Archives for posts with tag: desert

Arctic ice copy
Arctic Ice
by Betsy Mars

Below the shimmering outline of the heat-struck mountain
I spy a trailer truck plastered with scenes of snow-capped peaks
delivering ice to the thirsty non-natives maladapted for the weather.

The desert crawls with realtors feeding
the demand for inexpensive land.

In this new old world order we seek heat
and shelter from winter’s vicissitudes,
drink in the cool dawn, dip in the pool at midday,
sip cocktails at sunset, still water the lawn.

At night we sit in the vast darkness and marvel at the stars.
Earthbound and blind, in search of water we travel to Mars.

PHOTO: Arctic Ice (Twentynine Palms, California) by Betsy Mars. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this (and took this photo) during a brief (one full day) retreat in a motel in Twentynine Palms, California. I had been struggling with a way to approach this topic which is so important to me without ranting or being overly pessimistic. My nature is to find hope, though I have been more and more fearful as I have observed all of the severe weather events that seem to be increasing in frequency this past few years. It is difficult for me to understand how others are not feeling the same urgency to address this as I do, though I admit to not wanting to give up some of the habits I have that contribute to climate change. I am hoping that as a global community we find a way to align and ease the way for everyone to make the necessary changes to avoid more devastation. It is compulsory.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a tree-hugging, bleeding-heart poet and photographer who seems to have always had a soft spot for the environment and all creatures, great and small. From childhood she gravitated to water and to green environments, but she has lately found herself also appreciating the resilience and adaptations of those living in the desert – maybe a natural evolution as she ages and adapts. As the mother of two adult children, she is especially concerned with the future of the planet. Her work has appeared in One Art, Sheila-Na-Gig, Sky Island, Verse Virtual, and many other fine publications. She is the author of the poetry collection Alinea and co-author, with Alan Walowitz, of In the Muddle of the Night. For more, visit her at and find her on Facebook

licensed eric laudonien
Camels at Font’s Point
by Cynthia Anderson

At dawn, the badlands hide
nothing, their ridges and washes
repeating, impenetrable—

tale upon tale of entrapment,
a labyrinth of extinction.
The present wavers, enfolds

a mirage of water and grass,
drama of ghosts. Gold light
shines on golden flanks.

They were here.
For millions of years,
they ate and drank their fill,

roamed in herds and alone,
laid down trackways
and bones.

Time holds them tightly—
time and rock, sun and dust—
and the gusts scour their footprints.

PHOTO: Camel metal sculpture by Ricardo Breceda, Borrego Springs, California. Photo by Eric Laudonien, used by permission.

Fonts Point
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It was April 2000. My husband, Bill Dahl, and I were on a desert getaway to Borrego Springs—one of our favorite spots, a place we have visited countless times over the years. On this trip, we got up before dawn and bounced down a washboard dirt road to Font’s Point, barely making it to the overlook in our Honda Accord. Our goal: to catch the sunrise over the badlands. ¶ The vista spread out before us, a spellbinding maze. No sound, no movement—only stillness, stretching far back into deep time. Bill got the photo he came for, and I got something totally unexpected from a battered sign: an introduction to the ancient creatures that once lived here among streams and meadows—horses, camels, mammoths, sloths, bears. ¶ Out of this prehistoric bestiary, the camels captured my imagination. I had no idea that camels originated in North America, and that many species of camels, small to large, used to roam throughout Southern California. I started following their trail, visiting camel fossils in museums and learning about their history. Many years later, I completed a long poem about the camels which appears in my book Desert Dweller. This is the first section of that poem, commemorating where my journey began. ¶ For anyone interested in the ancient camels, two of the best places to see fossils and learn more are the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles and the Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont. Also, for Borrego lovers, the book Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert (Sunbelt Publications, 2006) is an excellent resource.

PHOTO: View of Anza-Borrego Desert (California) from Font’s Point by Bill Dahl, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a California State Park located within the Colorado Desert of Southern California. The park takes its name from 18th century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and borrego, a Spanish word for sheep. With 600,000 acres, representing one-fifth of San Diego County, it is the largest state park in California.

