Monthly Archives: October 2012

#165 Curse of La Llorana by Catherine Ferguson

          no flower burning the lining of her heart

not even a prayer
more of a curse
building inside the lining of her throat

inside her mind the white gown is brown from weeping
tears drown the moon
her mouth spits electric eels
skin of her face scalded

she paces the river

the sound of her body is a mourning dove
killing the night

wanting to be free of herself
she blows the wind of her weeping into the village

a painter wakes with a start
draws a scream on his canvas
sunflowers wither in night’s garden

she keeps drowning her babies
splash against mud

can never say I’m sorry
can never sleep
the mad yip of coyote is her company
thunder claps on Black Mesa

scream has turned from sunflower
to no-flower
splitting the seams
of her breasts

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.

#164 Road Runner by Phyllis Hoge

The speckled road runner that built a nest
in the high crook of the half-dead tree
across the street from me
walks over
strides, bobs up her tail
snatches a black beetle out of the weeds
and, circumspect,
guages my two cats.

No contest, and they know it.
She, businesslike, not snobby,

unhurried, wrapped up in her job,
struts back where she came from.

Before moving to Albuquerque Phyllis Hoge wrote, published, and taught poetry at the University of Hawaii as and initiated the first Poets in the Schools Program in America. She also taught at UNM for several years. Phyllis has published nine books, most recently “Hello, House,” illustrated by Maxine Hong Kingston.

#163 For Taos by d.stribling

There is a place where dogs lay about in the warmth
of November sun. Where a stream catches shards of light
before reflecting them back up into the cottonwoods.
A place where dwellings quietly crumble into the dust of centuries.
Where wooden crosses grow in their Spanish garden.

Where the forbidden welcomes only those who understand.
Where piñon smoke wafts and curls its way to join
white clouds in a brilliant blue sky. Where the old ones
peer out of soot-darkened corners, their gnarled hands grasping turquoise
like old cedar trees holding together piles of rocks.

There is a place where countless footsteps catch countless more.
Where silent hawks circle high above; their spirals pulling spirit into the sky.
Death is always nearby here. I come here to die, as I have before.
To shed the unnecessary things, to waste away until
the dust swirls by to gather up the pieces of old skin I’ve left behind.

There is great sadness, as alcohol leaves strikingly handsome
shells of bodies propped against the wall outside the Taos Inn,
their spirits caught somewhere between the neon and starry black sky.
There is unspeakable joy as the very young dance with the Earth.
And laughter as cars wait for free range steers crossing dusty roads.

There are green chilies, blue corn posole, and Silver Coin margaritas.
Michael’s Kitchen, and Charlotte’s fetishes at Bryan’s Gallery.
Cottonwoods I count on being there as I counted on Ruby
the bookstore cat being there until she went away to the sky.
Taos writers, painters, artists—my heart, my soul, New Mexico.
 

Dee Stribling is a writer of poems and prose currently living in Hillsborough, N.C. For many years she has spent as much time in New Mexico as possible. She is currently working on two poetry chapbooks, a memoir, and a documentary.

#162 The Great Drought by Mike Burwell

The clouds have not come
for a year of moons.
Thunder is the sound in our bellies.
The old man who knows medicine,
we impaled on sharp juniper poles.
He brings only vultures and night.

Our corn, our squash, dry
in the fields below the mesa.
Water will not fill the rooms of our dancing.
We have no strength for song.

Our wives have skin like lizards,
Our children grow large in the belly.
We desire more violence, warlike death,
instead we melt, bend over close
to the earth like our corn.

The old man dreams the future like the sun:
dry tombs among the rocks.
Night’s molten stars dance over our cliff village
like countless black horses
their lucid eyes flashing.

Mike Burwell recently retired to Santa Fe after 30 years in Alaska writing environmental impact statements for the Feds and teaching poetry at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His poetry collection Cartography of Water was published by North Shore Press in 2007. He founded the literary journal Cirque in 2009.

#161 Graveyard in November, Albuquerque by LewEllyn Hallet

only this cold wind gives the tumbleweeds life
walls and tombstones catch
and hold them fast
trapped
they rattle peevishly

plastic flowers fade in the sun
near the heart-shaped markers and
rows of stones
sprayed silver

Mary, of all comfort, stands at the mausoleum
her hands cut off
her head turned upside down

LewEllyn Hallet has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico, and is currently an MFA candidate at Bowling Green State University. She received the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize from Southern California Review in 2008, and was a finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Award.

#160 New Mexico Exile by Elizabeth Ann Galligan

I know where my roots entangle
in red flesh, green skin
of northern New Mexico
drenched in el sangre de Cristo
 
I know where my roots knot
in sand banks of that central artery
twisting south, sinuous metate
grinding cobbles into manos.
 
