Monthly Archives: February 2012

#30 Diga Me by Victor di Suvero

Diga me, tell me, the old man said,
How you will tell the children and
Their children when the time comes,
The old stories about the land and
About how we came here.

                                       Tell me
Once again how the stones at Chaco
Were set in lines to tell the stars
Up there in the sky where to shine

                                       Tell me
once again how the river ran
Through the canyon to flow out
Into the plains down here below
Where it was water all the way
Across from those hills in the east
To the mountain ridges where the sun
Goes down to sleep each night.

                                        Tell me
How you have learned to sing the songs
The mountain sings when Spring rushes
Into green and the apple trees and roses
Come out to see and be seen here
And in the villages down river that
Have been the homes for all of us
And make sure you still remember
How we came into this land
That welcomed us when we had
Had enough of all the other places
We had known before.

Victor di Suvero, award winning poet and publisher has been living in New Mexico for the past 23 years. He served as a Merchant Mariner and has been writing consistently since then. He still believes poetry is as necessary as air, as water and bread.

#29 At the Edges of the Pueblo by Margaret Randall

A great tree falls on a downed power line
and this time the fire is dubbed accidental:
Cerro Grande, Las Conchas,

no resources spared in a month of smoke-clogged sky
and the people of Los Alamos
finally breathe relief,

return to their homes, the threat of that other accident
still raking through memory.
PTSD common as the common cold.

To the southeast at Santa Clara, beyond the Jémez
they drain two irrigation ponds
of water foul with dead fish.

The ditchwater in Hernández is also black and plants grow slowly
thirsty for the nitrogen
cowering in sweet-scented legends.

One burned elk comes into a garden, is about to speak
then falls over and dies.
We wait for wind to sing his funeral dirge.

One list holds the language of anxiety: Oso Complex,
Dry Lakes, South Fork, Las Conchas, Cerro Grande.
Like broken thunder it overtakes

that other list: Cochiti Mesa, Puye, P’opii Khanu.
Turkey Girl is orphaned again
and gathers her charges who starve in secret canyons.

An ash cloud rises in air we cannot breathe.
People say they saved Los Alamos
and let Santa Clara burn.

At the edges of the pueblo all our ancestors weep.

—-

Margaret Randall returned to New Mexico in 1984. The New Mexican space and light are important to her work. Most recent titles include SOMETHING’S WRONG WITH THE CORNFIELDS (Skylight Press), and RUINS (University of New Mexico Press). She is also a photographer, and often combines images and texts.

#28 Elegy for Julie Graham by Glenna Luschei

Trimmers free my giant valley oak
of Spanish moss and mistletoe.
Over axe and saw I hear the drumbeat
from the high school band. Word arrives
from Albuquerque: my friend has died.

Can we call woman an oak? It’s Julie!
She packed adobe bricks by hand, called herself Datura,
Buffalo Woman to friends.
She took my hand to guide me through up to Acoma.
We blessed new homes in Zuni Shalako.

My son a baby, I carried him to Julie’s adobe.
His hair caught light from her stained glass.
Now he starts his senior year.
I hear the drumbeat of the band.

Hydraulic chairs lift pruners to the branch
where wisteria flowers in the oak.
I witness the ballet and plead with men to save
the purple bloom. My friend has died
in Albuquerque.

I hear the drumbeat of old land,
catch the desert scent of creosote bush.
My friend has died.

Glenna Luschei is the founding editor of Solo Press, now in its 45th year. Along with her support of magazines and publishers, Luschei works in the arts community. She lives in Carpinteria, California, where she tends her garden and her avocado orchard.

#27 Insomnia, Avenida de San Marcos by Barbara Rockman

Morning after morning, a foreign opera
wafts from her open windows into mine.
As I make coffee and turn off radio news,
from her apricot orchard into my lone apple tree,
the widow la dolorosa sings her zarzuela
and mourns.

