#118 Albuquerque August by Mary Dudley

I’d like to try my hand
at painting sunflowers
in the manner of O’Keefe:
vast canvases of turquoise sky,
perhaps a stretch of yellow corn,
and then those flowers—
the guardians of gardens.
Flat faces like Kansas Swedes.
Golden.  Stalwart.  True.

Petal is too small a word
for those fat blades
like butter knives
around the center—
a black pie of seeds like tears—
with leaves like green spades.
They form tall pyramids.
Bordering the squash and pole beans,
They march against the sky.

Don’t call me to look at roses,
although they have their grace.
Sunflowers rise over red tomatoes;
green cucumbers climb their stalks
and so do violet morning glories.
Sunflowers bend over sweet summer.
They shine with the hottest suns.

In 1968, Mary Dudley moved from Stony Brook, New York to Albuquerque, New Mexico.   She moved to the South Valley in 1970 where she and her husband have taught school, gardened, and raised their two daughters along with sheep, goats, and chickens. They still live there.

#117 Chaco Canyon by Susan Elbe

What lives here now crisscrosses morning,
the sun, long-legged,
yellow-eyed coyote, slung low
and nosing through rooms of extinction.

Dust drifting in a shiv of light remembers
what it was to be
water hissing deep in alcoves,
the snake in shale.

Telescoping doorways diminish return.

On a burning wall, the earless lizard
feels its own blood sing.
I rest myself against the secrets
mortared into stone and wait for them to tell me.

But only locusts click in creosote and wind
shuttles through wheat grass.
The rest, a silence
more desertion than pure absence.

I cannot call the lost ones back.

Their names on my tongue,
strange diphthongs,
dark whisks of water on the sky.

Susan Elbe is the author of Eden in the Rearview Mirror and two chapbooks, Light Made from Nothing and Where Good Swimmers Drown. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin but has traveled annually to New Mexico for over 30 years. You can learn more about her at http://www.susanelbe.com.

#116 milagro #10 by Richard Vargas

mountain fires
and strong winds
send smoke our way
eyes burn and a breath

becomes a gasp for air as
lungs turn into
flip-flopping goldfish
taken from their bowl
and dropped on a
hot sidewalk

at night
sliver of new moon
filtered through haze
is dark orange
the color of chile

ripening in the fields
just before it turns
blood red

chile moon
deadly moon
taking my breath away

the price i pay
to be smothered with
your beauty

Richard Vargas was born in L.A. and has two books of poetry published; McLife, 2005, and American Jesus, 2007. Vargas earned his MFA from UNM and was awarded the 2011 Hispanic Writers Award from the Taos Summer Writers Conference. He resides in Albuquerque, where he edits/publishes The Más Tequila Review.

#115 Smoke Screens by Pamela Yenser

Heartbreaking mornings
cry out from the throats of trees
darkened by snow melt.

Sandia Mountain
turns to watermelon pink
and spring turns to dust

in torrents, tearing
parched cottonwoods limb from limb.
Red moon, soil, sun, me.

Arizona burns
across our western border
and down our gullets.

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.

#114 The Santo Niño Will Not Visit Turin (excerpt) by MJR Montoya

There is a Santo Niño magnet
On Belinda’s dashboard.
Faded brass with
Lace metal ornamentation,
An acrylic globe with the
Painted image of a little boy,
Shackles on his feet.
The patron saint of prisoners,
Of miners,
Of people in need.
He was the baby Jesus who ran away from
His mother,
And wore out his shoes,
Leaning on his staff,
Putting nightmares in his basket,
Feeding mercy to the
Thirsty with his water gourd.
“Did you not know where to find me, dear mother?”
He says while the temple trembles,
While the old teachers watch him take his leave.
People still put brand new pennies and baby shoes in his shrine
In Chimayo.
The Holy Child of Atocha,
But
He is not there,
He is out in the hills,
Ignoring the wolves,
His blue garb hiding out in between the stars,
His cockleshell completing
The smile of Orion.

MJR Montoya is a native of Mora, NM.  He is a professor of global structures at the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management, a Rhodes scholar, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  His poetry is collected in a volume entitled Era of the Glass Calavera.

