Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Spillway, Apercus, Askew, San Pedro River Review, Crab Creek Review, Mojave River Review, The Coil, Postcard Poems and Prose, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, and Split Rock Review. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize. Her poems have been published in anthologies such Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, Waters Deep: A Great Lakes Poetry Anthology and Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems. She also co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens. She is the author of nine poetry collections, most recently Waking Life, Now Voyager, and Route, all published by Cholla Needles Press. Cynthia grew up in Connecticut and attended the University of Pennsylvania as a Benjamin Franklin Scholar; she completed her B.A. in literature at the College of Creative Studies, UC Santa Barbara. Her most recent work focuses on memoir and the “old growth desert” around her home.

Anderson’s language is as spellbound as her subject, rising from the land itself, its alchemy of silence and time. Let her show you how to know the desert with new senses. 
--Marsha de la O, author of Antidote for Night and Every Ravening Thing

Through her lit and compassionate lens, readers may listen to the old language and know this star-pointed place “where a spider web holds the earth together.”
--Jennifer K. Sweeney, author of Little Spells and How to Live on Bread and Music

This is No Cactus Flower

but a Very Large Array,
synchronized motion
on a spiny host,

beaming radio waves
into deep space.
Each golden stamen

is a celestial receiver,
storing messages
from the home star

for a winged posterity.
The deep central well
is a wormhole-if you

fell in, you'd emerge
light years distant,
legs dusted with pollen.

Nested crimson petals
are solar panels.
Their energy stuns you.

You retreat as best
you can-dazed,
skull buzzing.

When you wake
from this spell,
the so-called flower

will wither
and you will forget
its true nature.

Published in Apercus 4.3

Pyramid Fever

I hear the words in a dream:
Pyramids exist so we don't begin
to think we know everything.

I go to Sunday meditation
at the desert retreat center.
A man clad in white claims

the pyramids weren't tombs,
but generators that powered
Egyptian civilization.

The room where we sit
has a pyramid-shaped ceiling.
Everyone is serene.

Outside, it's hot enough
to fry the dead. In the gift shop,
sarcophagi crowd the shelves.

This burning sensation
must be a touch of pyramid
fever-highly viral,

like the Mojave's extremes.

Published in Bad Ken: A Journal of Place, Fall 2018

Solvitur Ambulando
              ("It is solved by walking")

There are no cloths of heaven here-
only sand and clay, tamped into trails

by comings and goings unseen.
I add tread of sneakers

to imprints of paws-coyote,
bobcat, jackrabbit, cottontail.

Animal hunger travels fast-
breath following breath,

no holding back when
the way is clear.

What walking can't solve
isn't worth solving.

I follow the hunters,
the hunted, the unborn,

the ghosts-

the hum in my skull
that comes from a dream.

Published in Cholla Needles 16


Coyote mounts the highest
rock-nose lifted, sharp yips.
She and the sky have an
understanding. It's a mystery
when the blue will fall-
so she takes her intention
with her, bounding downwards.
Someone will die, and you'll
be left to tell what they did
for you, and to you-even
if you're not sure how
to say one true thing,
how to get past a stab,
a curse, a dare.
Coyote stares you down.
You may be wrong-
you'll always be wrong,
it's your word against theirs.
But your word is your vow
between you and the sky
and the blood pounding
in your throat as you let loose
the cry that will save you.

Published in Mojave River Review Vol. 5, No. 1


Cynthia Anderson



© 2019 Cynthia Anderson


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