Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nature, Poetry, and Art

I’ve found the flora and fauna of the desert to be a great comfort, as well as a great inspiration. All we have to do is look out the window to enjoy a continual parade of bunnies, lizards, antelope squirrels, and birds of all sorts—especially quail, mourning doves, jays, and thrashers. Coyotes are often about, and our neighbors have seen a bobcat recently.

Here’s one of our more unusual recent sightings. At three inches long, this is the biggest moth we’ve ever seen—at first, we thought it was a bat! If anybody out there can identify it by name, please let me know!

In August, I had a couple of poems published in The Sun Runner Magazine’s annual Desert Writers Issue. I’m including them at the end of this post, along with related photos. The Sun Runner has an excellent local events calendar and is full of interesting articles about desert life, past and present—for their website, click here.

In the Morongo Basin—which includes the communities of Morongo, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, and Twentynine Palms—there are artists and art galleries everywhere you look! One of them is The Purple Agave in Morongo, located on the grounds of The Cactus Mart—the go-to place for cacti and succulents. They have a juried show up now through November on the theme of, you guessed it, cacti. Bill has this black-and-white photo in the show, which he calls “Spine Forest.”

The Morongo Basin Arts Council publishes a weekly e-newsletter about local art, theater, and music happenings. To check it out, click here. If you can make it out this way on the last two weekends in October, you’re in luck—that’s the time for the annual Open Studio Tours. Over 100 local artists open their home studios on those weekends.

Desert Tortoise

With the stillness
and patience of stone,
a tortoise waits
by the dirt road.

Drawn into himself,
he appears nearly round,
his carapace
a prehistoric ball.

We take him by surprise.
He will not move
until we are well
out of sight.

A burrower, he holds
knowledge of earth
we can only dream—

a crust covered
by desert dandelions
this juicy, redolent spring.

We call him threatened.
But maybe it’s the other
way around.

He could wait
as long as it takes
for this epoch
to finish—

Until the dirt road
and the humans
who walk here
are forgotten,

And his progeny
move freely
above and below
the ground.


At twilight,
dust kicks up
and creosote shakes
like one possessed.
An orange glow
lights the underbelly
of a long, thin cloud—
a torso orbited
by smaller clouds
that drift closer, closer
until, at last, they touch.
Across the space
of the sky, cleaving it,
the windswept mass
stays suspended
in the window
for a short eternity.
Soon it will be too dark
to see the end.
But then we have
the story of the stars.