Road-trip, New Mexico


stand in a juniper forest you say
juniper is succour protection
its bark exfoliates in strips
seeds follow the call of gravity dispersed
by birds and wind mammalian purgings
so many slow-germinating seeds
falling on dry ground

stand in a juniper forest you say
I savour the silence of leaves
crushed between fingers:
when aromatic juniper occupies
the higher ground evil scatters

stand in a juniper forest you say
but already they’re sparser here
on the road out of New Mexico
dwindling fast as they lose elevation –
where does forest end and desert begin?

common mountain junipers twisted and sculpted
cede to sagebrush and Saguaro some farmers
burn them chop them down
water-hungry thieves of cattle


finding someone else’s footsteps on the trail
you track them swallowed up by junipers
I give up trying to work you out
the road’s gone I’ll never find the car
though it’s there like the gun
in the glovebox on the side of the road
dusty and glinting
in another dimension

sinking in red sand – wrong shoes wrong mood
for this high-noon heat – breathing the smoke
of a silence that spooks me I step on
the shadow of the gunman that haunts
this country do I want to be here alone
beside the road imagining?

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