Colin Dodds

Palm Springs, California

Suspended in anticipation,
I’ve taken two duffel bags
out to where they made the desert sprout with kitsch

I’ve been discouraged
The sign says IDEAL MALL
The stores sell golf carts and iron doors

Driving tipsy down Frank Sinatra Drive
along a colonnade of dead palms
I avoid detection

The ripples start to the south,
the home of sullen seas and fresh catastrophes
and I wait in the earthquake, for the punchline

Indio, California

The highway sign read
Indio and other desert cities
as if they were already an addendum
to a Biblical catastrophe

The sky became naked, merciless
The highway narrowed, lost lanes
Loneliness became a cosmic affair

By a railroad graveyard,
the date farms die, the houses sit unfinished
and the noise overwhelms the signal at last

A man, maybe not old, but ill-used,
bicycled over to beg a dollar
from the only other man for miles
outside his car or home

The dollar, he said, was for a Corona
to shelter him from the stars,
distant mountains and blind eyes of cars—

His eyes black as snakeholes
under a baseball hat, he let a silence hang
over the man with a dollar, who shrugged,
got in his car and moved along

Yucca Valley, California

The sun blasts the paint off a luxury car
from a million miles away
The sign says a fire could start a flood

The wind hollows out the rock
The bright yellow moth explodes
on the windshield

It’s the never-ending way of matter:
Everything against everything else

The kangaroo rats and desert rats sprint
under the tires of the car
I sigh out their weight in prayer

Needles, California

In Barstow, they’d named a meteor
after an old woman

A distant valley of amusement parks
became a vast animal feed mill

The land emptied out
all of it FOR  SALE  BY  OWNER

A double-wide trailer
sat a quarter mile from the road,
one wall kicked out in disgust

At night, the parades began—
the big trucks driving in clusters

The dark was so dark
that driving was like falling through space

A lit number flashed in the darkness
And I puzzled for miles if it was the price of a room,
the temperature of the air, the speed limit or an exit number

The highway impersonated the sky—wide swathes
between headlights, gas stations and traffic lights

The night impersonated eternity—silent, absolute,
yet broken by human habitation


Colin Dodds is the author of Another Broken Wizard, WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” His writing has appeared in more than two hundred publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air) said of Dodds’ poetry: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” And his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife Samantha.