“Between Nogales and the Border” by Jim McGarrah

January 20, 2015

The desert gives birth to Prickly Pear cactus
as the gunmetal blue of night fades to gray.
What remains of darkness—the decaying earth,
an echo of the world laughing, and one coyote
stretched across the asphalt as an early morning
offering to the god of diesel. The beast has been
slaughtered on a singular and suicidal
search for a thing that will always remain
unknown—even to the coyote, especially to him.
A blue whale’s song carries a thousand leagues
under the sea. How far does the sound of pain carry?
It’s a fair question given how slowly
time passes through the mind that suffers.
When the coyote stood paralyzed by headlights,
the line on the road a charm in his eyes
like a yellow cobra swaying to the flute song
of metal, tires, and then despair, a misery
of which coyotes are unaware must have seemed
the hint of an unknown hunger: no more
sweet scent of desert rain, fire of falling stars,
joy of scratching for fleas or lazy stretches
in the morning sunlight, no more to see a feather
float upward or hear leaves rattle over dry sand.
The glitter, like broken glass, gone from his eyes
at the last glimpse of all he loved.


McGarrah_JimJim McGarrah’s poems, essays, and stories appear frequently in literary journals such as Bayou Magazine, Breakwater, and Cincinnati Review, among others. He is the author of two award-winning books of poetry and a new collection of poems, Breakfast at Denny’s (Ink Brush Press, 2013). His memoir of war entitled A Temporary Sort of Peace (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2007) won the national Eric Hoffer Legacy Non-Fiction Award. McGarrah has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist twice in the James Hearst Poetry Contest.

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