Lost and Found

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Lost and Found

Poems from out and about in Arizona

These are two sequences written on the way to favorite places.

Etudes on the Road

Hope

 

The sky is wide and blue today;

it curves

all the way around the world

to where it lost its grip

on another plane that slipped

into the sea.

                In the desert

some yellow wildflowers survive

along the freeway edge

with the year drawing to a close

and the radio never tires

of bad news.

                 But there's hope,

always hope, tagging along

in every journey; a little dog

trying hard to keep up, tail wagging

to show how much

it loves to run.

 

II News

 

An empty shopping outlet settles

deeper into its foundations.

The broadcast shifts to freedom

in the press. It's all about what we do

or do not hear about Azerbaijan, Turkey,

Iran, while billboards

 

point the way

to the Adult Boutique and Old Tucson.

Facts are few and opinions

drown them out. The world

 

is all smoke and no mirrors, with forecasts,

analyses, and doubt

in all directions except where ravens

come down from the sun, black

but shining

bright as truth.

 

III Truck Stop

 

The Scenic Route begins at Exit 281

where ocotillo reach for a hold in the air,

 

dry winter earth glows in the afternoon,

barrel cactus lean toward the light

 

and wrinkled mountains rest against a straight horizon.

The clouds in Cochise County

 

rest gently overhead. There are drivers here

whose lives are spent on automatic steering,

 

who stop only to sleep and to watch

a movie chosen from the rack in the store

 

where they stop to shower the miles away

before settling down for two hours

 

of violence to interrupt the peace of the road

at a bargain price of three for ten bucks.

 

IV Road

Half a moon

   above the snow caught high

      on peaks to the south -

 

rock warmth to the north

   from the distant

      Galiuros -

 

a broken white line

   running seventy miles east

      to Lordsburg -

 

railroad tracks shine

   westward until

      they pinch together -

 

no wind today, just

   easy distances between

      here and there -

 

 

Turnoff

 

The winter road runs straight

toward mountains lying gray in the clear hour

before dusk

                when shrikes fly from fenceposts

to mesquite and back. Then the surface

becomes unimproved, and blue shadows

deepen in rough rock formations

                                              with a few

slow miles of ridge light still to go.

 

 

 

To Ajo and Back

 

I   Highway 85

 

A migratory flock in V formation flies

across the Gila River, where

the trees along its banks

are pastel smoke in March

 

when lupines, broom and mallow

line the road all the way

past yet another desert lonely prison

where the only movement visible

 

is that of swallows looping

high above the sparkling razor wire.

 

II   The Depot at Ajo

 

When wind combs back

the grasses sprouting

from the platform's cracks

it's telling how the mine closed

and left a wall of tailings

along the edge of town

 

but the Cactus wrens stayed on

to call from palo verdes

rooted in between the tracks.

 

III   Desert Arch

 

The ocotillo fan their many arms

to receive the wind

that blows volcanic shadows

over rocks dripping from the light

in rhyolite layers moulded

to the shape of the Earth

 

and high above them

an arch has formed

through which the stars

flow when they follow

bats into the night.

 


IV   Folklorico Dance on the Plaza

 

In stately descent

from a clear sky

the turkey vultures glide

over the open pit mine,

down close to the old school

and the white cupola

on the Catholic church,

eighty wings wide above the plaza

as festivities begin

 

and they are silence over music

when they reach the eucalyptus

growing next to the mortuary

they have chosen for a roost.

 

V   Border Patrol on the Reservation

 

Into grass at the asphalt’s edge

a roadrunner darts for cover,

neck stretched forward and back

as straight as the road from Why

to Quitohoa. He’s gone

so fast not even the agent can see

 

from the truck parked behind

the old billboard whose lettering

has flaked beyond explanation

of why it is there.

 

VI   Reservation Spring

 

In a land whose rivers are dry

wildflowers flow

from shrine to shrine

and spring to spring;

from needles filled with light

on the cholla to a mine

cut from a mountainside.