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Keith Ekiss is a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. His poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in New England Review, Bellingham Review, Agni (online), North American Review, Mid-American Review, The Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Witter Bynner Translator Residency from the Santa Fe Art Insititute.
Ode to the Creosote Bush
If you have any doubt about it, know that the desert begins with the creosote.
—Mary Austin, The Land of Little Rain
Because you are the flowering of drought.
Over desert flats you spread out unregarded.
Because you house detritus-feeders.
Near Yuma scientists dated you at 18,000 years—
Because as a child I broke your branch—you were white and fibrous.
Because you come from Argentina.
Tea and cure—remedy for wound and infection,
You work your roots deeper than memory.
Because you are also called greasewood.
I pass you late at night biking home from last call.
When bulldozers raze the field
I keep branches on my desk and lift the flowers
[from Natural Bridge]
Salt-rusted VW bus awash in fog light--
inside that van. Point Reyes Beach:
Now the landscape’s been reshaped,
hasn’t changed. Fog occludes and reveals,
What he loves is the process: unpacking
against battering waves and riptide.
We Deserve the Bomb.
A scene of everyday dust and squalor
always speak for him. Peeling clapboard
Calla lilies, unplanted, burst up by the door,
Railroad Station, Edwards, Mississippi; February 1936
Poor men huddle on a platform,
in an otherwise vacant scene: tin roofs
Steel tracks curve and disappear past the bend
A church obscured by trees; blurry woman
He lets me lift a print with the tongs.
Time lapse stars spin like a carousel;
An image rises like a drowning man
about photographers my father holds close,
[from Washington Square]
Absence of Love
What will your dream be like
What will your breast be like when I love you?
What will finding you be like when your body is love
[from New England Review]
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Last Updated: Sat, August 12, 2006
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