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Loley Line Drawing_edited.jpg

35°26'42.424"N 110°53'46.184"W


                                                              we’d driven past the burnt-out chapter house

                                                                                       abandoned trailer homes &


                                               which scaled off into a dry lake 

                               near The Crack

                                                                   by the cliffside scree past Leupp

                       a godforsaken rez dog barking on its chain


                                                  the boarding school that doubled as internment camp


                                        a rusted truss bridge straddling the arroyo


                                                                graveled cholla 

                                                                                       & mustardweed


                       dust-blown floodplains dimpled with yellowcake           

                                                 down a washboard sand road

                                                       we pulled off the shoulder 

                                                                               & parked       by starthistles   sinkholes

                                  alluvium & luster

                                                       sandstone boulders pink-bellied clouds 


                                                            as day’s arc 



         holding out through blue hour                              nerve-fibers

                                                                                             slip-faced                  thinking blanked out                    

                              our shadows darkened under us


                 a brooding spider twinkled by   

                                                                      light shanked inside each quartzite grain 


             hunched banks of leeward dune creep         bunchgrass          a hunter’s moon erasing mesas 


                                                             beveled inscapes

                                                                                          gaping with glass shards


                                                                whiptails at the edge of sight

                 charred pipes   & 


                                                                       each scattered remnant                                                    

                                                                                                          from last year’s drought

                               we looked at sun-bleached owl bones

black tiger beetles 


                  crawling over coneflowers                  under the raw outstretched dusk-looted dome   


                                   we saw     so near it was within us


                                                                 one blossom rooted in a crumbled skull

Will_Cordeiro headshot for NOAZBF - William Cordeiro_edited.jpg

WILL CORDEIRO has work published or forthcoming in 32 Poems, AGNI, Bennington Review, Best New Poets, Pleiades, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. Will won the 2019 Able Muse Book Award for Trap Street and is co-author with Lawrence Lenhart of Experimental Writing: A Writer's Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury, 2024). Will co-edits Eggtooth Editions and serves on the executive board of the Northern Arizona Book Festival.


The place I chose evokes a landscape that has witnessed a sedimentation of different historical traumas: an Indian boarding school, a Japanese internment camp, and uranium mining. Alongside these, the land itself is suffering from prolonged drought and desertification. Residents in nearby Tolani Lake must bulldoze the sand dunes back since they creep up to 40 feet every year across the washboard roadways and against their houses. The site is also close to a giant fracture in the monocline extending more than 500 feet into the ground; the Museum of Northern Arizona reportedly found remains of giant bison and ground sloths on ledges deep down in “The Crack,” as it’s known. Local legend declares it’s a bottomless pit: if you drop a pebble in, you’ll never hear it land. The geological area of the Leupp Quadrangle is a strange and isolated space. I stumbled upon this eerie terrain—the exact coordinates of which remain a mystery to me—while on a road trip with Lawrence Lenhart through the Navajo Nation. We were lost as dusk fell, afraid we’d be unable to find our way back since the offroad spur we’d traveled had been obscured by windblown sand. We walked around rather aimlessly, stunned to find a vista overlooking badlands backdropped against the distant mesas on one side of our path. Then, on the other side, we crested a high dune and found, descending the slipface, a dazzlement of glass shards and charred fragments. We surmised it was a makeshift meth lab hidden between the steep slopes of the surrounding dunes—something right out of Breaking Bad. It was evidence of one more problem the area faced: a drug epidemic. And yet, while picking over a ravaged trash barrel and the litter of abandoned cookware, we also noticed the tracks of tiger beetles and whiptails, newly bloomed wildflowers, owl pellets, and tiny bones. It seemed that the basin of the dune may have become temporarily filled with a little water after a flashflood, attracting birds and animals. Even in this desolate and haunted spot, there were signs of life and renewal. There was something miraculous occurring. When we climbed back over the dune toward our car, we encountered Henry, a Navajo man who was selling homemade goat tamales. Thankful to find someone—anyone—in such a remote location approaching nightfall, we purchased a bundle of tamales from him despite being vegetarians, and he pointed us on our way. 

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