The Painted Desert


She was caught

in stark relief;

back lit

by a neon cross.

Her old world ways

had claimed her,

but she shed them

like a shawl.


The world

had denigrated

her efforts

and her skin,

but there were no


that she still had

belief in.


What does it mean

to live one’s life

without the magazine

cover, or a place

in any scene?

When friends abandon

walking in the desert

in the sun,

is she a model

of the out-of-fashion?

Was she ever one?


Wind blows her hair

and sun beguiles her face

and she’s adorned with shreds of skin,

bone beads

and sky in trace.

Her eyes reflect

the summer storm clouds

outside this cheap motel.

She stands there quiet

for a moment,

then tells the world

to “Go to Hell.”


Is life a failure

in a bottle,

when it’s drank

in the afternoon?

Is every breath

a condemnation

of who we are

and what we do?

With beauty perfect

in the setting,

tragic only

when compared;

the world is never fair,

but it is there.


She’s asking nothing

from no one,

not once, or twice again.

She has the answers

of the desert

and they remain

as rare as rain.


All her lovers

are in lush places,

she gave them

all her pain.

The orange sunset

on the horizon

is her only

sign of change.


She’s given everything

that she’s loved


Like the world

she remains

beautifully tragic

every day.


HG – 2018

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