You are hogging all of the poppies; again.
You have forgotten how quickly flowers die
but leave with them in your basket

None for the bees
and you cannot guide campers home
with your slim glow in the night
and you waited – until the sun came up
and believed it would be a beautiful day

The bees, stranded
and the campers
and the truth never spoken anywhere

and the poppies continue to bleed through the cloth in your wicker basket.


I remember the lake as if it were a child in bloom

Distant streams feeding into ripe water flesh
Petite bones inside

Fingers, grasping at new sights like pebbles underneath –
Skirting along the shore

A child shaking trees from pulsating tides
Imitate rustling leaves in distant waves

Wrapping warm sand into its arms
Crushing it into plumes of water smoke

Mother Moon rocking the child
A thousand more nights

Before she too
Breeds new life on the shore

                Feeding it with tides of moonlight

“Living on the Sand” – EDIT

“Living on the Sand”
Ekphrastic Inspired by Matthew Wordhell’s Photography of Moab

I’ve been living on the sand
Don’t take much to guide my hand
From the promised land
On the sand
 -Colter Wall


The desert spilled vermilion
wine, sangria
soil you could drink

Find sunshine
Make a new body
Peeling, ghastly; after sun sucked skin
Before lizard form & lemon eyes
Dragon, vulture


Green spotted & black buried
Snake holes
Sunset   on Moab

Cafe Capello

The centerpiece of an aged church –
Dense, plum dipped vines shade parked cars on the Reno strip

Lead to large wooden doors; waffled, scuffed at the base meet
Cob steps, leaning into a seated man whose navy cap guards soft white

Whiskers beneath his nose

Notebook pages gathered between knees
Twitching a red pen between pads of his fingertips

He greets passing cars
Responds to a distant voice calling out a name

Across the way, opposite the dripping ivy
I am caught in cross fire echoes

Grocery sacks appear beside his feet
From a tall, charitable man in round glasses

Dried fruit and Sun chips appear from the plastic
He keeps the pen in his left hand

Sun seeped pores
Ice melts in my coffee

A large man in fringed leather cuts his stride at the double doors
Dollar bills lift from his pocket

Taking half a step up the stairs
Meeting a wrinkled palm of the seated man

A young woman, pastel cashmere & khaki
Tells him of God
& he continues engraving pages in red ink

He knows God already
Knows what he can do
                        has done

Has seen her
Sunday’s, giving card-stock booklets 

To elderly couples, families
Who come to church in Midtown

Put their wide spread, white wallets inside bronze bowls
Circulating prayer

I lose sight of the man & the sun goes
                                                             on the ivy

I pray his red ink
Never runs dry

Vanessa Cardui: The Cosmopolitan

Toes hang off a boulder’s edge
Pointing out toward the lake

Orange wings dart through the space between my chest
                   & the Sugar pines 

                                           The world has restarted


Painted Ladies emulate patterns; teal waters against beach rock
                             Glittering in repetition 

      & they come in waves 


  1. First Generation – Grazing northwest   thistle licking
                         silk canvas nursery    California north point


  1. Second Generation – West Texas, Mexico traveling     trekking  towing others by imaginary rope
                        for warmer, desert days


They appeared from beyond the trees,
Amsinckia Fiddlenecks

                               Migrating storm clouds

  In flight
Waves at sea
Street flood
Soldiers heading south



But for a moment, retracting to dance around sun polished cheeks

Green bodied, citrus flight




Kelsey Hall

The High Desert

Pine-shaded pages of an abandoned book
Lie alongside a winding highway in Oregon
Reading to itself; gusts of semi-truck winds
Motorcycle engine streams howl down the valley
Lifeless bodies of Sulfur butterflies, hay shards, dust
Dance in ceremony around the pages

A book left behind on the gravel shoulder
Gone from view before I make the bend
Do the souls of a story live in the wind if the book is left
Forsaken in the desert?

The sun grows from the other side of Earth
Rubber reaching the base of a hill

Almost wiping out a crouching raven
Black as rock formations
Hungry desert nights

Pulling apart rodent blood
Along yellow d o t t e d lines down the middle of the West
Tangled, pink, ghostly
Hanging from its beak
Taking off to a narrow, wired fence

Meant for confining livestock
Do cows taste richer with less room to roam?

Watching black eyed patience through the rear glass
Pining for skin splitting, ribbed tail rodents
White eyed afterlife         to pit & gorge

Saturated pulp
Smeared asphalt
They consider ravens, “scavengers” you know?

