Monthly Archives: May 2012

#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,, 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.


#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

#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.

#79 Por seguro it had worked for her daughter by Katherine Seluja

One star for each of Andromeda’s sons

each of my grandmother’s babies

six times Constantina was called to the house

entered backwards to invoke a swift labor

crushed lavender and rosemary to induce a sweet birth

medal of St. Margaret wrapped twice ’round her neck

protected the newborn’s fate           barefoot always for the delivery

Amniotic fluid streaking the sky

what spell or incantation to hold me

a woman from Cuyamungue once said

the sure way to ease labor pains

hard boil an egg     roll it gently

on forehead   throat and stomach

repeat this nine times

she was sure it had worked for her daughter

Katherine Seluja received degrees from Yale and Columbia University.  Her poems frequently reflect her healthcare experiences and have appeared in Adobe Walls, Santa Fe Literature Review, Sin Fronteras and New Mexico Poetry Review.  Her co-authored book, Braided Voices, was selected for the 2011 New Mexico Women Authors Festival.

#78 Taos, New Mexico by Don McIver

Gritty dark brown earth imbedded in my cheek snaps me awake.
My bike looks fine.
Nothing’s broken, but my head, my spinning head, says,
“Keep looking.  What happened?”
A hillside trail winds across a ridge above Taos.

Maybe Georgia O’Keeffe saw this spot, but I doubt she saw it like I see it now?

Spinning head, the sudden quick shift of my bike spinning out below me,
dumped me into the ground.
Blood seeps out of my scrapes as beads then slow winding rivulets down my legs.

From the distance of my eyes inside my head
my right thigh, hip, love handle, lats, and shoulder
look as if a bear had raked 4 claws down my side.

The “tear-proof” map is torn:
A long scrape and then a dime-sized hole.
Maybe Georgia O’Keeffe saw this spot, but I doubt she saw it like I see it now?

Down the front, about the size of my middle finger, my helmet is broken.
The outer plastic bruised, then cracked, then split as the styro-foam is crushed into pieces,
broken from an impact I don’t remember, but can’t forget.

In legend, Georgia O’Keeffe claimed these hills as her own,
put canvas on easel and smeared rivulets of oil, acrylic,
colors as radiant as chili peppers, crying suns, turquoise, and onyx.

These hills of jagged borders of crushed pottery, Kokopelli lawn art, and radiation symbols
become smashed helmets, bloody lines of red down pink flesh.
As the car, 20 miles away, means I’ve got lots more to ride today.

Georgia O’Keeffe saw this spot, made these colors her own on canvas.
As I dripped blood into soil I hope I never see so close again.

Don McIver is the Co-Artistic Director of the Local Poets Guild, a former ABQ poetry slammer, a public radio host, author of The Noisy Pen, and editor of UNM Press’ A Bigger Boat. He’s performed at/produced poetry events and published in numerous magazines and anthologies.

#76 The Invisibles by Thelma Mathias

We are the other
Those not seen by  the dominants with white eyes.
Strong faces, see our colors, bodies of knowledge
you were never taught.
Toes digging into earth sienna
Deeper than white pebbles can fall to earth,
Words from beating hearts drum,
Pain through tongues of time
We are the other,  but for moments conscious
Like this,
all one.

In 2001, Mathias’ passionate relationship with Mexico manifested in her move to Santa Fe from NYC, her birthplace. Her life’s work is conceptual sculpture using mundane materials focused on cultural, political issues.  Visual work might include text- her own or found, reflecting her love of literature, creative writing, semiotics and such.

#75 Two Haiku by Lib O’Brien

Over Bosque brush
A raven soars—black velvet
Painted sunrise red


Dead salt grass covers
Copper cross-bow tips—
Death by the Bosque.

Lib O’Brien, former professor of American Literature, Drew University, Madison, N.J. is an Eastern transplant now living in Santa Fe.  She is studying poetry with New Mexico poets Miriam Sagan and Joan Logghe and belongs to the High Desert Poets.

#74 Chalk Circles by Hugh Behm-Steinberg

It was a beautiful day, cool weather, the sky was perfectly blue;
in Los Alamos, we stood indoors.
On the laboratory table, there were two uranium slugs, a Geiger counter gently ticking.
Equations exist for calculating chain reactions.
This is how the bomb works, but how do you know, how do you find out,
how much is needed, how close
together should the two slugs be, and for how long?
Some would argue that knowledge is impossible without experience.
I wish they were wrong.
There were eight of us, and Professor Slotin
was conducting an experiment.  I remember he was using a
screwdriver, and his hand slipped.
Something horrible happened.  The air turned blue
with what must have been waves of radiation;
it smelled like how it must be after a lightning strike.
He threw his body over the uranium, and pulled the slugs apart with his bare hands.
Professor Slotin told us to stand
in our places, while he drew chalk circles on the blackboard
estimating distances and the dosage received.
I was standing towards the back of the room when all this happened.  What if I had stood closer?
Louis Slotin died a horrible death, you can
read the report if you want to, I don’t want to,
I want to know whether I am dead.
I want to know whether I will turn into a monster, or will
my children be monsters, will I make them that way?
I want to know if I am free, or allowed to leave,
because I still can’t decide whether I walked out of that room,
or this is some dark heaven I am sharing with the also dead, who are so afraid of dying
they won’t admit they’re dead.  I am asked how I feel.  Sometimes I tell them
I feel like I don’t belong here, I know I should be enjoying each breath, but I can’t decide.
I can’t disprove this suspicion.  Are these men around me doctors or
uniformed angels?  I don’t know and they tell me to relax:  they say
this world is a little better than it could have been, even if
it is not as good as we expected.

