From Issue 22: The Mojave River

John Brantingham

Out here the gods play
their games with lost wanderers,
the river appearing now

out of a muddy hole like bruised faith
and disappearing again
in a mile.

It threads its way in and out
of the surface
during the long dry months,

and hiking these desert paths, I wonder
how many people walked
over the Mojave River

just ten feet above the water
that would have saved them.
I wonder

if any of them just gave up here,
sat down and died
not truly understanding

how cruelly twisted
the gods they worshipped
could be.

 

John Brantingham is Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park’s first poet laureate. His work has been featured in hundreds of magazines and The Best Small Fictions 2016. He has ten books of poetry and fiction including A Sublime and Tragic Dance. He teaches at Mt. San Antonio College.

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