(I) BISTI, NEW MEXICO
From Mars to The Valley of the Moon is
Just a short hike. Halfway I notice paintings by
Dali and sculptures from Henry Moore, while
Others have more of a Disneyland eye and
Mention –elated– Kon-tiki and Alice in (Bisti)
Wonderland. About the Cracked Eggs and
Their Sentinel, though, there is no discussion.
If the sandstone formations could speak of the
Carnage and cataclysm of their creation,
Squeaks and screams and orgasmic sighs
Would be added to the cacophony that, like a
Fist, hits my eye. Mud pillars and hoodoos,
Petrified logs on dirt pedestals, capped slabs,
Dinosaur bones, outcroppings of the surreal.
Toadstools and trolls and coal mine deposits
Glow red-hot beneath dry waterfalls of
Bleached rock. The earth used for modeling
Clay by thousands of kindergarten kids
Competing creatively with generations of
Sculptors. They all were joined by wind and rain
While taking Picasso’s prestigious master class.
Bisti at sunrise is a different planet from the
Badlands at high noon – then, what happens to a
Moonscape during full moon?
(II) EL MALPAIS, NEW MEXICO
Lava meets sandstone. Male earth trying to
Charm all the females. Here in El Malpais
Machismo is something not to be ridiculed.
Lava tubes fake femininity. Splutter cones,
Thirty in a row, splash hunk – no dory. Yet many
Kipukas escape rape, are never touched –
Ecological islands. Underneath, ropy pahoehoe
In the narrow Cauliflower Passage, next to
Oe Puna Beach. Yet, girls, avoid Bubble-up Grotto,
Which may try to entice you to put One Foot in the
Gutters Alley. You will end up devoured.
(III) BADLANDS, SOUTH DAKOTA
Badlands as big as the average Balkan country.
Surrounded by prairie – high plains drifting, here
Smooth as a leather-top, solid oak desk, there
Rolling as inviting breasts. In endless grasslands
Rain, wind and frost carved canyons and ravines,
Sharp ridges, bridges, knouts, gnarls and knurs,
Nodes and knots, knars, knags and burls.
Prairie swamps drowned to expose whopping,
Whacking great rock flats twenty million years
Old. Topped with tufa, fodder for geologists.
Pierre Sale stone kisses Eocene and Oligocene
Earth, fossils plentiful, bison bones galore. The
Buffalo is back, big as a half-ton truck yet
Accelerating as if it’s a Porsche – nevertheless,
Follow its path, a safe course through the tall
Grass abundant with racers, yellow-bellied, and
Rattlers, diamond-backed. Barr’s milkvetch and
Visher’s buckweat with their long roots soak up
Deep water and live half a century – longer, anyway,
Than many of the Lakota and Oglalla Sioux. Wounded
Knee looks as desperate as the badlands themselves.
Before the Sioux, came the Arikara. After the Sioux
First arrived the French. Les mauvaises terres à
Traverser – bad lands to pass through. The well-worded
Warning did not discourage other Europeans from
Raising hell until well into 20th century. Booze,
Drugs , malnutrition, diabetes, and armed tribal
Conflict, federally inspired, made sure that the
Original, rightful, population was seriously depleted,
Reduced to numbers Custer would have much
Appreciated. As I am sitting on the edge of Sheep
Mountain Table, my eye encompasses miles of old
Prairie and a Metropolitan area of soft sandstone.
Thunderous clouds approach, the superstructure
Hides itself, lightning strikes claps and bolts –
Warriors’ arrows, hundreds of flaming darts are
Fired at me time and time again. Supersonic
Pandemonium – the Gods scare me out of my wits,
Nonetheless fascinate me to full erection. I, supine,
Am on top of a world under Rockette attack!
Regrettably, ghosts supersede and summon the
Storm to tickle and tease the Black Hills instead.
In its wake it leaves pale patches of prairie burning.
The earth, the sky form a sexy suicide pact. Once more
They make do without me.
(IV) MOON OVER PLAZA BLANCA, NEW MEXICO
On full moon nights the
Old Mariner sails into Plaza
Blanca, the Flying Dutchman
Jumps aboard. Deceptive caves
And hollow shadows from a
Distance have the appearance of
Rock exposures, become temples of
Doom, millennium milestones,
Pillars of wisdom, cathedrals of
Cunning, sandbars of shame. The
Pressure-ridged cliffs all do
Sinister undulations. The formations
Deny their crumbling sandstone,
Pretend to be expanse of icy
Mountains, “High on mountains pil’d,”
Which seem to the shivering
Sailor from afar shapeless
And white, “An atmosphere of
Cloud,” like Thomson saw
Antarctica. Yet even at
The darkest of nights, at
Plaza Blanca my shivering is
Sweating, the moon is golden.
And if… if in the coldest of
Northern New Mexico nights
My breath sends puffs of
Steam amongst the sails, what
I am exhaling is just