Islands in the Desert

The Organ Mountains at Sunset

A jagged Jurassic jaw juts into the bleeding sky.
Its maw could swallow Jerusalem or Eden.
Its teeth could tear tyrannosaurs
and feed upon turbojets.
Of ancient magma is made its bone.
Canyons gap between its teeth.
Puny, puny are the scalers
who test their mettle against its metal,
dislodging crumbs of granite
like little birds who peck the teeth of crocodiles.
Now at rose-colored sunsets, mossy with pines,
drilled with mines,
prey for septuagenarian snappers
picture takers for calendar makers,
where is your terribilita?
In Malpaís Review, Spring, 2015

Naming Mountains

Peaks rise up
Out of the yucca forested hills
Like spires on a great cathedral,
Ulm perhaps, or Köln,

or Barcelona.

Medieval faith in stone that rose
In a volcanic fissure before Jerusalem,
Before Egypt or Mesopotamia,
Before triceratops.

Alluvial buttresses rise up
Aisles rise up, choir rises,
Great vaults of nave soar up
–there is the apse–

Pterodactyls like gargoyles
Perched on those peaks
Of these Cathedral Mountains
And launched into space.

Or, speaking of space,
Rising like the rockets that
Lifted off at the missile range
Leaving vapor trails

As we rushed to watch Werner’s dream take flight.
V-2, Nike, that goddess Winged Victory,
Now confined earthbound
To a park perched

Beneath those peaks
Which we might call the Missile Mountains.
But those who named were Wanderers halfway to el Norte,
Thankful for a distinctive form

Along the featureless sierras,
Perhaps a musical padre
Among them, yearning for Cabanilles Or Bach,
Who saw a tribuna del órgano,

Ranks of mighty pipes,
Basalt ranks of diapasons,
Flutes and strings
Rising above the valley

Thundering toccatas,
Preludes and fugues,
And marked them on a map Los Organos
To be a landmark

And a conquest of civilization
In this wild land.