There’s a desert where skies are deceiving,
where rain rarely reaches the ground;
There are lost men who keep on believing,
that there’s plenty of gold to be found.
In harsh mountains that give up no treasures,
where quartz veins grant reason for an itch;
The old miners have no time for pleasures,
if they hope to one day strike it rich.
He came upon an arid world
that few men had ever trod,
A foreboding place, bleakly rimmed
by mountains not formed by God;
The city folk knew better than
to venture onto this ground,
And any man who tread in there
would never again be found.
Yet with courage, and bold of heart,
he entered all alone;
Week after week he found his path
throughout that world unknown;
Day by day, he learned anew
from a land that time forgot,
A grand new way to live his life
in a manner, by others not sought.
VALLEY OF THE RED OCHRE
From a time long before history,
Their families roamed the land.
Living in the valley and mountains,
A life of constant demand.
During fall, winter, and spring,
They remained in red ochre valley.
With the searing heat of summer,
To the Panamints they would rally.
They gathered the nut of the Pinyon,
To supply food for winter each year,
It was always the way of the Shoshone,
A life they held sacred and dear.
Then in the winter of forty nine,
some wagons happened through.
Followed by thousands seeking wealth,
New rules the white man drew.
Holes were dug in the mountains,
Nothing was sacred or revered.
The People who lived in the valley,
Saw this a time to be feared.
Through times of trial and treaty,
The new dominion attempted to reign.
Yet after years of resolute perseverance,
Their force was only in vain.
For the Timbisha Shoshone are determined,
The elders and youngest so strong.
No power can remove them,
From the land to which they belong.
here we are my friend
with the spring aura
showing itself again
with organic timing
orchestrated by our sun
pulling on our earth
so happy to be rain touched
danced on, filled, moist and
massaged into rich soil
our yard is a spectacle
of sweet desert garden dirt
pumping heaven sent elixir of life
up through a million radiant newborn flower being miracles
and since the day of our birth
how can we be any less
Henderson Canyon Road
by Phillip Camitses
Honey, we have Javelinas, said with a shout.
Back and forth, bristly and beady eyed, walking all about.
Honey, we have Javelinas, one two three or more at our door.
Back and forth, in the night, what are they looking for.
Deserts Come and Deserts Go
by Phillip Camitses
Is it a desert, only time will tell,
a landscape between heaven and hell.
Every ten thousand years or so,
the ice will come, the ice then will go.
In one place the ocean throws water across the land,
another place flowers beyond numbers to count grow.
In time, only a desert will tell,
the span between heaven and hell.
By Matt Satalich
It's out there, I know
I can't wait any longer
I've got to go
I'm getting a little bit older and just a
Little bit stiff and sore
But when I strike it rich
They will not scoff at me anymore
And my backpack is all ready
With gold pan, biscuits and beans
So I trudge on and on, deep into those hills
Then way over there in the distance
I can see it, up there on that ledge
It's just gleaming with gold
This could be something big, perhaps the glory hole
And I finally found it, I told you I would
But off to my right, I can see dozens of prospectors
Sneaking and stumbling, up towards the gold
I drop everything except my claim papers
And start running. I get there first and
Stake my claim
But what will I do with all of this money
What was that bell that I just heard
It's the dratted alarm clock
Time to get up
Forwhom does this moon rise?
Who stands to share the nighted skies,
as evening falls and morning dies?
Whose eyes will search the velvet night
to find each drop of golden light?
Which heart will sing enchanted tunes
whose words are wrought of mystic runes
and woven into Desert Moons?
For whom does this moon shine?
Who stands beneath that ancient sine
and boldly claim this time is mine?
Whose hand will touch the velvet night
and tease the ripples of moonlight?
Whose fingers trace the muted runes
pressed deep into the silent dunes
reach out and find the Desert Moons?
Steven L Nielsen
A Day with Guadalupe
by Steven Kunert
Showers end, ground hardens,
morning latens, we forge
a hill to test future footing.
Then onto Guadalupe,
she more ancient than the Rio Grande,
the Spanish daggers on her skin,
or any Mescalero lore.
