#87 Querencia by Darla McBryde

There are nights when the painter’s moon
living at the top of the night’s magic ladder
runs its shiny fingers
through the ashes of Georgia O’Keefe,
and the Cerro Pedernal whispers to the shadows.

Abiquiu Lake keeps its secrets
deep down in the Rio Chama.
Cast away with buried spells,
the flooded pictographs defy the mission bells
and still dare
to tell their ancient stories.
Standing there on the shore all alone,
just as the last rays of the autumn sun
ride the ripples of nightfall,
there where the veil is thin,
there where the dreaming light
has carved the land from wind and wishes,
you will feel the old ones watching.
You will know
you are all colors of the earth and sky,
some never seen.

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

#86 Valley of Fires, with Snow by Shirley Balance Blackwell

From Capitan’s fog-shrouded heights, the two-lane highway drops,
descends through stone-slashed mountain passes,
then arrows west across the Tularosa Basin floor

into the Valley of Fires.  Miles of dark, volcanic outcrops
sprawl, now eerily quiescent, honeycombed by gases
that bubbled from the cauldron in the planet’s core.

The lava flow is frozen into cinder-blackened slag.
A bighorn sheep stands sentinel on a rocky crag.

Farther down the asphalt road, along the wintry plains,
lies unholy Trinity, where, with atomic torch,
man, not nature, fused White Sands in monumental flash,

melted into shields of glass pearlescent, tiny grains.
Today, a rime of frost outlines the rugged, wind-scorched
brush, as icy mist encases ashen, struggling tufts of grass.

Black or white?  No easy answers from that fateful day
that wed bright fire to silver wings of the Enola Gay.

*Along a 70-mile stretch of desolate highway that crosses the vast Tularosa Basin in central New Mexico lie two unique natural wonders:  Valley of Fires State Park is a 125-square-mile field of crumpled, fissured black rock from an ancient  lava flow.  A few miles away is White Sands National Monument, 275 square miles of dazzling gypsum dunes.  At the north end of these dunes is Trinity Site, where, on 16 July 1944, the first atomic bomb was tested.  The aircraft Enola Gay ferried the atomic bomb that exploded over Hiroshima, Japan, three weeks later.

Shirley Balance Blackwell returned to her beloved New Mexico in 1997 after a career in national security. Named the Kitchener Foundation’s 2010 NM Sr. Poet Laureate and, in May 2011, president of the NM State Poetry Society, she lives in Los Lunas with her husband and two large rescue dogs.

#85 Rainbow Gathering in the Jemez, 2009 by Jennifer Simpson

I close my eyes and will my soul to follow the rhythm of drums.
Instead my breath reaches deep and the saxophone blows night
air, touching the moon high above the ponderosa pines.  I am
bare feet, a purple mountain lily, a batik skirt swirling in the
afternoon sun. Thick dollops of rain drop thump and we dance
until we are sliding on meadow grass wet with mud. I count white
butterflies one, two—a man stands naked, warrior pose, his gaze
distant and strong. Behind the teepee a red-bandanaed shaman
sweeps away spirits with his bundle brush of sage whispering
truths you may or may not be ready to hear.  He gave me three
kernels of blue corn.

Jennifer Simpson received her MFA in Creative Writing this spring (2012) from the University of New Mexico.  Her work has appeared in Bartelby Snopes, Creative Human, StyleStubstanceSoul.com, and “A Year in Ink, Vol. V,” an anthology of San Diego writers.  She is the founder Duke City DimeStories, an open mic for prose.

Navajo Barbecue by Laurie Bower

The heat will be almost unbearable later on
but on this warm spring day at the Simms Ranch
near Chaco Canyon – and nothing else…
Navajo ranchers have gathered
Neighbors of a vast, wide open sort
encompassing seven sections of land the white man didn’t want
until coal and uranium were discovered
but never mind that
Today we dine on a tender beef brisket
smoked to perfection by Justin Yazzie
who stayed up most of the night before, tending the smoker
We eat the liver – sacred organ of the lamb
Eaten first in reverence and gratitude
for its vital role in keeping her healthy
The small intestine is a delicacy
It looks like the old spiraled telephone cords
(and sort of tastes like one!)
Often it is served wrapped around the large intestine for a real treat
The duodenum looks like a sponge, with a honeycombed exterior
“It’s a designer change purse,”  a ranchwoman tells me –
“best fried, like calamari!
These ranchers work small herds of cattle on large arid tracts of land
on nothing but a lease – and faith – and necessity…
They defy my understanding of what is possible
Their life must be so hard, I think
And yet, there is lightness in their laugher, a sparkle in their eyes
And both strength and warmth emanate from their extended hands
A noticeable lack of judgment fills the air – and frees my soul
Beautiful people
Feels like Home


Laurie Bower is currently best known as an unknown poet, homesteading and pioneering in the hinterlands of New Mexico and beyond.  Her work in sustainable agriculture and with Native Americans, along with a love of the natural world, has provided a source of inspiration for many of her poems. thepoetlaurie@hotmail.com


#84 Outside the fourth story window by Samantha Tetangco

Albuquerque gleams like Vegas.
Red lights break along the strip,
an inflamed spine that recedes
like the bet this city placed in 1706—
Still waiting to cash out.