Cynthia Anderson in 2000 at font's point

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she has published nine poetry collections, most recently Now Voyager with illustrations by Susan Abbott. She is co-editor of the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens and guest editor of Cholla Needles 46. Visit her at

PHOTO: The author standing at Font’s Point with the Anza-Borrego Desert behind her.

Anderson front door
At First Sight
by Cynthia Anderson

We’d spent the day with our realtor,
planned to make an offer on a house
we’d seen—but since we were so close,
we said, let’s go by that one last place
just down the block. It was farther
than we thought—towards the edge
of the tract—the roof barely visible
from the street. We followed the ups
and downs of the driveway to the top,
where we were greeted by the garage,
glowing clusters of barrel cacti,
rock formations all around. A desert
wonderland…but where was the door?
A narrow walkway led to the right,
past willows and cholla. Up ahead,
a rise where pines swayed in the breeze.
Finally, the door—solid, brick red,
with its own tiny window instead
of a peephole. We opened that door
onto our new life.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Twelve years ago, my husband and I wanted badly to move to the desert but had trouble finding the “right” house. About to give up and settle for second best, serendipity suddenly took over. The hidden door symbolized our search and its happy conclusion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert, in the house with the brick-red door. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, and she is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She has authored nine collections and co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens. Visit her at

By Diane Castiglioni

In the desert
this condition laid bare
stripped of pretense
deprived of case
the veils sundered
awareness brought to the edge of
for its clarity
near purity of need
absolute dependence
on this order
this composition
this near impossible
hairline width for deviation
an atom’s breath for dissention
“lighted fools the way to dusty death”
this craving
this delicate precision
in this place of

infinite need for shadow
the presence of
slakes the thirst of

the courage required
necessitates the presence of strength
in extreme balance
like life itself to be wrought so
multitudes of sequence, proportion, levels,
relative, absolute perfection


            another place another time

            crimson sunsets
            and warm climes
            the taste of sand
            and burnt sirocco
            roaming caravans
            your sunsoft skin
            and miles and miles to go………………………

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written while living in Morocco, traveling with camels and a group of locals through the dunes. It speaks to the intensity of an unrelenting sun during the day and sleeping on the sands at night, carrying everything we needed to survive, most importantly the savvy knowing of the people who lived and breathed that land.

PHOTOGRAPH: “A Camel Caravan Crosses a Landscape” by Peter Carsten. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Diane Castiglioni is a contributing author to the French work Dictionnaire Universel du Pain (Bouquin Laffont, 2011) and an editor of the International Cooperation for the Development of Space (ATWG, 2012). She has poems published in France, Lebanon, and New Mexico.

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 Ronald Baatz

I cannot live here when I am old.
It is too cold for many months out of the year.
As it is, I am having a rough time dealing with

the cold now. When I am old I want to live
in the desert. I suppose this is a common goal
for people who live in the cold. Although, thankfully,

this past winter was a blessing, so unbelievably mild was it.
The morning newspaper explains why
there is such an abundance of yellow jackets.

I was stung recently. I was sitting on the green lawn chair
at the back of the house, minding my own business, reading,
when suddenly I felt an itch on my leg. As I scratched this itch,

one of these yellow jackets let me have it. It had managed to crawl
up my leg, underneath my pants. After stinging me
it fell to the ground and walked away; for some reason not flying,

perhaps too exhausted from having stung me.
My first instinct was to kill it; instead I just moved away from it.
I will leave these heavenly purple mountains to the bugs and the bears

and whatever else wants to claim them as their own.
I do not want to be exposed to such cold when I am old.
I want to bake in the sun. I want to be like a dried fig.

If I had money, then living here would not be such a hardship.
I’d be able to defend myself from the cold with money.
But there is none, and there appears to be nothing I can do

to rectify this problem. I live where the winters are harsh and
I have no way of keeping myself warm. I am profoundly disappointed
in myself. I will not even have the money necessary to move

to the desert when the time comes. So why do I even talk about it,
dream about it. I have been pathetic at creating a decent income.
I will die in this lousy cold. I can see it all now: when I die

others will come to take my body away, my belongings.
They will make a thorough search of my room for money
that I might have hidden away, and they will find not a dime.

