visual artist

how to find your way in the desert

to begin with, you cannot
do not even try
paths here do not stay in one place
laid as they are over
tumbled rock and sand

here no padded trails
marked by avenues of trees or fronded-ferns
the plants will tear at your flesh,
rip at your clothes

do not follow the rattlesnake;
for obvious reasons
do not follow the raven;
it flies where you cannot go
do not follow the jackrabbit;
it will only lead you underground

but your path is not underearth
nor over
you must walk the line between
you will have to follow the land itself
to walk where it allows

but do not trust it
it will lead you incircles and inlines
inwards and outwards at the same time
there is no traversing this vastness




coyote wakes us from sleep

stars wheel on like wagons
     over canyon over sky
     they strain to see
those invisible callers
those who gathered the spring
those who laid the path
those who painted the cliff walls
those who built the ruined
        rancher’s shelter

        and it’s empty fireplace



        claude glass

wise people
    or at least the scenically inclined
know that in canyon country
one must always turn
their backs on the sunset
forgoing the shifting light at the edge
of that overturned bowl of sky
in favor of the greater spectacle
unfolding on the cliff walls
already banded with color
marking their ageless age
but which
    on the occasion of sunset
erupt into a fury
of reds and golds
knifes of deepening blue
running down
pooling dark, where water
    that other blue
    or green or muddy red
has carved long and deep

but tonight instead I face that sky
horizon already paling
in preparation for the going down
creosote and cactus wrapped in green-grey
joshua tree bending
like tired john wayne saying
i’ve seen too many westerns
too many heroes riding into the distant hills
already lost in purple
and quiet




        inventory, march 26

last light on the mountain
    slowly fading
pinnacles of stone
    like some druidic line of teeth
long slopes, twisted trails of scree
    read, if you can, these sentences
punctuated by dark pine/cedar/juniper
    call them what you will
    we are not botanists here
in the valley:
grass paler than my hair
an army of grey thorny sage
    bruised and perfumed
    on my fingers
    they camp along
    and spill like drunk soldiers into
the ravine
    a red cut, a wound
    a terra cotta that could stain your hands
    no amount of scrubbing will wash
    evidence perhaps of some
    geologic crime
    or is the earth above all that