The Agonist

In the Medicine Bow Range

Land rises sharply here, when it’s been freed
of urban burdens. Past Virginia Dale,
pale, misty vistas; clouds and earth, agreed,
wash off my restlessness. How green, how frail
is happiness. Its watercolors bleed.

Front Range Rockies

                                                      —Colorado

In creases, recesses, and knobs, they rise
to view, becoming outlines, hills, red rocks,
then peaks. Once there, among the folds, your eyes
lose range and sense; it’s Escher’s paradox,
outside turned in, a sleight-of-hand surprise.

On the Flank of Pike’s Peak

This is the country of the Manitou,
with healing springs, great caves, and Fountain Creek,
“which boils.” Beware, though, of such gods: they strew
their boulders by a shudder, lash the peak
with lightning, torch a canyon—flood it, too.

Flag Mountain

Precipitous, rough, much too steep for skiing,
thick-spread with spruce and aspen, pocked with stone,
this mountain lends itself, at least, to seeing,
both field and lookout point. Know and be known—
perspectives on the human mode of being.

Gift of Cacti

A landscape crowded in an earthen bowl
composing beauty— stones, a crimson bloom,
and seven succulents, a mini-scroll
of desert life. Oh, Ellen! And there’s room
for friendship, thirsty, patient—soil and soul.

Caldera

                                                      —New Mexico

The center’s green, the edges dark, volcanic,
where lava spewed, flowed, cooled to primal turds,
ur-fire and brimstone, tools of the satanic,
yet less than minds—cloacae—that turn words,
a prize, to mischief, murderous, tyrannic.

Wind-Turbine Field

They twirl their blades in measured ecstasy,
corralling rebel currents. I am caught,
like them, in circumstance, the spirit free
but channeled. What an airy field of thought!
I whirl, to seize the day, impossibly.

Guadalupe Mountains

Time buried a lagoon, filled in its reef—
their passage marked in caves and canyons, zones
of meaning, fossilized. Leave disbelief;
imagine watery beings, algae, stones
turned immemorial. Time thought it brief.

Notched Sky

                           —In the Sangre de Cristo Range

The sky’s indented sharply here, at pains
to show distinction, or to take a bite
of earth. Imagine! . . . bread for gods, the grains
informed as boulders, and transfigured light
at dawn, the wine of Christ in glorious stains.