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. 

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



Poem 65 Revised

the Water and the Wake


When the sea cracked out came a memory

She was a tree limb, she is a ship—all at once

Rootless and full of sky. A ship mistress

Ark’d against the mast, in ecstasy over trouble-waters,

Gulls gailing siren cries make for eyes, her chin

The endless compass of the sea. How many years

Did she live under-sod before they un-buried her bones

How many more can she hold her breath,

Drifting on the whims of a headwind.



Poem 65 Edited – Poem 65 Original

Poem 7 Revised

First and Seventh

To the pantry with irreverence I said:
Give us this day our daily bread
Then thinking of my mother, with daily
Sons and daughters; wines and waters

But… after a while, when
My body ate the body was
A body forsaking the body
I contemplated a diet of grape juice
And toast…

Nearly sufficient until reminded
That the symbolism is cannibalism
And sacrilege only matters on Sunday
So all week I can borrow holiness unless
–shit– it’s Sunday.

Some Sundays taste like bread and wine,
Others like bacon and eggs. I’m not
Apprehensive over divine stovetop intervention
When it comes to breakfast at three…

But maybe I should be.


Poem 7 EditedPoem 7 Original

Poem 66

It’s the worst of all days… until I try and remember the days I’m stick under sheet and without the gumsure to rise and repeat. The days that my heart strings ache for playing and the light from the morning seems as drowsy and self piteous as I. The dead days. When the whole of my existence combated the color of the sun and I found within me the will to carry a tragedy like ribbons across my gift-package face. These are not the dead days. These are alive with possibility of settling and unsettling roots. We forgive ourselves for the things with which we a wholly to blame and take instead the awkwardly shaped parcels dripping of guilt and shame fresh plucked from mangroves. Water and weed. I am in between. Like the following summer after a glimmering barrel and a ruby-soaked root. When the seeds are dropped into the froth they take upon themselves the current and whittle their way past sober-sought startling etch-a-sketch silhouettes. The old pity the young and the young misinterpret the pity and I am three feet below with buoyancy in my tendrils watching as they crack against each other in rivalry Perhaps, like sperm, the first to land takes spoils. Perhaps they struggle with SeaLegs so Pinocchio that lying may afford them a pole vaulting advantage. I am weightless, with the root of something old and sinister wrapping itself about my ankle. We’ll be rid of this soon, they say. Not soon enough. 

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…

Poem 25

It was the ocean that came to me
In a dream apologizing for unhappiness
With her own moon tides to blame
For the uneasy shore
There I weapt
With her
Searching my skin for answers
Finding only cruel aloe-d sunburns to pacify our melancholy
She calls to me from where I stand
—wherever the water goes—
Sending her best in rain and snow
Hoping these precipitative love-notes will be enough
She’s almost right, like an afternoon alone covered in sand
Wishing for another life;
                                    We all belong to the sea.