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Saturday, September 03, 2022


by Dick Altman

I’ve learned that no matter what
your faith—we on the high desert
plains – aloud or to ourselves—
pray for rain—and lots of it
Two-months of unquenchable
wildfires left us parched
for water—anything to restart
the charred landscape
Fill our depleted reservoirs—
revive our withered crops—
awaken our weakened pinion
and aspen—I pray—and while
at it—I add—our yellow cow-pen
daisies—red-orange mallow—
purple Russian sage—to round
out the bouquet we call—
with now-and-then fondness—
our “desert bloom”
A deluge ensues—not our usual—
if one can use that word—monsoon—
what we half-jokingly call our rainy
season—but rain of epic power—
rain that washes away people—
houses—cars—roads—and not
least—in the grand scheme—ash
I scoop up a handful—light—
innocent—a mere handful
in an ocean of ash layered over
a charred seabed—until hurricane-
like floods set it in motion—
sweeping it into ponds—river—
community water systems—
killing stream life—sickening
people – disrupting life already
disrupted by epochal fires
What next—I can only ask—
half expecting to hear a cloud-
enshrouded voice intone—
without a trace of a smile—

Dick Altman writes in the high, thin, magical air of Santa Fe, NM, where,at 7,000 feet, reality and imagination often blur. He is published in Santa Fe Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, riverSedge, Fredericksburg Literary Review, Foliate Oak, Blue Line, THE Magazine, Humana obscura, The Offbeat, Haunted Waters Press, Split Rock Review, The RavensPerch, Beyond Words, The New Verse News, Sky Island Journal, and others here and abroad. A poetry winner of Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition, he has in progress two collections of some 100 published poems. His work has been selected for the forthcoming first volume of The New Mexico Anthology of Poetry to be published by the New Mexico Museum Press.