Mojave 

A desert underneath

The crooked line that makes the shore

Which calms and curls the sand back

To an image of itself.

The winding pull of water still

Remembers every grain of sand

It’s hot rough essence, the quiet still

At the bottom of the current

On the crest of a dune. It calls out

With a winded hush, what matters now 

Is water, what has always been, 

what will never be

Enough. A desert underneath, 

takes time to quench. 

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Desert Poem – Joshua Song

painting by catherine jennings

Joshua Song

I can still hear the ocean from the brush
a low hollow whirr, bent over blowing
on its back; a despicable thud coming from
deep, the caliche hums, secret reserve
water table bubbles, the desert awake
with the sound of rain – {finally} rain!
but the sand slaps back a symphony clap
hard from ten thousand nights rind dry
unaccustomed to moisture the desert resists
& the water is whisked off to lower ground
but down below, where the silt has drunk
its fill of ancient quench and slept for centuries
I can still hear the ocean, from the cacti
rinsed, swelling fruitful spines, barrel
rolled open the Joshua trees with arms
Spread out—sing the Mohave a lullaby
Like a wind chime, every drop a note
On their shingle pines; I can still hear
the ocean, from all that time ago

—ECW

 

Poem 53 Revised

All the history I know

Is the way the dust blows

Sanding the surface to shine.

A west so wild the night howled

At its own shadow and slept

Belt-buckle out to witness Sirius.

The metal on the tip of his boots

An oasis of light, with chinking stroll

He stole the summer and planted

His tumble-weed seeds in Mojave, with love.

Pan wanderer, look away, from this city

Lawned in suburbia. I remember the desert.

I remember the heat. The heartbeat

Of the sun on the valley

when we wrote in ropes the west wild.

—ECW

Poem 53 EditedPoem 53 Original

Poem 65

a second draft. i’m unsure.the water and the wake

I remember oozing from the crack in her. She was a tree limb; she is a ship.
I can still recall the white milk spilling out across the sea. A ship with a
wooden mistress leading us starward; arms outstretched and I came
from the deepest hull where the water beat drum-desperation against her broad sides.
I remember clawing at the gravel and reaching the caliche. Fracturing
every fingernail on the desert backbone and wishing still there had been water.
I reminisced of coming up for air after swimming for centuries in blue-bleak
blackness and gritting my teeth with sand for sanctuaries. Oh pity.
How many years did I live under-sod before they unburied my bones?
How long can I hold my breath; waiting for the tide…
–ECW