Archives for posts with tag: Arizona

Shelter in a Temporary Place
by Leah Mueller

Wooden eye with heavy cataracts
opens and closes. I step outside
like Dorothy, hand on knob,
pale face exposed to color.

The sound of rain deafens me:
sloppy crunch of gravel as cars
turn the corner towards the alley.

The insistence of it. News
wafts inside like a bad stench.

A woman passes, face mask snug
across her nostrils: vinyl leash taut
as her dog still strains for the park.

My flimsy door won’t
hold back this tide much longer.
I flee towards another, more
sturdy than the one I borrowed.

Invaders always enter portals.
Locks beg to be broken,
wood splintered until the
hinges no longer hold.

I search for an opening
to a wide, undamaged street
and a room no one can enter
without my permission.

If I drive all night without stopping
I will outrun the bandits
and the law: the whole damn posse,
trying its best to take me alive.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I wrote this poem from the perspective of a Washingtonian, smack dab in the hot zone of a coronavirus pandemic, getting ready to flee the state and move to Bisbee, Arizona. Last summer, my husband was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. This dramatically altered our life plans. We sold our only investment, a tiny condo near the Canadian border, and bought a small house in Bisbee. Then the virus took hold. Some businesses shut down, and others struggled to keep their doors open. A forced meditation about the impermanence and fragility of everything.

Mueller copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer, stuck in the void between Tacoma, Washington, and Bisbee, Arizona. She has published books with numerous small presses. Her most recent volumes, Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices (Czykmate Press), Death and Heartbreak (Weasel Press), and Cocktails at Denny’s (Alien Buddha Press) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears or is forthcoming in Blunderbuss, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Bad Pony, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She won honorable mention in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

Taking Root
by Jari Thymian

In every first photo, I can feel the potential
for falling desperately in love with a place.

Here I am pierced with awe at sunrise by the ocotillo
and saguaro, the volcanic formations like a sundial

using shadow to erase human-era names through
millennia. A house and its history fade from the upper

left-hand corner, a bit of debris in a layer
of conglomerate in my thoughts like a past lover

that left a tender fingerprint on my ever-shortening
years. A coati anchors me earthbound while its tail

and torso undulate in the crown of a tree. I can drink
prickly pear wine or tequila while living here at this park

for a few short months, close to the source and force
of nature. At some unmarked time, it happens. Aphrodisiacs

take over. Love like no other. For a moment, although I know
I am transient and wander like wind to wilderness and forest,

to take other first photos, I feel like the Baja boojum tree taking
root in this foreign soil, finding home for maybe five hundred years.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My husband and I are fortunate to have a lifestyle that allows us to live in state and national parks and public lands of all kinds. We live and volunteer at a park from four to six months, then move to another park. We get to know not only the specific site, but also the area, the people, the history, the geology, and the wildlife. Where we live always has a heightened sense of adventure and novelty. We live in an RV and no longer own a house. Currently, we’re volunteers at Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, Arizona, and the Tonto National Forest. This coming summer, we’ll be in the Black Hills near Spearfish, South Dakota. As park/wilderness junkies, we get to deeply love many places.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, Arizona” by Greg Fischer.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jari Thymian’s poetry has appeared in publications including Matrix, Ekphrasis, Ken*Again, Memoir (and), The Pedestal, The Christian Science Monitor, and American Tanka. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook, The Meaning of Barns, was published by Finishing Line Press. She volunteers year-round in state and national parks in the United States while living in a small RV with her husband, Greg Fischer. No mortgage, few possessions, many stories.

Toward the Chircahua Mtns, Rt 191, Az Mar 2014
Through the Chiricahua Range
by Jeffrey C. Alfier

Not even a forest road, but a switchback shouldered
by crumbling granite. Broken undulations,

trampled byways, printed in the rise and fall
of contour lines that plait my map. From a foothill

road no one bothered to name, I watch corrals
bedded in the gorge of Horseshoe Canyon, train

my sights on horses no longer there beneath skies
gathered in the pewter shade of monsoons, above

debris and flood deposits left by forerunning storms
that quenched the languid fumes of ancient droughts.

With awkward grace a deer bolts through spinal
shadows of burnt ponderosa pine, wakes the infrangible

silence of my sunstruck gazing. A kestrel’s sudden
wing-shadow draws my line of sight toward shuttered

mine shafts, the open palm of San Simon Valley
beyond, where wolves once threshed the undergrowth.

I have come this late to these foothills, brow grimed
with dust and salt, but better now than in my youth,

mortality the sole plight of the aged then, none
of the unheeded toll of errors that own me now.

