Sunday, August 21, 2016


A poem from about 15 years ago...

Year Three of the Drought

Outside my window,
forked water courses splay across the plains
like the spoor of giant birds.
The tree-toed trails are stalking big game:
maybe the Snake River
is their prey,
or the shrunken farm ponds,
fallen on desiccated times,
forgotten spawn of a dead aquarian god.

A diminished reservoir sprawls,
gator-like, in the sandy wallow,
its delta tail submerged in emerald grass
in this, the third year of the drought.

Our Lord has breathed his fiery breath into the sky—
The sacrifices begged to be spared—their hot young wine
watered our dusty throats in challenge
to the rain that does not come.

Farther west,
the lakes wear hot halos of yellow sand,
trees don’t line the watercourses here:
only sand where cacti cannot grow.
Roads coil, sidewindery,
through fields of desolation.
Each town huddles around its dam,
its lake, its theft from downstream neighbors.
Misers of water—drink deep,
the collector is coming.

Mud women settled here,
built schools and theatres,
now the land bares its bones to the sky,
and small creatures hide from the sun.

Nested lines of dusty olive
are shorelines of a subterranean kind,
the aquifers are sinking out of mind,
leaving behind the mummies of springs.

Once, we stood and could not see the distant shore.
Now, withered grasses shake their fingers at the sun.
Weeds tumble in this,
the third year of the drought.

First published: Mythic Delirium 5, 2001; reprinted in Brushfires:

I was flying across the arid SW US, and saw the most beautiful landscape out the window. I scribbled the first draft in a notebook in the sky.

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