How wise this mountain must be!
If only we could stop and speak
her language: tell a story
like her ancient fossil reef, thrust
a bold statement to separate one side
of a desert from the other, echo a song
Buffalo Soldiers once hummed before her.
But there’s no time for words.
We are building this day with our feet
and must tear it down by dusk.
Like red flowers of the ocotillos, risen
after the morning rain, we won’t linger.
Because we must climb!
With a thousand burning muscles,
up through the pinons and madrones,
we scale Guadalupe’s ridge, our stay atop
too brief, like the gift of spotting a bobcat
half a mile back. Now we cry out
to scarps below, We’re coming down!
and running, skidding, scraping creosote,
we yell at the darkness to wait.
Treasure Traces and Special Places
A Miners cache, a Outlaw’s stash
Hidden or lost, in a dusty past.
In Craggy crevice or sandy soil,
Stone Age caves where lava flowed.
Dangerous shafts, timbers rotting
Mining haunts windy and spooky.
Seeking silver, gold of legend old,
Holdup loot long forgotten.
Sun bleached bones near empty cask
Serpents leer from shadows cast
Heat waves cheat the mind of reason
One errant step could be your last.
Refuge shade of the Cottonwood,
Good Spirit of the trees.
Desert Sun blasting relentless at mid-day,
Yet, there drifts cooling canyon breeze.
Rock sparkles dance in mid day’s brilliance,
Far peaks shimmering through the leaves.
Slight stirring sound as something scurries,
The distant buzz from an unseen bee.
Nature Paint’s her enchanted traces,
Brush full of shadows across the Mesa
Her touch to Rocks births transformation,
They stare down with strange dark faces.
I'm absorbed in the magic,
I crave these lost places!
Newton Rickenbach 1/23/01
Collared by a Peccary
Roaming ‘cross the desert plain, in search of prickly pear,
The smell of the musk hog drifts for miles through the hot, dry desert air.
Some call them javelina, others peccary.
Pigs have four toes on their hind feet; our desert friends have three.
With grinding molars, tusks, and a pig-like snout,
The peccary adapts well to conditions of drought.
They have a ferocious reputation, one that is exaggerated,
For the peaceful javelina will attack only if aggravated.
Many say they’re ugly, for others it’s the sounds and smells they detest,
I say long live the intriguing peccary, native of the desert Southwest!
By David Rose
The Mighty Saguaro
The mighty saguaro,
so majestic and tall,
holds its lifelong secrets
surprising one and all.
The seedling saguaro
begins small and afraid,
hoping it will survive
beneath the nurse plant's shade.
The tiny saguaro
grows a little each year,
searching for the water
which is precious and dear.
The struggling saguaro
pushes upward for days,
glad it keeps avoiding
a new herbivore's gaze.
The lucky saguaro
survives the desert heat,
outliving the nurse plant
not knowing of its feat.
The patient saguaro
looks skyward at all hours,
until at age fifty
it produces first flowers.
The giving saguaro
shares its bounty with all
who wait for months on end
for tasty fruits to fall.
The youthful saguaro
knows at seventy-five
that its newly formed arms
keeps desert friends alive.
The aging saguaro
has been a willing friend
to desert's small creatures
dependent to the end.
The mighty saguaro
grows to fifty feet high,
waiting two hundred years
to almost touch the sky.
The Road Kill Grill
There is a vulture who has a culture that looks like a turkey that eat jerky.
Dead meat in the heat for the turkey vulture is a treat.
When they’re flying free there shaped like a V as you can see but sometimes they hang out in a tree.
They have a tough beak and throughout the week they soar and seek as they smell the reek.
As they soar it’s there chore to search for gore.
They’ll soar until they smell the kill and then eat their fill at The Road Kill Grill.
