Nevadan to Nevadan
For Old Reno
“The wind whips fiercely against my
flesh. Invisible yet mighty.
The smells of exhaust and sage fill my nose…”
Dear Falcon View Ct.,
“Dear Falcon View Ct.,
Thank you for providing me the comfort and security of four walls and a roof over my head.
The kitchen where my family is found staying up late talking,
sitting and leaning against the countertops…”
To Found Juvenile in Pahrump
“Your mother was (is) my friend.
I’ve only known your father
on reckless driving nights—”
Letter to the Sierra Nevada
–Carson City, March 2023
“Have I already
said too much
about the weather,
the way rain sheets
across the road
into the dingy
polyhedrons of last…”
Trapped in Winter: Postcard from Reno, Nevada
“The cold breeze tightens bones
Crunchy leaves fall dead on the ground
If time did not exist, if months and days were all the same,
You would mistake that for Winter…”
On an April Morning in the West
“I wake with the sun, ball of fire in the east.
The sky glows dark blue then green then blue again.
Looking between the roofs across from the window,
I see mountains planted in the distance, giant white letters scrawled on their faces.”
To My Cat Who Lives Indoors
I know you yearn to leave.
To feel the frigid winds on your pelt,
sprint miles through hills of sand,
sneeze from the pollen of sagebrush on your nose…”
A Letter to my Mom about my New Home
Everything is more vibrant here
The art that lines the streets
The entertainment in this neon city at night…”
for the women who worked at Basic Magnesium, Inc.
“When you drive past BMI, you can almost hear
Glenn Miller and The Ink Spots in the background.
Nearly 15,000, how far did they travel?”
For Nevada: My Hope, My Comfort
“My dearest Nevada,
When I look out the window
I see blinding city lights. I no
longer see the shining stars…”
Home Does not Mean Nevada
“In fact I hate the sage
And I don’t much care for pine.
This may be the place I was raised
But it is not where I wish to stay.”
At the Flamingo
“Dainty legs high kick.
Pink feathered showgirl costume.
“Let Me Tell You about the Visitors
Somedays I’ll spot a pretty band grazing on the range
And I’ll just pull up a rock and sit
And pass the time taking pictures from the ground
And wait for them…”
To Virginia City, Words from a Mislaid Miner
“You are built on bones.
Stone bones of the mountain,
wood bones of the mine shafts,
chalk bones of the miners...”
To the Mirage Meadow Vegas Valley
“To the Mirage Meadow Vegas Valley,
Had someone shown me
the Spring Mountains at dawn
I might have loved you at the start…”
To Heaven, or to Las Vegas
“When I tell people I’m from Vegas,
I’m often asked,
‘Did you grow up in a casino?’”
Have You Forgotten
“Dear Las Vegas:
I know we scarcely talk these days; in time we’ve grown apart. You the older sister, me the young upstart…“
Dear ‘Native’ Nevadan:
“I swaggered Fifth-Generation Nevadan around until a friend said
that means you came from the takers of my homelands.
Never thought Buffy Sainte Marie sang welcome, welcome immigrantes to us Natives…“
“Dear Las Vegas Strip,
I am Highway 50, the road less traveled,
A winding journey that’s often unraveled.
But I see you there, shining bright…”
Dear Friend from Within the Borders of this State
“I say ‘friend’ but I don’t know you, just that we live in the same state. But does that mean anything?
How’s the dry desert from your end?“
For Nevada’s Winter Gift
“The snowflakes dance within the streets of the winter night,
Slow and fast, dressing the people in their cold touch,
Descending from the sky to our delight,
Creating a playground in our small home-town. It will never be too much.“
Now Reno is Home
Escapes from the chaos
Metal hitting metal
A circus, a crawl
Yard long cocktails…”
“It’s snowing again
I feel like I always start my letters
this way these days, but winter…“
“Our Dearest Nevadans,
In our long history of symbiosis, you’ve stayed far away, looked on with a watchful, sometimes
whimsical eye, fed us your out-door cats, and let your children giggle as they see our people
cross the road at stoplights, (though we are fond of jaywalking as a species we know.)”
What They Don’t Tell You
“What they don’t tell you about Nevada
Before you come here
Is that there are many secrets…”
Driving Nevada: The Road, The Radio
“The desert road
late at night.
The sky diamond dusted
if you turn the headlights off..”
