For the Birds

by Patricia Karamesines

She picks soft apples from a flowered bowl.

2020 Cezanne Life_with_Apples_in_a_Bowl,_2
“Meant to use these, never got to it,”
she says. “Oh, well!” Four—no, five—she takes
them to the door, throws them through as far
as she can onto crusted snow. “Such waste.”

But I’m not fooled. I tell her, don’t feed wildlife.
They say the wild things lose their fending for
themselves. Or worse, become destructive. “Eh!”
she says. She waves me off. “Mebbe,” she says,
“something to that last one—true for bears—
true for people who are brutes like bears—
but they, those they, they say that same of all
impoverished souls—handouts ruin them. Any
those things at all, they happen only ’cause
you go Lawrentian on the creatures, exploit
their need and presence to glut your own thin nerves,
twanging for touch and bridling. Animals like
to do for themselves. Good times, they will. They don’t
come looking here. Too risky. Important thing?
Don’t ever ask for something in return.” Continue reading “For the Birds”

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*

Beautification by Harlow S. Clark

€œI’ve always pictured Cedar Hills as a daffodil city. They’re beautiful and the deer won’t eat them.”

€œHe’s laughing. €
€œSorry. It’s just such a good quote. €
€œI’ll look for it in the paper. €

An hour later the reporter stops short of his car.
Behold
Three night-lit deer on the lawn,
Across the street three more in the retention basin.

Beautification eaters.
Beautification.
Deer, watchers,
What do they see?
Pasture? Food? Pests?

€œDo you have deer in your yard? €
His mother will ask this — many times —
When she sees a deer
Or remembers the buck sitting under the swing set,
Rising in the shadow, walking into moonlight
Moving downhill into the garden.
€œThey don’t come down this far.
We live too far from the mountain, €
He always says.

Yet they do come down.
He pictures the deer he will see tomorrow
At the top of Lindon hill
As he pedals to work,
Sees the red patch scraped of fur.
Hide? Muscle? Jerky?

Instead he looks at the life before him
Prays them safe passage across the highway
Safe from himself, from other drivers,
Safe passage up the mountain,

And drives away from their green pastures.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________
Harlow Clark lives works and writes in a subdivided orchard in Pleasant Grove, Utah where people plant fruit trees in memory of those the developer displaced, and deer don’t generally visit. He mostly writes a combination of Marxist literary criticism–“the spirit of Groucho is upon me”–and personal essay. He is a prolific stringer for local papers, 1500-2000 articles and photos published. “Beautification” grew out of a city council discussion he was covering.

*contest entry*