Deer in the City by Patricia Karamesines

When winter beats its broad path
across fields, kneeling the weed
and setting, too, over sage and oak,
deep white pavement;
after wasps and beetles
have borne off, crumb by crumb,
rusted plum and apple pulp
so far beyond the last gather
the ground where they fell
no longer smells of cider;
when there is light instead of leaf
on the branch, star instead of pear,
deer walk as far into the city at night
as the park, smelling out sapling tips
and the palatable rare hedge.

Deer in the city after dusk €”
they are not owls living in night’s
ruins above the streetlamps,
or feral cats that brawl
in the crawlspace beneath parked cars,
or rats, rummaging dim-lit alleys
for day’s spoils and parings.
Deer step as bare-legged
as strayed nymphs
though harrowed snow.
Their tracks form
in neighborhood schoolyards
like mushroom rings.

When the thaw greens
the high cold country
and suppling twigs may be bitten,
spring’s flower fleece shorn;
when snowmelt wears away lack,
releasing odor and fiber;
and shut trees opening
drop their first pale shadows,
they who have risked
discovery by hunger,
who walked through yard clutter
like pheasants through cut hay,
will go into forests of thunder
on mountaintops,
up onto aging meadows,
where they become themselves:
wild brown deer with black hooves.


Patricia roams and writes in southeastern Utah. She has received several literary awards for poetry, essays, and fiction, including from Brigham Young University, the University of Arizona, the Utah Arts Council, and the Utah Wilderness Association. A poet, essayist, and novelist, she has published in literary journals and popular magazines locally and nationally. Her novel The Pictograph Murders (2004 Signature Books) won the 2004 Association for Mormon Letters’ Award for the Novel. She writes sometimes for the Mormon arts and culture blog A Motley Vision, but her heart belongs to AMV’s companion blog Wilderness Interface Zone , a dream coming truer and truer.

*non-contest submission*

Excerpt from my novel at The Provo Orem Word

Provo Orem Word March 2011 Issue

The Provo Orem Word, an online venue for artists in the Provo-Orem area of Utah, has published an excerpt from my novel The Pictograph Murders (Signature Books 2004) in this year’s nature-themed issue.   You can read the excerpt and rest of the issue here, or click on the picture.   Also, check out the ad for The Pictograph Murders and Wilderness Interface Zone on the inside of the first page.   My son Saul designed that.   I think it’s cool. The links weren’t working today but POW is trying to remedy that.

This issue also contains an interview with Terry Tempest Williams, who will perform a reading from her book Finding Beauty in a Broken World at Brigham Young University on March 17.   This occasion interests me for a couple of reasons, one of them being that Williams has not read at BYU in over 20 years, although faculty members like Eugene England were interested in inviting her.   I think this event long overdue and am glad for it.   If I were up in that area, I’d attend.

Beside Williams’ interview, there’s also a nice piece by George Handley titled “Secret Memory.”   George published an excerpt of his book Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River here on Wilderness Interface Zone.

The issue contains many other gems, including the eighth chapter of an epic poem titled “Rough Stone, Rolling Water” by Dennis Marden Clark.

The Provo Orem Word is an online literary magazine that publishes a nature-themed issue every March, but Rebecca Packard, the publisher/editor, is happy to take submissions all year long at The ‘zine publishes fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.   For submission guidelines and a list of The Provo Orem Word’s other themes for this year, email Rebecca at the above address.     Rebecca says, “Not being affiliated with the area will not hurt an author’s chances of being published.”

I’m not a resident of Utah Valley anymore; it didn’t hurt mine!

Desert Gramarye* by P. G. Karamesines

It’s like the old Tarzan movies:
White hunters find their way barred
By skulls on sticks.

The Park Service has erected
A pavilion on the rim.
Beware, it says.
Quicksand.   Flash floods.
How to Resuscitate Lightning Strike Victims
One warning tells.
It pretends helpful information,
But it is another white skull.

On a sideboard, the complete caveat €”
A man pierced all through with sticks.
We are loath to look on it, but do:
It alone rates five full skulls.

Thirty-five-year-old male, it says.
Not enough water.
Disoriented.   Delirious.
Collapsed.   Convulsions.
Core body temperature one-hundred-and-eight degrees
In an air-conditioned ambulance.
Expected to recover, but €”
Suffered liver and brain damage.

I don’t understand.
Did he recover, or didn’t he?
Ah €”that is not the point of the skulls.