From Smoky Valley, 1978
for Shirley and her daughters
“When the bottom fell out of copper and gold blew the roof off, our family moved to Nevada and swapped out Saguaro, prickly pear, and jumping cactus for Joshua, Virginia Creeper, and any of…”
From the Middle Summit
“when we lived in the mountains, it was aspen
we saw on our weekly hikes neon green leaves
pristine against slender trunks of gray ash…”
Letter to Myself from Carson City
“A wind slashes through the valley,
not blowing or soughing but massacring everything in its path.
Only the sagebrush, grey bodies crouched…”
Jewish Nevada: What You Need to Know
“You don’t know.
This farkakte state is full of us,
meshuga for coming here, but
here we are.
Complaint to March 2023 from Reno-Sparks, Nevada
“Of course, I’m grateful for the snowpack.
City and citizens here understand
water is life, but everyone I see
cracks and splinters…”
Dear Nevadans: Tread Lightly
“The Quail Trial footings’ steady as a saint.
Solemn snow squalls swarm…”
“El mundo está tan enojado, la gente está perdida, herida, rota. Antes incluso de que tuvieras un idioma, mi gente estaba aquí.…”
To the Pinto Filly at Misfit Flats
“Time was I’d want to take you home
Make you mine
Ride you as you raced the wind…”
For Nevada, the Hills
“I never intended to return to your bone-dry,
high-pollen, sinus-destroying high desert air,
drawing cracks into the fragile skin of my hands
with your ridiculous lack of moisture…”
Letter From a Nevadan Transplant
“First time I crash landed in the desert
blue sagebrush nipped at my ankles,
cold elbows darted in and out of spotty moonlight…”
To the cowboy poets
“went to the poetry gathering
in elko, nevada
trying to keep an open mind
blankets of stars
& cowboy bars…”
OF THE VEGAS DEAD
“The Old Mormon Fort,
dead now, was born
of adobe. Provisional,
the sticks, straw, and mud…”
Please come and never go,
Your presence brings us highs and little lows.
They say Nevada is devoid of water,
To that I say how do we exist?”
I’M WRITING YOU ON MY DRIVE HOME
“I was born in a neon city —
Learned, grew, and loved there.
And then I moved to another
The only other in my state,
For cheap tuition and a change of pace.
It’s neon nonetheless.”
FIVE LETTERS TO MY NEVER-TO-BE DAUGHTER WITH A SPELL INSIDE
“I. A Father’s Right, I Already Know the Desert (This Kind of Family)
When your grandfather said, his face picked clean
of any humor, I’ve already found the place for your grave
if you hurt her, I simply shook his hand”
ABOUT A COUPLE HOURS
“The pine cones rest like hand grenades
as the same couple feed the same ducks
except the large white one,
now missing in action.”
VEGAS HANGOVER: A SONNET
“Through the glass I view a branch, a dry stick
Dangling singularly from a dead tree,
And it hits me in the pit like a brick:
A spade that’s made for removing debris”
DRIVING HOME TO LAS VEGAS
“I will never know if, when I run out
of fuel on I-15—it’s happened more
than once—it is because I have no doubt…”
“Was that cattle?
Winter hollows Huffaker sounds.
Can you see Slide, Mount Rose, Peavine?”
THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY SUMMERS
“I’m hesitant to tell you now
if only because I fear it is all you will remember:
the way it entered the room,
the softness with which it broke the frost…”
We’re old! I hate it. Or I hate it just enough to ignore it, at least for now. When we were at UNR together didn’t the world seem like a slightly worked over place that nevertheless contained little gristlings of shine and spark everywhere?”
GREETINGS FROM BAVARIA TO BONANZA,—HERE FROM THERE
““How” those boys blurted out, hands raised in Ke-mo-sah-bee fashion, in
unison!—with recalcitrant sneers stretched across their pock-marked faces. They
were, I surmised, the hipster kids of Virginia City,—14…”
Away, from Reno
Infrequent here in high desert
Smells like battery acid”
Comfort of the Hills: About Home
“First things first:
It’s Ne-VAD-uh not Ne-VAH-duh.
that needs to be clear.
Hugged by mountain range,
it’s unimaginable what it’s like…”
There Have Been So Many Summers
“I’m hesitant to tell you now
if only because I fear it is all you will remember:
the way it entered the room,
the softness with which it broke the frost…”
THAT ‘SPLAINS A LOT
“To the elk hunters,
(Special ones with no success
Why? No longer guess)
Nevada elk tag!
Grabbed the gear. Horses, mules led.
Tents up, dinner, bed.”
A LETTER TO ANYONE
When I worked at a summer camp
I remember that everyday
The kids would go swimming,
Just a part of their schedule.”