I know where my roots entwine
en los camposantos, tenacious*
as dilapidated flowers twisted
around hand-hewn headstones.
 
I know where my roots melt
like candle stub offerings
in nichos and hermits’ caves
merging into rock and clay.
 
But, should I forget
flocks graph the way south
in aerial hieroglyphics.
Gnarled cottonwoods point.
 
I know where my roots are
Eyes closed, in the dark,
barefoot peregrina,
I feel the pathways home.
 
It’s simple.
Follow the heartline
through the mouth
into beckoning light.

*Spanish phrases: el sangre de Cristo, the blood of Christ; metate, large grinding stone; manos, hand-held grinding stone; nichos, niches; peregrina, pilgrim; en los camposantos, in the graveyards. Underpublished. Appeared in April, 2000 in Herland Anthology, No. 2, limited edition (100) by Harwood Arts.

 — 

Elizabeth Ann Galligan grew up in Albuquerque, and  has retired to her city of choice. Her poetry and first novel, Secrets of the Plumed Saint, 2012 are inspired by the glorious landscapes and diverse people and cultures of New Mexico.

#159 Designing the Deck in Las Cruces by Dick Thomas

“Architecture is frozen music.”

-Cecil Balmond

Not just the mocking bird in the century plant,
the white wing doves on the fence,
the thrush in the mesquite,
we wanted to hear the mountains to the east,
the city to the west,
to hear dark sky
and the bend of Italian Cedars
shrill with starlings.
We wanted to hear what happened
when the sun fell
and the red orange light faded to purple;
we wanted thunder and lightning
to lay its bow over our bones,
and rain to drum in our small plot of grass.
So we drew a line, stretched it out,
turned and tuned it toward the horizons,
fret, board, body, and bridge,
and let it sing.

F. Richard “Dick” Thomas has nine collections of poetry, include Frog Praises Night (Southern Illinois University Press), Death at Camp Pahoka (Michigan State University Press), and his latest book, Extravagant Kiss.  He is co-editor of Sin Fronteras Journal/ Writers Without Borders in Las Cruces, NM.

#158 UNEARTHING SKELETONS AT THE PUYÉ RUINS (1934) by Juan Morales

From the Ildefonso Pueblo, the men ride
in pickups for good wages, meager lunches,
hands rubbed raw, full work days.  They know
stories of the dead rising to life
but still they go.  Out in blustery heat,
where the archaeologist points,
Ildefonso men spade and shovel the site
where skeletons stir:
Don’t take me out.  Don’t take me out.

The excavation reveals rotted walls, fire pits,
a field of graves.  When the first man finds
a skeleton, he pulls away from its grip.
Pales and collapses dead.  With the stunned
crew carrying him home, they shudder
at the skeleton, who clawed into the digger’s feet.

From holes and deepening trenches
come spewing dust, shovel scrapes,
men hauling boxes of dirt.  From Ildefonso men,
who flee to higher ground, come terrified voices,
recoiling from newfound skeletons.  Clouds darken
the sun.  Some men vomit when
skeletons plead, Don’t take me from this ground.

At the mesa’s excavation site, the skeletons
assault every Ildefonso man.  With guilt and fear
worming inside, they quit digging.
The archaeologist takes what he can, crates up
the deads’ secrets, and shipping them away.
The Ildefonso men return for good, hauling
to their dwindling village a plague
from Puyé skeletons unearthed and stirred to life.

Juan J. Morales is the author of the poetry collection, Friday and the Year That Followed, and has published in many journals.  He received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, he is a CantoMundo Fellow, and he directs the Creative Writing at Colorado State
University-Pueblo.

#157 The Curandera told me by Khadija Anderson

Cada remedio tiene su virtud
each remedy has its virtue
and I think of his mouth
burning with copal and sage
each remedy has its virtue
his hair black and his eyes black
burning with copal and sage
shattering a porcelain sky
his eyes black and his hair black
tall pinyon poised to crash through
shattering my porcelain sky
the smell of sage, smell of  breath and earth
a tall pinyon poised to crash through
and I think of his mouth
the smell of sage, smell of  breath and earth
Cada remedio tiene su virtud

Khadija Anderson, a Los Angeles poet whose work has been published extensively in print and online holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University L.A. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2009, and her first book History of Butoh, is upcoming in 2012 through Writ Large Press.

#156 Fall in the North Valley by Betsy James

Plunging toward the dark.
The sun does not wake me.
The blue grosbeak in the ditchside elm
sings with his back to me.
In the drained acequia
the stranded crayfish
withdraw their mummy bundles
to the last pool.
The cottonwoods weep dry leaves.
I put on a sweater
and leave the doors open.
The geese come back,
vigorous and big,
beating their wings, low
over the bent sunflowers.

