#108 MRS. FRANCIS NA KAI AT THE BIRTHDAY PARTY by Jennifer Givhan

After Laura Gilpin’s book The Enduring Navajo (1961)
University of New Mexico Art Museum

…who showedincredible composure
at a formal dinner we both attended, especially
for someone who didn’t speak a word of English…
Mrs. Francis Na Kai of the woven blanket. Your boy
spoke in code. 1932 you are snapshot with him, your eldest
son. Where has he gone in the 1950 family portrait?
What piñon smoke has eaten your hogan? What boxed diorama, spectacled theater of WWII?
You dignify the rocker, your younger children
barefoot at your skirt. Pearls secure your neck.
Your daughter stands guard from behind.
The red rock of your skin scorches
the photographer’s lens. Laura earned this picture,
has known you all these years on your reservation.
She saved your first boy once,  gave him
vaccinations. Your boy who should’ve been standing
beside his dad. Your boy in whose place, an American Flag.

Jennifer Givhan was a 2010 PEN Center Emerging Voices Fellow and a 2011 St. Lawrence Book Award finalist.  Her work has appeared widely, most recently in Rattle, Crab Creek Review, and The Santa Fe Review. She lives in Albuquerque and is finishing her first novel In the Time of Jubilee. http://jennifergivhan.com/.

#107 The Wreckage by Casandra Lopez

We wait for word of Brother.
Doctor’s words. Then word comes, someone says, Brain Dead  and we wait
again, for his passing into the next world.
My throat is paralyzed, strung
dry and tight. Night falls into morning, into afternoon. Then the pronouncement.
Grandmother must be told,
of Brother’s death, she tastes those words and
howls, punctures the morning clouds. Desert now blooms–
grief.

Her walnut skin sags, dampens. I see now–how much we carry, within us
how much liquid we keep, but
I want only to be bone. So I tell the hawks to eat me clean, marrow and all. Turn me
to carcass, leave no fat or tenderness behind because
when I return–from hospital, without you, I can’t eat or sleep. Fearing the aperture
of loss, I bite my lip tight, bloody it good. Until finally,
I come undone.  I am an ocean, a sea
surge–that floods and floods,
I curl my knees to chest, and blanket myself.  Hold on tight, to your empty bed, and still
I cyclone.
Look into my eye,
into my core,
see how I pain
for you. These heaves
leave me
shipwrecked –
Track me
by satellite,
find me
among this wreckage,
burnt and spent.

Casandra Lopez recently completed her MFA from the University of New Mexico. She has been selected as the 2013 Indigenous Writer in Residence at the School of  advanced Research. Her work has appeared in various journals including High Desert Journal, Acentos Review, and Weber–Contemporary West.

#106 new mexico kwansaba by Van Garrett

when i was a kid    too young

to paint with words purple as clouds

bright like a red and yellow balloon

over lobos   peppers   and  animal shaped rocks

my ten toes landed in new mexico

eyes dust storms looping and taking in

too much sun pressed earth to conquer

Van G. Garrett appreciates boxing, bull fighting, photographing hummingbirds in Tuscany, and the trumpeted sounds of Miles Davis. A watch aficionado, Van is the author of Songs in Blue Negritude (poetry), ZURI: Selected Love Songs (poetry), and the forthcoming novel The Unbuckling Days of Stacy Adams (Gee Van Garrett). www.vanggarrettpoet.com

#105 Unhoused by Richard Oyama

Opposite the Los Altos park’s chain-link
Sarah sniffs and squats on wood chips.
In a makeshift lean-to of leafless trees
Traces of human presence:
Cardboard, plastic bags, a shelter
Between the animals and the interstate.
Through the ball field fence the wind shudders
Flesh. We huddle in a paralytic half-moon,
Statues in grey dawn, dogs
Stunned inert. Bob tells us
A man died on the frozen diamond. He’ll
Go to the funeral. Did he, nameless, die of
Hypothermia, blood dropped to zero? Who
Slept in the tunnel under I-40
In December dark when
Even hounds lie abed? Dave says
Geneticists merged lagomorph DNA with jellyfish
To make a phosphorescent rabbit,
Each cell glowing greenly
In ultraviolet. Amid all this dark
Shine upon the unhoused.