Samantha Erin Tetangco’s fiction and poetry have appeared and in Phoebe, the Oklahoma Review, Gargoyle, and others.  She has an MFA from the University of New Mexico and served as editor for Blue Mesa Review.  Tetangco currently teaches creative writing and composition at the University and blogs at writersmarch.wordpress.com.

#83 New Mexico Sky by Maril Crabtree

Looks like you could climb into its lap
and disappear. The stark blue arcs down
to meet brown desert, yellow-bloomed chollas

and all the room you need to breathe.

Feathery fringes of clouds —
a single breath could suck them up.
If this blue haze were liquid

I would be drunk with lapping

Maril Crabtree’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, most recently I-70 Review, Persimmon Tree, Third Wednesday and the anthology Begin Again (Woodley Press, 2011). A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has two chapbooks, Dancing with Elvis (2005) and Moving On (2010) and is Poetry Co-editor for Kansas City Voices.

#82 Wind by Sheila Cowing

Come with me on this worn track
through the old Simpson ranch,
the wind a watery blast on my face
so harsh I squeeze my left eye
tight shut, a Clementi sonatina
swept right out of my humming
when I squat to pull a cholla spine
from the dog’s paw. Every six feet
or so, another brown dusty worm,
I thinking tonight they’ll freeze.
An old Hispanic shepherd
south of here wrapped each sheep in a shirt
after the March shearing; oh they must have been
a sight, hundreds of them in their khaki suits
skittering into yellowed meadow on little black hooves!
But the old man passed; his son
thought that silly; one March,
a storm took near a third the flock.
The car’s near, the junipers blow
bronze with pollen, no way
any of us can escape this wind.

Sheila Cowing lives with her coon hound Louise in the shadows of two mountain ranges.  She has published award-winning children’s nonfiction and two collections of poetry, Stronger in the Broken Places and Jackrabbit Highways.

#81 Stella by Catherine Ferguson

She cooked the best chile, they said.

We crown her with red pods, braids of garlic.

She stands in the kitchen, stirring the pork with a wooden spoon.

On her refrigerator, school photos of nineteen grandchildren

   slide from under saints pictured on magnets.

Soft blue-gray hair curls over the smile of her face.

She was the electric beam in the middle of the night

   that beat like a heart and comforted the chickens.

out her window, Camino los Abuelos slid down toward

   the church. Her view of this life– all things sliding

      toward holy. She brushes her glasses up on her nose

         with a dainty hand, wedding ring surprises the light.

How will he live without her?

Serapio stands in the empty kitchen.

Her ghost chops the onion fine.

He moves to stop her hands, hold the body that always smelled

   of sugar and vanilla in his arms once more, rub his old cheek

      on her cheek. He wants to lay her gently in his lap,

keep her from flying out the window.

A hundred bluebirds peck at the dawn star as she dies

   and rises again, dies and rises, as she stands in the present

      moment  and listens carefully to his complaint,

to the echo that accomplishes his mourning song.

He will always remember her, the soft mouth, the prayers that escaped

   her throat and ribboned into the fields, and the taste,

      so picante, so startling red, of her delicious chile.

Catherine Ferguson is a poet and painter. Inspired by landscape and animals she creates watercolors, oils, retablos and poems that express her love of nature.Catherine is the author of eight chapbooks.  In 2007, she received the New Mexico Book Award for The Sound a Raven Makes, with two other poets.

#80 Las Dos by Laurie Hilton

O’Keeffe was claiming Abiquiu,
up the hill A bomb was brewing,
still, The Two homesteaded outside of Santa Fe,
built adobe houses to be alone together.

Maimie Meadors would not give in to TB.
Nina Otero-Warren refused to ride side saddle.
Taught by the still Tewa how to grow,
beans and corn and pray for rain.

The Patient outliving a verdict by twenty-five years,
and the Widow, by Catholic loophole, squatters
in a wild, lonely canyon broken by storms
that still gather quickly along the Jemez.

Mostly dry arroyos fingered through the plots,
below the ridge where the women hid their still,
still there with remnants of bullet-holed cans
shot in mid-air under the haze of cooling clouds.

Five months, at least, each year secluded
to write and grow with the changing climate.
Reforming the State of things for women,
discussing catch and release, as it relates to men.

Crossing the meadow between two hills,
pockets full of osha to still the snakes,
hiding in eye-lashed, blue grama, to houses
where jealous geraniums grew in coffee cans.

Along the Rio Grande, between muted mountains,
carving out a life with smooth resolve,
cutting through the clutter and the cordons,
like the Cooper’s hawk that lives there, still.

Laurie Hilton was born in West Texas.  She has lived in Santa Fe, NM for the past 25 years and began writing poetry in 2007.  Her poems have been published in Adobe Walls and the Rag.  She is co-author of Braided Voices, a collection of poetry accepted by New Mexico Women Authors Book Festival in 2011.

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