Dante’s View

We both saw the desert, and

in looking, saw the future

lying there before us,

mountains become pebbles,

become grit and even smaller,

washed and crushed and moving,

always losing ground and yet

we know them by their names,

as I am known to you,

as you are known to me.

Torrents can submerge us,

lift us and then crush us,

yet we get our feet beneath us.

We are clean, but we are lost;

we are found, but then we’re gone.

Come let’s walk up in the mountains,

our hearts louder than our thoughts,

striding longer than our legs,

let’s get as close to prayer as sunlight.

The sands are always waiting.



Rock House (The Fire This Time)

Up from friendly fire

rise an exuberant few,

just giddy sparks of heat

in bits of orange and light,

thoughtless wanderers on the April wind,

carried north and sparkling bright,

frightening in their heedless flight.

At touchdown comes a swift surprise

that grows from squirming lines

to awful wall

of blistering flame,

a roiling storm

completely deaf to all who pray

for time to run, for open gates,

for a sudden turn

back over ground already burned.

But fire is a mindless thing,

goes where it must, and shows itself

with smoking sky and ashen dust.

Starved, it falls to a plasma glow

through waves of heat,

hissing threat in a dying breeze.

Then back they come,

on two feet and four,

bereft neighbors,

to claim what remains

between fencelines and mountains

and cottonwood trees.


Dust Devil*

For moments it is visible,

a twisted, tenuous thread

frayed at both ends.

How it writhes

like an angry bright vein,

pulses and bends,

touches down and snaps back

in an instant,

while we whirl away free,

yet engulfed in an ocean

of currents and heat,

breathing tides we can’t see.

*after a photograph by James Evans, 2007


Hummingbirds at the Feeder

Tiny airborne Errol Flynns,

sabers drawn, come winging in.

Jealous guardians? Ardent lovers?

Frantic warriors

feint and hover,

mad, possessive battle joined

lest territory be purloined,

hold airspace and a privileged perch

inviolate as if a church

guarded from the infidel,

red sugar-water in the well.

What energy each wee bird burns

because he will not just take turns!

– by Lauren Martini