—Kelso Sand Dunes, East Mojave Preserve
My ten-year-old daughter is feeling brave, so
we go rock hunting today, explore far beyond
the last dirt road, just she and I, no dad.
We see the sand dunes from miles away,
some hallucinogenic scene from the Sahara,
camel humps rising from the flat desert floor.
My daughter wants to climb them, but
there’s no sure way to guess how far away
they are, no sure measure to tell how tall,
I tell her it’s not safe to hike mountains so
unstable, hills that shift in light winds,
our boots would fill with sand and we’d
sink like thirsty prospectors come to find
buried treasure, lured by promises of silver
and gold, the rattlesnake’s hypnotic charms.
“Mirage” was previously published in “No Place for a Puritan: the Literature of California’s Deserts (Heyday Books, 2009.)
Ruth Nolan is poet and writer living in Palm Desert, where she teaches at College of the Desert. She blogs about the desert for KCET Artbound LA and Heyday Books Her poetry has appeared recently in Rattling Wall Issue 4.
From My Name on Top of Yours
Read the writing on the cinder block wall:
Joker, Jasper, Dopey, Termite, Tokes, Crow.
It’s not an “is it art?” debate, at all;
these are the monochromatic zip codes
of my gangster, tattooed, sharp-creased, cousins.
Scribbled in black on a bus bench, strangled
names crossed out, over names crossed out again,
red under yellow under green tangled
like wire. Memo, Cowboy, Flyboy, Topper.
Neil Armstrong planted a flag on the moon;
it can’t be seen from their clearly marked world
where, if you don’t live there, you better run.
Tight fence of paint, like barbed wire that’s hidden.
Trespassed borders end lives, I’m not kidding.
Yvonne M. Estrada’s recent chapbook, My Name On Top of Yours, features both poems and original photographs: http://tinyurl.com/mzx7fd9. Her poetry has been published in Catena; Mischief, Caprice & Other Poetic Strategies; Pulse Magazine; GuerrillReads.com, #8; Verse Wisconsin; and 2011 Poem of the Month Calendar.
Apologies for being CRAZY LATE with this, and no disrespect intended to the poet or the poem. — TW