Betsy James is the author-illustrator of twenty books and short stories for adults, young adults and children. She has lived in New Mexico–rio arriba, rio abajo–for almost forty years.

#155 Out of Frame by Meredith Trede

based on with love from Jess and Inez
by Nancy Callahan

The newly awakened, acrylic sisters
glory in their rebirth, murmur as one,
Mira, did you see her, ella la loca,
their best girlhood friend, crazy old Rina,
gone to the city, almost a star, how
she wore furs to the funeral in June,
the motor car, papa, the rum laden
fruitcake, the trip all the way to Seneca
Falls, the hired hand, was there a baby,
rumor, worry, unshackled heartache
resound through the ethers, finally
set free from the sepia tintype
Grandma kept by her side: millinery plumed
by birds gone forever, cameos centered
on choke collared dresses, implacable
eyes locked to the camera.  On back
in browned ink with Spenserian flourish
With love to Aunt Ida from Jess and Inez.
From their place of honor on the parlor wall
the stern-faced young women who
whisper together, Look, does she see us?

Meredith Trede holds an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, and was recently awarded the 2012 Nicholson Political Poetry Award, a residency fellowships at Blue Mountain Center, Ragdale, Saltonstall, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Virginia and France, and a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

#154 Old Mesilla Fiesta by Karin Bradberry

A dry stone in the empty fountain
rattles below cement laurel wreaths
six-year-old Carlos sings Sí Señor
wiggles his little white boot
surrounded by plastic luminarias
and bright paper flowers
as recruiters roam the crowd
twin church spires frame the plaza
American flags flank the obelisk
in front of the church with the
obligatory names of the fallen
and hucksters work hard
to seduce the young:
be a star in your own video
el Día de la Independcía
el Día de los Muertos
turkey legs  bratwurst  hamburgers  nachos
let’s give him a big round of applause
me voy, me voy

(Originally published as “La Mesilla Fiesta” in Harwood Anthology: Looking Back   to Place, Old School Books 2008.)

Karin Bradberry enjoys creating poetry shrines, sculptures which embody her poems. She has co-edited/published the Albuquerque monthly poetry broadside, the Rag since 2008. Her work has appeared in Central Avenue, Writer’s Digest, Sage Trail, the Rag, Harwood, Adobe Walls, Pudding Magazine, Along the Rio Grande, and Fixed and Free.

#153 Manita Memories by Irene Blea

I grew up where the mountain smelled of loam
piñon wood burned in cast iron stoves
berries grew close to the ground
embraced by seven shades of green beneath a blue sky bowl

after working with old women
while making lye soap outdoors in large black kettles
I knew I could lift, fly, soar high
over giant boulders, faces carved in stone

I was a parade of untamed mustangs wearing silver and jade
rubies, and ribbons, emeralds and amethyst in my full mane
turquoise, lots of turquoise
I circled in my ceremonial dress

In flight, I talk to flowers, plants, and trees
converse with wind and wild strawberries glistening near a stream
with the aroma of piñon I enjoy shades the various shade of color
indigenous faces carved of stone.

Dr. Blea is a New Mexico native and has a doctorate degree in Sociology from the University of Colorado-Boulder. For twenty-seven years she wrote academic articles and textbooks. She now writes novels, but she has written poetry since the age of nine.

#152 Nike Cortez by David Maduli

last time i ever seen corey he had put on
weight and scars
and brass knuckles
still had those cortez though
zeus messenger’s winged slippers
skywalk slouched off the airplane glue
brown paper bag plumes

first period last row home ec palm opened
into a butterfly grasp
pulled me in notebooks coated
with public enemy lyrics
swept me to all the skate spots
those were the days of vision
streetwear and vans caballeros before
he traded them for black cortez

laces ivory like the enamel on his teeth
firework jokes made the whole class laugh
down to the jagged sole
conquistador sneakers norteño feet
sauntering inside our masks

i crosswalk away count each painted bar like years
an elephant tusk stripes the jet nylon and suede
corey kicks the fuck out the kid on the ground
the swoosh glows brighter than white sand

David S. Maduli is a writer, teacher, deejay, and father.  Son of Filipino immigrants, this San Francisco native spent his high school years in Alamogordo.  Winner of the 2011 Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, he is an alumnus of the VONA and Las Dos Brujas writing communities, and resides in Oakland

#151 Balloon Season by Lisa Hase-Jackson

I followed a stray balloon
instead of going to school
that morning,

wanted to see it land,
thought maybe the crew could use the help
of an eleven year-old kid.