Then they will unearth thousands
of poems, and they will know why.

Woodstock, 1985

IMAGE: “Desert Abstraction (Bear Lake)” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1931).

Ronald Baatz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ronald Baatz lives in Troy, New York, with his wife Andra and their cat Mooche. His last book, Bird Standing, was published by Blind Dog Press in Australia.



by Veronica Hosking


IMAGE: “The Beauty of the Desert” by Saija Lehtonen. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I chose to write about monsoon season for my half year poem, because the rains come in July and bring life to the desert plants. I also enjoy writing concrete poems. This poem can be read two ways depending on whether you start from the left cactus branch or the right one.


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Veronica Hosking is a wife, mother, and poet who lives in the desert southwest with her husband and two daughters. Her family and day job, cleaning the house, serve as inspiration for most of her poetry. “Spikier Spongier” appeared in issue two of Stone Crowns magazine in November 2013.  “Desperate Poet” was published on the Narrator Central website and reprinted in volume four of Poetry Nook in February 2014. Veronica keeps a poetry blog at

by Jeffrey Alfier

Winds release clouds from the tread of drifting
but buoy the arcs of loitering hawks.
It’s so quiet he swears he hears sunlight,
Chihuahuan sage blossoming in clusters.
Where his footfalls impel a warbler’s flight,
distant church bells summon their own echoes.
He kneels, presses palms to parched tractor ruts
that angle off into wind-runneled fields.
Thin soil keeps him for another season,
the ground made of nothing his hands won’t hold.

…”The Desert Rancher on Sunday” appears in the Silver Birch Press release The Wolf Yearling, a collection of poems by Jeffrey C. Alfier, available at

by Hester Knibbe (Translated by Jacquelyn Pope)

It’s a beautiful world, you said,
with these trees, marshes, deserts,
grasses, rivers and seas
and so on. And the moon is really something
in its circuits
of relative radiance. Include
the wingèd M, voluptuous
Venus, hotheaded Mars, that lucky devil
J and cranky Saturn, of course, plus
U and N and the wanderer P, in short
the whole solar family, complete with its
Milky Way, and count up all the other
systems with dots and spots and in
that endless emptiness what you’ve got
is a commotion of you-know-what. It’s a beautiful
universe, you said, just take a good look
through the desert’s dark glasses
for instance or on your back
in seas of grass, take a good look
at the deluge of that Rorschach—we’re standing out there
somewhere, together.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hester Knibbe’s books of poems include Oogsteen (2009) and Bedrieglijke dagen (2008), both from De Arbeiderspers. She received the A. Roland Holst prize in 2009.

PHOTO: “Desert Snow” by Wally Pacholka/, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Note on photo: Constellation Canis Major with the brightest star of night sky, Sirius, shines above Southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park (December 2008).

by Jeffrey C. Alfier

Preachers said God made Texas nights this dark.
That’s no comfort to girls home by themselves.
She could hear tongues and praises loud outside;
old wives, children, men of coal or lumber —
lots of folks shouting and carrying on,
given more to water-witching than prayer
come first light. It’s how folks fought loneliness.

Beyond the plank steeples rising in swamps,
this fur trader’s daughter spent nights alone,
her father trudging forgotten dirt trails 
impassable to anything with wheels.
Bound for some reclusive trapper’s cabin
he’d return by way of any roadhouse,
stumbling past the decay of tenant shacks.

She recalls those nights squinting through windows
waiting for his shadow to reemerge
soaked with rain and pelts — a feral hunter.
The last time I paid her a call, blindness
was slowly dimming her central vision.
Sometimes a stray voice makes her turn and look,
rain tapping glass like a startled stranger.

PHOTO: Jeffrey C. Alfier reads from his collection, The Wolf Yearling, at the Poetry Society of Texas Poetry and Music Festival (Midland, Texas, May 2013). Find The Wolf Yearling at