Sunset over Tempe Buttes
by Andrea Janelle Dickens

the mystery fireballs pull
back, fail to travel –
splish, splash and dash
on rivers run dry.
under the curtain of red
embers, new fractures
lurk and die in the wake
of ground found troubled,
under the hood of creating
masks extending watchful
as one more midweek
victim slips away.
where are the coyotes that devote
watchful eyes to the movement of
the guilty in a ground rocked with heat?

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The first draft of this poem was created during National Poetry Month, April 2014, as part of the Oulipost project organized by the Found Poetry Review. Oulipo poetry is where mathematics and chance generation meet art. During that month, participating poets were given a number of mathematical or random word-generating prompts based on local newspaper articles. Each of these poems originated in the development of chance using words found in the source texts and then slightly edited into their final form. One of the interesting effects of this project, for me, was the injection of the local and the political into my writing, as well as a tone of judgment or anger. This last in particular fascinated me, since I’d always naively assumed news was at least somewhat impartial, until I began working closely with the language of my local newspapers.

SOURCE: “Sunset over Tempe Buttes”: From various headlines of the Arizona Republic, 9 April, 2014. Print.

IMAGE: “The View” (Sunset, Hayden Mountain, Tempe, Arizona) by Gerry Groeber. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrea Janelle Dickens lives in the Sonoran Desert, among the year-round sunshine and saguaro cacti. Her work has appeared in Star 82, cakestreet, Rivet, Ruminate, Caesura, and The Wayfarer, among others. She teaches at Arizona State University, and when she’s not teaching, she’s backpacking in foreign cities, making pottery in her ceramics studio, or tending hives of bees.