• Nina Hanz

3 Poems for a Joshua Tree

Colour Layer 1

The barrels of branches like tree trunks,

a free-form funky desert dweller growing

in a shore, long from water discarded.

Thirsty bushels of cactus timber sipping

the Southwest in whispers of plant life.

Passwords forming ancient crosswords,

pen circled like stitched leather

memories worn soft by horseback, belt

buckle, jean loops and dream catcher.

Through soiled sand filters of beige,

brown and hot pink, a ribbon of blue

is pulled tight across a peaking range

of mountains, rock-and-boulder

around the south spots of Cali, that

landscape so still, shipless and stranded,

with a horizon as wide as a wingspan.

But then, from a finger’s release

of a shutter, the hitchhiker shoots

poor Joshua with a state-side,

weary-eyed camera.

The Mojave

In the blue-blood-orange hours before sun-up. The sky rests pulpless––liquid like

Tropicana––no clouds in the swelter. It’s cactus juice and crocus sky, the phantom of an

Indian Summer.

A lone ranger leaning left, a prophecy off-kilter, his bundles of branches pressed on an eight-by-eight-inch paper, the Mojave crown.

Clutched by side-step, square dance, the left-leading promenade with wisps of tall brown grasses bowing from the hot-breathed wind of a Patti Smith cowpoke

or a Sylvia Plath desert sleep.

Colour Layer 2

Mining minerals from glow-in-the-dark stones,

a UV Joshua swims like a cobalt cactus passing

pop rocks and fish food in a jelly sea of aloe vera.

Like a minnow fish flashes in a pond full of poison,

paint drops stick like self-tan to creased ankles,

on paper of halftones and colour-spots

as the Risograph prints a fluorescent desert storm.

Five magic mountains and seven tendrils like petrol

pipelines. Deep in tunnel vision, a man-made machine

pumps ink drum, aperture and high-speed humdrum for the

black-light blackout of a slogan city burnout. Search for sand

dollars from Atlantis, the marine metropolis. A clickbait casino,

drowning in debt of neonlights signing:

All a desert really is, is an ocean

without water.

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