Katelyn Martin, Age 8
Can lead you through a weather wall on a dry lake
Sunshine on the left rain on the right
While blue skies & a breeze take hard semantic turns
Over muddy mirrors in washes dotted with pools
& wildflowers, out in acres after yesterday’s rain
Make sweetness signs for the nose & the eyes
In the distance a chalky ridge points a finger to heaven
Revealing its source of what cannot be snow
Off to the west a buffalo herd of volcanic rocks
Runs a rainbow figure into an apron of dirt
& waves of heat vapor rise from the salt flat
Telegraphing the event to clouds and birds
Semicolons crawl through bony sockets at my feet
Busy in a bighorn skull long empty of sheep
Some other critter moved in & died before the ants came
& unwrapped the meaning of moisture in flesh
Below them is an ungrammatical pothole
& a cactus bud about to thank the rain
Jackrabbit, a tortoise, joshua trees on the plateau
Fabulous fixings for mesquite tea talk
Nested in bottle caps & cans & other culture markers
Dried out & preserved like sheep skulls
Commercials for Twenty Mule Team Borax soap
& Frankie Lane songs about wild geese
Desert texts can make you remember Hansel & Gretel
Heat stroke & a horse with no name
They can satisfy your thirst for knowledge
& make you late for the dance of the dead
They can also make you sing, especially after a rain
You just have to give them time
Ivan Brady is Distinguished Teaching Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the State University of New York College at Oswego. His poetry has appeared in various books and journals, including Reflections: The Anthropological Muse (edited by I. Prattis, 1985), the Neuroanthropology Network Newsletter, Pendulum, Anthropology and Humanism (Quarterly), The American Tradition in Qualitative Research (edited by N. K. Denzin and Y. Lincoln, 2001), Cultural Studies <-> Critical Methodologies, drunken boat: online journal of the arts, and Qualitative Inquiry. "Mojave Codes" is included in his new book, The Time at Darwin's Reef: poetic explorations in anthropology and history (AltaMira, 2003).
Of Rocks And Mud
By Phillip Camitses
I have seen the dark rocks sitting still on the pale playa surface with
their furrowed paths extending off into the distance I muse over this image
lingering in my mind.
I have walked this unique quiet place in a desolate desert location of North
America these rocks themselves have moved at one time.
I have listened to others express their thoughts of rocks and mud the
traveling of these rocks remain without witnesses to find.
LIZARDS don't golf
Does anyone here remember
heat dancing off the sand
the shifting dunes of september
now entombed in golf course green
travelers came to see desert sights
searching for exotic places
stayed for warm days, star filled nights
building homes in paradise
banished the desert from its place
visitors need a permit to pass
keep off grass
Made a playground from the empty space
golfs a game anyone may play
claiming a course is better than the desert waste
but the lizards who paid
lizards dont golf.
By Luann Pfost
Oasis at noon
What a wonderous quiet place it is
the heart of a palm oasis
skirted trees stand guard about
keeping dusty heat without
holding shaded cool within
a small breeze sneeks past a frond
dancing in ripples across the pond
am I intruder, am I part
I wander and wonder in my heart.
as I penetrate deeper in.
Oasis at sunset
Guardian against sunset
the ancient palm stands
resting in drifting sands
Beneath whispering fronds
cicadas begin to sing
brown bats take wing
Firey clouds, cooling breeze
evening deepens, night decends
Oasis awakens, day ends
Oasis at Dawn
Darkling shadows intertwine
With the sprinklings of the moon
Every night paints a new design
That smooths across like puddled wine
Evaporating just as soon
With pallette of rainbowed hue
The sun splashes the eastern sky
Painting over the shadow's blue
Which however remains in view
Absorbing the more brilliant dye.
By Luann Pfost
Raven coyote song
The desert valley with its timeless song
An ancient wind of hope
Many spirits wait until we are strong
Giving us time to cope.
Take the time to hear her quiet voice
Ancient wind from the West.
All decisions we make are by choice
Our path will never rest
Sacred desert wind in that vast valley floor.
A total loss of that inner way
Walking many paths, not knowing what's in store
Spirit Coyote comes out to play.
Prince Of The Tamarisks
By: Noah Eaton
Well, I'm out here in the desert, the environment of revelation, land of the abstract
The sky is encircling with clouds and light whose ultraviolet perceptions send me kneeling to the sand
I am standing on the interstate of hermits and exiles, ones who have sought to find reality.
