Crossing State Lines

Mountain Ranch

Red Earth, Blue Skies © 2013 Bo Mackison

On Sunday, the Second Day

On the day I travel from mountains to plains,
I cross the state line, and sing-song
“Goodbye, Arizona; Hello, New Mexico.”

I keep my place on the map by noting the washes I cross,
Federal highway signs break the monotony of the endless I-system.
Querino Wash, dusty and dry,
Carr Lake Wash, dusty and dry.
Meandering water gives the Little Colorado River’s name veracity.
Rivers most commonly run dry in the Southwest
and imagination replaces river-water.

I turn north, follow the Trail of the Ancients, Navajo Nation,
Cinder block homes and sweat lodges. Horses stand in the shade of ramadas.
Winds blow fierce, flying dust covers the road,
I steer my car by the tracks of the pick-up truck ahead
and rocks rise in mystery from a nothingness, silhouettes in swirling dust.

Near Shiprock, NM – yes, a rock clipper ship rises from the plateau –
a wailing dog circles its dead companion rigid on the roadside,
nudges the head matted with dark stained dirt.

Briefly I think of Sunday School Bible verse contests,

“For you were made from dust, and to dust you shall return,”
but I prefer the astronomer’s explanation –
“You are star-dust, the heart of the star.”

Towards evening I reach Four Corners, a geographical nameplace
Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado touch with 90˚ precision,
An accuracy of borders esteemed by politicians and mapmakers.

I choose to pass the concrete historical marker
and the surrounding neon-lit gift shops,
intent, instead, on reaching my destination before nightfall.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. A cross-country traveler by day, and an occasional poet, — this is a poem in nine parts, because the trip lasts nine days. Day One is here.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I have always found it beautiful but sad to leave Arizona.

    From the song “Adios Arizona” by Dolan Ellis:

    Adios Arizona
    Goodbye Sedona
    I’m crossing the border today,
    But tonight let me borrow
    My dreams of tomorrow,
    I’ll be back
    see you some day.

  2. I LOVE this. I live in New Mexico and love your photos and descriptions of the Southwest.

  3. The image is perfect for the title. I miss those open spaces of the West.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Oh Anita, I know exactly what you mean. I too miss the space of the west. So much for your eye to rest on, and linger, not pressed in by tall buildings, or even a forest of tall trees.

  4. I feel as though I’ve been traveling with you, Bo. Thank you. 🙂

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