A neon desert the only sea by Donna Snyder


Awareness moves to the right
Electric asters line a green sky
Brake lights baffle the eyes
(Are you paying attention?)
Traffic moves to the right

Think of Louisiana—
Think of Japan—
People disappeared
Structures on stilts still
can’t out walk the waves
Fissured world shifts in its sleep
as sure as the earth beneath your feet

This may be the only world we know
Secrets and lies in camouflage
The stranger’s smile all teeth and eyes
Detainees in your back yard
herded like cattle into the corralón
Downtown old men still hide
numbers tattooed on wrists
or nopales inked on foreheads

Catastrophe is our only home now
Dying cougars shot more dead
Unknown bodies beneath the ground
Spying soldiers spread across the sky
A neon desert the only sea
Even metals gone to driest dust
Hear the sound of air through shell
Scent of water glosses the lips of statues
Birds in tree tops sing departure
(There’s about to be an accident)
Our Mama on the wall wears green and blue
She stands on the moon
Blots out the sun


Birds gather in tree tops praying
for all the people dead and gone
Dancers dance with feathers and shells
Mama’s starry cloak shelters her Son
with the nopal tattooed on his forehead

Pray for mercy
Pray for the woman who lives in a car
The detainees in our own back yard
Men with guns at every gate
People disappeared on the river edge
deprived of the solace of rivers and rocks
Our Mama damp with migrant workers’ sweat

Lights wander the other edge of darkness
Nothing sure but this earth beneath our feet
(Are you paying attention?)
Secrets and lies with teeth and eyes
This is your home now
Another day another catastrophe
It’s the only world we’ve ever known
Earthworks break into thunder claps
Random red lights baffle the eyes

Birds falling from the dying blue
Lost fish floating in the dying sea

Published in Poemas ante el Catafalco:  Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press:  New York, New York 2014)
In 2014, Donna Snyder’s poetry collection, Poemas ante el Catafalco:  Grief and Renewal, was published by Chimbarazu Press, and Virgogray Press reissued her 2010 chapbook, I Am South, as a perfect-bound book.  NeoPoiesis Press will release a book of poems, Three Sides of the Same Moon, in 2015.  Snyder founded and continues to organize the Tumblewords Project, which has been presenting free, weekly, creative writing workshops since 1995.  She is a contributing editor to Return to Mago.  Her work appears frequently in Red Fez and VEXT Magazine.  She blogs at poetry from the frontera.

3 thoughts on “A neon desert the only sea by Donna Snyder

  1. Pingback: A neon desert the only sea by Donna Snyder | poetry from the frontera

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