Poems About Arizona: Sad Tales of the Desert

Living In Arizona Is Depressing

For those of us who are struggling with life in Arizona, we know it’s a depressing place. There are so many things that peck away at our souls while living in Arizona. Perhaps it’s the “zombification” taking effect, forcing us deeper into denial of the fact we live in a desolate desert.

I took a look at poetry about Arizona, and found their words to be incredibly sad and serve as good depictions of how I often view the desert. Just a quick note, I do not intend to improperly post any of these poems. I have given proper credit to the authors and the sources.

Dance of the Dust Witches

  by: William H. Simpson

Are you not weary,
O desert dust witches?

I cannot see who waltzes with you
In close embrace–
But your lips meet hotly in kisses,

Your hair is disheveled,
Your ribbons are flying,
Your skirts are in tatters.

The music you dance to–
It comes from fiddles bewitched.


  by: Christine Siebeneck Swayne

Stretched out from both my hands
Lie the parched, arid lands,
Thirsty and dry and bare,
Fanned by a furnace air;
Serrate against hard skies
Their mistless mountains rise,
Or, in the distance seen,
Glow with an opal sheen,
Violet, and blue, and rose,
Their gorgeous color flows,
Or ochre, orange, chrome,
Against a turquoise dome;
While the heat haze between
Vibrates, a hueless screen;
The sand around my feet
Glares in the sun’s fierce heat.
Drifted and driven apace
It knows no resting place;
Despite the awful drought
Weird cacti writhe about,
And Spanish dagger sheaves
Spread out their fleshy leaves–
But here the faint heart clings
To any hope of springs–
Ah! here may vain ears strain
For blessed, dripping rain–
And here may burned eyes glare
On many a mirage fair:–
Far from all human reach
Lost bones may bare and bleach–
Stretched out from both my hands
Lie the parched, arid lands.

Song of the Sand Storm

  by: Andrew Downing

I am the pitiless Sand Storm,
The whelp of a tameless breed–
My dam the desert, my sire the air;
I stealthily come from my shadowy lair,
And away, and away I speed!

I lie in the sun on the mesa
Outstretching my yellow length;
I drowse and I purr in a tigerish way,
Then suddenly leap on my terrified prey
With more than a tiger’s strength!

I scar the cliffs in my fury,
Effacing their ancient runes;
I polish the skeleton bones that lie
Unnoted, unburied–and scurrying by,
Heap higher the gray sand dunes.

The arrogant sentinel mountains
Make challenge–yet little I reck;
And vainly the obdurate cactus sets
In my pathway a million bayonets–
It never my course can check.

The pace of the caravan quickens
At the thought of my wild caprice;
And the thunder rouses and beats his drums
To tell the world that the Sand Storm comes–
And the songs and the laughter cease!

According to the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) website, Arizona received a D+ for its mental health. Suicide is the leading cause of death in Arizona, and it’s not surprising to me at all.

Sure, the winters are nice because it resembles spring. But dealing with 5-6 months of 100+ degree weather really wears on your body and soul. Combine the heat with a desolate landscape, it’s no wonder people are sad here.

Be sure to read our earlier article about Mental Health In Arizona.

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5 thoughts on “Poems About Arizona: Sad Tales of the Desert

  1. Josh says:

    I couldn’t have worded this any better. Arizona is like a “Soul Vampire”. There are only 2 seasons here. Really fucking hot and Bearable. Being a weather forecaster in Arizona must be easy. For 6 months all you have to say is, “It’s going to be sunny and really freaking hot today!” The other 6 months, “48 out tonight and 81 tomorrow morning!” That about sums up Arizona weather.

    As for the suicide rate in Arizona, doesn’t surprise me at all either. AZ Will suck the life right out of you, depress you, give you anxiety, and kill your inner child.

    Leave Arizona if you can!

    • No Arizona says:

      I imagine the depression of living here is what leads a lot of people to drugs, creating the huge drug problem. There is nothing fun to do outdoors in the Phoenix area, unless you like climbing mountains…which I do not. Give me a quiet, shady river bank, a fishing pole and a cooler full of beer…that’s my outdoors.

      The weather…ugh. The snowbirds sure seem to love it, but they leave as soon as it hits the 90’s. The 90’s are COOL for here. In the summer, you will often hear the weather man say it’s going to “cool down to 100”.

      My irritation point temperature-wise is 105. When it gets 105+, it’s unbearable and just pisses me off. It’s a different kind of heat, it burns your skin sort of like standing next to an open oven.

      I’ll be posting future articles about the heat, explaining why it gets so hot here and what it feels like (for those who haven’t experienced it yet).

      I agree with Josh, leave Arizona if you can! If you’re not here, stay away! The move isn’t worth it.

  2. marysparacinobortel says:

    Again, maybe because I’m an Arizona, this article is SO true that I laughed reading it! I love your opening paragraph! Then to read that arizona got a D+ for its mental healthy – LOL, not hard to believe!Sometimes I think only people who live here actually ‘get’ it.

  3. Mary- people who live here “do” get it, but this blog seems to ignore the beauty of Arizona. The grand canyon, the painted desert, the beautiful cactus blooms and wild flowers, the lakes, the mountains, the red rocks in Sedona…the list of beauty in our state is very long! Think of the positive things, everyone! (and this is coming from a landlocked sailor!)

  4. So much disdain spoken and dislike of Arizona. For some of you, a move to another state should be considered. But without an attitude change, some of you would be as depressed as you are at present. Try living in the dirty, dingy, crime wracked inner cities like Chicago or Detroit, or living through the cold and dreary winters of the Midwest. Try to enjoy life in the tornado areas of Oklahoma and face yearly killer hurricanes in Florida. Enjoy life swatting flies and mosquitoes in Louisiana. I know Arizona is not just about the Grand Canyon, and I know the summers are hot….but coming from muggy New York…I can tell you that the summers could also be uncomfortable with high humidity and bugs. Also….how do you like driving in traffic in all kinds of snow and ice, bumper to bumper, traffic accidents continuously, nasty drivers……and try driving in LA as well, with bad roads, smog…..get my point? Stop whining and complaining. Face life the way it is, be strong, have faith in God, and maybe once you really think about it….Arizona will not seem so bad after all.

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