While I scoop my Sunday paper,
Mrs. Lucero walks hunched under
bowed fruit to her son’s white Buick
and heads for mass.  Her mantilla
reminds me of crickets, of sewing machines
that stitch black lace to each backyard,the way wind rises as cicadas
shriek over our beds. Night after
night, Mrs. Lucero calls from sleep,
names her lost children and the city
where she was born. Through screens
she rasps, Ana, Miguel, Sierra Mojada. Night after night, the same
dog barks beyond my dark kitchen:
we’re insomniac in three languages.
Insects and birds overlap the gap between
night and day. Invisible newspapers thud front yards
while the dog yawns in Spanish, in English, in her own tongue.—

Barbara Rockman teaches poetry in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Recipient of two Pushcart Prize nominations, the New Mexico Discovery Award, The MacGuffin Poetry Prize,  and the Baskerville Publishers’ Award, she is the editor of Women Becoming Poems (Cinabar Press) and author of the collection, Sting and Nest (Sunstone Press), 2011.

#26 FOUR A.M. by Henry Shukman

This is the hour the troubled man
hears the call of a train looping up a valley
and knows he must leave his home,
and also that he won’t;

the hour the desperate wife
clutches her robe at the neck
and bathes herself in the light of a fridge,
having nowhere else to turn.

The poet looking out her window
at this hour sees she must
resolve her loves once and for all,
but only writes another poem.

Already a big dog lifts its woof into the air.
Something smaller answers: yap yap.
Soon the stars will withdraw one by one,
and milk lighten the coffee, and there won’t

be anything left but ordinary day.
No one would guess not an hour ago
creation lay open like the back of a watch
and an early waker saw it all.

Henry Shukman’s first poetry collection won Book of the Year in the Guardian and Times (London). He lives in New Mexico where he writes for the New York Times and teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts. His novels include The Lost Cit, a New York Times Editor’s Choice.

#25 LOSING THE CAMINO by Jane Shoenfeld

Leaving Camino San Acacio

Erased, she wanders
in dirt and sparse grass,
past the generous trees.

No one sees her near
the others’ adobes.

Where are her hands
that plucked apples?

Where is breath,
left thinner,
climbing steep terrain?

Could this be
the doorway
that once was hers?

A silhouette lingers,
in ruts off dead ends,
lost in mica dust,
longing for home near
the lane of apricots.

Jane Shoenfeld is a painter and poet.  She lived in NYC  from 1963 to 1987, when she moved to NM.  Her father was a journalist and her  mother wrote short fiction. Her paintings are the cover art  for several recent  poetry journals and she has written poetry for many years.

#24 Lessons in Purple Adobe Salma Ruth Bratt

Covet the peace of others
But not permanence
Permanence is not like adobe
That breathes air and water
That throws down bricks from the sky
That slips and slides its muddy way

Covet joy
But not permanence
Permanence is not like adobe
That perforates, permeates, performs

Covet fleeting moments
Permanence is for dreamers or drifters or bridge builders
Who imagine a legacy

Adobe is for the brave, the realist
Who knows how rain and wind have their way with us
How human creations come crashing
How they implode under a strange and mysterious weight

Salma Ruth Bratt is a second generation American with interests in the literature and linguistics of immigrants. She loves her family, traveling abroad, passionate readers and writers, theater, and the music of good listeners. Her work is often completed in collaboration with Moulay Youness Elbousty, to whom she is grateful.

#23 From SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST by Linda Monacelli-Johnson

1

To postpone
succumbing to Santa Fe’s cold,
we drive down to Bosque del Apache.
Some birds winter
here; others fly on.

Cruising and pausing
along fields and marshes,
we absorb the nonchalance
of ducks and coots, the sunny
flute song of a meadowlark, the pristine
visage of snow geese
against voluptuous
mountains, the dancer’s grace
of a great blue heron, the bright epaulets
of red-winged
blackbirds, the rufous luster
of kestrels, the emblematic majesty
of a bald eagle, the unfurled
drying wings
of a low-perched cormorant,
the rolling calls and streamlined
energy of sandhill cranes.

