Antagonistic Environment

he swears that the desert is laughing,

mocking him with the distant wail of the wind,
the hoot of an owl.
each spray of dry sand in his eyes is a personal affront.

he’s pretty sure psychologists would have a different opinion,
something to say about the hypothesis that the very earth has turned against him.
he knows it isn’t true but there’s something less lonely
when he imagines that the coyote is laughing at him,

specificity is lacking too, in the desert.
the wind and sand and sun shift and hiss and whisper amongst themselves
and it’s like high school all over again, the isolation
except this time it might actually kill him.

the lizard skitters across the rock and freezes,
just inches between them—
“How’s it going?”
—the tail twitches
like a half-wave and a locker slam
and then it’s gone, the sand rustles
and swallows it up.

he laughs,
but the wind swallows that too,
just to spite him.

The featured image accompanying this piece, entitled ‘Empty Nest’, has been used with the permission of artist, Robert Alan, a mixed media artist from New York City.

29 thoughts on “Antagonistic Environment

    Leigh says:

    Your poem draws the reader in deeply; it really makes me try to think and look from this person’s perspective. You do such a good job at placing words just so, eliciting such involved reactions from your readers. Poetry is great – yours is awesome!

    Patty says:

    You have a brilliant way of placing us in the scene and drying us in until, like it or not, we share the pain. It leaves us wanting more… Fantastic!

    Mango says:

    Rachel, it is such an honor to have seen the first draft of this piece and now to see it published. You are a brilliant young woman, and this poem is a testament to your imaginative yet grounded mind. I love how you weave the theme of young adulthood through your poem by including images such as “high school” and a “locker slam.” This is a piece unlike any other, and I cannot wait to see what you write next!

    Denise Garrison says:

    Antagonistic Environment has wonderful images. The highest praise I can give it is I printed it out to read again, away from the screen.

    Natasha Garamani says:

    Really great poem! Diction is pretty spot on, and I thoroughly enjoyed the comparison to high school isolation.

    Sarah says:

    “the wind and sand and sun shift and hiss and whisper amongst themselves” is such a dynamic line, so many ear-catching sounds strung together. I also love the final stanza. Such a great poem!

    marissa says:

    RACHEL! This is such an amazing poem, and I am so proud of you that it’s published! Can’t wait to read your other works. :’)

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