WASTELAND: TO PEOPLE CONSIDERING MOVING TO NEVADA
“The place I live is a desert in the west.
They call it a wasteland like it’s
An open trash bin. A place to be avoided,
A place you overlook.”
“C” HILL MEMORY: CARSON CITY, 1948
“High on “C” Mountain
above town, two boys sit,
their heads over sagebrush,
and out-of-breath, looking down.”
HIGH DESERT SURPRISE: A THANK YOU NOTE
the mountain is already burning,
worst drought in history.”
NE-VAH-DA(THE) NOT, NE-VUH-DUH
“Dear Fellow Non-NEVADIANS (Pronounced: Ne-VAH-THEEANS),
In this booming state of wildflowers, one wouldn’t think that our state flower, the sagebrush…”
TO NEVADA NIGHTS (FROM NEVADA DAYS)
“To the Nevadan night
Though we both occupy the same space
In this long forgotten West
You, who are full of neon cowboys…”
THE MEADOWS: LETTER TO AND FROM LAS VEGAS
“Twang your magic twanger Froggy,
Light up that cigar, meet me at the slots.
Bring your compadres, all the players,
all the tricksters, generations of try your luck,
down on your luck, if only all the luck I had
wasn’t bad luck.”
A SONG OF NEON AND VICE
“Las Vegas is a goddess of rebirth, walking between
two worlds like Persephone.
Dripping in neon, she struts the Strip
with a sly grin while sipping on a martini.“
TO RENO FROM THE TRUCKEE RIVER
“I cannot explain how happy I am,
You decided to make me your home,
I was once alone
But you brought: love, light and people.”
NOTE ON THE LV STRIP
“Those curves on the hot street,
The strip of shape below the shoulder,
The glitter against pale walking past me,”
POEM TO WILD HORSES
“I write a poem
About the Wild Horse,
‘Cause there’s a lot of feeling here,
Albeit much suffering
And abuse by Man – most gruesome!”
SACRED: A NOTE OF THANKS
“I have come back to you once again
Valley of Fire
to where ghost feet pad at night,
use sagebrush brooms to sweep away…”
A LETTER TO MY FAMILY IN VALLEJO: I WON’T BE MOVING BACK
“The company I moved here for just let me go,
but I’ve decided I’m staying in Reno.
I can’t blame them for the pink slip,
I haven’t been the same since dad died.“
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: NEVADA CLOUDS HAVE FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS WITH THE DEVIL
“I spoke to God, to which he smited his smite:
flicked mercury towards the top notch,
whispered sin to water and lakes
strode to California, dragged his nail…”
OCTOBER LETTER TO RENO
“Reno, I walk my life with you
the way October spins out these days.
We are both slow, but
the year and I aren’t dying yet.”
LETTER TO NEW LAS VEGANS FROM OLD LAS VEGANS
“The filthy city
Is buffered by
Ranges of mountains.
Is it to keep the refuse in
Or keep nature out?”
THE TRAIN: A POST FROM A PAST
“Feel it coming
in the heat of summer day.
Over the horizon,
smoke rolls high and black.
Rails gleam and shimmer in sunlight.”
VEGAS, WHEN I WAS A KID
“Vegas, When I was a Kid
When I was a kid I hated this town.
I hated how every time someone mentioned Vegas in a movie
It’s cause they wanted to be reckless and destructive.”
DISPATCH FROM RENO: AUTUMN
“Two girls laughing and sharing secrets
Walking under leafy trees showing off their autumn colors
Through narrow streets of older bungalows and cottages.
“I’m going to live here one day,” says one of them.”
DEAR AMERICA, NEVADA IS BETTER THAN YOU THINK
“To those who have never seen me,
What do you think when you think of Nevada?
Do you envision rolling waves of scorched sands
That cover my bones of silver deposits?”
Hi, Big Sister,
it’s time that you know,
Why we moved here five years ago,
Determined to start a brand new life,
We left the smog and stress and strife,
For Nevada’s gorgeous views,
This place might be perfect for you.”
A LETTER TO NEVADA
“So, Dear Nevada—
as an artist I see
inherently abstracted full of color”
TO A COUPLE OF HARD ROCK MINERS FROM WINNEMUCCA:
“All the stories I know about Horse are second hand
and told to me by Buffalo, an oiler with long hair
who met him deep in the belly of an open pit
fifty-five miles out Jungo Road at the hard rock, Hycroft mine.”
