Last Light at Stronghold Canyon
Gaunt mesquite threw a pretence of shadow,
doing what it could to cool my trespass.
I crossed the creek bed stained brown by tannins
from the mountain snowmelt, watched the pupfish
and minnows swim a tide pool’s gathered depth.
When I knelt to cup water to my lips
I saw where a cougar had gone ahead
of me, angling-off into peaks above,
trampling a switchback born of its hunger.
Looking upward, I watched a hawk orbit,
man and beast in the clear flame of her eyes
that fielded us under the rising moon
as we turned back for what passes for home,
shadows falling into an open field.
The Color Wheel at The Green Stripe Lounge
Recessed somewhere above the bar glass,
it rotates a spectral pendant of colors
through a lineup of vodkas and gins –
peach, cherry, and orange phantoms
widening the spectrum of hunger,
liquid and bottle glass in collusion
with errant radiance.
As wind begins to weave liniments
of rain through the night, a woman
rises from a patio chair, leaves the man
across from her, comes inside for last-call,
sequins bluer than notes off a slide guitar,
or the kiss that just missed her lips.
Jeffrey Alfier is a 2010 nominee for the UK’s Forward Prize for Poetry. His poems have appeared recently in The Fourth River and The James Dickey Review. His latest chapbook is The Torch Singer (2011). His first full-length book of poems, The Wolf Yearling, will be published in 2012, by Pecan Grove Press. He is founder and co-editor of San Pedro River Review.
Photo by: Renée Beaucheane