Distance

Sometimes, there’s a place where the grass and the sage, pine and cottonwood, rocks and scrub and a cactus or two — maybe piñon and mesquite and yucca and so forth — they all get together and make up this kind of mildly intoxicating existence.

Little breezes ruffle and shift the scents around, or the wind really kicks up and does its best to rearrange your day. 

Mostly these areas aren’t burdened with an overabundance of trees or houses.
You can see the horizon. You can breathe in deep and feel your mind flatten out.
Memory and time stop fighting each other. Your worst enemy might be a fence or two. 

I don’t generally have anything against concentrations of trees or houses — or people, for that matter — but I need to be out in the wide angle, out in the open kind of wild. 

You can see the storms coming. Hear the wind searching. Feel the thunder roll.
See the lightning crack. You can see the sun breaking in yellow through the mist or dying red in the clouds, and you can look at it all coming and get ready.

You can give yourself to it. It’s like getting ready for church or mass. Like a wedding or a funeral. 

Things in the land and things in us consummate and die all the time.
Out there you can see it, know it for what it is.

You can see it all coming, and see it all going.

Coyote

You know how headlights,
when you’re near a desert highway,
pan across material like a searchlight,
casting incoherent shadows
past whatever they happen to catch –

sage, cactus green and praying to the rain,
hitchhiker’s drugstore cowpuncher boots,
corrugated lean-to slumped up against the wire?

Well that isn’t happening just yet.

Coyote isn’t on the wander right now.

The sun is still walking, heading west,
knowing exactly where to go.

Daylight melts over dust and hardpan,
yellow, umber, ochre, neon hot pink.

Memory melts like daylight.

Those clouds, see. That’s what I mean.
Cirro… cumulo… cirronimbulus?

It rises, dark and thick in the gloaming.
It drinks the melted daylight.

A rush of cool air. Scattering of sand.
Silent stab of arced lightning.
One million volts in a terawatt cycle.

Thunderstorms drink memory like daylight.
They amplify.
They make ready for the night.

You should come tell me what you think.

Silence. Rumbling over the distance of the earth.

Silence.

Cumulonimbus. That’s it.

You’d have gotten that quicker.

Silence.

Scent of the dry before the wet.

Burning gold at the end of the sunwalk
underneath the dark tower.

There. Coyote’s on the wander. Hungry.

The semi-truck moves past
and headlights cast no shadows beyond a ghost.

Thirst.

Thunder.

Hunger.

Arclight.

Silence.

Sometimes,

when driving with old music under slated smoke
against the brushstroked horizon
fading along mountains to the west
as the sun-heat of the high desert
reflecting off the scent of sagebrush
gives way to a chill mist
collecting on burnished sandstone and granite
with small patches of veridian moss and lichen
in the wild geometry of a late afternoon
as amber light stretches out into a blanket
under which nothing can harm us

(not even the future
not even the past

[this is a good place to stop
and get out the cameras] ),

our gaze sweeps
the scattered domains of the earth,
of the coyote and the elk
and a railroad track not used in years;

soon,
we will start thinking of good food
and something cool to drink.

Shell Canyon | Wyoming | USA

Anathema

20 years into this century
and the West burns,

the land inflamed, unceasing.

It burns in the forests
and the fields,
it burns in the streets,
with fires small and great
all stretching out for the same air,
all feasting upon the same oxygen.

But empires thus
are built of bone
and of sweat,

and within the elements
of things closest to our hearts,
from the private
to the pestilent,
we wait
and we watch
with dilated eyes
the assault and decay.

To breathe! Only to breathe…

The body has a finite amount of blood.
The mind can only take so much.

They will not stop, you see.
They will never

stop.

This is the desolation.

Oh rise now the midnight daughter,
oh rise now the twilight son;
keep your blades sharp,
your torches dry,
your eyes up.

Under the roaming haze
under a descending sun;
late now, the domain of summer,
and the long dark
approaches.

There is but one bastion,
one shield,
one bulwark,
one fire in the night:

hold fast thy memory,
thy faith,
thy hope
and thy love.

You know
in your deep-heart
what is right.

All else is anathema,
all else is so much dust,
for there are no spells
with which to resurrect the dead.

In Memoriam: Patrick H Lee

artist: https://www.deviantart.com/pe-travers/art/Desolation-120816158

92%

had to wait a while,
didn’t we?

for the stars to fall in supernova
and the far trails
to be formed and tread
and for the long night
to descend upon us?

and so we did.

be then ignited with me,
you inviolate wonder;

for tears are sacred things
that flow
through the mountain-field
and through the desert
into the ocean,

only so they might be carried up,
and by desperado winds
returned to the earth
as a storm over the sage,

where grace as rain comes down
around the lightning we make
in this love like thunder.

artist: https://deviantart.com/viconbecon

Geology

Your skin is of alabaster,
and your heart, rose quartz.

