I know a place where cacti bleed
A sip of nectar traverses the tongue
like a flat rolling pin, taste
as soft as the weakest note yet
sharp as its edge.
I also know the surrounding shrubbery.
I met it, or, it met me, the time I first
came here and found a spoken
word contest against tarantula clicks,
encountered snakes whispering
like ampersands skating off the page.
I arrived looking for something
different, a guide, perhaps,
toward a place free of deceit,
one where the shimmers of stillborn
sunsets and wanton thought could
no longer fool me. Instead,
I found the whole damn chorus,
waiting to sing with me, with me,
stationed patiently like ocotillo blades
scratching the sky, standing
as if they knew the man I was
and the one I want to be.
I know desert waters that are brackish
yet bashful, that lap onto desiccated
land and disappear from me—like me.
They burrow their way into sand
like I do when I’m angry, except
here the only things underneath are
tiny hermit crabs, chittering
across the gorges of my hand, crawling
through hairy human skin.
This place is one where sand dunes
whir with the occasional
passing motorcycle, where green
winds, derelict yet redemptive,
pool like syrup into the river