Desert Dreams

I wake to dream remnants,
lingering like credits
rolling into night.
I feel as I do
when I’ve seen
a particularly good movie-
that we are
so much larger than ourselves.
The details unimportant,
it was rich and startling
like that petroglyph
of a spiral wheel
spinning out of control.

I listen for the sounds of night,
but hear the low tremolo of lovers,
their peals of desire, long past quiet hour.
It would be easy to take offense,
unless I think of the songs
of a pair of delightful birds,
of sensibilities shared,
of contentment with the self
and the greater-self,
not unlike a dream
unraveling in the desert night.


Antelope Tapestry

(where water has painted
a picture of itself)

A sandy path
between sculpted walls,
mauve draperies woven
in the striated stitch of sandstone,
where a young Navajo
fills buckets to clear the canyon
of flood wash.
Wave upon wave
of sunlight cast in rock,
ascending and descending undulations,
a garden without flora,
the home of gods weary of intruders,
that I pass through
like sand through an hourglass,
or like Moses parting the waters,
my demons
swept away
by the collapsing sea.

*Navajo word for Antelope Canyon

Bill Carpenter

Poet & Photographer. Photo was taken from the floor of the canyon. His chapbooks of poetry and photography are available for sale at

Mr. Carpenter's poetry has appeared in Newport Review, Runes, Blueline, Chest, Cancer Poetry Project, Balancing The Tides, July Literary Press, Surrounded: Living With Islands, and The Writers' Cicle. A member of the Origami Poems Project and the Ocean State Poets, he brings poetry to prisoners and children at risk. He can be seen at Roots Cafe in Providence, reading from his works.

Desert Script

It’s hard to write badly
in the desert.
The wind chisels
at your words,
collapses excess,
hollows the center of fill,
shapes a perfect wing.

The desert may give rise
to a prophet,
but only after he has
wandered its dry washes,
stood silent and alone
in its unshielded light.

And when he finally speaks
it will be in the language of the wind,
his words fired in a dry kiln,
sanded to a fine finish,
and baked with a desert varnish.
They will be the truest words
he ever spoke.


Writing by Lantern

Recording graphite dreams
by lantern,
my notebook anointed
with the caresses of moths,
some pressed forgetfully
between pages of poetry
like ashes from roses
commemorating nights
of wanton flight,
wings tickling my cheek,
one alighting on my finger
-a silk ring,
oblivious to all
but the light,
my pencil gliding
across pages glistening
in iridescence
from the wings of moths
fallen from their dance
too close to the flame.