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Round the switchbacks

up to Dooly Knob—

wobbly buffalo below us.

Our quick breath cooling,

we straggled up the last

jagged rock toward the vista.

Beyond the lake, each crystal

of the city burning. Fast

fall of evening. And even

then, a smog-filled distance

turning mauve. Grains of light

quivered severed and awakened.

We looked away. We blinked

downwind. Ash-clouds loomed,

as if erupting. Another fault-

line laced the ether, spilling off

-kilter nearby the crest. No,

just bleak fumes belched from

a smokestack somewhere clear

past Saltair. Day’s luster broken.


Will Cordeiro has work appearing or forthcoming in Best New Poets, Copper Nickel, Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, Fourteen Hills, Nashville Review, Poetry Northwest, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Zone 3, and elsewhere. He received his MFA and Ph.D. from Cornell University. He lives in Flagstaff, where he teaches in the Honors College at Northern Arizona University. He writes frequently about the environment of the desert west. This poem was inspired by seeing fumes from the Kennecott Smelter while standing atop a lookout on Antelope Island.

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