Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Beauty in the Dirt

Last night was beautiful.

Iraqi cities look something like others that I've seen, and the fertile stretches along the river are less impressive than green farmland back home. The desert, though- the desert is different. The sky was clear of dust and haze- we were far past the lights of the city, and the stars shone soft and brilliant. The Milky Way stretched out overhead like a band of cotton. I heard bats launch from their hiding places in the abandoned buildings, and shrill aloft on their hunt for food. Somewhere overhead and out of sight, an owl hooted and stooped for his own dinner.

There's a stark, harsh beauty in the desert. In the daytime, it seems more harsh than at night. The sun beats the dust bone dry, and the wind drives it with a force that occasionally threatens to rip the body into atoms. The night is more subtle- the sand cools, while both the sky and ground come alive with predators. The bats and owl I heard last night are not the only ones- once I saw what seemed to be a herd of scorpions moving blackly across the road, pinchers waving. Camel spiders emerge from holes, skittering impossibly fast in search of those same armored denzians. Scattered across the desert are the moving dirt bumps, the ones that turn into hedgehogs as you approach.

The parched soil rises and falls in abstract patterns laid down over years- the product of men with earthmovers equally as much as of the wind and winter rain. Here and there the lines of hills fall sharp where the dirt has collapsed away to form jagged cliffs; dust pools below the precipice, below the fox holes and lizard lairs.

Somehow, in the midst of the broad, bleak expanse, life continues. The harsh conditions strip away some of the layers of complexity common to other environments. It's a hot or cold, night or day, life or death duality of existence- the yin-yang of the world.

I find myself enthralled by it.


  1. Anonymous15/8/07 18:33

    Nice, TD. Thanks.

  2. Anonymous15/8/07 18:40

    Have you seen any of the Perseids (shooting stars) out there in the desert?? I bet you could see them very easily.

    Be safe, sugar!!

  3. Anonymous15/8/07 18:56

    ST Beauchamp wishes he could write like you. Stay safe, TD.

  4. Beautiful, TD.

    Now you know why we desert rats HAVE to return to recharge.

    Gratitude and Prayers, TD

  5. Anonymous15/8/07 22:28


    We continue to be enthralled by your writing..what a treasure you are..stay safe..

    Appreciate what you are doing for us


  6. VERY poetic, TD. Thanks.

  7. Anonymous16/8/07 04:08

    "There's a stark, harsh beauty in the desert."

    This is a marvelous phrase. Nicely done, TD.

  8. You sure got a way with words TD, this is excellent, of course I expect no less from you.

    Stay safe

  9. Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 08/16/2007
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  10. Anonymous16/8/07 11:42

    Nice post TD.
    Typo at the end of paragraph 2 - "denziens".

    Take care!


  11. Anonymous16/8/07 11:53

    You sure do talk real purdy TD!


  12. Wonderful writing. The desert is hypnotic anywhere you find it.

  13. Outsanding writing TD. Thanks

  14. Anonymous17/8/07 12:55

    Very evocative - you paint quite the visual with your words. No small talent that.

  15. Very nicely done!

    PVT Beauchump could learn something...

  16. Nice post! Hope you are well!

  17. Ed Abbey's desert writing always fascinated me, then when I got to see our western deserts in real life (I was born and raised on the east coast) it was as breathtaking as he described.

  18. I also found a definite spiritual aspect to the starkness of the desert. Ironic that there is beauty in the wasteland.

  19. Anonymous2/11/07 08:21

    It's better to read about fresh real beauty: try makeup tips:)As for me it's more positive.