And now I am the Prince of the Tamarisks, whose urbane bow shapes the land
The sandstorm emerges, it's austere cry agaping the dimension of consciousness
It briefly stops, the euphonious atmosphere responds to you as the clouds break up and fade away
The hawk soars across the atmosphere, the scorpion scatters across the sand I have become one with the desert,
I have become the sun that reflects it's mighty ray.
Michaelangelo paints the desert sky a violet shade when the daylight disappears
I crawl down on his soft ecru sand and gaze up at his enchanted pastel atmosphere
The speeding comet flows across the sky, and dives through my head while I sleep
For I am the Prince of the Tamarisks, whose sapphire eyes have nothing to fear!
where a padre once rode
his white mule
the church bells
but the wind whispers
kissing the fragrance of
pink shell cactus flowers
blooming in the
night moonbeams lay a
on this ancient clay where
nothing is left
but the wind
and the wild sage
One day a friend made a garden for me,
While I was away on a trip-
When I returned and walked out on my deck,
I heard a gasp slip from my lip-
From my vantage point up where I stood,
I stared at what I'd found-
My friend couldn't see what he'd done,
Up close there on the ground-
It was framed with stones in a strange outline,
But the shape was familiar to me-
"Twas plain as could be an Angel he'd formed,
Of stones my flower garden to be-
Unbeknown to my friend what he had made,
Until viewed from high up above-
Our heavenly Father must have been watching,
And placed the stones with His love-
I see a miracle when I look down from my deck,
It's the only explanation I know-
And whatever I plant in my Angel garden,
Just never, ever, fails to grow!
by Franklin D. Capps
In Coastal Carolina
on the daily commute
comes your canyon calling
promising hearkening vistas and
and rushing Colorado rapids
and centuries old sculpting
forged on the Creator's pallet
lush with spectacular
colors colors colors
(just) my imagination
and to fire the kiln
within my whetted mind
(now) on the threshold of inevitable
forged chariots over
my North Rim of earth
and rocks and space
9 June 2000
for your rivers
your rippling mesas of sand
on your sinuous curves
for the saguaro
for the sweet juice of cactus
in the prickling sweat
of a desert sun
for the searing of hot valleys
the bend of shimmer and heat
that bow that arcs the arrow
toward this center, my heart
for the bloom, the sweet
this subtle perfume
elusive, as the scuttle of desert life
for this tallest, deepest night
of stars and silence
when the moon is only a moon
silvering this light
A herd of wild horses
galloping for fun
racing through the desert
watch the horses run
Running with their shadows
sweeping over the sand
these are wild,free horses
tamed to no man's hand
on ranches and on farms
pay no attention to the wilds
nor sniff the wind's alarms
But these are wild free horses
happy with the spring
and the pounding of their hooves
makes the boulders ring
EL CAMINO del DIABLO
In southern Arizona,
there lies an old trail.
It crossed in this country,
before the iron rail.
They came by the thousands,
their fortunes to seek.
The bold and the boisterous,
the timid and the meek.
Many didn’t make it,
they fell by the way.
Where the water had vanished,
in the heat of the day.
Their graves mark this land,
in silent mounds of stone.
Their companions traveled on,
and left them alone.
If you go there today,
their spirit you can feel.
But listen in the night,
for the crunch of a heel.
Yes they still travel here,
their fortunes to seek.
The bold and the boisterous,
the timid and the meek.
They still die in this desert,
alone in this land.
Leaving their footprints,
in the washes of sand.
Frank Colver, May 1, 1999
THE DESERT IS A WOMAN
By Fran Fanning
The desert is a woman.
Those who do not take the time
Will never know her beauty.
Appreciate her heat.
Or comprehend her power.
If you come to learn from her
She will reward you with her ageless wisdom.
Share her warmth with you but not let you burn.
And show you the secret places where her beauty lies.
Coyote and javelina, reptile and bird
If she decides you belong to her she will nurture you.
And teach you her ways.
