Going Out into the Desert Again
by Jim Daniels

Doha, Qatar

One road out of this city
away from its rising glass-stiletto skyscrapers.
One road, and it’s easy to lose even that
in sandstorm/darkness/mirage.

No wonder I’m waist deep
in wariness.


My trash free-falls down a dark chute.
Where it goes from there, I don’t ask.
Yesterday, a man fell from high steel
on the construction site next door.
I don’t ask.

Quickly hauled away. Work resumed.
Glass made from sand, yet sand knows
how fragile. The human body,
and what god receives what tribute
from night-lit cranes?


In the food court sanctuary
I chew my mixed grill and watch tourists
in gondolas drift down the mall’s faux canal
while the call to prayer cuts off Musak
over the nasal sound system sets off
an evacuation of Muslims to prayer rooms
near the toilets, shoes piled in jumbled display.


I drive into the desert at night
until all lights disappear
and the heat eases enough to allow self-pity.

I open my windows and air passes
through the car. Briefly
I am part of this enormous journey

and I too am nothing but air
out here where there are no names—
not for the streets, not for us,
not for God.

I saw the man fall.
Out here in the dark desert,
he is falling still.

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