High Desert: Interludes / by Brian Bowman


Along the way the traveler passed a few.
The soothsayer at the abandoned gas station.
The starving child offering used bandages for a nickel.
A charlatan with a stovepipe hat, the top frayed and undone.

One night, he met the devil wearing a white suit.
A full moon drifted above him like an absurd dinner plate.
The devil said to him, “Rest for a while, rest here with me.”
The traveler refused this offer without words, and shuffled on.

And there were other things in the night,
tiny white flags dancing away from him into the darkness,
the hightails of antelope or deer.
All visions observed in the periphery, with sounds so soft
they could barely be heard under the wind.


The wind could sound like a murmur.
On the fourteenth night he thought he heard voices.
At dawn he found himself standing at the edge of an oasis.
A rock outcropping hid his long shadow.

Below, adults with shaved heads and white robes had taken over the valley.
They drifted together in patterns of concentric circles.
Their singing was incessant; at first lulling but then maddening,
like cicadas liberating from their skins in late summer.

One of the songs went like this…

Children roll off Father's back into the sea.
Where they explore chasms of the deep,
and become creatures of the night.
Coming up for air on occasion,
coming up for light.

Good Father
Selfish Father
Angry Father
Jealous Father

Father of Monsters.