orange as pumpkins
into the rooted spine of the Carrizos.
Shredding rain, crooked veins
of fire bind both bodies,
filling canyons and arroyos with watery flash.
The frenzy squalls west, lightning intensifying:
Firecrackers going off under a hat.
The Milky Way swells then swirls
into southern lightning chambers
until figuring where storm cloud ends
and star cloud begins
poses riddles too expansive
for the mind’s casual play.

The male rain*, the rain with big shoulders,
muddies boundaries between heaven and earth,
splits an evening hour into tiers of high day
and gradations of disquieted,

*NiÅ‚tsÄ… BikÄ…, Navajo for “male rain”: the rain that falls during summer thunderstorms.

Patricia and her family live in the Four Corners region of the southwestern U.S.   She has won many awards for her poetry, essays, and fiction.   She is the author of The Pictograph Murders, a mystery set in the area where she lives.  Some of her poetry appears in the recently published landmark anthology of Mormon poetry, Fire in the Pasture. An adjunct English professor for Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah, she teaches English composition and also works as a tutor for English.   She is founding editor of Wilderness Interface Zone.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.