[Photo courtesy of Jon Kovash]

Oh yes! It’s spring and

the valley’s lush with lovely greens

of every shape and shade

That magpie’s found

his longed-for mate

They’ve claimed the tallest branch

of that crooked tree

sharing with last year’s ravens


The mourning doves gather

in gentle

melodic choirs

And the redrock wall stands guard

over the tenderness

of the valley

of birds

This is what I see

on April mornings

but my peripheral vision

displays a darker scene

When I shift my eyes to focus

it shifts to the periphery again

Be not deceived

It’s always there

Mingled with pestilence


wars and rumors of wars

I hear the shouts of those

who worship


jealous and

vengeful gods

Their insatiate greed

vindictive self-righteous


reflect their beliefs

and adoration

and their rampant rages


our visions of ancient terror


No sun to brush

the tops of trees

No redrock wall

Birds silent

Then come

dreaded sights and sounds

Horses racing around

within my head

and I am drenched in night sweats

Listen! Do you hear the horses?

Two have passed

the third is passing

The fourth

that pale horse


is upon us

The trees

green leaves shrivel

birds drop

Our home

our desert

sweet waters


Red rocks can’t weep

and no one’s left

The earth itself

of hope bereft

is dying

Barbara Romney Galler lives in Moab and considers the landscape here to be her spiritual home. She spends the time she has left writing, sharing her work with others, and attempting to find new and more effective avenues of activism.