Dreams brush us with feathers.
We rise before the sun
to resume our watch,
then flee
even farther south.

Linda Monacelli-Johnson is a writer and editor with a master’s degree in English literature. In 1977 she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, from Cleveland, Ohio. Three collections of her poems have been published: Lacing the Moon (Cleveland State University Poetry Center), Weathered (Sunstone Press), and Campanile (Drummer Press).

#22 The Turquoise Trail by Lew Watts

O Gemstone of the People,
lath of the domed skies of mosques,
you paved and plied the Silk Road
toward the wanton eyes of France
where you were called “pierre turquoise”
or Turkish Stone, though Persians held
your soul within the lodes of Isfahan.

Despite your fame
I know that you are merely bulbs
of cryptocrystalline phosphate,
a hydrous web of botryoidal copper
that bubbled out of vugs and veins
to form those perfect azure blues
and the ferrous greens of terror.

I’m surprised to find you are not a trail.
Instead, you are 1500 square miles
bound solely by the spirit of a stone,
a stone that calls the new moon,
a talisman that brings the rains,
that teases chicken-shit pittances
before the Palace of the Governors.

I never knew it was a path
I had to take until the day I placed
those cabouchons around your neck.
And then the ring you gave to draw me in:
at dawn I hold it to my eyes
and in its stone, so varicosed,
I see the fractured cataracts of clouds
and know I’ve almost reached the end.

Lew Watts is originally from Wales and now lives and works in Santa Fe and Chicago. His most recent work has appeared 14by14, Able Muse, Decanto, Modern Haiku, The Raintown Review and Orbis amongst others and his first collection Lessons for Tangueros was published in 2011.

#21 Empire of Dust by Michelle Holland

The water’s path etched patterns
in the arroyo, like veins,
like ebb tide and no ocean,
the glittery mica and black basalt
edging some of the grooves.

These are best to run on,
firm now, two inches of sand just
the day before the Sunday downpour.
Thunder and lightning, hail that shredded
the corn leaves and left the beets tattered.
Everything will survive, though,
and the thunder called the spade-foot toads out.

When I turned the corner to the dam,
I heard them, and smiled as a I ran.
Thousands of slippery creatures crawled
from the dry dusty ground
and waited for the torrents of water
to wind their rivulets and converge
behind the dam, fill the containment pond
for the first time since last October.

Water erodes the dust, exposing old bones,
cleaning out silted-in arroyos,
creating new paths.  The land and water
work together, regardless of culvert pipes
and bottom land.

I love the give of the earth
on the new moist silt run-off
from the surrounding mountains.
My foot falls gentle, the push off
into the next stride reminds
me of the ease of momentum,
the juxtaposition of dust and breath.

Michelle Holland lives and writes in Chimayo, New Mexico.  Her books include the New Mexico Book Award winning collection, The Sound a Raven Makes, Tres Chicas Press 2007; and Chaos Theory, Sin Fronteras Press, 2009.

#20 Wings by Darla McBryde

Driving on the high road to Taos
now and then you see a magpie
maybe two or three
flashes of black and white
sometimes a red winged blackbird,
it’s like God is throwing a
lucky hand of cards across the sky.

Darla McBryde resides in Houston. Her work has appeared in various publications, and she is an avid supporter of poetry.  She has been a venue host and a featured poet in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.  She is presently working on a collection of northern New Mexico themed poetry

#19 3 AM, the Plains of San Agustin by Israel Wasserstein

There would be no sound were it not for the wind,
etching its history in dust across the high desert,
pulling sediment laid down by that ancient lake
in whose basin I stand, beneath the arc of stars,
where the first humans to walk this land left tools,
evidence of their ancient path along the water’s edge.

Here the land breathes, here the earth finds its edge
along the Great Divide. Here the song is the wind’s,
and the rocks became the first tools.
The trick of the place: it was not always desert.
The wheeling sky and the timeless stars
are no more eternal than the land-that-was-lake.

