Desiccated

I write of only 3%
of the landscape
around me —
the green trees
colorful flowers
amazingly adaptive
dryland wildlife
and blind myself
to the rest of it —
but it’s time
to take a good look
and acknowledge
my selective seeing —
the 97% is dull
barren, stark, harsh, hot
out my bedroom window
there is a plain brown
block walled fence, my
neighbor’s white-metal
shed roof, off of which
glares the sun so brightly
it’s blinding, not a speck
of green in sight, except
one small weed emerging
from dusty gray rocks —
yes, there is a lizard
on the wall, doing push-ups
in the morning sun
and I watch him
with fascination
awed with nature
I forget the surrounding
urban desert ugliness —
until suddenly I wonder
where will he get
his next water?
surely from someone’s
yard watering system
but where do we  get
that precious water
for our thirsty homes?
and how much longer
will we be fortunate
enough to have it?
our city and county
allow so much over-
development, it feels
as if they are slowly
killing us, overcrowding
us, not caring about
our quality of life
nor the lizard’s —
but maybe, just maybe
we Phoenicians are
simply outright foolish
for trying to live here
in our air-conditioned
fortresses while the
city dries up around us

—Terri Guillemets

Poems that stick with me

Watering the hibiscus
this afternoon —
its weary
parched-green leaves
wilting
in this too-early April heat —
I saw a gecko
who
climbed up the side
of the splintering planter box.

My first split-second
thought —
Alice Walker’s garden gecko.
Crouching,
perfectly still —
the both of us —
I stared at it
and took in
the wonder
of it all.

It didn’t move —
was it asking
for some water?

This bliss,
it was my Paradise.
Gray, rough-coated
nature —
staring right back at me
a foot from my face.

Slowly I moved the hose
just an inch in its direction.
Walker — I’d already
named it Walker —
disappeared so fast
I didn’t even see
it go.

I wish it would’ve stayed.
I had water to give
and troubles
to wash clean.

—Terri Guillemets

referencing Alice Walker’s 2011 poem “Going Out to the Garden,” in The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness Into Flowers, 2013 — alicewalkersgarden.com/2013/05/poem-going-out-to-the-garden

Night haze

The moon shines
into the dirty desert air
with a rusty opal halo —

Scorpius has lost his way
behind the thin clouds,
city glare, smoke, dust —

His heart shines in some far
better place — but not here
in this smoggy summer.

—Terri Guillemets

Death lights heavy

Hummingbird mama —
abandons her nonviable eggs
but keeps checking back
a few more times, just to be sure.

Nested arms fall off a saguaro,
break open on the ground
like fragile eggshells —
after decades of desert still-life
a few seconds of death-motion.

But the night breeze is so beautiful
those breezes are — so beautiful,
it’s hard not to get swept away.

—Terri Guillemets

Saguaro arms

           a shrug, a hug
       touchdown, letdown
  waving, curling, sprouting
 disco, vogue; praise, prayer
 bird-pecked, green-specked
 skeletonized, or multiplied
 flower and fruity fingered
  flipped, frail, or fallen off
  perfected, nested, crested

—Terri Guillemets

Oh amazing desert, let’s rejoice together!

entire continents of grey-white clouds
hovering serenely in an enormous spring-blue sky
a soaring raven calls, out of its element
why are you this far south, beautiful bird?
then all is quiet but for a distant plane
heading to who-knows-where —
what a gorgeous afternoon!
way too beautiful for negative thoughts —
listening to subtle sounds of nature’s energies
oooh, sudden chilly-breeze goosebumps
coolness swirling through sunlit seventy degrees
a day of sensation and eerily silent excitement —
winter and spring overlapping at the seams

—Terri Guillemets

City-desert nightwalk

early summer, late at night
pleasant sweet-smelling air
clouds veiling a half-lit moon
Scorpius crawling up the sky
tree-hid birds awake chirping
lone dog barking in its yard
startled stray cats darting
crickets playing insistent songs
quiet of people gone to bed
mellow breezes gently stirring
damp-grass lawns subtly cooling
street lights too brightly illuming
saguaro blooms softly glowing

—Terri Guillemets

Desert weeds after heavy rains

Some weeds are nourishing, and some medicinal;
Some are beautiful, colorful, and downright flowery;
And yet others, even those that pop up one fine morning
as the tiniest innocent young sprouts of green —
are relentless, run riot, and are one hundred and ten percent determined as  @#!%  to  @#!%  up your  @#!%  yard if it @#!% kills  the @#!%  both of you!

—Terri Guillemets