Chiricahua and Beyond – Day 1


Drive east across southern Arizona
veer southeast at Willcox
and cross the high desert.


Here are the Chiricahua Mountains, a sky island,
and Chiricahua National Monument.
Begin in the mixed oak and conifer forest and


ascend 6000 feet, finish amidst the highest rocks,
Chiracahua Peak is 9,759 feet high.
An Apache place name, it  means “a wonderland of rocks”.


The rocks are rhyolite, volcanic rock,
the trees are juniper, pygmy trees,
and the Chiricahuan Raven calls this mountain his home.


Return the way one came, descending Bonita Canyon Road,
and return to the high desert.
The tumbleweed blow. A storm approaches.


Drive east again, towards New Mexico,
the first day of travel nearly done.
The air so dry and hot, the rain evaporates before it reaches the ground.


Cross country travel. Using iPhone and Hipstamatic app. There is little time to stop for photographs, so these are on-the-road shots.

Desert Poppies – A Poem

Golden Desert Poppies

Desert Poppies © 2013 Bo Mackison

Notice how present a flower is, how surrendered to life. ~ Eckhart Tolle

It is a beautiful place, this desert.

Hard to imagine its fullness of life, its diversity
until I explored her land each day.

Tread on mountain paths lightly frosted in mid winter
scrambled into washes torn asunder by summer flash floods.
Walked her rocky trails aware of each footfall,
threaded my way through deep crevice mazes.

I reach towards a saguaro to steady my balance
only to pull back in mild shock
imagining my hand pierced with the spines of a saguaro.

I stand in her washes in spring, the desert in her blossoming season,
admire the waving yellow poppies, their throats flushed with red,
their roots grounded in a chaos of rock and grit,
their silken petals a delicate offering amidst so much ruggedness.


Oh the places, the spaces in the desert; the discoveries, the inspiration in the desert.

Bird Life in the Desert


Gambel's Quail ©2016 Bo Mackison

Gambel’s Quail ©2016 Bo Mackison

I wonder at my daily sightings of the mama
and papa quail, their brood of chicks dart
like scattered billiards balls, each pecks
for seeds in the rocky soil.

On hot afternoons the adults settle into
the desert earth like ancient ocean puffer balls,
keeping watch, the chicks tucked under
a prickly pear cactus hideout.


Road Runner © 2016 Bo Mackison

Road Runner © 2016 Bo Mackison

He has the habits of a slap stick comedian,
a relative of acclaimed characters in
Western tall tales & Saturday morning cartoons.

I’ve seen him do a helicopter dance,
land with a bird in his beak.
He’ll do combat with a rattler…and win.

And yet in courting, he presents his intended
with a twig or blade of grass,
then the chase is on — ’til she decides yea or nay.

On cool desert mornings he spreads
his tail feathers, exposes dark flesh,
& warms himself with the heat of the sun.
An energy conservationist.

Opening to the Sacred – A Poem

Wupatki - Finding the Open Spaces

Opening to the Sacred © 2014 Bo Mackison

A poem is . . . an act of devotion and holy rebellion; a source of healing and a journey of risk. ~ Edveeje Fairchild

I enter emboldened.

I come in holy rebellion.

Enough groveling at feet of stone-struck statues
incapable of emotions, no welcoming nod,
refusing to utter soothing words as balm to my aching heart
or offer celestial embrace.

Safe behind barred doors,
chain link fences,
security-guards on watch.

From whom do you seek protection?

The penitent, the silenced one, the hesitant seeker?

I rise in holy rebellion.
I will not bow nor cover my face with
a black mantilla and your rules.

I do not come in holy rebellion.

I am Holy Rebellion!

Practice Resurrection — Photography to “Manifesto” by Wendell Berry

All Text: Excerpted from “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” by Wendell Berry


Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die…

Pop Art Shopping Carts

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

Garden Water Pump in Sanford Farm Garden, Old World Wisconsin

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it…

Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Redwood Abstract

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

What's in this Pond?

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

West Bluff, Devils Lake State Park

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.


Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.


Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts…


Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Lavender Fields and Bee Boxes

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts…


As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.

The Path Beyond

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.

Kure Beach Sunrise, November 8, 2013

Practice resurrection.

Excerpts from “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” by Wendell Berry


I’m posting a poem each day in April, National Poetry Month. Updated poems from my blog archives, new poems written as sacred practice, and selected, favorite poems from other poets. Today’s photography essay was inspired by the words of Wendell Berry and posted in honor of Earth Day 2016.