Thanks and Farewell…

Posted on February 23, 2019 by Places Editor


!It was a good thought, but sadly Our Place is closing due to lack of interest. Thank you to Rich Soos, Cynthia Anderson, Nancy Campbell, Ruth Nolan and Tyler Goodearly who were good enough to support my effort. Maybe another time.

Au revoir.

The Place is Closed.


Untitled Poems by Tyler Goodearly

Posted on January 19, 2019 by Places Editor

Tyler Goodearly is a graduate of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. An aquatic biologist, he is glad to be back in California and is busy discovering the desert.

From sea to river,

Torpedoing up the falls,

Glistening crimson

Weightlessly gliding across the water’s surface,

The feathered beast scans through the depths

In search of tonight’s dinner.

It cranes its long neck oblivious to the surrounding


I long for its ignorance.



Desert Preserves…a recipe by Laurel Jernigan

Posted on January 11, 2019 by Places Editor

I received one of the best Christmas presents ever this year. Aside from having some of the most able and enthusiastic assistants out at my Preserve, I have some super talented ones as well. The following poem was presented to my by Laurel Jernigan, who is finding the oasis inspiring to her own creativity.

Desert Preserves – A Recipe

Antique seas wash the desert

dissolve into

crispy white crusts of salt…

a cleansing that lasted for untold years.

Endless suns gaze down

glaze the basin

like pottery in a kiln…

a ceramic of fossils and shells.

Water slips through new cracks

pushes upward

through no fault of its own

giving birth to a new oasis.

Purple fruitlings,

pods of honey

roots with flowers

carefully chosen by Nature…

simmer and bathe in bountiful batches.

Fan palms with aprons

ladles of fronds

watch over the stew…

not spoiling the pot with too many cooks.

Hills bubble up

smoke trees froth

in the streaming wash…

As the desert offers up its kitchens.

Unkind but well meaning ravens

other birds wings

flap along their way…

fanning off the hot desert heat.

Pockets of tiny mice

side slithering snakes

tamper and seal the sand….

like a thin coat of paraffin wax.

Footprints trod upon

flash floods descend

cutting through the desert jelly…

spreading it thinly.

Savor the sweetness


of a desert preserve…

while the recipe lasts.


Are We Loving the Desert to Death? by Ruth Nolan

Posted on January 1, 2019 by Places Editor

Ruth Nolan has lived in the California deserts for most of her life and is an author/professor at College of the Desert. She’s also a former wildland firefighter for the US Forest Service and BLM California Desert District. She is the author Ruby Mountain (Finishing Line Press 2016); editor of No Place for a Puritan: The Literature of California’s Deserts (Heyday Books 2009); and co-editor of Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California (Scarlet Tanager 2018.)

Two years ago, my daughter and I headed out for a hike to one of our longtime favorite desert places, Cottonwood Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park.

To our surprise, not only was the parking lot at the trailhead full, but cars were spilling out along the roadway. In 30 years of hiking there, I’d never seen that before.

I learned later that spring that the Park, already listed as one of the most endangered of all National Parks, has experienced a huge uptick in visitors in the last few years, a number that continues to increase.

Unfortunately, I have realized that exponential increases in tourism to our region aren’t limited to Joshua Tree National Park: it’s desert-wide.

Maybe this wouldn’t hit so hard if I didn’t have to endure gridlock traffic on Interstate 10, and even Highway 111 for most of the month of April, the result of the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals, wildflower season, and all manner of other large-scale festivals, events and wildflower super blooms.

Maybe I wouldn’t be so annoyed if I hadn’t been rudely “asked” recently to move out of the way at Tahquitz falls by a group of tourists who wanted to take a group selfie to post on Instagram.

Maybe I’d be in a better mood if I hadn’t had to fight for parking at Thrush Park last spring to get past the hordes of visitors gawking at Desert X artwork – a months-long installation last spring (due to return in 2019) that included large art pieces across a 50-mile span of desert – just to go on an after-work hike.

There’s a disturbing implication afoot that this desert is up for grabs for any and all takers who want to profit financially or otherwise from our open spaces and quickly-vanishing sense of solitude and peace.

