poems from the red desert


It’s dark and your pants wet to the ankles.

Bottom of a well.

The water becomes ink, blood.


Your hands scrabble rock,

knock dust.


A black

cat hears you.


She hides.


The blood is water again.

Doesn’t matter if it’s tepid,

or freezing.


It soaks you.


“Black cat! Come back!”


She curls her tail.


Green eyes flick.


You’re souring

someone well.




The sun and red eye glower.


Seeds blossom in your blood.


Trees burst into flame: you turn away—

marked and stung,

sick and blind.


If your eye offends you,

cast it out,

or your whole

body will be cast

Into the fire.




If you swallow it,

it dissolves in your belly,


Becomes ash,

Becomes rock,

Becomes jerky.


It veins,




Break its fingers

from your neck. 



Desert god

White chalk,

red rock eureka.


Here, washes

and streams

are scars.


From the fingers of the desert god

drip gold.


From his eyes, quartz.


From his feet, chrysolite

and opal.


Under his soles, sapphires.


No one lives

near his face


hot scrawl.


Painted Desert

In bones are souls.


The petrified tree

knows the painted sun

has drunk her colors.


Hissing rattlesnake,

desert patterned:

diamonds, exes, hexagons.


Joshua tree

smells like churned dirt.


There, you bow, forehead to root,

ribs abandoned to sand.


War/Love Song

From your eyes, dew—

your mouth, flowers.


Like hearts offered

to the desert god,

yours feeds the sun.



Hollow in your pounding ribs:

bad dreams.


A chain saw

popped your tires

and left you in the Mojave

where they'd

dropped rocks

from the sky.



the desert

took over and you became bones.


Millions of years later,

splinters of your body

washed ashore.