Just over three years ago, after making a wrong turn on a hike, Ed Rosenthal, The Poet Broker of Downtown L.A., was lost for 6 days in Joshua Tree National Park. He was (and is) a close friend and hiking buddy of mine. It was a desperate, anguishing 6 days for all who knew Ed. Millions of others learned of “the missing hiker” on TV news. The temperature climbed above 100 degrees every day that week. Miraculously, Ed survived.
Upon his rescue, I hastily called a press conference to satisfy the clamoring media. (The event was held at Downtown L.A.’s Clifton’s Cafeteria, as Ed had just brokered the sale of the building prior to his ill-fated trip.) Dozens of reporters – local to international – heard Ed’s amazing story, though he had barely processed the ordeal himself.
Now, three years later, he has processed the experience. Beautifully. Ed has just published The Desert Hat, Survival Poems (Moonrise Press). And reading it is an astonishing experience in its own right.
If Ed has just recounted his dramatic story, that would have been a good read. But Ed is a poet. He gropes for elusive meanings in his transformational desert suffering.
Recurring images broaden into symbols, link, and elevate the book into, essentially, one extended poem. At times – perhaps regressing to childhood memories – he comes close to the mystery of self… such as this section from “Elizabeth B. Moon Canyon”:
You left me branded with a wish to return
to your heart. After a week in a furnace
bookended by unsafe vertices, cruel precipices,
a last minute door of death rescue, the rush
to the emergency room and a miraculous family reunion,
I was left only crying for you,
We are all better for Ed having survived.
(photo of Ed Rosenthal by Gary Leonard)