Deserted

I.
The desert
is all you can see.
Monochromatic, golden-brilliant:
the sun glares down on you so hard
your whole body squints.

You don’t remember how long you’ve been out here.
Your skin has leathered.
Your bones form odd angles and crevices beneath it.
It hurts to breathe.
The acrid air burns your lungs.

You mutter to yourself
under your breath.
You may be the only person
who has ever heard your voice.

Your lips are chapped,
cracked,
broken and bled and scabbed over.
You would cry if you could remember
what moisture was.

You shuffle-shamble along.
Sometimes a burst of energy makes you sprint;
most times you are deliberate and going is slow.
Eventually you stop,
thinking you cannot go on.
But there is still much to say,
and so,
unable to find a stick with which to trace in the sand,
you gnaw into your wrist,
letting your blood.
You stain the world.
Whorls and swirls and symbols,
And you write:

II.
In the beginning,
because that’s when the words started.

In the beginning,
before the dryness and the brightness and the sand.

In the beginning was the word,
and with it you create the world.
You populate it with your thoughts and your dreams.
You create your gods to protect yourself;
you create love to save yourself;
you create madness in which to seek sanctuary;
you create cities of gold and jewels,
underwater,
because your dreams remain thirsty.
You create the universe
in your eyes
which,
if you are lucky, and good,
no longer remember your image.

In the beginning,
and on and on and on.
Stars explode in lonely distances you’ll never know;
civilizations thrive and prosper
and are conquered.
People live and die and curse and fuck,
in the beginning,
and eventually,
if you are lucky, and good,
the coyotes come out.

III.
Servants of a trickster god,
they see into your dreams because they are part of them.
They wish to be shared,
and so they give you tools.

They offer you a pen,
which you take,
in exchange for what you are not certain.

They offer you a voice,
which you accept,
and use to ask for
water.
And help.
And salvation.
And redemption.
And a chance.

And they give it to you.

IV.
With your pen,
you record your new stentorian voice.
You speak with authority and conviction.
People hear you.

Your voice carries farther than you had expected.
Sometimes
it says things you did not expect it to.
Some of the time, you regret that.

Your voice carries you to new places that are not the desert.
Places in which water falls from the sky
like a miracle.
Places where you meet other people who feel the same emotions as you,
who see the same world and work with hands like yours,
and so,
when you see a mirror,
you are surprised you do not look like everyone else.

When you see the ocean for the first time,
you cry tears in waves;
it all tastes the same.

V.
You are able to exchange your words
for currency in this different place.
This world of skyscraped clouds,
of hurrying,
of hummingbirds, whose wings blur,
whose hearts beat so fast
just thinking about it makes yours want to burst.

With their long beaks,
they seek single drops of nectar
for sustenance.

And you look out your window
to the city beyond its pane.
The sirens.
The brilliant lights,
the lovers of the night
and the traders of the day.
Cars and engines belch their fumes into the acrid air,
which burns your lungs.
You can’t drink water from the faucet
because it is treated with chemicals
whose names you cannot pronounce.

You lose track of the time,
as you stare out that window,

and you think about
and dream about
and write about
the desert.

VI.
And so,
finished,
blood let and soul exhausted,
you collapse to sleep,
at peace,
deserted.

~~~

“Deserted” is one of my personal favorite pieces if solely because it seems, like “For Cynthia,” something whole and perfect. Not in the sense I think it’s great or anything, but I feel like it captured something better than I had realized I might. I think it works, which is pretty much always the aim.

As always, it’s available in my collection, which is now free. I’d set the price to $2.50 during the two-week drive for pledges, but I think it works better free.

I’ll probably be making the download available some other way aroundabouts the end of October, but I think the print version will, at least temporarily, vanish to remain solely in the ether.

5 thoughts on “Deserted

  1. GOTHAMGIRL

    Have you ever been to a desert? I mean camped there so you can really feel it… and really freak out about the big ass spiders.

  2. GOTHAMGIRL

    It just a occurred to me that your idea of “camping” is getting in line for Bon Jovi tickets with a sleeping bag. If you didn’t do it you know some one who did.

    Your in Colorado. Go camping. Do the manly man thing. Pee in stream with no hands and all that crap. Then your next peice of writng will be called “Mountain” or “How I Broke My Back on a Mountain” or “Why do I listen to Helen.”

  3. GOTHAMGIRL

    Just because your a scout don’t mean you leader took you camping and mostly I was going for New Jersey joke and they tend to defy actual logic any way.

    I didn’t mean it as a insult.


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