Alone in the Desert by Paul Swenson

450px-Jimson_Weed_(Datura_inoxia),_opening_flower by Wmpearl

On her closet floor, what
looks like a dried flower €”
arrayed in a display of faded
glory (tendrils splayed
to welcome her) €”plays
tricks on the eye. Can’t
say what stops her

from picking it up. But
living alone in the desert,
under an endless sky,
gives even a dead tarantula
a florid allure. And out
the back door of her Virgin
hideaway, the iris

(orange, green and brown
growths) €”lovely or lurid
against the blue mouth
of Zion Canyon? Doesn’t
that one long stem, winding
through and out the top
of the photograph (grotesque
almost) €”belong in a Dali

painting? It seems to lean
to her, tempted by tender
flesh at her throat, where
a cluster of silver gems
gleams above a shadow
of décolleté. Hair, once black,
then gray, now white, reflects

ethereal light of distant stars.
When desert’s dark descends
and foxtail blends with stone,
is she lonely there? No, this
is her hour. Night-blooming
moonflower extends her roots
and turns her petals out.


If you would like to read more of Paul’s poetry and see his bio, go here and here.

Photo of moonflower (jimsom weed) flower by Wmpearl.


Lavender Song by Karen Kelsay


When Lily plays the cello, it is holy.
Like lavender that strays from garden walls
and necklaces of evergreens that slowly
curl across the meadows, along the halls

her wreath of somber notes is softly borne.
She wings the bow; I hear my mother’s voice,
recall a lover’s crying flame. I mourn
and then, with silent chanting tongue, rejoice.

Each memory is coaxed aloud across
a grassy bottomland of time, the marrow
and the porous pith revealed. The loss,
half-opened flowers, flutters of a sparrow.

She plays the cello, slowly €”and the night
becomes an aperture of grace. All lowly
thoughts swirl into quiet, purple light.
When Lily plays the cello, it is holy.


For more of Karen’s poetry and her bio, go here, here, here, and here.

Sestina of Seven Births by Tyler Chadwick

1. 27 November 2006, Morning
They’d said it would come,
with December just around the bend.
Still it caught me off guard. Outside
in pajama pants, t-shirt, bare feet, waiting
for the dog to make: the first flakes layered
cornered leaves with winter’s afterbirth.

2. 16 July 2003: Our First
The day Sidney was born,
her water came
on the bathroom floor. As I’d layered
a towel to soak the spill, my wife bent
over the head to catch any leaks, waiting
for labor to turn her insides

3. New Mother
Sitting beside
the ashen body of her stillborn
son, waiting
for the cry that never came,
she bent
her breath across his chest, warming the empty layers.

4. 12 February 2006, 2:23 AM: Our Second
Rising through layers
of sleep into wet sheets, she’d stood beside
our bed, questioned her continence while bending
lamp light across the spill. €œLooks like your birthday
present’s coming, €
I’d said as she winced at the onset of labor’s weight.

5. Sarah
As she wearied beneath the weight
time layered
on her womb, he came
to her. Inside
the tent, a moonbeam gave birth
to galaxies as her universe bent

to God’s touch.

6. On the Lake
Ripples bend
the water’s crimson weight,
distorting autumn’s birth
with each stroke layered
on stroke. Reaching over the canoe’s east side,
our nine month daughter watches her reflection go and come.

7. Solstice
Rereading €œThe Second Coming € on a winter night, birds bending
circles inside Yeats’ words as the tide spanning generations waits
to drown my own, I draw the poet’s layered veil and fall into Christ’s crimson birth.


Tyler Chadwick is a doctoral candidate in English & the Teaching of English at Idaho State University. He spends his time husbanding his wife, Jessica; fathering four little girls; teaching writing foundations online for Brigham Young University-Idaho; reading; writing; and researching contemporary American poetry. He’s also an avid runner. His poems have appeared in Metaphor, Dialogue, Irreantum, Salome, Black Rock & Sage, and The Victorian Violet Press Poetry Journal. In 2009, he received the Ford Swetnam Poetry Prize and in 2010 he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Visit Tyler’s blog Chasing the Long White Cloud.   To see other poems he has published on WIZ, go here, here, here, here, here, here, and last, but not least, here.