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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


Trilobite Lore

Brown-limbed children,
their bare feet callused
against the sunblasted rock,
walk across desert
with the bent spines
of old Berber quarriers,
stopping only to poke
at the limestone matrix
with fingers hardened
to bony chisels. They search

till dusk for trilobites,
fossilized trojans
of a long unsunned race,
dug from the basement
of an evaporated sea
to spend their afterlife
in Moroccan markets beside
spices and bolts of cloth,
and earn a few dirham
from curious foreigners.

A black cinder cone
looms over a Mojave
carpet of sage and creosote,
a silhouette already ancient
when the first humans
scrambled over its slope
in yucca sandals. A hunter

of peccary or bighorn
sheep was the first to spot
a broken sheet of red shale,
half-buried in the loose lava,
embossed with the petrified eye
of a god. A gift to guide
the hunter out of the dark.

Tule Lake Segregation Center, 1946

Windblown dust cakes
every sill, invades
through cracks around closed
doors, erases chalk lines,
screens the Sherman tanks
and armored car patrols
from view, but not from memory.

Gaunt-faced children
scratch their kanji names
in rain-packed earth
with sticks. Nothing grows in the shadow
of watchtowers and heavy-wire
mesh but the bitter
weeds used to weave baskets.

Rows of tarpapered barracks
cross the dry lakebed
like giant brushstrokes
raised from the white quartz,
burnished to a smooth jade.

Oversized windows swing open
like gunports or shut
against the groans of protest,
riot growling in the thin
smoke-laced air.

Some walls are hidden
under a canopy of olive drab
vines with heart-shaped
leaves like faces, worn-down
to blank bone; eyes dead
to the sky, mouths filled with sand.

Copyright 2007, Robert Gable Potts. © This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.

Robert Gable Potts graduated in June 2005 from California State University, San Bernardino with a B.A. in English, and is a member of honor societies Sigma Tau Delta and Golden Key International. Potts is currently enrolled in the M.F.A. creative writing program at University of California, Riverside's Palm Desert campus. Two of his poems, "Blue" and "Sweet," were published in Solstice, College of the Desert's literary journal.