In the old Tarzan movies
The skulls, the shrunken heads,
The bad juju, B’wana,
They mean, this could happen.
To you.
We hope.
The tribe that inhabits these parts €”
The fierce Park Service €”
They maintain all hearts of darkness
Beating in these wilderness.
No doubt they know already
We are here.   B’wana,
They have much bad juju.

Yes.   I can see that,
And I wonder what I have brought with me
To ward off potent spells flung at the feet
In the first few steps of a journey.

I breathe:
Flash Flood.   Come.
We have met many times and parted
Always on good terms.
I would like to see you again,
Old friend, Flash Flood.

Quicksand.   Come.
We are no strangers.
You caught me by my ankles,
Then retracted your claws;
I remember
Your tongue’s rasp.
Perhaps we shall wrestle again,
Mud panther,

Lightning €”
You I am not so sure about.
When your gray matter thunders
And your synapses
Fire between heaven and earth,
Let me not be found in those corridors.
Fall elsewhere, flash elsewhere, Lightning,
And I will tell all
Of blue quarrels bolting cloud to cloud,
Of electrokenetic harpoons
Havocking lone junipers.

Thus I shoulder my pack
And pass by all skulls,
Speaking soft words
Of relation.


*”Gramarye” is the old spelling for “grammar,” meaning a primer.   But it is also an old word for “magic.”

Originally published in Irreantum (Summer 2003): 20-21.

Coupla links

First off, frequent WIZ contributor Karen Kelsay invited me to submit poetry to her online poetry journal Victorian Violet Press, where I’m the featured poet for her summer issue.      Victorian Violet Press also nominated “The Pear Tree” for a Pushcart Prize.     Thanks, Karen!  

You can hear me read “The Pear Tree” here.

Second: If you’re one of the few folks who haven’t yet visted the British Petroleum live spillcam, click here.

Scroll down to “Live feeds from Enterprise” and click into either ROV 1 or ROV 2.   After a series of failures, beginning with the failure to plan for catastrophe, BP has placed a cap on the stub and is in the process of closing vents in the cap.   The petroleum giant is now pumping oil onto a ship but details are sketchy at this point.   Warning:  viewing the live feed can become addictive, rather like watching an aquarium gone horribly wrong.   One or the other camera may  go off-line from time to time.

It Doesn’t Take a Rocket Scientist

(for Saul)

My son, seven, says, in passing,
€œTo travel at the speed of light
You must become light. €
From the apparent blue, this bolt
Blasts me from terrain
Of rolling, languid thought,
I am forced to leap by precipice
And, after thrills of floundering,
Beat together wings of suspense
And impetus, igniting flight.

He is only seven, and it is my duty.
Breathless, I ask:
€œWhere did you hear such a thing? €
He tosses €œI just know €
Over a shoulder, stoops
And is gone, uncaring
The grace he has done me.
For him, it is simple collection
From some garish bush, but for me €”
They say accidents of real consequence
Happen among comforts of home.


First published in Irreantum 4.2 (Summer 2002): 80.

Winter haiku

[Post edited 12/17.]   Since this haiku chain launched itself before I had a chance to lay groundwork, I thought I’d backtrack and provide some perhaps useful information.

A haiku is a classical Japanese poetical form, usually 17 syllables all in a single line in Japanese, but I understand that there are longer and shorter forms.   In English, haiku usually take the form of one short line of 5 syllables, a long line of 7 syllables, and a short line of 5 syllables.   I’ve misplaced all my haiku notes, but you can find out more here or here.

Here’s my beginning haiku:

Colorful beads drape
Desert grasses–frost parsing
Light’s long white sentence.

Judah, by Patricia Karamesines

These bargained years I’ve toiled in the fields
With you, tending, in my distraction, ample yields,
Though when the wind pressed down the grain
There was nothing, or when the sheep would flurry
And part as if a man were walking through,
Joseph, it was never you.
Plaited, golden stalks crowded down
And rose again in gusts,
Or caravans in moving dreams of dust
Dissolved into white plains.
While in the upper orchards,
On a terrace with the stripling fruits,
Driving away wiry goats
Whose wild lips strayed too near the tender shoots,
Against yellow crop and sliding green,
Stripes of soil, pale dust, and the woad sky,
I thought I saw your garment €”you bearing it €”
Your breast goat’s blood red, your eyes
Turned from me.
I shouted: The land shifted
In some slight breeze, the goats lifted
Their nobbed heads. Continue reading “Judah, by Patricia Karamesines”