Desert vistas in words and photos

Poem by Karen R. Sanderson

All photos by John Steiner

Desert Canvas

Canyon de Chelly

A stranger’s first glance at a sandpaper land
To the untrained eye so stark
They think our God forgot to wave His generous hand.
But go within the seeker’s slow embark:

Skyline Park, Buckeye, AZ

Touch and venture forth upon the endless expanse
And excavate where ancestral cultures fade.
Explore the cliff mystery’s romance
And lose your step in ruins adobe made

Montezuma’s Castle

Hear the insistent flutter of looming raptors’ wings
Spooking lizards under rocks of ginger veil
Bringing a prick to jack-rabbit springs
As roadrunners skitter to quick avail

Harris Hawk on the Hunt

See the sapphire skies on copper-penny peaks subsist
Sleeping mantle sprinkled with heaven’s dreamy eyes
From a yawning dawn’s foggy mists
To awestruck travelers this vista lies

Buckeye Sunset

Desert blooms in lemons tart and peaches warm
Meadow hues blushed and painted wild
Beware the sly and patient cactus’ unforgiving thorn
Unsuspected, drawn to their scent, beguiled

Brittlebush and Hedgehog

The moon rises from amethyst mountain cloak
Winds howl denouncing the mesa’s plateau breeze
Arid powder of lost, wandering animals, now bones,
Summer dust awaits the overnight freeze.


Desert Sunset
Sunset at South Mountain
Saguaro National Park near Tucson

John Steiner is a traveler, writer, aviator, drone operator, and avid photographer. A photo fanatic from a young age, John now shares his travel experiences and photographs via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and on his blog. 
Selfie on South Mountain

John’s blog is at

You can find his photo page on Facebook at

He is also on Twitter at and on

Flickr at


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Photography, Prose & Poetry

12 responses to “Desert vistas in words and photos

  1. Thank you for allowing me to share my photos as illustrations for your beautiful poetry.

  2. Gorgeous words and photos.

  3. I feel sorry for folks who have never seen the beauty and the mystery of the desert!

    • It took me until my retirement to discover the beauty in the great southwestern deserts. Now I, too, feel sorry for those who have not yet had the opportunity to see what we have seen.

      • karenrsanderson

        Before I lived in NM for ten years, I thought the desert was bland and lifeless. There are so many beautiful landscapes, colors, and plants. John – did you ever have an opportunity to drive south on the interstate from Santa Fe to Albuquerque? There is the hill – La Bajada – and I used to pull over just to stare at the landscapes…and especially when the sun was setting. What a view!

  4. I-25 from Trinidad, Colorado to Albuquerque is on the route of our trips to and from Arizona each year. It is a beautiful drive from Raton all the way to the Sandia mountains at Albuquerque. I am not familiar with La Bajada, but I will try to find that spot on our way home in April.

    • karenrsanderson

      You have to be on the interstate from SF to Albq – La Bajada, I think – is the tallest point from SF to Albq. It’s gorgeous.

    • karenrsanderson

      Okay…leave Santa Fe…when you get to a summit hill just a few miles out of SF, stop at the top, and you can see for what feels like a thousand miles. It’s best when the sun is setting and there are a few clouds in the sky. Ask local people – “Where is La Bajada?” – and they will know.

  5. Found my way here from John’s reblog. Your words, like his photos, really capture the spirit of the desert and the wide open spaces of this region. I’ve loved my visits there and hope to come again one day.

    • karenrsanderson

      Thank you so much for visiting. I lived in NM (Albuquerque and Santa Fe) for about ten years. The desert is more than just “sand paper!”

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