Monthly Archives: June 2012

#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.

#99 Before the Prescribed Blunder by Janet Eigner

A tease of miracles, the raven rose just over my head
clasping a giant red jelly bean as it sailed above

the pine tree. I hiked the Santa Fe Southern rail
where it showed cleanly as any saint

its attribute, a vulture’s engorged beak.
Pinon-perched or swooping the currents

she’d likely tracked the bonbon
among this Eldorado Easter morning’s

hard-boiled chits of rebirth
blown-clean and faux.

Rising out from the sand, her wings sang wind
beak clasped around the burning egg.

The raven carried fire’s shine
its infinitely mirrored tunneling

a meaning I couldn’t ken
an unfolding

soon to be unleashed on Los Alamos
after the Lab’s prescribed burn.

Eigner’s  Cornstalk Mother, Pudding House, precedes the forthcoming, What Lasts is the Breath, Black Swan Editions. Also: Adobe Walls,Blue Mesa Review, Earthships, Echoes,Hawaii Review, Manzanita, Mudfish, Natural Bridge, NM Poetry Review,  Poets Against the War, Sagarin Review,  Daily Bleed, Poetry Foundation, SFLiterary Review, www.eignerdanceswithwords.com (poetry & dance).

#98 Evensong by Susan Gardner

Coyote families sing to each other in the dusk.

mountains the colors of red grapes
sky bluer than lapis lazuli

Until the moonless black night
lets us see the stars

Canción vespertina

Las familias de coyotes se cantan,
una tras otra, al anochecer

montañas los colores de las uvas rojas
el cielo más azul que lapislázuli

hasta que la noche negra – sin luna –
nos deja ver las estrellas

Susan Gardner is a poet, painter and photographer. Her books are BOX OF LIGHT~CAJA DE LUZ, DRAWING THE LINESTONE MUSIC and INTIMATE LANDSCAPES. She has lived in Asia, Mexico and Europe, traveled long and often, and since the 1980s has made her home in New Mexico.

#97 Homesick Zuni by Michael M. Pacheco

Johnny Blackeagle left the bow and arrow
The AK-47 was now the weapon of choice
He left Zuni land for the mysterious territory of Allah
Like a good soldier he drank the kool-aid, no questions

Johnny Blackeagle’s people had pride and customs
His new Afghan neighbors have self-esteem and traditions
The rugged Hindukush mountains resemble the Zuni’s
And their worship to someone almighty resemble his practices

The Kabul River reminded him of the Zuni River
The children begging for candy, little Kachinas come to life
Women tending to their cooking, sewing and cleaning
Men tending to their squash, corn, beans, and maybe poppies

So much alike between Johnny Blackeagle’s and these people
So little that separates them as children of God
And then comes another order from higher up
There are insurgents here just like there are in the rez.

Michael Pacheco’s debut novel, The Guadalupe Saints recently won Second Place in the 2012 International Latino Book Awards. His novella, Seeking Tierra Santa, was released in May 2011. He’s been published in Gold Man Review, Boxfire Press, Acento Review, Red Ochre Press, Label Me Latina and Airplane Reading (twice)..

#96 Spring/Autumn Haiku by Julie BröKKeN

wistful spring sky cries

seventeen tears ~ a gray sedge

of wet cranes flies north

*

beauty’s strange red face

rises through forest fire clouds ~

August’s Lightening Moon

Julie BröKKeN is an artist-poet-teacher. Publications include Adobe Walls, The Rag, Duke City Fix, Artistica, Stumble Upon: Illustrated Haiku, La Bloga, and Poets Responding to SB1070.  An open mic regular in Albuquerque and Poetry at Paul’s in Chupadero, Julie was a featured poet at Sunday Chatter in May.

#95 THE TENTH CHILD by Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb

Her mother told her
that the birth of the atom bomb
occurred before the daughter was born,
and it happened secretly
when they were tent dwellers
waiting to build a house;
exposed to the black blanket of sky,
they were not used to seeing
                                   daylight at night.
 
After that time, it took ten tries,
miscarriages or stillborns,
to have a baby.  This daughter
was the first one born alive
                                 who stayed alive—
although later siblings suffered
deformities from fallout.
 
Testing now is no longer done
without warning.  It doesn’t take place
only in “uninhabited” areas
of the New Mexico desert
but within the vast space
                                           of her body;
so far, everything is normal,
but sometimes in a dream
                                 her soul explodes.

*Note: First appeared in RiverSedge in Spring 2001

Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb’s poetry has appeared in Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments, Blueline, SpectrumPedestal Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, Midwest Quarterly, Jelly Bucket, Red River Review, Puerto del Sol, Concho River Review, and other journals.  She is co-founder of Native West Press—a nonprofit organization.

#94 Desert Passages by M. Kaat Toy

Desert Passages

            In a way, it’s crazy.  It’s backwards.  The form of something very functional becomes the theater of what we are doing.  The earth is shaped by wind and water.  The shadows express the structure of the view.  The photos document the process of time with no control over the framing, lighting, or decisive moment.  Seep, spring, creek, arroyo, wash: What came out here is put over there.  If you set sheets of glass in the soil at angles, the water will find a way around them.  If you set them in a square, they’ll collapse.  The essence of landscape is culture and nature stepping on each other’s shoulders wanting to change something.

A native of the central California, M. Kaat Toy (Katherine Toy Miller) has lived in twelve states while teaching and writing. Taos, New Mexico, is her permanent home. She has an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in English from Florida State University.

#93 Red Willow People by Devreaux Baker

On the side street behind the tourist shops
magpies gather in the park,

black and white syllables broken off
from the mind of the mountain.