Once the red planet was dotted with lakes,
and once volcanoes, not antennas, cut the edge
of this sky—I am learning to listen to the stars.
Here I am a guest, interloper of wind,
thin air and slow time of the desert,
which preserves and disdains all our tools.

In this State of pollen-yellow sands, we built tools
to break earth from earth, to flood the sky with lakes
of ash, to shatter millennial quiet of the desert.
In a moment, we carry ourselves to the edge
of annihilation, and trail death on the wind:
this will not disturb the wandering stars.

May I hold in myself the scope of stars,
and in my hands fragile Pleistocene tools,
see the blessings and fury of the wind,
for I am here, and here remains a lake,
and the past is with me, and the future’s hungry edge,
and I am not the ancient desert,

but I may rest where night meets desert.
May I know the dignity of the stuff of stars,
as the Array whispers we may be on the edge
of contact, and not all tools are tools
of war. Let me remember the lake,
and the people who drank of it, and the wind.

I stand amidst desert, amidst monuments to the edge
of our reach, and the stars are not mine, and the lake
is not ours, and our tools are exposed by the wind.

Israel Wasserstein received his MFA from the University of New Mexico and currently teaches at Washburn University. His first collection of poetry, This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, is forthcoming from Woodley Press.

#18 NUEVO MEXICO by Mary Morris

This is the land of duende.

Penitente erect crosses on hills,
flagellate beyond highways—

air dry enough, land hard enough
to grow thorns on cactus for the crown of Jesus

while flamenco dancers stomp their feet
in dark corners of smoky bars,

spark flames in the hearts
of Donna and Juan’s irrepressible desire.

Shhh.  In every village on Sunday you are offered
to eat and drink the body and blood of Christ.

Amethyst mountains rise luminous—
nine thousand feet of pulled sediment.

-first published in Poet Lore

Mary Morris is the winner of the Rita Dove Award and the New Mexico Discovery Award.  Her work appears widely, and is  included in Quarterly West, Indiana Review, Gargoyle, Blue Mesa Review, Southern Humanities Review,The Sun, and  St. Petersburg Review.

#17 NEW MEXICO FRAGMENTS (1-4) by Valerie Martinez

1.
The sky’s a triplet—
indigo, navy, dusty pink.
Thirteen gargantuan ravens.
Bits in their beaks; Asian eyes.
Cheeky moon playing Jupiter.
I count nineteen black branches
and Lorca’s three gold letters:
SUN.

2.
The curve of the horizon
and white interior walls.
Which is to say,
a woman and a man
in a room of light,
and the earth supine
under a violet sky.
Is to say, the ceremony
of the body. A hand wanders
to a chip of wulfenite,
a mile away from the arrowhead,
dug up. To say,
I pull the clay up and out,
round and high as I am.

3.
We cannot explain our love of mountains,
clay-red, dotted with piñon, chamisa, yucca.
Perhaps it is the expanse between them,
the sky which fills the space, immense,
the breath opened up like a holy book
blank and ever-blue, on and on.

4.
Seeing O’Keeffe’s “Patio Door”
we cannot but think of the tongue,
the tongue on fire. It floats,
as does the oblique darkness of door,
the adobe wall going left,
the sky’s blue mist lifting.
Here is the eye’s ruse, suspension,
the leaf gone green and hot yellow.
The breath. The utter silence.
Gone aloft.

#16 Cottonwood Mall Food Court Blessing by Joey Nicoletti

Peter at the cash register taking and repeating
your order—oh Rome slurping snow, oh
Peter fishing and denying, oh Simon
Peter telling Thomas to Super-size this in “The Last Supper,”

bless please the security guards strolling through the mall
helpless as screwdrivers.  Bless now
the photo booths, immortalizing the day
I bought my stop-sign red Chuck Taylor kicks—

and the exonerated woman in her lingerie nightmare,
her nightmare of cameras and guilt.  Peter,
lean on the counter clean shaven and bless
with easy listening like a brook of diet soda,
the boredom foaming at the mouth of my large Coca-Cola.