STORM: A NOTE OF HOPE
“Snow racing down hills
Turning, spinning, dancing
Over the landscape
Like some ghostly spirit”
DEAR SPENCER HOT SPRINGS
“I’m passing by tonight, giving you a two-fingered wave!
Can you see our headlights across the Big Smoky like Slow-motion meteors heading east on the Loneliest Road?
Hey, Spencer! First time we met was 40 years ago!”
HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH MY TIA LLUYA WHILE HAVING BREAKFAST AT A DENNY’S IN RENO, NEVADA
“¡Hola, tía! ¿Qué honda?
I’m fine. It’s really the sky that scares me. It can turn from the brightest morning to the gloomy rain and solemn snow. I’m used to always being in danger, dark,”
LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT BASIN AND RANGE
“The car rolls smoothly over Interstate 80.
Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain: Basin and Range.
I’m riding through it, and it’s riding through me.”
A LETTER TO CONNECTICUT FROM RENO
“Home is no longer Connecticut
I do not wake up to my dad making breakfast, his famous french toast
I no longer hangout with my friends at the beach”
FROM NV TO NY: DO IT FOR THEM
“Nearly 20 years ago
We shared a dressing room, you and I. Dark, of course, with that unmistakable Mashup of makeup, sweat, musty decay…”
INSTEAD OF A GREETING CARD
“I say a great dad lets his kid be
who she is, a mother, not a mother.
In place of grandchildren, a great dad—
who would love nothing more…”
MY BEST WISHES TO THE GHOST STATE
In the morning, the sounds of the coffee pot brewing wake me up from my sleep. You call my name from the kitchen to ask if I want a cup. I say yes. I lay on my back because the bed leaves me sore. You walk in, I sit up and you hand me my cup. ‘Days like today, I wish I weren’t a muggle.’
MY LOVE, MY MORNING ROUTINE A LETTER TO MY HUSBAND
“In the morning, the sounds of the coffee pot brewing wake me up from my sleep. You call my name from the kitchen to ask if I want a cup. I say yes. I lay on my back because the bed leaves me sore…”
THE RURAL CHILD
I stand gazing at vast, endless skies, wildlife uncontained looking upon our land without fences,
all is lying wide open – Mother Nature’s welcoming arms- strands of long grasses are bending over,
and I smell the mink-brown soil that is soft between my bare toes…”
FROM THE LOWLANDER,
“Flat earth, all my life that’s all I know
I agree that your view from the highlands is Red rocks, Roof rats and Dry valleys”
LETTER TO NEVADA
You’ve been running through my head again like a coyote with its loose skin hanging off of its body, panting through a labyrinth…”
LETTER TO C.S.M. FROM RENO
“I’m glad you asked me about this strange
October gripped in time’s power, but slow to cool.
A poet I read thought resurrection
might look like autumn in Reno…”
DEAR KITTY WHITE PAWS
“Sorry. And I mean it.
You arrive on my porch in the early hours, sniff and scratch amongst the flowers.
You look at the camera, you want to be a movie star. In my eyes, you already are…”
TO OLD GROWTH VEGAS,
“To Old Growth Vegas,
I write to you with experience of life from other places. I come to you from my
pilgrimage to this unsure-of-itself town. I’m confused by your education and your sinking foundation…”
A LETTER TO SANTA CRUZ FROM RENO
“I woke up today and there was smoke in my lungs.
Coughing doesn’t help, it just wakes up the dog.
Outside, the smoke swirls through the pine trees and paints them with ash…”
IF RED ROCK COULD TALK
“We were once water
wide as rainbows,
deep as trenches
‘til one day, we dried up…”
LETTER TO HOT AUGUST NIGHTS
“I used to think that it was all about the classic cars
I used to think that it was all about the paint jobs I used to think that it was all about the rain that would come down right when the judging begins…”
TO MY COUSIN
“You always came to visit
but now you’re here to stay Your sister and your parents
They miss you everyday”
THOUGHTS THAT WEEDS MIGHT HAVE
“Letter for Clark County —
and yet pallid…”
NEVADAN TO NEVADAN: A BIGGEST LITTLE LAMENT
I hope you’re doing well.
Even if you aren’t,
I know you’re probably doing better than me…”
LETTER TO CECY, REGARDING OUR TRIP TO THE MOON
“We stood on the mound behind your tin-can
house, overlooking the Catholic cemetery. Surrounded by the native flora of our planet…”
LETTER TO NEVADA
“What can I say?
So much; so many things:
Does snow fall on deserts?
Do wild horses play where coyotes roam?”