Turquoise spirit and coral heart,
Jocelyn paints pueblo dreams,

scratches out symbols of white
on blackboard.

Ancient frogs circle the edges
in this dance of the Red Willow Clan.

White field, yellow trees, blue sky,
everything becomes one thing,

settles down inside the hand
holding the brush above the canvas.

In the distance, the color of trees, impossible red,
moves closer to my body,

begins to build willow nests in my chest.
Branches put out leaves, slide into this place

called heart.

Devreaux Baker’s book of poetry, Red Willow People, received the 2011 PEN Oakland Award. She is the recipient of the 2012 Hawaii Humanities Council Poetry Prize and the Northern California Women’s Global Leadership Poetry Prize. She has received poetry fellowships to Hawthornden Castle, MacDowell and Helene Wurlitzer. 

#92 RAAF Adventure by Pamela Yenser

Watch for the saucer
spinning over Roswell
on edge like a dime

in a magic trick
(now you see it now you don’t).
Tighten your seatbelt.

Close your eyes. You’re high
in your father’s rental plane—
one with silver wings

flashy as any
gaudy spaceship wreckage
in summer-bright fields

below, glitter row
after row of torn tinfoil
on tumbled red rock.

As hard as you try
you can’t forget how many
times you circled earth

and how you returned
in a blaze of amazement
from heaven to home.

Pamela Yenser once lived in Roswell, where her father, a retired Army pilot, flew her over the crash site of the “flying disc” associated with the so-called Roswell Flying Saucer Incident. Her family moved away in 1949, but she returned sixty years later to teach and write in Albuquerque.

# 91 Children of the Sunday by hakim bellamy

The difference between sun bathing and bathing without water is subtle. A few degrees of separation
when it’s a hundred and four. You’re a hundred and four and the National Weather Service won’t turn
the community center into shelter.

Until it’s 105

Like home and homeless, subtle as the six degree separation in the air-conditioned window of a Heat
Advisory. We’ve been here all along. Standing outside for a very long time. People of scorched earth and
plenty.

We do not tan, we burn.
Skin toned. Palette of hues the gradient colors of a dancing flame. The only rainbow we’re allowed.
Without water, just sun.

In the absence of white sand, called children of the dirt. Star-front property by night. Gaze into a sea of
Mountain from lawn chairs perched in grassless yards by day.

This pyramid a mesa makes

This city elevates us. Serves us like a shoulder and white linen to bronzed sun gods far from shorelines
and vacations.

This is our Gladiatorial Sacrifice

Where we enjoy salt and see. People of prayers and pilgrimages where water, itself, is a miracle.
However, much more often, here … many a’miracle walk on without it.

800 miles from Long Beach, 1400 miles from Tenochitlan.
Baptized by both.
Blessed to be here.

Hakim Bellamy is a two-time National Champion in the Poetry Slam scene. He has won the City Grand Slam Championship in Albuquerque (2005) and in Silver City (2008) as well as 3 consecutive University of New Mexico LOBOSLAM titles. He is Albuquerque’s first poet laureate.

#90 Everything Beyond by Kimberly Mathes

My first time in New Mexico, before I ever
moved here, we drove north of Taos at sunrise;
my mother and I wound around a narrow road leading
out of a town, heading into a quality of light
I had never seen before—droplets of suspended
sunlight illuminated poverty, and everything beyond
darkened into silhouettes. The day promised beauty.
Heading toward the Rio Grande, we passed two dogs
dead on the road, lying still and bloodied  like actors
from a Western; the German Shepherd had blood
pooled around his mouth—a killing so recent
the liquid glistened in the sun.

Kimberly Mathes teaches English at San Juan College in Farmington, NM.  She currently is pursuing a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas El Paso.  In 2006, she was a recipient of a NEH grant which allowed her to travel through Central America and southern Mexico writing poetry.

#89 At the Santuario de Chimayo by Lisa Chavez

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things pass.
            –St. Teresa of Avila

Walking along your arroyo, you spoke of spirits you’d seen:
the elegant muerta emerging from the metro, glimpses
of ghosts in a Buenos Aires café.  Weeks later, I brought you

here—place of pilgrimage and power.  Santa Madre Tierra.
Nam po’uare. Tewa.  Blessed Earth.  You pause
before a cottonwood, an ancient sentinel shading

the courtyard, while I thrust open the heavy doors
of the sanctuary.  What I love here is elemental:  holy
water to dip fingers into, the altar candles burning–a chorus

of flame.  I duck my head, enter the room in back, kneel
before that well of earth.  I cup holy dirt in my hands, cross myself
with soil soft and fine as talc. You join me, let it ribbon

across your palms.  Think, you say, of how many hands
have been here before us, now more dead than alive.  It is your gift
to divine them, the lingering dead.  And it is our gift, both of us, to love

what is human.  To feel generations of supplication and need, desperate
prayers rising like the scent of incense on the wind.  This place is haunted
by desire, by all our sorrow and rage.  Yet we find solace, pearls

of grace:  in the soft syllables of a Spanish prayer shouldering
through the quiet, in rough walls thick as the chambers of a heart.
From handhewn pews we follow our visions: you dwell on the dead,

and I soar away on the croak of a raven outside. Stillness
sifts down like sacred dirt.  Then a door grumbles open and we rise,
shrouding ourselves again in these thorny human skins.

Lisa D. Chavez lives in the mountains in New Mexico with her husband and dogs.  She has published two books of poetry:  In an Angry Season and Destruction Bay.