Your mind is diamond.
Your hair flows down like tiger’s eye.

And residing within granitic bones
of cooled lava,
your soul is formed
of topaz and citrine;

your eyes of obsidian,
of dragon’s blood,
of labradorite.

And your mouth
speaks in rivers
and your touch
laps as waves on the shore
and your dreams
are snow gathering on the high peaks;

for you were forged in stars,
and born of fire,
and a wonder,

never simply on display;

but forever that of beauty,
wild in the earth.

Before Dawn

Gently now,
as I draw you in the core of my mind.

Softly now,
as your soul sings
in the depths of the dark.

Sweetly now,
as we drink
deep from the overflowing cup.

The ceiling fan spins light kaleidoscopic
in the late evening,
and the sheets smell like you,
and my shirt is scented
with dust and musk,
and we trace each other’s tattoos
and taste of each other’s wine
and speak our stories into the air.

So
lightly,
as my fingers brush
the back
of your neck.

Elegantly,
as your hand rests
upon the rising of my
chest.

Slowly,
as thunderclouds growl and gather
in the distance.

The hours after midnight
are only for the nameless,
the forgotten,
the secrets,
the lovers,
the ascendant.

Carefully now,
as I carve your name
into the side of my heart.

you speak the earth is silent

hours have we traveled
and toiled on sore feet,

miles have we moved
with kinked-up backs
and rough-cut hands,

years have we labored
with tired hearts and aching minds,

through the burning
suppression of the soul,
shackled and shamed;
pushing through this perdition,
passing as penitent
through this purgatory,

boots sticking hard
in the festering swamp of solitude,
or resting near the doorstop
of the holy haven of solitude;

the once bright and shining,
the sprout-seed, the storm-sailor
floats now over the sifting wastelands,
over liars, thieves, and kingdoms,
over fates, feasts, and famines;

the final card is turned
and it is Death reversed –

but

when you touch me,

the flowers of spring bloom
upon my skin,
the thunders of summer roll
across my form,
the winds of autumn whisper
in my ear,
the snows of winter pile
upon my peaks;

when you speak, the earth is silent.

and when you look at me
with eyes that have seen too much
and not enough,
eyes deep and clear against the world,
eyes always horizon-bound,
when you look at me
with your eyes –
wells of dreamwater
fed by heaven’s rivers –

i am resurrected
i am unbound
i am weightless

artist: https://deviantart.com/rhads/gallery

Coffee

The moon, in her wisdom,
hides for the day;
and the sun tumbles
in photonic procession
over hills of tree and rock
to come gently,
unassuming,
in between the curtains.

The cat stretches.

You arise first, usually.

You are the concerto’s
opening notes.

You tell me of the mountains-
the old ones with long and white hair
falling over their shoulders,
guarding the far and wild reaches
of the old country.

You tell me
of the realms of your imagination;
of the paths traveled with companions,
and of those without.

You tell me of the burning light of hope
hidden in the deep night of the soul.

You tell me of faith.
You tell me of mystery.
You tell me of love.

And I see the trades
and skills and crafts
concealed
among the books on your shelf,
and in between your piano fingers.

I see the nameless fears
waiting in the dark.

And I think it is no wrong thing
to take a step back in time,
and say “thou art Rogue”-
feline-footed and shadow-friended,
come to meet me
at the edge of field and the forest,
both of us bringing secrets for trade.

And I see the sun coming in.

I want to hear more.

I want to hear why you think
the violin is the most beautiful sound in the universe.

I want to close my eyes
and see more of the piano fingers at play.

It’s hard to close my eyes around you,
but I will try.

I want to hear more about your paths,
see more of your map,
taste more of your wine;

only because
I’m not sure
anyone’s listened long enough
to hear the song
of the golden threads
that hold you together-
the ones the world tries so hard
to unravel.

So let me check today’s itinerary:

Ah.

“Hunt for rocks.”
“Eat food.”
“Dance in the kitchen.”

But first, breakfast.

Coffee.

Then come and meet me
at the edge of the field and the forest.

artist: https://deviantart.com/rhads

Theory

What makes a wild heart beat?

(no, i mean really beat)

Does it fly full-out and free
under the sun?
Does it hide and whisper
its dreamings in the dark?
Does it drift
in fitful slumber beneath the sea?

What voices, still, are carried on the horizon’s wind?

Where do they go?

And why,
why is all this insanity
very much like a coming home?

(does it even matter?)

Here,
I’ll tell you a secret:

I have no idea.

But I think it’s very close

to whatever makes a horse
dig its hooves hard into the ground,
playing with the earth
at the scent of rain,
throwing out ripened patches
of green grass
to an evening blanket-sky
burgeoned with pillars of midnight
as the final spears of sunlight
slip past the edges of thunderwaves
forged in hearts of lightning.

artist: https://www.deviantart.com/temiree/art/Rising-Thunder-606707595