PF detail from Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Beach Scene, Guernsey (Children by the Sea in Guernsey) - 1883;


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Last updated:
May 2009


Malcolm Alexander has spent more than half of the past twenty years in Arizona prisons for drug offenses.  He also spent a few years as a creative writing major at the University of Arizona, where he will finally complete his degree. His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Southern Review, New England Review, Colorado Review, Puerto del Sol, North American Review, Rattle, among others.

At a Gallery of Unknowns | The Salt Journey


At a Gallery of Unknowns

The non sequitur
of weather in this archipelago

of canvas may amuse you,
the Sturm und Drang

and other, fresher allegations.
Take note of technique,

the impressionist au revoir
of leaves in wind, the pointillism

of fog, that tenebrist's moon
draining the lurid stars

into its cup of light. The risk
is that you may recognize

nothing, not even the stray dribble
of irony, each fable given too much madness

or twitter, so often refused the speculation
of color. And at last reconsider

yourself, posed like a rhetorical question
on the brink of the unfamiliar.

Welcome, apostate. Wipe your feet.
Where you have now arrived

is a dimension as yet
unavailable to words.

(Previously Published in the New England Review)

The Salt Journey

All the way through the Piñacate
to the Sea of Cortez and back
they walked with their ollas
for salt, enduring the lash
of sun on their backs,
the bastinado of stones.

No one seems to know
for how many centuries
this was done, only that
it had to be,
the sea's excess gathered
to preserve their own rare surplus.

As told in the myths, desert wind
swept through mesquite
flinging hot seed like the spilled basketful
of stars overhead, and always
to the solitary walker
dreams driven by thirst would come,
dreams which sustained in ways
the untouchable water would not.

No one knows just when the journeys
ceased, only that they have passed
into the wind like salt through fingers,
and no one remains to speak
of that one morning each year
with its miracle of fog.

(Previously published in Southwestern American Literature)

From the Louvre, Paris