#113 Valley by Meriam Sagan

a long time ago
twenty-five years or more
I took a Greyhound bus
north through the mountains
to visit you in Taos

an old lady
sat next to me
carrying a fruit tree
with its roots
wrapped in burlap

getting off in Espanola
at the old station
she said: a dios
not just adios
to me

it’s God’s mercy
that I’ve been
on this earth at all
lived to see you
my friend again

Miriam Sagan founded and runs the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College. The author of over 25 books, she blogs at http://miriamswell.wordpress.com. In 2010, she received the Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

#112 Parched by Adam Nunez

My father and I bought a Taos condo together
and filled it with our life’s possessions. He laid his oak
boar-bristle hairbrush on the counter, his exercise band
and June issue of Reader’s Digest

beside the varnished drawer handle. I stacked my jeans
and laptop opposite, the blue lights of my computer
flashing on his glossed magazine. We shared nothing
but the view of dormant volcanoes,

and long nights of his mucous coughs and spit-up.
Each day we woke, I flapped the wrinkles out
of my jeans. He brushed his hair to a picture of himself
in the Navy fifty years ago, and exercised his aged biceps.

I sat with my computer off. At noon, we dozed on the porch
and bolted instant oatmeal from paper cups with plastic spoons.
We bobbed our heads in slight agreement that microwaved
water tasted of dull hums of the desert’s delicate drawl.

We thought the mountains would soon clear their throats
and eat their own peaks and with them, we would fall
asleep in the heat. Nights, we never hugged like tomorrow
might not come. I sometimes felt guilty for sleeping.

Then we died on the same windy day. The desert traipsed
through our windows to nap on our eyelids. We stepped
out of our curled bodies and blew the tired sand
off our skin. Our voices ground our stone lips

like glass-pack mufflers and cracked pumice. We stood,
the Taos busts of Pliny the Elder and the Younger, eyes
of fleshed marble. The unspoken father-and-son
I love yous hung in our lungs like swallowed teeth.

Adam Nunez is an MFA student and teaching assistant at the University of New Mexico. He writes to discover his family’s history as migrant farm workers. Adam’s work has appeared in Connecticut Review and LUMINA, and one of his poems took second place in The Atlantic’s 2009 Student Writing Contest.

#111 What If a Nice Dinosaur Lives Here by Bradley Earle Hoge

My older son’s hand fits in mine
like a moment of time,
his younger brother sleeping
on my shoulders, as I lead them
through the Great Room
of Carlsbad Caverns for the first
time. “Look at how the rock flows,
“I say, “as if a river left it here.”
“What if a dinosaur still lives here,”
my son replies . . . But my mind
has already wandered. As we walk
through this frozen world,
I can’t help but think the smooth
calcium carbonate walls look
like candy coating poured while hot
over a surprise inside, preserving
an unknown flavor until someone
bites through it.  If I could take
my sons through these walls
we would swim into the ancient
reef that guarded the shores
of the Permian ocean, we would taste
the brine now crystallized
into Guadeloupe Mountains, flee
from sharks with shovelnoses,
chase trilobites into the sand,
pick crinoids like flowers
from the reef . . . Until my son’s 
Daddy?  returns me to the present
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,
Sweetie, there aren’t any dinosaurs
in this cave.”  “I know, Daddy.  I know
they all died a long time ago,
but, what if a nice dinosaur
still lives here?”

*This poem first appeared in the anthology Singularities: Writing From the Center of Edge from Plain View Press in 2001.

Bradley Earle Hoge’s poetry appears in numerous journals and anthologies including Chronogram, Rattle, Tertulia, Stickman Review, Tonapah la, entelechy: mind and culture, and Tar Wolf Review. He is the author of four poetry chapbooks. Bradley lives in Spring, TX with his wife and three children.

#110 Spring in the Desert by Amanda Chiado

Truth or Consequences was all consequence.
Tweet birds waited with apprehensive song
on the line.  My father called them fat asses
and made them popcorn every day.
Isabella, not yet two, walked with me
hand in hand down Caballo road
collecting heart-shaped rocks
while he slept, and slept and slept.
We caught glimpses of the river.
My dad used to toss a fishing line in it
and wait around real cool with his cigarette.
It wasn’t much more than mud now.
My dad was dying.  Two days before
we inhaled his last breath,
a blue electric day called on the angels.
The open clarity of my New Mexican sky,
a big door sucking us through.
Swigging a little last booze, we slipped
him into his darkest shades, wrapped him
in a blanket threaded with turquoise yarn.
He sat in the borrowed wheelchair whispering
in the warm, warm sun. I wanted to give him
another season then, many, many more.
I think he liked the sing-song of the birds,
the echo of their wings as they’d startle off
of the sheet metal fence he’d made.
I bet he thought, it’s probably time to go—
It’s almost Spring.

Amanda Chiado is an MFA graduate of California College of the Arts.  Her work can be found in Best New Poets, Forklift, Ohio, Fence, Witness and others.  She is currently shopping her first poetry manuscript Monsters, Superheroes, Bimbos and Other Fast Food.  She works in Hollister, CA as a California Poet in the Schools and Preschool Teacher.

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