Wednesday, 22 of November of 2017

Tag » Mojave

Dick Barnes – Bagdad Chase Road

AWord LikeFire   
“…Barnes, who died in 2000, at the age of sixty-eight, seems to have written a poem only when he had something to say. The occasions are mostly personal and local, the personal being, often, skirmishes and truces in the war between men and women, and the local being the “other” Southern California—the mountains and the desert east of Los Angeles. This is where Barnes grew up, and where he spent his career, teaching at Pomona College.

His poems are lightly spiced with mysticism, though mysticism in the way of the Beats—an honest man’s recognition that the world is a little weird. What makes them extraordinary is something else: the naturalness of the voice, a vocabulary and a tone so “spoken” that the minute you finish a poem you want to read it again, just to see how he did it.” —New Yorker
Black-Tailed Jack Rabbit
Within the immense circle of the horizon
only the two of us on two legs
that didn’t have feathers on. Hello,
horned lark. Hello, loggerhead shrike.
Hello, dove-sized bird with black fan-tail
fluttering along the ground, a jackrabbit
would jump as high. And for the vast
absence of our own species,
thanks, thanks, thanks. Not that you
didn’t dig the mines and make this road
to them; but it’s your absence
today that earns my gratitude. Thanks too
for the monument and bronze tablet
marking where Ragtown was, and the railroad
down the hill to Ludlow, so I can rejoice
that it’s already all disappeared
with hardly a trace. Thank you sky
for speaking only after lightning. Hello, jackrabbit,
hello groundsquirrel, good luck raven,
I never saw you hover like that.
Thank you, rain, for flavoring our jaunt
with a hint of danger, and for the splashy mist
when you lashed the desert hills
hard wrought to show what you
can do when you mean business.
Thank you, other two-legged bare featherless creature,
for sharing the jagged horizon of my life.
Thank you, rainbow over the East Mojave
low to the ground, so early in the afternoon:
thank you for being there with us.

Dick Barnes
December 22 1987 Earth First!

Jim Harrison – Alien

It was one of those mornings when my feet seemed unaware of each other and I walked slowly up a canyon wash to avoid tripping. It was warmish at dawn, but the sun wouldn’t quite come out, having missed a number of good chances, or so I thought studying the antic clouds that were behaving as sloppily as the government. I was looking for a wildflower, the penstemon, but stopped at a rock pool in a miniature marsh seeing a Mojave rattlesnake curled up in the cup of a low-slung boulder. Since this snake can kill a cow or horse I detoured through a dense thicket then glimpsed the small opening of a side canyon I had not noticed in my 17 years of living down the road. How could I have missed it, except that it’s my habit to miss a great deal? And then the sun came out and frightened me as if I had stumbled onto a well hidden house of the gods, roofless and only a hundred feet long, backed by a sheer wall of stone. I smelled the tell-tale urine of a mountain lion, but no cave was visible until I looked up at a passing Mexican jay that shrieked the usual warning. We move from fear to fear. I knew the lion would be hiding there in the daytime more surely than I had seen the snake. They weren’t guardians. This is where they lived. These small rock cathedrals are spread around the landscape in hundreds of variations but this one had the rawness of the unseen, giving me an edge of discomfort rarely felt in nature except in Ecuador and the Yucatan, where I had appeared as a permanent stranger. I sat down with my back tight against a sheer wall, thinking that the small cave entrance I faced by craning my neck must be the home of the old female lion seen around here not infrequently, and that she could only enter from a crevasse at the top, downward into her cave. This is nature without us. This is someone’s home where I don’t belong.

Jim Harrison
September-October 2008 Earth First!

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