Three Poems from Time Life’s North American Wilderness Series

1/ The Indomitable Peninsula

Taken by astronauts with startling  f  o  rce
 So the string-straight lines  and calculated curves
 So the mirrors of rivers,
 The vast emptiness       of         the earth

Above the line




 parallels without rain
A moon landscape  of gigantic            invisible           bones

One night I camped in a grove of cardon

I could hear     the coyotes   somewhere       singing
 you and the light
                                                The  rose  moon
                             the giant  dark

Before this
                                   between the cliffs and the shoreline


there must once have been birds


2/The Icy Road to Olympus

Honest                l                                    y
                                        This is             Destruction
                 Out in the vague breeze

which drops down dizzyingly into the darkness at our feet
            it was from some-

              where out


            h         e
                     Caught sight
                                  of the mountain
bright blue
                        and                  spread                    out
on Panic Peak.


3/A Land Defined by the Sea


       By moonlight the waves broke
               and sometimes I saw the    faint lights
    We rumbled        by
that old road
This book
The country        where       i      ve            l       i       ve       d
the Sequoia Sempervirens  where the children have been reaching

                There are still places where you can
200 foot high dunes
                 here and there  engulfing
                              the lonely
                         line             and sky

the border  enclosed within sight
of the                          mountain            s
                                    that rise
along the    earth
and                         the                       bracket.           of the              water:
The west
an assemblage                  of               peaks,
The Olympic Peninsula           looped  by a highway,
      A ribbon
                       the         Ocean

                    a tiny tangle of time
                                     I was
                                                                   the        Salmon feasting ,
Invader                and wild             tide
What keeps so much                    wild                      is          the wilderness
                                                                                                                   around the perimeter
                          The bulk        of the peninsula


                                  cut over


You cannot eat your wilderness
    There is no way to       headquarter       a               river
      West across The Great Bend
              The       Blackberry               fallen           from nearby


The beach             at low tide
                                                     the water
                                     the          voracious         well     below the              road
                                                           that winds
                                                  around houses
                                                like ours
                                             lined with

Quiet September
in the mornings
when it burns
just once,

at dusk,


we saw above the still surface.


Balmy or starry


Agonizingly         bright



These three poems are the first in a series of experimental erasures of Time Life’s North American Wilderness Series. They, I hope, interrogate the books’ previously colonizing language and relay my own anxieties concerning major climate events.