“The desert is the garden of Allah.”
a Moslem saying
In the sea of the desert of the self,
in the wind and sand, desire lives
without meaning. In the garden
of the city of waters it lives--
desire for a deity who lives before
words, who makes of the desert
a garden, daily prayer his empery,
what food and drink are to the body.
Without our hearts he has no being.
Who does not want to touch into
the kingdom at the secret heart of language,
so close within the heart beneath skin,
that rules by silence and desire
—making in the desert the stream, the river, the sea.
Gordon Osing is retired from the writing program at the University of Memphis and lives now lakeside in Delta bluffs woods in Eudora, Mississippi, where he is continuing his career in reading and writing and traveling. The River City Writers Series, that he began some thirty-five years ago at the University of Memphis, is still thriving. He sees himself in a continuation of the works of the Southern Modernists, holding language in poetry as re-contextualized, and the poem as artifact with its own protocols and reasons, the ways and means of a poem’s attachments to “truth” belonging peculiarly to poetry.
Tom Carlson taught American literature and creative nonfiction at the University of Memphis for thirty-two years. He has published extensively on Melville, Poe, eastern European poetry, and American popular culture.