Almost First Light in Autumn: Atlas Mountains

All night watching stars, the Greek tragedies,
Breath like river mist hugs my face
And my past burns like whiskey
In an empty gut.
I build a small fire
Out of camel dung, twigs.
Maybe the fire, like ours
In Yellowstone on the Fire Hole,
Or the thin cold air and night sky
Forces the dream of you naked
Standing rigid, jaws grinding closed,
Eyes squinted into lunar shadows.
I shudder, wake, think I am in Wyoming.
The constellations scatter the same light
Here as in the past, and I realize I am in Africa:
Venus burns the blank horizon.
Even in this other hemisphere
The new moon does not blind her.

Jerry D. Mathes II is a recipient of a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, named the Outstanding Humanities Graduate at Lewis-Clark State College and the Outstanding Graduate Writer at East Carolina University. He fights wildfire on a helitack crew in the summer and is in the MFA program at the University of Idaho, Moscow. He loves his wife and two daughters very much. (math6837@uidaho.edu).

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761