You want to start your life again

You are standing next to summer cacti

at the rim of a long dead oasis,

coughing in its ruins.

Your hands reach for a rotting palm

to steady your wandering equilibrium.


You have to squint,

your eyes are sandblasted

redder than the desert sunset,

your face is an open wound.

Your tongue lies dead,

a fuzzy caterpiller

in the dry cocoon of your cheeks.

Your limbs are hard, stiff,

burning with their swelling.


Your last chance was the train on Tuesday

leaving St. Louis for the golden west.

The canteen flashes in the forgotten distance,

discarded for the wavering liquidity

of a sun-drenched mirage.