*Note:  Dr. Louis Slotin was the first person to die in an atomic accident, May 30, 1946.

Hugh Behm-Steinberg is the author of Shy Green Fields (No Tell Books) and two Dusie chapbooks, Sorcery and Good Morning! His poems have appeared in several literary magazines. He teaches writing at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where he edits the journal Eleven Eleven.

#73 West of El Santuario de Guadalupe by Jamie Figueroa

A mourning dove steps over cracks in a stone walk,
her breast webbed in strands of fading sunlight.

The neighbor’s cat unrolls his tongue, a spiked yawn,
whispers his tail in a communion of fallen leaves.

Men bent over, shuffle their lives in patched camouflage
knapsacks. From the corner liquor store, their voices coat

the street. Arturo Moreno stands on one leg in his yard,
with the other leg, bruises the ribs of his perro pequeno.

Women gather their children under clothes lines. Wooden pins
grip, while toothless smiles flower from beneath damp canvas

work shirts. A parked truck will not start, its rusted
body trembles, exhaust tainting the smell of carne frito
as it blackens on the burner in casa 314.

Dust rises at the vein stitched feet of Senora Mendoza, recently
ninety-two, as she beats the sidewalk with a yellow plastic broom.

Jamie Figueroa is a student majoring in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has been published in various literary journals including Split Oak Press and Eklecksographia. Her blog “With This Pen” explores race, identity, and relationships and runs in the Santa Fe Reporter’s online edition.

#72 TWO MARCH VISITS TO CUNDIYO by Linda Monacelli-Johnson

Friday, March 13

What luck! My bit of bank is dry enough
for lying down. Last year’s leaves are crisp.
Words rush by like the river I’m fantasy-rafting.
So much warmer than Valentine’s
Day—when you and I huddled
on a boulder high above icy
water. Now bubbles ride a muddy rumble.
The air is calm and moist.

Back through the gate of snarled
willows—their gray velvet catkins hatched
from glossy red pods, ladybug jackets—I unzip
mine and head toward that boulder alone.
You’re in Missouri; yet, mica flecks,
sprinkled all over like magic dust,
are bright as can be, since the noon
sky has not one cloud.

Through sun-augmented
needle scent of ponderosa
I at last come out of the canyon
to cows and calves in a pasture.

Tuesday, March 31

The overcast is a tent.
Under it the fragrance of tender
sage leaves intensifies.
You pick a few and rub
the gray-green into your mustache
just before kissing me.

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).

#71 Nana del Viento by Belinda Laumbach

Sopla el viento
Juega con mi pelo
como un niño.

Llego a casa.

Mamá me Saluda
con cariño.

Entra el viento
conmigo por la
puerta abierta.

Ella llama a mi padre, diciéndole,
“Mira, Martín, llegó la
nana del viento.”

Mother of the Wind

The wind blows.

It plays with my hair
like a child.

I go home.

Mother greets me
with love.

The wind enters
with me through
the open door.

Mother calls to father,
“Look, Martin, the mother
of the wind has arrived.”

Belinda Pacheco Laumbach was raised on a ranch in New Mexico.  One of her poems was included in a publication as a result of a competition for Hispanic Women Writers of New Mexico.  Although bilingual, her poetry “comes out” only in Spanish and only around themes related to the environment.

#70 Aubade for Ute Park by Lee Eric Freedman

Shafts of gold
the rhythm of the river
its gentle rain
brushes past my lips

Pierce the trees

i hear its voice
in everything
at first break of light

And burn the morning mists of dawn

The Renegade Poet Laureate of Swampscott, Massachusetts, in 2002, Lee Eric Freedman recited his poetry while standing on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.  Lee’s poems have appeared in Soundings East, This Magazine, Bray Arts Journal (Ireland), and YouTube.

#69 The Land Knows Us By Victor di Suvero

The striations along the mountain’s sides
Tell us of histories that began and ran
In this land long before the Indian came
Before Oñate and his band came up
From Zatatecas to find gold up here
Which they did not find.
But found instead
A land of dawns that sing and also days full
Of the kinds of work that make one pleased
And evenings by the fires that smile
With us when we have done the work.

The treasures that exist are in the stories
That are told by the viejitos to the young
The stories that sing and laugh and
Turn into the ones the young will tell
Their children when they grow old.

We can
Be certain of one thing alone as we come to know
How life moves in these canyons and out over
The plains that, as each year turns, we also
Turn to thank what brought us here and,
As we have come to know this land we sing
That the land has come to know us.

Victor di Suvero, award winning poet and publisher has been living in New Mexico for the past 23 years. Born in Italy, raised in China, he arrived in the US in 1941, just before WWII. 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.