But be attuned to her storm clouds.
From dry riverbed to raging flood waters
She can sweep you away.
If you come when she is ready
She will bloom for you
Sometimes only in the dark of night
So like a woman
Content to blossom for her self-alone.
Come to her at sunset
And prepare to be awed by her resplendence.
From green to red and gold
Turquoise to azure
Her spectrum knows no boundaries.
Lawrence and O’Keefe,
Cather and Abbey
They sought to immortalize her.
But left such small homage to her wonders
Like infinitesimal kernels
Of her shifting sands.
Great Basin, Chihuahuan
She has many moods.
But it will be her silence and vision that will awe you.
Stand with her and feel her serenity.
Look out with her and see her depth.
Stay with her and learn her meaning.
The desert is a woman
And she will never disappoint.
By CARL A. BJORK
Smell the pinyon and juniper smoke arising over the quiet mesa...hear the children laughing as they head for school on the fresh coat of snow. It is a quiet morning all is peaceful.
Later, we, Old Ones will sit on the sunny side of the adobe watching the children return.
The old dogs curled at our feet. The arising smoke bends low...more snow will come tonight.
By Phillip Camitses
Grain of sand, a ray of sun;
Oh how I want a drop of water on my tongue;
Dune of sand, the beating sun;
Oh how I want a glass of water on my tongue;
Dunes of sand, the daylong sun;
Oh how I want a gallon of water on my tongue;
Oh how I long for those thirsty desert days.
By Phillip Camitses
Oh desert I call out to you;
Your clear dry air reveals clarity of distant places my eyes see and hands touch;
Your quiet desolation so stark it screams to me;
Your hidden life to a casual observer is revealed to the patient;
Your dryness allows my whole body to breathe;
Your colorful mineral soils are not hidden by trees;
Your trails and roads offer access into respite;
Your biting plants and animals teach me how to respect others;
Your refreshing oasis sparkle and wink a playful laughter;
Your flash of flood and lightning flashes in my mind as an impressionistic painting;
Your sage and creosote out number the diamond stars in ink black skies;
Your snapshot images a pronghorn leap a tortoise snort a rock fall;
Your etchings of ancient others from early times past;
Oh desert I call out to you.
By Phillip Camitses
I can see a hundred years go by in a desert minute:
It takes a desert minute to lay desert pavement.
It takes a desert minute for a tortoise to cross my path.
It takes a desert minute to watch the flow of an alluvial fan.
It takes a desert minute to satisfy my desire to visit the desert.
Tough Desert Love
by James Courtney
The desert’s a woman but a lady she’s not,
A new meaning she’ll give you for the word hot.
As I trek on her trails and look at her land,
Lovely it is, but no mercy at hand.
I am so thirsty, my lips are so dry,
My body needs fluids so I dare not cry.
My skin is so red, blistered and peeling,
I must be sick, because I’m enjoying the feeling.
Five came with me for peace on this trace,
I buried them all, each in a different place.
They begged to come with me, said they were tough,
No clue did they have, that the place was this rough.
Why should I weep, why should I morn,
This is the life for which I was born.
I walk another mile, I fall on one knee,
I look all around, no water to see.
I get back on my feet, I take a great leap,
For there is a hole, it is ten feet deep.
I fall to the bottom, and land on my back,
I cannot rise, for strength I now lack.
I lie still on hot sand, and look at the sky,
I try to cry out but my throat is too dry,
So I whisper to the desert in a very weak tone,
“Do you love me, my dear, I feel so alone?”
A hot wind blows above me, covering me with sand,
And in the howling wind, on this blistering land,
A voice answers back, so low, but so clear,
“Of course I do love you, my love is sincere.
It is for your presence that I truly lust,
It won’t be long before you bones turn to dust,
And mix with my sands to remain here forever,
And we will never part, not now not ever.”
My lips form a smile, though chapped and bleeding,
For on her love my spirit is feeding.
Grieve for my not, you who live in the city,
Now I’m at peace, I want not your pity.
If you visit this place and the wind blows so hard,
You will feel my presence, my own greeting card.
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