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The Desert is the Only Way Out

 

from THE DESERT IS THE ONLY WAY OUT

Written in 1985
Published by Zilzal Press

• There’s a Tower Somewhere

 

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THERE’S A TOWER SOMEWHERE

There’s a tower somewhere on the edge of a desert looking out
that puts this life into perspective.
Nothing particular punctuates the stretching
.......stretching sands
.......in all directions. They
beckon to exhausting treks, there’s a
.......film of heat rippling above the surface.
Small boys laugh by the dunes.
A jug. Next to a white wall.
.......Sweating slow drops
.......down its pottery sides.
.......A lone mule stands by the central well.
Long shadows sometimes.
Sometimes none.
Conversations hushed, out of reverence for
....such intensity of existence —
......heat, flies, never at rest,
........never satisfied. The backroom
......orchestras of the place, their
......incessant, sassy buzz.
No one undertakes a journey out into the desert without
...............prior reflection.
Just to take on out into the heat with no
......preparation, internal or external,
........is sure death with parched throat and wild eyes.
Under the insistent gaze of the sky. There’s nowhere to hide.
You need to rush
............to get to your goal.
.......In a penetrating heat that lets
.................nothing alone.

There is no way out but this desert, no way
out of the hyper-self-conscious maze of this
.......near-end of century again with only
..........that many fewer steps between ourselves
..........and destruction.
.......The World’s Fair at century’s end.
.......The world’s air, last sentries defend
.......their one staunch standing-place
under a sky filled with invisible barrels of weaponry,
...........smoke curling out their ends
..............spelling out “The End.”

O my people, blue-eyed, brown-eyed, black-eyed
......walkers around in this covered-over world
........with asphalt in the mental operations
..........with a white line down the middle
.............and a secret one-way sign at the sidelines,
maimed in perfect attire, tragic in perfect clothes,
going toward a bland electronic dream
..........in a ping-pong derailment off the
...............ultimate edge,
O ward-dwellers, space-dwellers, face-lifted
......anglepoise mechanical dolls in your
...........soft supermarkets of self-esteem,
O donators of blood, in the amputee’s corridor,
......lying down to be drained of a
.............blood you deny in the
................sterilized racial
......rationalization, cut off from
................roots you most distantly admire,
the soap of a fantasy covering the breathing pores
to make a make-believe world no
.....malarial mosquito can live in,

O kitchen devotees of a feast so frozen over no
......blubber can be cut from its harsh arctic slab,
chunked and caked, squared off control-mongers,
..........caught in a space-out, heavy over the heartbeat,
..............lost the thread, dangling from a desperation,
.......hanging heads down in a
...........vat of inconsequential vapors,
.......lost at last in the wastes of an idea,
the permutations of salvation from numbness
.........having nearly run out,
......caught between the gears of a machine
.........gone out of control, long gone
....wise-men’s faces no longer
........reflecting in the chromium,
......the mystery and the magic
...........of pure existence
...............faded out!

You’re the human beings who most long to love
......the green green endlessness of perfect
...........ecstasy face forward in the bliss-blast
that radiates constantly, so why not —
....Why not? What is it that keeps you?
.........Why are you so concretely restrained
....from going toward the good?

The desert is the only way out.

There’s a long shadow at dusk.
It stretches past the drop-off.
It comes at an angle from the edge of the city gate
It almost seems to point out
.......into the stretching no-place that goes
............anywhere.

A heat-haze ripples
as it wriggles upwards to the
.........sun.

Any wanderer will tell you
.....that without a destination
.........you go mad.

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