Arizona Gothic

You arrive in the wooden town by one of the only roads

It must have just been raining outside because you can hear the toads

But you’ve been driving for days in the state and haven’t seen a cloud

You can also hear cicadas buzzing in the trees, strangely loud

You haven’t seen one of those yet either


You go up to the front desk of the dusty roadside cheap motel

There is no one there but on the counter a silver service bell

You ring it. It doesn’t make a sound. A shadow man comes out still

He gives you a set of keys but doesn’t ask you to pay the bill

You leave to your room quickly, unsettled by the shadow’s eyes

Or lack thereof. There is no wind, though you swear you can hear it sigh

Or perhaps that was just your imagination. You hoped so.

Even though it’s close to midnight, there are no stars. The sky still glows

With the color of blood at the very edge of the horizon

The sun never really sets. It just hides. Soon it will be rising


You struggle through the heat the following day to see the town sights

The sun is unnaturally hot and always unbearably bright

The locals cover themselves in clothes like they’re hiding their skin

And when they see tourists, their lips curl into a twisted grin

They never seem to drink water, although your mouth is always dry

It’s hot enough outside Satan himself would probably die

They seem to look around for some evil creature when you’re near

And the dark hunger in their eyes brings you uncomfortable fear


You wanted to see the Grand Canyon, but it’s just a bottomless hole

The tour guide says not to go out at night, something about lost souls

You don’t know what to say, so you just go back to the small store

Everything is made of adobe or wood. Except for the floors

They’re always tiled, something about what might come out from below

You asked if there were any native American sights you could go

The leathery skinned woman with a graying braid points out a map

There’s a small red stain. She sees your eyes and says quickly it’s tree sap

You decide not to go. You don’t think many people who do come back

After all, there are only footsteps going, coming back there aren’t tracks


You go back to your motel, the same worker in the lobby, you smile

He doesn’t smile back. You cast your eyes down at the stone tiles

You swear that red stain wasn’t there before, or the bullet holes in the wall

You just shake your head and listen to the lonely coyotes outside call

You decide the water must come from the rivers they claim exist there

Not that you’d seen any of them, but you’re too tired to really care


In the morning you pack and decide you’ve had enough of the ghost town

The man at the front desk frowns, now you can see his eyes exist and are brown

He asks if you want to see some ruins before you leave, you decline

You didn’t like that no one offers to go with you, it must have been a sign

You leave and still don’t see any clouds. Does it ever rain here, you wonder? 

As if the Earth sensed your thoughts, you hear a loud sourceless crack of thunder

Still no clouds. You shake your head and look out at the cacti and sparse brush


You see a two-legged figure with a cow head. You get in your car in a rush

The cow-headed man is gone, but you can still see his strong body and animal eyes

Maybe he brings the locals water...he is the reason there are no clouds in the skies

You sigh and put your car in gear which sputters, and start down the dusty, empty highway

The sun is always high in the sky, you never can tell what time it is in the day

You don’t care, you’re glad to be out of the town. I bet you’ll glance back at it if you dare

But it has disappeared in a cloud of dust. Part of you wonders if it was ever even there.


This poem is about: 
My community


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