Desert Souls

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They have souls, you know.
The trees, the birds, the mountains…
they have living souls.

We used to know that.
We just became deaf and blind
or just looked away.

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Bigger fish to fry –
We put them on balance sheets —
Costs and benefits.

Trees come and trees go,
they’re “renewable” they say
— color of money.

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My old Juniper,
on the hill, could tell stories
of Coronado.

The crippled old Sage,
bent from age and it’s own weight,
survives — as I do.

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Gambel’s Quail worry
after their two dozen chicks
scratching in dry grass.

I must watch my step.
I’m ankle deep in quail chicks;
they panic and run.

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Three crows pass the time
wondering what I’m up to
in my funny hat.

Lizards sun themselves
then sprint down my courtyard wall
in search of their lunch.

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By my waterfall
somebody’s building a den —
a rock squirrel, maybe?

They are sly devils —
hiding cactus with the twigs
to keep me at bay.

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Roadrunner appears
and strolls through the open gate.
Lizards run for cover.

Desert Cottontails
lounge in shade under my truck.
Hawks can’t see them there.

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Jackrabbits visit
but don’t stay. They are wary
and solitary.

They are hit and run
artists – seldom seen, but there,
eating my bonsai.

 

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Evening brings Doves
to bathe in my Goldfish pond.
Hummingbirds dogfight.

The colored sunset
paints the mountain a deep red
as day goes to night.

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Constellations dance
to a faint and distant song —
Coyotes at night.

The morning footprints
tell tales of night visitors.
unseen and silent.

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They have souls, you know.
The trees, the birds, the mountains…
they have living souls.

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The Home Place, 2017

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The Immortal Sea

 

We come from the sea; we are of it but not in it.
Made of water and salt, we carry our ocean inside
but we no longer comprehend our own origins,
If we ever did.

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The desert canyons and mesas were once the seafloor
that our most distant kin knew as home.
We walk among fish that perished eons ago.
Just pry up that stone.

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The antediluvian seas are gone now, turned to stone
along with our Cambrian ancestors who dwelt there.
We have lost our fins and thrown off our scales.
Blessed by time and luck.

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We left all that behind. We’re proud – we flatter ourselves
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” — but what of the immortal sea?
It lies deep and unrecognized but still gives us life.
The tides call to us…we come from the sea.

     *     *     *

Enchanted, More or Less – 2017

Xantico’s Garden Revisited

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Lichen and stardust. Moonscape
cloaked in bright flowers and dancing grass
and hard, broken stone.

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A hidden garden unfolds.
Tended by three dark sisters – the daughters
with bright colored skirts.

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Here, Xantico watched, unseen —
the old Aztec fire god gave it her blessing.
The girls have done well this year.

So far from the wet Bosque,
the water hides in cracks and shadows
waiting for spring.

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Blanket Flower shows its colors,
Globe Mallow rises on tall stems,
desert daisies and sunflowers all take their turn.

Chamisa, bright green now, waits for autumn
to unleash its yellow show,
along with the blue Asters.

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Prickly Pear and Cholla begin their show –
bright flowers  like the girls used to wear in their hair.
Look, but don’t touch.

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The ancient ones – twisted sage
and sculpted junipers – provide sanctuary
for returning bright feathered visitors.

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Stony fissures and alcoves
in dark, fire-thrown piles give shade
and respite for night dwellers.

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This year Xantico has favored the yuccas,
sometimes overlooked,
their bright torches shine above the rest.

Life is hard up here — so windblown;
and closer to the clouds than to the river,
but the daughters’ flowered skirts have come alive.

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The Home Place, 2017 

Three Crows

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Three joyful black Crows,
aloft on the April breeze,
laugh at Earthbound men.

Consumed by spring chores,
I’m the target of their fun.
I ignore their taunts.

Puzzled now – they come close;
Perched on the rooftop – watching
with conspiring eyes.

These are my old friends.
They so hate to be ignored —
I must laugh myself.

That’s all they wanted;
Just a little of my time.
They fly off crowing.

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The Home Place, 2017

 

Stone Upon Stone, Soul Upon Soul

 

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For good or ill, they left their mark.
Rich in their vow of poverty;
at least by local standards.
They had their cigars and their chocolate.
They had their music and their books.
They had their Faith.
They had untold riches
in willing backs and upturned faces.

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Stone on stone. Wooden crosses.
Beams and candles. Silver chalice.
True, the graveyard was filling up
but there was work to be done.
They were here on a mission;
called by the Assisian of long ago.
Soul upon soul. Tally and count.
Blessed waters all poured out.

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Carry your burden. Stone upon stone.
Eyes lifted to heaven. Recall your lessons.
Soul upon soul. No room for doubt.
Where friars go, others follow.
Scores were settled by Godly force.
The “Holy Office” — an instrument of peace
in the wild lands west of the Pecos,
in this province of sand and salt.

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Women tending the graveyards,
upturned faces looked away. The cost was high.
The flesh was less willing, the spirit weak.
Some days the raiders came.
Voices raised – a stone thrown in anger.
An arrow. The fields are on fire.
The burden was there but with few willing backs.
Brother, tell us again about Heaven.

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Over the pass, it was a long slow walk.
First one mission and then another
left crumbling in the sun.
Stone upon stone. Soul upon soul.
A vow of poverty is for living,
not dying in the sand and salt.
So brothers, pick up the pace!
There will be other missions, but not here.

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Enchanted, More or Less — 2017

Ghost Birds in March

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Cranes, lost to our sight
in the sun-drenched sky above,
call out sad farewells.

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Hardship and mountains –
snow-covered plains lie ahead.
We bid them Godspeed.

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They’ll be back next fall
to do it all once again.
The Bosque awaits.

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The Home Place, 2017

Xantico’s Daughters

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This place is fire born —
of riven stone and sulfur -–
smoke and flying ash. 

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Xantico’s daughters,
Vulcan’s spawn – the Three Sisters
spend their time alone.

 

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Visitors are few.
Unnoticed, they bear witness
and will keep secrets.

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  Only the soft breeze
and solitary footsteps
disturb the quiet.

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“Who is this pilgrim?
What quest brings you here today?”
I come seeking peace.

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This desert, blessed by
rain from the south, is transformed.
Once brown, but now green.

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This place of beauty
is now dressed in flowers but
just for a few days.

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 “A place of beauty?
…Ah, yes – we remember you.
You’ve been here before.”

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I will be quiet.
I will not disturb your rest.
Your secrets are safe.    

      bbb

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The Home Place, 2017

Revised from Writer’s Cramp 2014