Joey Nicoletti is the author of Borrowed Dust (Finishing Line Press) and Cannoli Gangster (Turning Point Books, 2012). A graduate of the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College and former poetry editor of Puerto del Sol, Joey currently teaches creative writing and literature at Niagara University.

#15 Qi Gong on the Bosque by Jules Nyquist

On the banks of the Bosque you show me Qi Gong.
You pose for me like a crane or a snake
arms raised, palms out, breath.
My body copies.
I focus
on a single clump of grass,
white reeds as my mantra.

We come together in breath, touch lips
and breathe together, one stance to the world.

You tell me your sword
rests on the opposite edge
of the continent
and I imagine you naked,
here on the banks of the Rio Grande
legs apart, arms outstretched —
your silver sword glinting in the sunlight.

 —

Jules Nyquist lives in Albuquerque and is the creator of the Poetry Playhouse studio at Factory on 5th Art Space.  She received her MFA from Bennington College, VT  and loves to play with poetry and form.  Her website is www.julesnyquist.com

#14 From Taos to Gallup and Canyon de Chelly by Natalie Goldberg

You still come to me like a fresh lover
Woman of brown and pale pink
I should have left everything for you
should have gone so deep into your heart
I’d get lost in yellow aspen leaves
stand on the straw of your autumn

I should never have taken another lover
I should have walked your hills
till my soles burned
till the sky that old dwarf
opened its secrets
till someone stopped whispering your name 1,000 miles away

Natalie Goldberg is a poet, teacher, and the author of eleven books, including her classic, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within–which has sold more than a million and a half copies and has been translated into fourteen languages–Wild Mind, Long Quiet Highway, Living Color, and The Great Failure. She has taught seminars for thirty years to people from around the world, and lives in northern New Mexico.

#13 The Limits of Civilization by Elizabeth Raby

Eleven o’clock in the morning,
the scream of coyotes
from the neighbor’s front yard
brings us out from our winter-sealed
rooms to stand in the snow
admiring the snarls, yips and howls.
Between us and them, the coyote
fence, as advertised, does its work,
so the chorus is heard but not seen.
We don’t know how many choristers
nor the cause of their dissonant song,
but it is somehow comforting to realize,
that even here in the city, creatures
so uncivilized, so anarchic and wild,
persist and thrive.

Elizabeth Raby’s three full-length collections have been published by vacpoetry.org, the most recent being This Woman. Raby has lived in Santa Fe since 2000.  She has read at the New Mexico Women Authors Book Festival and has given workshops for New Mexico Women in the Arts.

#12 Espinacitas Street by Richard Wells

Deep and rumble voice
of witch woman neighbor
some kind of Spanish
and it’s not a Hail Mary.

Cigarette voice
of youngest drunk son
some kind of answer
and it’s not “Amen.”

Barrio night.

Beer can hits the street
rolls to curb
stops.

Car doors slam –
ignition, radio.

Girl laughs
dogs bark
car pulls away – slow.

Wind in the trees – quiet.

Cerrillos Road and St. Mike’s –
low sound of cruisers like boats
around an island.

Richard Wells lived in Santa Fe from 1970 to 1985.  They were some of the best years of his life.  He moved because he was angry.  He’s no longer as angry, and though he’d love to move back, it’s unlikely.  Richard hates referring to himself in the third person.

#11 THE LOSS OF JUAN PEREA’S EYES by Juan Morales

Every night, Juan Perea becomes
a cat.  He inserts borrowed eyes
into sockets, and on the table,

rests his eyes in a saucer.
Assuming cat’s tail, body arch,
he tiptoes between houses.
He recites hexes burned

into memory
like cooked cat bones.
He delivers curses to neighbors—

worms poisoning food, mice growing
inside stomachs, the stealing
of a man’s beating heart
until the morning he returns home,

drops to his knees before
the upturned table, hungry dog
devouring his eyes.