Desert Riders

Dinosaur footprints
that we do not see,
this earth was made

to be rambled on.
Poetry writes itself
between black tires

and the road
as Navaho sandstone
and cryptobiotic cities

contend for galactic vistas
beneath blues so wide
they swallow the sky.

The great red plains
of a Mars moon blaze
like the setting sun,

like the riders
who make their way home
over long

desert shadows,
bodies full of exhaustion
and the sweet

freedom to say yes
and yes
and yes, riding

like an exclamation mark
for the pure joy
of living.

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Beyond the Ruins

In a morning desert
where the red rocks hang
from the misty remnants
of last nights storm,

up and up
between the
shrouded clouds
and into the silent blue,

the canyon opens
like the ancient mouth
and whispers the thing
that you have always known.

And so you
stop to listen
as if your life
depended on it,

which certainly it does,
then mount your
wheeled horse and pedal fast
over rocks and sand,

as the world behind you
disappears into the revelation
of a perfect yellow
winter sun.

Strata

Names like prayers –
Kayenta, Wingate,
Chinle, Moenkopi, Cutler

red rock layers,
one word each,
ten million years
or more.  We stand
on Dead Horse Point
where (legend has it) herds
of wild mustangs were corralled
and left to die
after the strong ones were selected.
Kayenta, Wingate,
Chinle, Moenkopi, Cutler

low raven wing-drums
the last cool gusts of springtime
and two thousand feet below,
the green Colorado still invents
these pyramids and steeples,
sandstone towers
and so many walls,
Kayenta, Wingate,
Chinle, Moenkopi, Cutler
– we want
to remember the names,
so we say them again, feel
them in our mouths like the red sand
between our teeth.  Beside you,
I am learning about layers –
ten million years  to form,
but to peel away –
the time it takes
to hear my own name
spoken
like a prayer.