#145 La Bajada Hill Tribute by Teresa E. Gallion

You were a part of that road we call Royal.
Abandoned, left broken and unkempt,
your tears still roll down the hill.
Tears of black lava mixed with
patient intermittent trickles of water
boulder dancing with the wind.

Shuttled aside and forced into retirement,
your everlasting hunger no longer fed by
the successes and failures to reach your peak.
You still long for those days of glory when
you were king of the mountain and high-spirited
youth challenged your territory.

Everyone talks about La Bajada Hill.
But they don’t know you, the daily
challenge you presented to all who
dared to meet you with rubber to dust,
metal and smoking guns rolling up your steep back.

You have the King’s seat now
and the best view of the modern techno
masses racing against the shoulder of I-25,
the common road that misses the rolling
eloquence of the landscape.

Now only seasoned locals and devout hikers
have a personal acquaintance with your solo
of silence hiding your pain of abandonment.

History proclaims,
you were a stretch of challenge on the Camino Real
permanently enshrined in the heart of the landscape.

Teresa E. Gallion completed her Master’s Degree in Psychology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She has a chapbook, Walking Sacred Ground and a CD, On the Wings of the Wind. Recent work includes Contemplation in the High Desert. You may preview her work at http://teresagallion.yolasite.com and www.michaeljohnhallmusic.com.

#144 A New Mexico Prayer by Tani Arness

Please deliver, from evil, the quiet place of us, standing together on a hillside, on earth—sand and rock and moon—the place where ghosts, in the ways we aren’t—be.  As it is in heaven.  He stands beside me, wants to save me from the depleted uranium and poisoned streams.  Still, my tomato patch soil, on earth, is indicating dangerous levels of radiation, as it is in heaven.  In my moonless dreams he flies over—hallowed be thy name. . . He shakes that turtle rattle over me and brings in the ancestors, aho.  Our daily bread.

Now, as if giving us this day isn’t enough, I’m being asked to decide whether or not our daily bread is love.  Sun-warmed boulder (forgive us our trespasses) overlooking lake and mountains—is, clearly, love, but what about us?  Lord, deliver the sleep we need—to us, the turtle shell lovers.  Deliver us, our debts, our poison, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Hallowed be thy. . . How can I explain? There is a moon and a man and the tomatoes should not be eaten.

Please lead us not into the dangers of sandstone nights, and watery eyes.  He calls me to the riverside—looks sleepy the water.  Hallowed.  I want to tell—the Kingdom—I want to—come—but lead us not, Father, into, I-am-crazy-wind-in-hair-temptation.  Do I love?
Who art in heaven?

I diagram past transgressions with arrows leading from me to him, from earth into heaven— Thy will be done.  We stand on a hillside, wind, lead us not into temptation.  Thin, callused fingertips lightly brushing over eyelids, our power.  Twine, woven, catching dreams and turquoise beads, the bread, this day is our kingdom and glory, be done.  Him, green waters, me yellow grass, love lead us into—as it is in heaven, forever and ever, Amen.

Tani Arness resides in Albuquerque, NM.  Since completing her Master’s in Creative Writing, she remains dedicated to finding the beauty, spirit, and surprise in the intersection of words and living.   Her work appears in numerous literary magazines including North American Review, Red Rock Review, and upcoming in Crab Orchard Review.

#143 Bruce King’s Chickens by Daniel Bowman

I won big with my chickens
at the New Mexico State Fair
2001.

I won so big with those chickens
I got to go to the 4-H Auction.

After a lot of fast talking
by the auctioneer
my three chickens finally went
to Governor Bruce King.

We got our picture taken afterwards
those prizewinning chickens
two strawhaired rodeo queens
me
and the Governor.

I cashed the check and then
a few weeks later I called him.
Left a message at his ranch
asking if he wanted his chickens.

A few days after that
I got a message back.
Now Danny, he said,
you keep them chickens.

Daniel Bowman grew up in the small town of Socorro, New Mexico, where he contributed articles and essays to the local newspaper.  Though he has lived in many different places since then, his connection to the Land of Enchantment continues to inform his writing and way of life.

