The old warrior
He leans against winter shadows
with such great sorrow, longing
to conjure peace as a magician might
with sacred water before a birth,
cupping a cigarette like men in war do
he inhales a California city’s back streets
exhales his fear, dreading it has burned
right through him scalding his children,
outside an occasional car passes in the rain
sounds of wet whipping on the street.
He flips the remote, turning on silence that bangs
against the heater, drawing metal blinds closed
he longs for his home land, Jerusalem, heart of his
his own, but they banished him
and forbade return. He is a stranger now,
with a spare life, with heels sticking out bare
from shoes worn as a desert man would
no socks in winter, backs forced flat
he makes sandals of every shoe he wears
believing maybe he can one day return.
But now the desert warrior is dying,
he is tumbling within shifting sands
changing his entire world, the walls melt,
he is lost in an eternally damnable dark.
He blows smoke over his shoulder as a desert man does
no longer hungry for humus on deli bought bread, he
sits back and cries, a siren grows louder
screams past his warehouse home, fades into the fog,
he moans against being alone as a desert man might,
at three am the concrete city outside is quiet.
Copyright© Sharon Lopez Mooney, “old desert warrior”, originally published in The UNIverse Journal, April 10th Issue, ed. C. P. Pathakk, Bihar, India, September 2023