John Macker



I like it here and it doesn’t matter.

The hard mountains rise helter-skelter

suddenly out of the skillet flatness.

It’s provided a place for mariposa, desierto,

alamosa, words I never leave home without

that keep me in their hard beauty.

The old pueblo has vanished into the

bosque along with its scorpions and exiled wisdoms

the Rio Grande reverts back to the sky it once was.

This presence of absence prevails

I’ve watched it draw some of us into the ground

with it, this now quiescent space is insatiable, like ruins.

What else is borne on the dust but dystopian spring

swarming over the heart of Navajo Nation?

Ghost towns rise among the living.

There’s no time to wax ambivalent:

the lights in our spirits don’t just shine

they deflagrate and I’m at the bottom of some stark,

sane untamed canyon where quarantine looks

like the desert, where the mariposa lilies bloom

and can sometimes coax juniper

bluebirds of words from the sky.


JOHN MACKER’s latest books of poetry are Atlas of Wolves (2019) and The Blues Drink Your Dreams Away Selected Poems 1983-2018 (2018), finalist for an Arizona/New Mexico Book Award. “El Rialto” a short prose memoir was just published by DCArt Press, 2020, serigraphs by Leon Loughridge.