#142 The Southwest Part of the Truth by Ioanna Carlsen

“My dark and cloudy words
they do but hold the truth…”   Pilgrim’s Progress

It’s true and it’s not true, it’s partly the light
that makes the bone-colored clouds
seem to web in shadows down the mountains,
graze in the horse-footed valleys, the heart of the desert,
suddenly take root and water-shape the land.

It’s true and it’s not true, it’s partly just life,
water wells up in the sinks of houses,
butter aches its heart out on the stoves,
words hold truth like a sieve holds rain,
and words, like shadows, slither over walls.

It’s words, which are half-lies,
yet words must mean something,
since the hills in half-light are spined with death,
since it’s words, and trees, and seasons,
that give the mountains their cool and steady breath.

It’s true and it’s not true, it’s partly a lie,
but frost is something personal,
fruit not reaching tables, dying on the trees before you,
windows bone-colored, and bones
staked in like fences, aching in your hand.

It’s true and it’s not true, but southwest of life,
every seventh summer, the summer comes
when bones well up in their hollows with rain,
deciphering dreams or a message
from the black and white rays of the sun.

Ioanna Calrsen’s poems and stories have appeared in Agni, Poetry, The Hudson Review, Nimrod, Poetry East, Café Solo, Chelsea, The Quarterly,  Field,  Apalachee Quarterly, The Marlboro Review,  Columbia,  Solo,  Alaska Quarterly Review, Mondo Greco, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, The Gingko Tree Review,  Glimmer Train,  and many other literary magazines.

#141 Circle with a Dot in the Middle by Lisa Gill

I slept in a cave and dreamt that I found a coyote print
next to my head in the morning. Or rather, I slept in a cave

and found a coyote print next to my head in the morning.
The mockingbird at dawn chastised me for forgetting

my dreams. When I woke and saw the moon finally risen
and the sun cusping, I thought: circle with a dot in the middle

and watched the brightening sky from the cave while a dove
ate red ants outside the entrance. Then I gathered vertebrae

of a long downed cow from under chollas and juniper.
Every bright spot on the mesa was a little bone aeroplane

(which I picked up) or some femurish hunk of what used to be
mobile (which I left behind). Nearby on boulders stick deer

and coyote, an upside down man, plus my initials carved
next to the year 1930. I threw my leg over a rock and my hip

cramped down hard as if to lock me into place. I stayed
like that, astraddle, until the pain released me to the ground.

Lisa Gill is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and author of five books of poetry. She is the founder and executive director of Local Poets Guild and makes her home in “The Projects,” a new warehouse theater and home for poetry in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

#140 Doña Alba on the Ranch by Mark L. Mosher

She could never recall the events of childhood in sequence,
For then time had spread out, forming dimensions
In which to wander, as she wandered the paths
And the meadows of the Rio Chama ranch.

As she grew and her links to the world grew more,
Time flattened into a line, a line which she traveled,
An ever more swiftly moving line, outside her, using force
And which ended in the vanishing of both line and aging self.

Now ninety, laying thin discs of masa on comal,
She thinks of herself as being just as round and flat,
And crisp and burnt with age, and brown, and time
As spreading out again, but a circle now, and within

Rather than without. She no longer does the wandering,
For that is time’s job today, as it circles within the center
Of her self. It has become warm again too, like the sun
Which heats the sage which rims the bosque of the ranch.

She likes this wandering. She first noticed it this morning
After mass in the church of San Tomas. It is expanding,
Spreading out, a place of refuge into which to fall
As with pleasure and great relief she will simply cease.

___

Mark L. Mosher is a literary translator. His great-grandparents came to what is now Hidalgo County as employees of the Southern Pacific Railroad, eventually settled in Lordsburg and left New Mexico after it became a state. He lives in San Francisco, California and writes poetry in both English and Spanish.

