The Voices of My Desert
Beginning this new trail, with the resonance
of shifting earth about me, I hear calls
distancing the crow voices of my childhood,
the wolf cry of my middle age. The sun
is an ancient symbol above me and God knows
what the mountains, spirit blue on the horizon
mean. Silence stands within me as without
desert stirs to its own subtle communication.
There is time, always, to wonder, doubt.
New Mexico is a myth, an ancient whirlpool
of time where moments stand still just before
being sucked down to other planes, other hours.
We hold time back through rituals, dances
that stir the seconds like flecks of sand
beneath our feet, eternities of the possible.
I write down the words I hear, but I know
it is the Dead who speak them. Our ears
are tuned to the past, hear, hear the days
less clearly than the flute-songed nights
with their last owls whitefaced as moons
swooping low for the poisoned, dying mice.
The ghosts of wolves ring our hills.
Those birdcries, Comanche songs drifting
up from wartrails: the click of steel
in the night, prospectors or old soldiers
sharpening the edge of darkness to a keen
wind that blows all the stories away.
Keith Wilson, from While Dancing Feet Shatter the Earth.
Keith Wilson (1927-2012) was named, according to his widow, Heloise, "the city's first, and so far only poet laureate by the Las Cruces City Council . . . and it was a real honor and a joy to him."
A volume of his collected poems, Shaman of the Desert, is over 1100 pages, from Clark City Press, and provides endless delight to any one loving American poetry. He has revealed the essence of place in his work perhaps more than any other poet with the possible exception of Charles Olson, in my opinion. His poems reveal New Mexico and the Southwest most truly. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to purchase Shaman of the Desert ($30 paper, $40 HB).
Please send submissions for the Sunday Poem to email@example.com Tell others about The Sunday Poem if you like this, and check out the weekly poem in the New Mexico Mercury. And Happy New Year to all! Larry Goodell