It’s the type of land grab mentality that evokes the worst of the California Gold Rush. It’s the type of land grab that’s caused, in the past decade, large-scale, multinational renewable energy entities and investors – backed by the federal government – salivating to get their hands on open tracts of our surrounding desert lands. Eastern Riverside County is one of the most targeted-areas.

It’s the type of land grab that has allowed well-funded, large-scale culture and arts organizations to site their projects here where they please, seemingly without adequate environmental impact reviews and in highly sensitive areas.

It’s a mentality has allowed Coachella’s producer, Goldenvoice, to trademark the very name of this valley and use legal means to stop any person or entity use the name “Coachella” or even the word “chella” for to anything that might be associated with an event or product for sale.

Do I now live in a desert whose very name, and soul, has, by dint of its mostly-rural and therefore economically desirable vulnerabilities, been commodified, at the desert’s expense?

It’s starting to feel more and more like Disneyland; a sort of designer desert. I’ve lived and worked in the California deserts for most of my life. I didn’t sign up for this.

In the meantime, just down the road, the Salton Sea disappears and the ancient aquifer at Cadiz is on the verge of being siphoned dry, both victims of water-greedy urban municipalities 100 miles away.

I can’t blame people for wanting to spend time in this stunning desert. It’s a world-class place, and offers what I’ve cherished for the past twenty years of living here fulltime: open spaces, transformational view sheds, and unfolding scenic mysteries, as well as a close sense of a vital, ancient past.

I have this in common with every person who seeks refuge here as an antidote to less-inspired places: I love the desert.

But I can’t help but ask a question that keeps nagging at me: Are we loving the desert to death?

This article originally ran in the Desert Sun newspaper on April 16, 2018 and is reprinted with permission from the author.Leave a comment




And Kelp Sings…by Nancy Campbell

Posted on December 20, 2018 by Places Editor

Nancy is a palm poet who also enjoys playing in other habitats and has a decided talent for sitting around. Leave a comment

cut loose by the sea urchin

and that horde’s hunger

for my luscious tangles

hallelujah – I’m free

look ashore


wild hair of the old woman that little girl becomes


who running the sands

will enfold me

amber knots


bits of shell and

reek of fish

will cradle me close on her blond head

our two legs skipping along

And Kelp Sings…was originally published in Nancy’s book Sea Beings published by Conflux Press.


Fruition by Cynthia Anderson

Posted on December 9, 2018 by Cynthia Anderson 

A curved seed stalk

arcs above the yucca—

and, dried out,

waves like the wand


of a necromancer—

yes, no, maybe.

Color of sand, seed pods

split and scattered—

the word devour grips me

in a bear hug.


Stalk and curve

draw my eye to markings

on a familiar rock—a code

I never noticed before.

Once I was in danger

of skirting the need o

for help. No more danger.

Help is what I need,

and find

when least expected.

Cynthia Anderson has spent the past 10 years immersed in the Mojave Desert, asking questions and then finding answers that lead to more questions. www.cynthiaandersonpoet.comLeave a comment

Three Pieces by Shioshi imagined into English –

r soos Posted on December 2, 2018

stop by

bring some wine with you

and we’ll dance freely tonight

with the desert moon


we’ll disrobe from pain

and swirl in the happiness

of sharing our lives

the Joshua trees

hang down heavy with their song

praising compassion

the winds through the wash

sing my morning and evening

prayers today

r soos loves to walk the paths in Joshua Tree. From time to time he’ll stoop over and move a rock a few inches – to see if he can confuse the ancient hills around him. chollaneedles@gmail.comEditors Note: this is the perfect opening for our Open Mic. “Stop by/bring some wine with you.” Thank you, Rich, for providing this lovely and welcoming poem to our first presentation in Places & Spaces.

Public Places & Private Spaces

Posted on August 31, 2018 by Places Editor

Welcome to Public Places and Private Spaces. We are an online journal for the American Southwest. Think of us a digital Coffee Shop with an Internet Open Mic. Pull up a chair and enjoy the show!Please read our submission guidelines before submitting. Thank you r soos (of Cholla Needles) for providing our inaugural post. Ginny Short, Founder and EditorPublic Spaces & Private Places An online poetry, flash and artistic OPEN MIC for the Desert Southwest.