welcome to the haikutimes

Haikutimes issue #85, Escalante Wilderness, March 24-29, 2004. Haiku and photos by Jonathan Machen

by omnipresent newscasts
the state of the world

moose mural
on pathmaker motor home
spring highway road trip

as if in a fog
dillon gas station

recently tethered to a computer
watching up-to-the minute reports
'the bad' instead of 'the news'
downloading global frenzy
into a 20-inch glowing screen,
the world's problems, triumphs and travails
far removed from the peaceful confines
of my own silent back yard,
cherry blossoms dramatically unfolding
into the abnormally hot march pale eggshell sky,
thousands of cherry blossoms, an event
not covered by any major news network
as far as i can tell

ski lift half empty
snow spitting under march clouds
driving past loveland

munchies restaurant in fruita:
red-checkered floor, coca-cola
avenue, the cashier unable to
count my change,
dropping her frustrated confusion
into the tip jar

munchies fast food clerk
unable to count my change
from 63 cents

paige pulls all the extra pieces
of ham - or is it turkey? that she didn't order
into a pale red oily scrunched-up ball

dust storm
speed limit thirty
cruising green river

afternoon deluge
from inside speeding auto
i turn music up

searching for campsite
under conjunction of moon,
sand and venus

motherly concern
at the visitor's center
warning us of floods

mother and daughter
driving pokey autobus
stop for outstretched thumbs

telling her story
about the cubans who screamed
every time they saw stars

cryptogamic soil
paige says macrobiotic
i say just don't walk

the sound of distance
march winds in escalante
humid solitude/hazy horizon

little biting ants
in my short backpacking pants
escalante dance

ants crawl in to shorts
diverting our attention
from map confusion

is that my cell phone
or just a bird tweeting?
too much city life

resting on sandstone
round, dense volcanic boulders
ready to roll on

brambles in salt creek
the melody rising to our ears
pink light on navajo sandstone

prickly, leathery, single-leaved bush
while soft green of new willow shoots
wave in the background

unlike the google news
with it's immediacy
of events from five minutes ago,
this striated wall
reveals events from unrecorded time

that google web page
no match for this sandstone wall
timeless truth revealed

how important is it to pay attention
to the web of world events
now that it is possible to
pay attention twenty-four hours a day?

maybe it's just as good
to look back into time
understanding an earth of shallow seas,
billowing sand dunes, volcanic extrusions,
geodes of milky depth

talkin' about tampons
and other ephemera
here in the desert

the whole story up to the present
the state of the universe as
reflected by the erosion pattern
of that distant wall, water dripping
year in, year out,
nothing sensational,
everything relational

body of a jay
color of a woodpecker
fleeting glimpse of bird

etching on the rock
chemical signature
of lichen footprint

as if drawn by hand
graceful sandstone flutes and whorls
drawing me deeper

noting drawn by hand
could equal the graceful lines
of eroded sandstone

natural staircase
weathered dragon skin sandstone

walking and pooping
elk leaves long digestive clue
across hiking trail

flaming red paintbrush
bleached white curve of antlers
colors and contours

smell of dark rainstorm
descends upon us quickly
cool sage on nostrils

pale blue horizon
light enough for cliffs contrast
dark enough for stars

paige leaves tent to pee
returns with three cactus barbs
embedded in foot

quilted sandstone
ignited with sulphur hue
good home for a bird

on the map, the bends and twists
of salt creek look easy enough to navigate
but once forced to make
three crossings in fifteen minutes
through curtains of thorny brambles
i reconsider my presumptions,
rub thorn-gouged legs

unsuspecting thorn
on unpretentious bramble
gouging my right leg

under petroglyphs
ants march in efficient line
ignoring spiral

green-tipped willows reach
for early morning march sunshine
nourished by cold stream

cool morning: cloudy
winter clouds linger from storm
uneasy walking

visions of april
belied by lingering storm
hiking, shivering

puffy march snow clouds
skittle across desert sky
shadows shape-shifting

hard to choose words
to describe what is sublime
beauty surrounds me

desert fish spots me
deep in sandstone caverns
thinking of his brethren
in the ocean

under rock jumble
delicate hanging gardens
cannot isloate

waxing poetic
i stride into cactus
cursing spine in shin

inanimate rock
yet so expressive
how can this be so?

shins take a a beating
even in gentle horsetails
deep in death hollow

orion so close
above nighttime canyon walls
crescent moon waxing

still thinking
of the motherly flood warnings given
us by the visitor's center docent,
eyes flashing gentle concern
at the thought of the predicted storm -
transferring to us a vision
of wading hip-deep
in flash-flood canyons

this vivid projection
now an unavoidable future dream
stuck in the back of our heads
as we tackle the more immediate problem:
how to descend into death hollow?

scrambling for two hours
searching in vain for cairns
hiking down dead-end hollows
abandoning our packs to cover more ground

finally backtracking
gleaning clues from the topo map
i spot a sturdy cairn
finally descending six hundred feet
to water flowing through death hollow
solitude, soaring canyon walls,
huge ponderosas to camp under
with only a distant memory
of the goddess of motherly worries
and our welcome to escalante.

there i go again
manipulating nature
me and my camera

leaves in dry creek bed
preserve record of last flood
with graceful motion

fragile heritage
what if someone comes along
and knocks down the cairns?

cool desert walking
even lizards move faster
this time of year

clear evening, clear morning
this finger of death hollow and the trail
connecting opposite rims
conveniently easy to navigate
broad basalt stepping-stones
making all seven crossings trouble-free

in a narrow slot side canyon,
nothing much of interest save a brazen ponderosa

slowly climbing cairned trail to the rim
with a total of ten point five liters of water
pausing for the broad sloping-sandstone-vista
treat of desert expansiveness
walking long and straight through
pinon juniper scrub
to the sloping descent of maimy creek
mosquitoes linger /stagnant rainwater

lizard reflections
pool of dark still rainwater
water bugs skittle

with no-one to look on
nature blooms, decays

wake up to nature
find things just as they should be

old telephone wire
strung in nineteen-eleven
sagging down cliffside

born in some steel mill
eighth-inch wire now languishes
on desert plateau

old telephone wire
snapped and buried in the sand
conversation over

hawk flies far above
lizard blinks in cave below
trying to capture both

yes cairn, no cairn
spelling the difference between
good trail, no trail

stoned thought of the day:
once you know a piece of ground
you can never get lost

good friends in the snow
good friends in the desert, too
guess we'll get married

one hundred years ago
you could walk out of a trail like this
five days of complete solitude
enter town and still not know
what was going on in the rest of the world
whereas today
we walk into television, twenty-four
hour webcasts, up-to-the minute events
from the other side of the globe

still i turn the computer on

all four adults
turn into concerned parents
when a car goes by

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen