Barren Bounty

The sun won’t sink below the mountains in Death Valley,

where piles of sand create curtains that nourish the sheep,

a missing crop hidden somewhere in the Californian abyss.


As the rocks turn red and the children quit their shrieking,

I ask the wind to marry me

—proposing a question I know will go unanswered.


No cacti

—no cacti two—


For nothing green grows in this desert of uncharted delirium.


At the highest peak, self-proclaimed lesbians befriend me in my time of need,

hip-hop music echoing somewhere when all I crave is the repetition of silence.


Miles ache into the horizon

—the lines interrupted, unable to coexist.


Another country had beckoned,

yet this wasteland of uncontested splendor is where my body was found,

crumpled into a pile of broken fragments,

underneath the salt flats.


My lack of heartbreak peels back in onion layers, bittersweet.


There’s no fucking water here.


Sadness doesn’t belong

—so a certain tinge of anger overwhelms the peripheries,

where a throng of Asian tourists pour out from that jarring, ugly bus.


Tall, white, and blonde,

I want to run,

but I pose with them in their requested pictures,

some sort of anomaly.


Even in America, I’m still a freak.


Objectified, I turn the tide,

the sand calcifying onto my bones,

as my back sprouts the armor of a misguided stegosaurus.


I question the very idea of extinction.


A single buckle

—brass and teal,

that one, that same one,

on every damn belt.


Instead of using it as a noose,


some way,

in this godforsaken desert

—in the middle of a war,

I fashion it into a gun.

Alexander Rigby