Blue triangles mean an auspicious day for deer;
pink circles signify a looming sandstorm.
Take this path, says the earth-colored forked stick.

Red oblong with a black dot, Mars ponders war.
Four clustered sprigs, spring nearby.
Meanwhile a pickaxe looms, here come the grave-robbers.

We suppose nothing is sacred, reality being a long way
from here, and the hazard hidden inside the stone.
What we have is an unusable portion of desert,

a poisoned oasis. Velázquez, won’t you deliver us
from these shadows, paint us back inside time.
We’ll even take the shrewd, suspicious eyes of Pope Innocent X,

the frenzied, illusionary life of Madrid’s court.
Natural light is vanishing, each day a little dimmer
than the day before. Come and sit with me

beneath this stone, where only a fool would stay
on a windy day, as the large chunk of sandstone wobbles and tilts
above its small stone base-First the clouds are blown

to shreds, then the statuary topples. Mountains vanish,
our every orifice crammed with sand. In the aftermath,
the choice is clear. In the desert one kills for water.

~ Jan Conn

Jan Conn’s most recent book of poems is Jaguar Rain: the Margaret Mee Poems, (Brick Books, 2006), and Botero’s Beautiful Horses is forthcoming in spring 2009 (Brick Books). She won the inaugural P.K. Page Founder’s Award for Poetry (2007).

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