I Can't Say I'd Recommend Camping
by Juliet Gelfman-Randazzo

I can’t say I’d recommend camping
at the Joshua Tree North Bureau of Land Management campsite
well I did it, wheels shuddered
over thick brick of dirt pebbles jumping up bean style
into the part of the car where I stop
understanding how it works and I fear a tear
in the rubber of the bit I barely understand
and the gear shift is freaking as the sunset
calmly lays its heavyweight body on top of us
smushing us firm in our spot we said ok
here I guess. I tried to pee but the ground sent my pee
right back boomeranging droplets onto my ankles
carving stippled donuts out of the dust it’d gessoed on already.
we tried to light the campstove and a gust blasted in snorting sand
sheepish, we retreated back inside, tickled our way further out
creeping, careening, collapsing up paths that banged out of the room
as soon as we nudged their shoulders, and one put its fist down
so we quieted the engine behind a ridge or a hill or maybe just a little hump
hard to tell cause between the wind and the gooey blueblack sky we got wasted
totally hammered off whiskey and no dinner and the gunshots popcorning off
around us cause of course nothing is illegal on BLM land the land makes the rules
and at 8pm on the dot the land said sleep and I didn’t resist just rolled on into it 
and the next morning the land said wake up and I did
cause the sun was shrieking and the sand was stomping around
and we were sinking like getting engulfed really getting gnawed on
chewed out all the way up to the part where I don’t get how it works but I know it’s bad
for sand to get up in there and I called for help and he showed up
in pajamas and a truck with eight wheels and the land kept throwing my voice
so it took him nearly an hour to find me (me meanwhile, becoming more subterranean)
and the land was saying no way mike and mike kept tugging and we almost turned over.
but then the sand did us a little favor a few grains glommed together
and everyone’s a follower when there’re enough leading, they grudgingly gummed up
enough so that we could get outta there attached to the back of the tow line, scrunched their abs
just sufficiently long for us to roll over them, and the Joshua Tree North BLM campsite popped its lips
and launched us onto the road spitting its tongue in raspberries behind us so no I can’t say I’d
recommend staying there but sometimes you just don’t have a choice

Juliet Gelfman-Randazzo recently relocated to Philadelphia. She is an MFA candidate at Rutgers University-Camden, where she is currently writing about tattooing, convention centers, and forms of adornment. Her poetry and criticism appear or are forthcoming in dirt child, fields magazine, Hot Pink Magazine, and Pen + Brush In Print. Her audio pieces have aired on NPR, KQED, the City Arts & Lectures podcast, and The Kitchen Sisters Present podcast. She also makes clothes and objects like clothes, but not quite.