Twenty-Nine Palms

By Paul Tran

Friday, June 9, 2023

From beneath the desert sand, in the shade of the laundry shed, grew a coyote

Coyote eyes, as if the tips of the Archer’s arrows, winked in the distance at us.

Sleepless, I heard the repetition of their door in the distance shut and clicking

What they heard, and what I said—that I’ve never loved anyone—wasn’t really a lie.

Like the coyote melon now the size of a human heart, or the Joshua tree flowering

at the end of a long winter freeze when the yucca moth fertilizes the flowers

by laying eggs inside—these moths that will never see their own wings

I will show what I can do with next to nothing, even if there’s nothing for me to

This poem is a part of unHIDDEN: After C.P. Cavafy, a digital tribute centered on modern queer desire and visibility and whether this is the "later" that Cavafy imagined in his poem "Hidden." Learn more about C.P. Cavafy and the city-wide festival “Archive of Desire”: A Festival Inspired by the Poet C.P. Cavafy here.

About Paul Tran

Paul Tran is the author of the debut poetry collection, All the Flowers Kneeling (Penguin, 2022), which won the Golden Poppy Award and was a finalist for the PEN Open Book Award, Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and Lambda Literary Award. Their work appears in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. Winner of the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, as well as fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, Stanford University, and National Endowment for the Arts, Paul is an Assistant Professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.