Disappearing River

by George Moore

Out of the cupped hands of the high plains,
the river drops into a vein, runs red
through canyons etched in Havasupai echoes,

down to agribusiness run-off in cheap
canals across the line they call the border.
What does not die in the desert

becomes swamp trickles of Mexico.
I stand on a high plateau above eonic change,
and read the flyer from the farmers’ meeting.

What is not used remains unusable. God-trash,
excess of water fetishes, old ravenous appetites.
Palm Springs, the outer dream of L.A.

Climbing out of the Salton Sea, now
an acescent plain, knee-deep in the glue
of pesticides and cosmetics.

Fever rich or sick, a salty drink of alkalines
bleach the riverbottom white, or a Disney,
litmus blue. Postcard perfect,

if painted in the Fifties. The sands reclaim
the imagery of the poem here. The words
cannot escape, they evaporate, light

as lies. Grit the color of tanned flesh,
the mouth of the river is no river falling
into the Sea of Cortez.

I am a contemporary man, loving
the houseboats of Powell Lake, riding
the Roadstar over empty Arizona highways.

So picturesque. Old Mormon proficiencies
of irrigation seem quaint. The ghost of Elvis
sings the death chant of the glit city.

Musical composition by Victor D. Sandiego

George Moore's collections include Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FutureCycle 2016) and Children's Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015). Nominated for six Pushcart Prizes, and a finalist for both the National Poetry Series and the Brittingham Poetry Award, his work has appeared in The Atlantic, Colorado Review, Arc, Antigonish Review, Orbis, and Valparaiso. After a career at the University of Colorado, Boulder, he lives on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

Comments

By Allen E. Rizzi on May 20, 2016 15:52 (UTC)

George,

This really resonates with me as I once lived the California dream before waking up many years ago. Very nicely done!

By Tamara Miles on Oct 11, 2016 11:05 (UTC)

An important poem --- evocative, passionate. I truly believe poetry is integral to conservation efforts. It connects with people in a way that some other kinds of writings may not.