BEAUTIFUL LAKE TAHOE
“Dear Lake Tahoe,
Unlike all the other cities in Nevada
The foundation of who I am now…”
LETTER TO LAKE MEAD FROM ALEX PH
“Dear Lake Mead,
How does it feel
to once be created
by the hand of man?”
A LETTER TO CALL UPON WHEN YOU NEED IT
“One night you will wake up, unsettled,
grab a book to read a passage
that once brought you light.”
LETTER FROM RENO IN PRAISE OF PIZZA
“There are fond memories of sitting under the dull glow of string lights,
One late fall night, in the plaza across from Reno’s only Sizzle Pie…”
BEYOND THE POWER LINES
“Dear Power Lines,
How did we come to call you that, anyway?
Every neighborhood has a Spot with a capital “S”— “
PIECES OF THE PAST
“This place is history with a beauty all its own. The land is vast and mostly treeless which allows the eye to see for miles: how the wagon trains of pioneers heading west, itching to get to the promise of nuggets lying on the ground must have felt when they saw miles and miles of desert ground…”
LETTER FROM A NEVADAN TO NEVADANS: ABOUT RURAL NEVADA
“A familiar breeze moves against the sagebrush.
Rain-made aromas drift across the plain
Utter sweet and gentle salutations that please, make good memory.”
DISPATCH ABOUT THE TIME COVID HIT OUR TOWN
The city that never sleeps,
Until it does.”
A LETTER FROM VEGAS VIC
“I’m told I have a brother up north—northeast to be exact.
He lives in a little town called Wendover,
last civilization in Nevada before you hit
the Utah border.”
LETTER FROM AN OUTWORLDER
Losing count of the
Since I broke containment, escaped that place
(What did they call it? Area 51?)
HEY, NEVADA, YOU DON’T NEED TO GET GOT
“Hey, Nevada, believe me, I really do hear you
I know how incredibly frustrated you must be
They don’t even pronounce your name right…”
A LETTER TO AN UNEXPECTED HOME
“After 10 years,
it’s only fair that I’m honest.
I’d met you just once before
I was young, 15 or 16.
Nothing too memorable;
just a drive by.”
LETTER TO PAST RENO
“When Virginia Street was the main street
no one had dreamed of putting in a freeway yet.
Campus was a mere five thousand students…”
LETTER TO ELSEWHERE, FROM NEVADA
“Shannon was late for our coffee date. A coyote got hold of a small dog, was dragging it across HWY 50 when she had to slam on her brakes…”
I AM TONOPAH: A LETTER TO NEVADANS, NORTH AND SOUTH
“I am Tonopah and I am alive
I am the heart and the soul of the past
I am the future and I will survive…”
LETTER TO ISAAC FROM TOM
“We both found something in Nevada
About a hundred and thirty years apart
You passing through, a kid afoot with a wagon train…”
NOTE FROM A NEWBIE
“Like many others, when I was new to the Nevada desert I saw so little.
Few trees, few buildings, few animals, few people…”
SEVERAL BILLION GOLDEN YEARS AGO: THIS LETTER IS TO BE HAND CANCELED
“We built fires and doctored the world with the sounds of our dancing.
We scoured the stratified earth where we overlapped, and found stones that we fashioned into shrines for the demigods of our skeletons…”
TO J.W. FROM RENO
“Already I am waiting for autumn
and its small glimpses of resurrection:
At Idlewild, the leaves will change…”
LETTER TO ANGEL LAKE WHILE LISTENING TO MILES DAVIS: JULY 2022
“If this was November and I was Robert Frost
I would begin this letter with salutations
and an allusion to the color of the leaves…“
FROM CORN CREEK
“I am Corn Creek. I’ve given birth to Las Vegas. I am the creator and giver of life. My sun shines brightly through monsoon clouds, opening up the eyes to heavenly earth…”
LETTER TO THE MAN FROM ELY WHO I MET IN TONOPAH
“In the time we spent at the park’s shared picnic table
talking into the wee hours of night, you taught me
how to say Ely with the same grace and gentle smile…”
LETTER TO THE FORMERLY LIVING NEVADAN FROM A FORMER NEVADAN
“i told them they remind me of you. that’s right—
it’s not just me anymore. now i’m left to wonder:
how much of us is left in the air when we’ve gone?”
LETTER TO AND FROM LAS VEGAS
“She was a gambler, she never betted money, but she gambled with his life.
The boy remembers as a kid growing up in the Midwest, life was simple.
When he became an adult, his father reluctantly told him her secret…”