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Dah Helmer





Wildcat Canyon


Sitting at the edge of the canyon,

orange sunset displays a dazzling radiance. 

Shadows drop their ink, like smudged words 

on dry pages. 


Sitting close to you

I feel your unrelenting loneliness 

while the canyon flexes its golden tone

over the blue oak and summer lupine. 

It moves across the air to the other side. 


You say: “If we had wings there would be

a rhythm understood as hovering, first, only 

to fly along the horizon’s thin string. There,

human ignorance would find its blissful balance,

would find the truthful verses excluded at birth.”


As the light steadily recedes, the rugged

expanse of the canyon resembles

a thirsty moon’s dehydrated craters.

A coyote’s wild philosophy echoes

against the vast stretch of exposed inner earth. 

Turkey vultures drift and float, 

like expressive dark capes. Now the sun 

squishes its hot cherry, the sky spills red.


You say: “A supreme form, a star’s energy generates 

its own bliss. A phosphorescent being-absolute,

unmatched, and measured by its dominant flame, 

and most people stare in awe asking these asinine questions:

Was there a beginning? Is there an ending?”


The evening’s warm air, lightly scented with seawater,

drifts in from the nearby bay. Behind us,

July’s moon begins its rise, as if a streak of light

from a door left ajar. I take your hand in mine.

Your eyes close, and you say:


“The sun’s energy tempers our marrow,

spikes our nerves, and converts its heat

into dreams, thoughts, and speech,

that has become more agitation than pleasure.

Loneliness: a flame that dies inside of us. 

Haunting pain: stillborn dreams left behind.” 


Unsure if my presence is a consolation,

or a bizarre symbol for your chronic lonesomeness,

I remain silent. Your hand slips from mine.

A mountain lion’s cry peals like a wicked bell.

Nervously, blacktail deer move into thorny thickets,

the night drops its ink-sac, and in their hysteria,

cicadas begin to shriek. 


You stand up as if needing to do something.

Night’s arrival is a mirror that reflects your restless shape,

and the presence of your hopelessness accumulates

and defines the weight of your emptiness. 

I stand up, and in silence we walk back to the truck. 

Wanting. Wanting nothing. Wanting everything. Waiting.

Waiting for nothing. Waiting for everything.

An internationally published poet, and the author of two collections of poetry from Stillpoint Books, with a third collection due in 2015, Dah’s poetry recently appeared in The Sandy River Review, Stone Voices Magazine, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Orion headless, River & South Review, Jellyfish Whispers, Perfume River Review, Miracle Magazine, Eunoia Review (China), Digital Papercut, KNOT Magazine, and The Muse (India), and is forthcoming in Lost Coast Review, Literature Today (India), Poetry Pacific (Canada), Zygote in my Coffee, Red Wolf Journal, Deep Tissue Magazine, Dead Snakes Journal, Rose Red Review, Napalm and Novocain, Empty Sink Publishing, Acumen Journal (U.K.), The Cape Rock,  The Open Mouse (U.K.), The Filid Anthology, and Switch (the difference) Anthology.


Dah lives in Berkeley, California where he is working on the manuscript for his fourth poetry book. Email:   

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