Richard Oyama has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. His work has appeared in literary magazines and small presses. The Country They Know  is his first collection of poetry. He is currently working on his first novel, The Orphaned, and a second volume of poetry.

#104 Chimayo by Ricki Mandeville

Outside Chimayo, sagebrush
is a rough mirror for sky, silver-green
and endless in late-autumn light.
When I breathe through my mouth
I taste New Mexico on my tongue:
hint of spice, slight citronella flavor.

In town the santuario still stands
where it has for two centuries,
its dim reverence drawing us inside
where an old man swears on his mother
that these musty walls can cure you.
Walking through, I deliberate.
Should I throw myself down, press
my crippled heart against this sacred floor,
await my miracle?

Afterward we drive the foothills
of the Sangre de Christo Mountains in silence.
I think about the blood of Christ and how
your eyes match sagebrush and sky.

Your mouth holds the same silence
as these mountains.
I sit without speaking, tasting the air,
wondering if that holy floor
could have healed me.

Ricki Mandeville grew up in Oklahoma and now lives not far from the ocean in Huntington Beach, California. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals. She is also the author of A Thin Strand of Lights (Moon Tide Press 2006) in which this poem appeared in a different form.

#103 Pacheco Burn by Amy Fleury

When summer arrives, it arrives
in fire, and earnestly.

Across the canyon, smoke tinges
the sky to copper and pink,

stenciling pine branches against
this strange solstice light.

From the cabin deck I can hear
the suss of the Pecos.

Ash flakes drift into the open
notebook, onto the dreaming dog.

Amy Fleury is the author of the poetry collections Beautiful Trouble (2004) and Sympathetic Magic (forthcoming 2013), both from Southern Illinois University Press, and a chapbook, Reliquaries of the Lesser Saints (RopeWalk Press, 2010).

#102 Summer Solstice by Joanne Townsend

fossils in sandstone
cracked rocks
dry eroded stream beds
scarred bark
the fractal desert thirsts

of what did you dream last night

places with dank forest moss
mushrooms and green ferns
sprouting from logs

not here

but under New Mexico’s sunset clouds
we can still dance
our bodies flowing into solstice

flowing like rain
that rises flower petals
above stabs of grass

Joanne Townsend has been writing and publishing poetry for 40 years. In December 2005, she moved to Las Cruces from Alaska where it was honored to serve as the state’s 8th Poet Laureate. Her recent poems appear in “Sin Fronteras: Writers without Borders.” Joanne loves seeing more sun than snow.

#101 The Holdout by Sheila Cowing

When old Pauline Whitesinger wakes before dawn,
steps outside her hogan into the desert,
makes a white corn pollen offering
and prays to the rising sun, wind blows hard
this winter of no snow. Younger, she herded
her sheep in a long blue velveteen skirt,
the sun engraved her face. This yellow grass
belongs now by decree to the Hopi, who, eager
to mine coal deposits, are forcing Navajos out,
a Second Long Walk. They call her a resistor;
her well is capped, blades removed from the wind mill.
Men with bulldozers tried to fence land where her sheep
graze, each night she undid their work. She said
nothing, whittled a long sharp stick the afternoon
a ranger demanded her agreement.

Sheila Cowing earned her MFA after raising three daughters. Six years the editor of a national children’s literary magazine, she’s also been a landscaper and a book salesperson. She’s published two collections of poetry, Stronger in the Broken Places and Jackrabbit Highways. She’s also written essays and nonfiction for children.

#100 DRAWING NEW MEXICO by Jane Shoenfeld

Everything is Glad to be Alive

Chama River,
flat as a lake,
opens up  the  bottom.
Green triangles of land,
on the right and left,
frame  the water.
Flesh orange cliffs,
rivers of sand,
flow to the right.
Dense junipers,
deep borders,
focus  attention.
A little sky, clouds
play at
opening  up the top.
Nothing
more important
than anything else.

Jane Shoenfeld is a painter and poet.  She lived in NYC from 1963 to 1987.  In ’87, she moved to NM.  Her paintings are the cover art for several recent poetry journals and she has written poetry for many years.

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