Craig Wisner


Untitled (Death Comes Easy).

Death came

in raccoons last night

finding an open coop

and my favorite hen.

she lay there

a bloody stump

where the head once was

and when we turned our eyes

to grab for something

to fend them off

they carried the body

over a wall

onto a garage roof

and I watched them eat her

-blood on their faces

while they watched me

I went for my bow

to exact revenge

-stopped by visions

of a gut-shot

screaming animal

dying in the neighbor’s yard

at 3AM

No use

death is death

the fault was mine

and it seemed unreasonable

to kill a raccoon

for being a raccoon

death comes easy

light in the eyes

fading fast

-death comes easy

the living

left behind

with the curse

of wonder

Our last hen knows

she’s following us now

lonely and cooing

not wanting

to go back to the coop







Tea with Ryōkan

I packed a bag

this evening

included some tools

to cook tea

and strolled up my home canyon

slowly, slowly

stepping aside

for hurried people

scaring the birds

into silence

whenever they passed

(if you take your time

sit still

the chatter comes right back)

Ryōkan and I

reclined by the creek

sat in damp gravel

boiled some water

and soaked the tea

picked our noses

while the woodpeckers


and the mockingbirds

cried like monkeys

pale clouds

stretched thin in strands

slipped past the canyon walls

recent rains

softening the world

dust retreating

into soil

the leaves sighing in relief

no tracks here

just ours

and those of a few deer

There was a small patch

of miner’s lettuce

beside the water

delicate green heads

pushing up through the mud

on the bank

I was going to pluck it

and eat it

when I decided

we weren’t so different

that this evening

was probably as pleasant

for miner’s lettuce

as it was for me

So I let it be.


let them convince you

that sipping tea

by a creek

on a Monday

isn’t important work.








Recent Drawings.

Enjoying a little down time out of the sun while my shoulder heals…Two new thumbnails.  I’m enjoying the Ramen Head logo.

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Skull and Toad.  Ink on paper.

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Ramen Head w/Wisner Logo.  Ink and acrylic on paper.


Enemy of the Sun.

I click a link to a message entitled “Skin Biopsy Results” and few words jump out at me before I can finish the page.



Basal Cell Carcinoma.

Our surgery department will contact you to schedule treatment.

There’s an innocuous looking pink bump on the side of my nose near my eye, another on my shoulder.  The positive results of these two spots call into question many other areas, undoubtedly more biopsies to come.  They’re not the first.  They tell me it’s the most common form of cancer and it is typically highly treatable.

I suppose it doesn’t matter how common or how treatable, the word cancer sends a temporary wash of fear through my body.  You cannot help but wonder where you lie within the percentages.  Questions.  I’ll deal with it.  More questions.  Don’t worry, you’ll deal with it.

I think back to a moment with my doctor.

“It’s strange that I have these on my shoulders, I’m pretty good about staying covered in the sun.”

“Honey, this didn’t happen last weekend.  It’s genetics and a lifetime of sun damage.  Did you burn a lot as a kid?”


“There you go.  You weren’t meant for this place.”

Snip.  Another piece of flesh is put into a vial.

I wasn’t meant for this place.

Surgery day.  I’m informed prior to the start that growths around the nose tend to run deep and spread outward, that the surgeon cannot predict how much will have to be removed.  He’ll cut, send the sample to the lab outside to be examined, and cut more until there’s no sign of cancer.  They’ll be slightly more aggressive with my shoulder, simply removing a large chunk under and around the growth.

Needle pricks, numbness spreading from my nose and into my jaw.  John Coltrane is on the stereo and I’m thankful I can talk jazz and art with the surgeon.  I can feel his breath next to me.  He’s steady.  I close my eyes.  The sound of metal gently tapping metal, skin cutting.  The hole in my shoulder is large, almond-shaped, an inch and a half long and three-fourths of an inch wide.  They tug aggressively at the sutures, pulling it shut and tying it off.

An hour and a half has passed.

It’s not that bad.

There is no pain, though I’d prefer I didn’t have to smell my cauterized skin.

They’ve taken almost a dime of skin from next to my eye.  They suspect I’ll heal OK, but I can talk to a cosmetic surgeon in three weeks if I don’t like the scar.  I tell them I don’t make money off my looks, that I’d rather have a scar than be opened back up.  They tell me to wait and see.  I walk out, heads in the waiting room following my bandaged face.

As a lover of deserts, waves, and peaks, I’m reevaluating my relationship with a suddenly dangerous sun.

“I’m usually pretty good at sun protection when I know I’m doing something, like hiking or surfing.  But I can see I need to make it more of a daily habit.”

There’s a smirk on my surgeon’s face, a slight shake of his head.

“Man, going to the grocery store is too much sun for you.  You need to rethink your sun exposure or we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other.”

I imagine a burka, hiding every inch of myself from the light.  Hiking sandy washes wrapped in blue robes like a Berber trader.  Sleeping in caves during the day, waking and walking at sundown as the sky reddens and the winds pick up.

I imagine outright abandonment of our damned star.  Becoming a night runner, night hiker, night cyclist.  Enjoying the feeling of cool air on bare skin without searing worry.  Seeking my adventures by headlamp and streetlight.  The world would be empty and quiet and I would be free.

I imagine packing up and moving my family to some cloudy, dark North where my genes might belong and where I’d never need to shield my eyes from the sun’s  blinding glare again.

I imagine I must now start to choose my time of day wisely, to save my exposure for when it counts, for trips in the High Sierra instead of some noontime hike in familiar local hills.

I walk to my studio out back, to sit and write and imagine a little more.

Stopping on the path, shirtless, I squint defiantly at my enemy.

Feeling its heat on my shoulders, I hurry for cover.

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High Sierra Glimpses.

The remnants of a trip over Taboose Pass and into the promised land with Tom.

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A distant cascade

echoes off talus walls

-breeze stirring the pines
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Coyote slips into the grove

behind me

four ears listening,

two of us


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A blood stain

on the grass beside

Bench Lake

-I wash my hands

as two trout heads


into the depths

Steaks lined upon a log

scales gleaming in the sun

-your life

into mine

(I cried upon finishing my soup)

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Waking from a nap-

two ants

drag a fly

from under my hat.

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A lone coyote

descends a rock shelf,

circles the lake

-leaving bird calls

in its wake

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No mosquitos!

Just birdsong,


11 (1024x576)Thunder sounds

tentbound now

-noodles will have to wait



and older


the hint of tears

in their eyes


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Summer Photography.

Here’s a link to a portfolio of work I created for a summer photography course.  I came to quickly realize, when comparing many of my images with those of fellow students, that technology matters quite a bit in the digital world.  My camera, an older 10 megapixel Canon EOS Rebel, is noticeably lacking detail (as compared to newer models) no matter how well I focus.  That said, I’m quite happy with many of these images and would love to set aside some money for a few large prints.

Flickr Portfolio