Down to the Desert & At the Corner

At the Corner

At the corner of Division & Reclamation
where the town is split between chaos & choice,
the edge where you look across the tracks

toward dry sage-lined hills rounded against
the straight rails, and the tiny mill houses stand
crooked as old teeth on dirt lanes, doors falling

open & windows gaping, built with free mill scraps,
overnight shacks without foundations, unpainted,
an outhouse quickly dug, on the dividing line—

the train cutting off proper folk from laborers
now lost at the end of Main Street, a few retirees
on oxygen, some struggling Indians, a couple

of widows & small dogs, a hand-written sign
on a broken door reads, ‘don’t bring your religion
to my house’, the old woman defiant, no reclaiming

souls at the mill end of town, the last one closed
36 years ago, in this place unclaimed & undivided,
a town waiting under the sun & snow.




Down to the Desert

Go down to the desert, see what’s there—
always down, though the road climbs a mile
up the empty sky, up from the sea to granite.

Look at what we leave behind in this dry land
where nothing rots away, only rusts, burns,
fades into brittle hunks of nameless iron and tin.

See old mine head stocks, buses, wheels, tools
water tanks, all the failed hopes of desperate men
who preferred lonely work over talk, hollow men

without women, filthy with negligence
lost in narrow canyons, watching the vultures
circle above. Look at empty stone houses

with bare windows like blind men staring, always
out at bare tan hills or black lava, doors hanging
open, pots scattered in the dirt, a rutted track

leads back to the secret ore vein, hope in the rock,
always hope down in the desert, coated with dust
until there’s no need to wash in the thin trickle


Projected Letters is a literary magazine dedicated to publishing the best new and established writing from around the world.