The sky westers in penumbral stormlight,
shadows racing me along rising cutbank walls.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Toward the Chircahua Mountains, Rt. 191, Arizona” (March 2014) by Jeffrey C. Alfier.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey C. Alfier is winner of the 2014 Kithara Book Prize for his poetry collection, Idyll for a Vanishing River (Glass Lyre Press, 2013). His latest work is The Color of Forgiveness, a poetry collaboration with Tobi Alfier (Mojave River Review Press). He is also author of The Wolf Yearling (Silver Birch Press, 2013) and The Storm Petrel – Poems of Ireland (Grayson Books).

Wait Till the Scorpions Come Out
— for N
by Sara Clancy

You hate the desert and I don’t,
it’s as simple as that. I point out
the blossoms on the clumped barrel
cacti, you show me the pack rat
midden in between. We are both

right, but since it is February
and temperate as any June day
on Cape Cod, the point goes to me.
The match will go to you soon enough
in the season I choose to forget,

as surely as the diamondback
disaster you saved me from tripping
over last spring and the other sting
of recognition from underneath the birdbath
we were foolish enough to move.

Originally published in The Toucan (Spring 2013).

PHOTOGRAPH: “Evening in the Sonoran Desert” (February 2015) by Sara Clancy.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sara Clancy is a Philadelphia transplant to the Desert Southwest. Her poems have appeared in The Linnet’s Wings, Burningword Literary Journal, The Madison Review, Verse Wisconsin, The Toucan, VAYAVYA and Houseboat, where she was a featured poet. She lives in Arizona with her husband. They both look down carefully before stepping outside.

by Veronica Hosking

Every morning I wake to greet
Sunshine and love my warm retreat
Back east they are shoveling snow
My desert spring lush in dry heat

Though the desert is not as green
I will not offer up a keen
Glad to miss seven feet of snow
Now where did I put my sunscreen?

IMAGE: “Sonoran Desert, Spring Bloom” by Scott McGuire. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Veronica Hosking is a wife, mother, and poet. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English education at Buffalo State College before moving to the desert. Her poetry has appeared in Stone Crowns, Poetry NooknarratorINTERNATIONAL, and Silver Birch Press. She was the poetry editor for MaMaZina from 2006-2011.Veronica shares poetry about raising her two daughters and being a housewife on her blog

by Simon J. Ortiz

Lie on your back on stone
the stone carved to fit
the shape of yourself.
Who made it like this,
knowing that I would be along
in a million years and look
at the sky being blue forever?

My son is near me. He sits
and turns on his butt
and crawls over to stones,
picks one up and holds it,
and then puts it in his mouth.
The taste of stone.
What is it but stone,
the earth in your mouth.
You, son, are tasting forever.

We walk to the edge of a cliff
and look down into the canyon.
On this side, we cannot see
the bottom cliffedge but looking
further out, we see fields,
sand furrows, cottonwoods.
In winter, they are softly gray,
The cliffs’ shadows are distant,
hundreds of feet below;
we cannot see our own shadows,
The wind moves softly into us,
My son laughs with the wind;
he gasps and laughs.

We find gray root, old wood,
so old, with curious twists
in it, curving back into curves,
juniper, pinon, or something
with hard, red berries in spring.
You taste them, and they are sweet
and bitter, the berries a delicacy
for bluejays. The plant rooted
fragilely in a sandy place
by a canyon wall, the sun bathing
shiny, pointed leaves.
My son touches the root carefully,
aware of its ancient quality.
He lays his soft, small fingers on it
and looks at me for information.
I tell him: wood, an old root,
and around it, the earth, ourselves.

NOTE: Canyon de Chelly National Monument was established on April 1, 1931 as a unit of the National Park Service. It is located in northeastern Arizona within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation. Reflecting one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America, it preserves ruins of the early indigenous tribes that lived in the area, including the Ancient Pueblo Peoples (also called Anasazi) and Navajo. The monument covers 83,840 acres and encompasses the floors and rims of the three major canyons: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument. These canyons were cut by streams with headwaters in the Chuska mountains just to the east of the monument. None of the land is federally owned. In 2009, Canyon de Chelly National Monument was recognized as one of the most-visited national monuments in the United States. (SOURCE:

PHOTO: “Canyon de Chelly” by Ansel Adams (1941)

FARM NOTES (Excerpt)
by Simon J. Ortiz

…”What would you say that the main theme
of your poetry is?”
“To put it as simply as possible,
I say it this way: to recognize
the relationships I share with everything.”

I would like to know well the path
from just east of Black Mountain
to the gray outcropping of Roof Butte
without having to worry
about the shortest way possible.

NOTE: With an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet, Roof Butte is the highest peak of the Chuska Mountains, which run in a north-northwest direction across the Arizona-New Mexico border.

PHOTO: “Roof Butte” found at


The stories of the fallen world, they excite us. That’s the interesting stuff.” DENIS JOHNSON, Jesus’ Son

Photo: Abandoned building in Arizona by Kevin Dooley