Donkey Carts and Desolation

Dilapidated clapboard shacks 
piles of bricks in the sand 
scratching at the surface of cohesion

Ingenuity is the notion of building
On a foundation made from loss

Out in these arid expanses
where the Red Sea meets the sand
people dream of progress
made from humility 
and the laughter of others
multi-colored dross scatter across the earth 
like foreign shrubbery

We converse in codes of motion
Language signaling daily headway

Advice for the long haul.

More by Matthew Shenoda

Somewhere Else

It is here on this ridge 
exposed to the orange dusk 
of mountain autumn 
that the story begins. 

Buck wood for the stove 
feel the heat of shoulder to tendon 
greet the mule deer 
and water the garden again. 

In rhythm, with song 
when the ax begins to blend with wind
carry on to warmer days 
on the river’s open banks 
where the fervor of healing is found in water. 
Flow from one origin to another--
there is never a place where we cannot begin 
where the current is ancient, the wind is young 
teaching each other like the ax and the wood. 

Carve a place for dignity 
plant a seed and pray for rain 
for sun 
for understanding outside your self. 

There will come a day when they say: 
who do you think you are 
and another day will come 
for you to tell. 

On that day the story will appear 
but do not tell of yourself 

tell the story of the staff that blossomed in the desert
or the one about your enemy’s greatest victory

tell the story of somewhere else

Related Poems

A Crosstown Breeze

A drift of wind
when August wheeled
brought back to mind
an alfalfa field

where green windrows
bleached down to hay
while storm clouds rose
and rolled our way.

With lighthearted strain
in our pastoral agon
we raced the rain
with baler and wagon,

driving each other
to hold the turn
out of the weather
and into the barn.

A nostalgic pause
claims we saved it all,
but I’ve known the loss
of the lifelong haul;

now gray concrete
and electric light
wear on my feet
and dull my sight.

So I keep asking,
as I stand here,
my cheek still basking
in that trick of air,

would I live that life
if I had the chance,
or is it enough
to have been there once?