The Desert Doesn’t Know by Jessica Abughattas

The desert doesn’t know we exist:

Robert Smith singing through the speakers

of a night-lit pool

where the heat feels material

with a sickness, and I insist


I’m not angry

with the man reading the Tao te Ching

on the terry daybed beside me.


The desert doesn’t know anger,

and doesn’t care to know.


The sun sets and it doesn’t

mean a thing.


Drifting into the dark

in a car on a road lined with palms,

the plants of man.

The desert has its own

unknown. There the desert goes,

there the animal bones.



Jessica Abughattas was born and raised in California. Her debut book, Strip, won the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize and will be published by University of Arkansas in 2020. She is a Kundiman fellow and a graduate of the Antioch University Los Angeles MFA in Creative Writing program. Her poems appear in Waxwing, The Journal, Best of the Net 2019, and elsewhere.