Poetry Friday: A Telepoem From The High Desert

Jul 20, 2018

Remember pay phone booths? Poet Elizabeth Hellstern does. She's the inventor of the Telepoem Booth - a vintage rotary phone booth that recites poetry to you when you dial a number from the poem directory. Hellstern debuted the booth a couple of years ago in Flagstaff, but has since moved it to the high desert of northern New Mexico where she's lived off-grid for the last year. Today, Hellstern brings us the latest installment of our series Poetry Friday...Telepoem-style. 

Elizabeth Hellstern's Telepoem Booth in the high desert of New Mexico.
Credit Elizabeth Hellstern

High Desert, by Elizabeth Hellstern

I have lived for a year in the High Desert

and have observed this:

The land is dust-dry

the cacti grab at my skin, needy,

hoping someone will love them

Their fuchsia-bloom is beautiful

The fly pupae rise in spring
Irritating, maybe
but alive. For such a very short time

The land has new buildings scattered

The bulldozed branches are piled on the side

of the human tracks that mar the desert

Every day an exquisite sunset,

the sun's requisite farewell

to the harsh of Ortiz Mountains

The night then
pulls the clouds in

the lightest of eiderdowns

Raven circle in blue

Desert life is true and slow

there's no room for waste

Its beauty is spare

and unexpected. Death

is always here--a constant guest

This desert has flogged me,
whipped me

cracked me over its knee

Like the snag piñon tree

Only to cast me aside
my wood bleached to silver

The wind is my mirror

a reflection of constant change

I am split open to the sky

In the stone circle above the arroyo bed

I spiral like a pendulum
regulate the energy's clock mechanism

Elizabeth Hellstern, poet and inventor of the Telepoem Booth
Credit Elizabeth Hellstern

Raise my vigor and directly address

the gods and the fae

Make offerings and ask for their aid

I seek the rain and then the chalice

And bowls of ancestral pottery spill
like lucid dreams from the pillow

Peel away the bark

eat the surface, like a twisting beetle track

Oh land, may you accept me yet