I watch for them
Dissecting who owns these skies

The ground                      for books like coffins
                                                    keep hidden rodents warm 





Kelsey Hall

What is Not Human is Gold or a Ghost

What is Not Human is Gold or a Ghost
                 Inspired by Anne Boyer’s Ma Vie En Bling: A Memoir

I left you on the 11th day of May. My name was Jute & I wove each one
Of my harbored letters for you right into the skeleton of each leaf that formed my skin

                                          Before I had even a voice
                                          One that did not crack with the hibernation of fall
                                          Or feel my veins open & the only strong tissue I had left, dissipate

For 3 years, these
White Alder leaves cast away in a breeze
Meticulously scattering across the west
As if the wind stopped in moments
To drop off another one of my colored organs
Tears I could not save

Like a match, a switchblade of light
The rippled green of my skin began to petal in different directions
As if the wind pulsated in moments
Muttering       leave, go on

I spent moons anticipating the wind to push me further beyond the desert
Hoping I would turn to amber rock or black soil somewhere new
Enough of anything to sustain growth and experience Earth without your
Voice behind me in the billowing wind

Wincing at my last leaf slip open in a V along the stem
Where a heart must have once lived
Black hooves grew underneath me and I walked on as Bison
Through desert and mountain

I was gone

Eventually, feathers wove out into wings over those mountains
Where broad, dark collarbones once lived
Poets were never sure if I belonged
As one of the birds who could never w
ork their own wings
Or the gracious monster of the west who might mull over

A memoir no human would ever read

                                                 Fading behind you like a ghost back then, until I was lawless


How can bison travel through the paintbrush and not feel so endangered?
When you understood the language of the wind, where to go             so many moons ago


Kelsey Hall

Not Writing, Not Here

Not Writing, Not Here
          Inspired by Anne Boyer’s Not Writing

I am not at the edge of an ocean, feet crowded in the sand
Staring into black waters beyond my liquid soul, ruled by the Moon
I did not fear drowning, and I wasn’t six
I am not writing about Earth
Caving in around my wooden bookshelf, body walls
I do not fear an ocean if I know it will kill me
Because I have gone too deep
I am not dreaming about my friends dying
I am not writing my will between scrap, notebook pages
I am not writing about writing my career
Straight into the flesh of cacti or the blood
Thirsty, brittle bones that make up dirt
Suffocating water somewhere deep below
I do not imagine my words in some lost book
Burning under the sun along a highway
Like capering crows
I am not writing another desert poem
I am not writing about the homeless man who writes in red ink
Upon desert, church steps – where I am not writing
I do not still think of him and the coffee
I do not wonder if my friends are dying now
I do not imagine my body at Georgia O’Keeffe’s studio doorstep
Letting heat and the vultures take me
Instead of the ocean

I do not wish to die at the base of a pedernal I have never visited
I do not wish to suffocate in the pacific

I am not the desert

                                                            I do not crumble like one
                                                           The desert writes of me before I can even see it
                                                            I am not already dead before you read this


                                                                                           Facing my fears in the ocean


Kelsey Hall

Desert Shadows

Desert Shadows
            Inspired by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s Winter Whites 4

A plain of scarlet bushels, resilient rabbitbrush; Earth’s imitation as raspberry
sunset  s m

                                                a    re  d   over miles of thickets.


A landscape is how a person losing their memory can taste desert fossils, still losing themselves in scattered rain, turmeric sunlight.

There’s turbulence in the bones and ligaments inside bands of black horses that string colts alongside, braiding down Red Rock Canyon, hooves engraving new desert stories beneath their weight.

Light itself is forming darkness and spectrums exist outside light’s laws.

Spaces between steel horses and the moon stamp memories with stars of a once mind
in a once west.

I see light in the backs of my eyes, retinas shrivel at the sight of a setting sun.

Instead of black stars, my pupils become gold and I veer my head towards the man driving the car.                                  

My memories weave into the ends of his long hair, thoughts adjacent as he speaks to me; fear takes the form of a wedding on my ring finger.

There’s a moment where none of the light existed. A stampede of all experience is buried between the darkness of skull cracks because space is for the eluding senses, memory, and the brilliance of a mustang.    

Mirroring the patina that I trust goes with his own; rings older than every desert stone  floating past us.

Illness becomes a black wave of sand after the sun drops fifty stories behind black rocks beyond the plains. 

Different energies attempt to load inside me and my mind runs itself off the road.

My memory looks for a quick escape, running into the side of the temple of a man
at the wheel with increasing energy, an event that clarifies as a “shadow,” for example.


                                                                                                               I smell a lake I cannot see. 





Kelsey Hall

Afterlife on Ghost Ranch

A set of Earth-bound bones drag behind the woman with black hair
chipped horns, loose jaw bones fit in her palm like water conforming
to her own cracked flesh
A pattern in the dirt that snakes fill as they follow the smell of decay

A wide-brimmed hat forms a shadow
across orange dirt that follows the woman’s heels
back to the Ghost Ranch

Landscapes inside paintings are home,
the afterlife      for well-tended skulls
in oiled, canvas tapestries     preserved far
from the haunt of wilt; deterioration

More stealth than the turkey vulture
The woman with the black hair
Is mother to afterlife faces, and the desert floor

Here is the highest praise
The image of a skull, re-birthed from a brush
Outliving splitting bones in fragmented sand
Powerful mother
Greater than the Sun