#139 Tomoyo by Jaime Chavez

Poems & songs of disaster brew in my heart…
The irradiated countryside is where electronic waves pound
Gentle people who will never forget Nagasaki nor Hiroshima,
Winds whisper in their collective ear, the collapse of Tokyo
Electric Power Company (TEPCO) as waves continue shouting death
To NATO &corporate empire in the rising protest as Venus crosses the sun in the
line and memory of  fire, in the total eclipse that fills the soul.
The flower lily on the pond remembers the dragonfly.
Is this some kind of twisted Karma, Buddha watching from the distance?
Tomoyo, your gentle hand, your children, & your family are safe,
But not really, as you examine the Grants mineral belt
Looking for uranium rock to become silent so far from your homeland.
The fissures in the rocks are silent volcanoes coming back to life.
You scan the horizon, red & blue shades mixing old memories of war,
Where old women weep, wiping nuclear dust from the cloth of their memory.
It just won’t go away!  Your children can tell the Dine, Pueblo & Xicano people
About this type of shame, the shame of wall street.  Unleashed US military
industrial complex, dogs Of imperialism are still busy snapping at the doorjamb of
history!
Nuevo Mejico, on fire where the secret of atoms are kept & you dear sister
Bear witness to all of this. Leetso, a serpent is loose in the blood!
A tsunami wave shatters your dreams & you say everything is ok?
Can you still weed your jardin in the shadow of uncertainty and nuclear genocide
Looming on the horizon?  Tomoyo, where are we going, in this time
Of astral alignments, continental shifts & Mayan prophesies unfolding?
7 volcanoes are spilling their entrails into the cosmos, & the universe is shifting.
Where are we going Tomoyo?  The damage is immeasurable & hardly anyone
Is responsible for the despair of millions.  Can you weed your garden again,
Eat sashimi or eel with seaweed from the ocean?  What does the Richter scale read,
A 5, a 7, or a 9?  Is their balance or harmony anywhere anymore?
I will know where you are when I see you dear sister, examining waters rise,
Shattered buildings, glass & concrete flying across continents & governments
Who want more nuclear reactors, as tritium migrates across the Tijeras arroyo
& songbirds announce your arrival dear sister & you continue to bear witness
At Trinity site, so we can all remember…
*
7-17-2011
Dedicado a la familia de Tomoyo
         En la isla de Japon
               oh relampago del sol,
                   Un serpiente/aguila declaro…

#138 Legendary Tale by Joanne S. Bodin

Maybe she had a reason for drowning her children,
a reason only she could justify, to save them from
a worse fate. From servitude, from the hollow stares
of those who would surely see them unworthy of
their rightful place in a divided world
of cast and class.

Her legendary tale has survived centuries of
scrutiny, has twisted and turned into fanciful rituals
of fairytale lore, in dreams and nightmares of
children who stray too far away from home.
A warning not to let their imaginations lead them
into temptation, defiance, exploration,
or La Llorona will surely find them —
snatch them up as her replacement children.

So, beware of La Llorona. She lurks in the shadows of night,
in the still waters of rippled souls who
let her brush against their cheeks with seductive stillness. Her
specter lifts us out of dreary mediocrity into
mythological realms, as we sensationalize her story,
make it our own. Her shrieks, her wails, her angst
resound in sync with the melodic beating of our own
heart so that our children can dream of crystal clear
waters, starry nights, and mountain tops covered with sparkling snow.

Joanne S. Bodin, Ph.D., is a retired APS teacher.  Her novel, Walking Fish, won the New Mexico Book Awards, the International Book Awards, and was a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards.  She has also published a book of poems, Piggybacked, a tribute to her late grandfather.

#137 What the Ancient Ones Knew by Gayle Lauradunn

Petroglyphs in the rock:
a woman balancing a world

in each outstretched hand.
The worlds spin in place.

She stares across
the valley  at winter peaks

floating in clouds. A small
smile lightens her face.

Her feet ground the earth.
Her head grazes the sky.

To her right side coyote tosses
the moon off the end of his nose

and barks at the close of night.
As the hot sun dries  her face

the woman moves her left hand
forward and offers me a world.

“Here,” she says, “let it spin.
It will weave its own fabric.”

(above based on a petroglyph in Bandelier N.M., published in Mother Earth: Through the Eyes of Women Photographers and Writers, A Sierra Club Book, 1992)

Gayle Lauradunn served on the Selection Committee for Albuquerque’s first Poet Laureate. She was the co-organizer of the first National Multi-cultural Women’s Poetry Festival in 1974. Her poems have been published in Adobe Walls, The Rag, Puerto del Sol, Zone 3, Tsunami, and others. Several poems have been adapted  for stage.

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