And though I kept my eyes on its rainbow colors
obvious against the turquoise sky,
waved violent for the pilot’s attention,

and listened hard for the whisper
of the intermittent burner,
the murmur of the chaser crew,

I lost it when it lulled
beyond an adobe neighborhood
many blocks from school, disappearing

like a buffalo
sleeping amid tall grass
behind a swell of earth.

#150 History Dream #24: Po-Woh-Ge-Oweenge by Richard Downing

                              – for Maria Montoya Martinez, pueblo potter

She concocted the black on black finish. What was she doing here?
Yes, I do think that would look nice on a mahogany coffee table bordered
with rust – excuse me – burnt umber curtains. Very nice.(Very generic,
very you, who I will – no, must – wish a nice day and offer my thanks
for shopping at Pottery Barn®)

She never meant the thanks she offered each customer nor was she mean
in her assessment of their taste in pots – “Vases,” remember
to call the higher priced ones “vases.” And she really did try to remember
to do that and the other dictates needed to be followed in order not to get fired
from this store in this economy. I have fired many single pots more worthy of your
mahogany tables, of more worth than anything in this store. She thought this
only because she knew this to be true.

She watched a woman and a look-a-like daughter step through automatic doors.
She felt the rush of warm air, felt her finger tips trace the moist imaginary coils
of a pot she would she soon be firing, had the pot been real, in the ovens
of San Ildefonso. Of course her pueblo lacked air conditioning. She missed the place
she had always wanted to leave, dismissing its dirt paths to adobe huts and a make-shift
studio as hot as the red New Mexico sun. Did this mother and daughter, both looking as
crisp & cool as the air inside the store, know she had exhibited
at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, that she had become an immediate success,
that she – her pots, her black-on-black pots – had won
great acclaim and made Pueblo de San Ildefonso the place
without which Pottery Barn® would never have been
more than a glint in the mind of a housewife pressing instructional clay into pinch pots
for a community college arts class that would not count toward a degree,
only provide time away from an alcoholic husband, pinch
pots that would be fired and placed first in drawers
and then in boxes for the move out after the kids were grown
and gone to wherever kids go when they can no longer stand
the sounds of liquor and the silence of glazed clay?

Welcome to Pottery Barn. She instinctively placed her hand over her heart,
covering her name tag: “Maria Martinez” hid behind her fingers. She thought
of the horse manure, of the sheep shit she had used to effect the desired finish.
Neither mother nor daughter acknowledged Maria’s words or presence.
Like distant tourists they were already holding a vase up to swatches of fabric
they had brought from home, and Maria was leaning hard toward the heat.

Richard Downing won the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Poetry Peace Prize, Writecorner Press’s 2010 Editor’s Award, and New Delta Review’s Matt Clark Prize. Publications include Potomac Review, Juked, Dire Elegies, Against Agamemnon: War Poems, and Prime Number. Four Steps Off the Path is a 2010 YellowJacket Press chapbook contest winner.

#149 Balloon Fiesta by Melinda Palacio

Four men run, chase clouds of their breath.
A misshapen ball tumbles free like a child.
Reds and oranges shoot past neighbor portals.

Bob grabs thick ropes,
a chance to help a stranger, save the day,
fetch the world in his hands, tame
the balloon like a bear roped down to its last breath
until silk falls over.

Lucky he wore his shearing gloves.
No one from Corrales or Albuquerque
built the wayward balloon with slippery knots
for hand holds. The team in matching shirts and
familiar logo hug and high-five.

Bob retreats to the adobe on his grandmother’s land,
heats his coffee in the microwave, sits
and waits for the next glint of shooting silk.

 —

Melinda Palacio’s poetry book, How Fire Is A Story, Waiting will be published in Fall 2012 by Tia Chucha Press. She is the winner of Kulupi Press’ Sense of Place award for her chapbook, Folsom Lockdown, Kulupi Press 2010. Bilingual Press published her novel, Ocotillo Dreams, Summer 2011.

#148 The Great Unleveler by LeeAnn Meadows

When I woke yesterday
I couldn’t put my finger
on the horizon,
mistook dust for fog,
didn’t know that soon the wind
would swirl my hair from its roots
and I could only find the horizon,
the flat calm loneliness of the southwest,
by lying down.  Dust crept
under the bedroom door—
went unnoticed,
but later I sensed the graininess
under my skin, as I passed
my husband in the hallway.
As the sun set, I entered the garden
wanting to anchor my short fingernails
into the warm, brown soil—
instead, I was tossed against the rock wall
like debris, discarded from a moving car—
alone and forgotten.

LeeAnn Meadows lives on the outskirts of Las Cruces, NM with her husband in an old adobe motor court.  She has published poems in Sin Fronteras, Lunarosity, Words on a Wire and Many Voices.

#147 Socorro Strewn with Pumpkins by Kathamann

Our favorite downtown cactus
full of flirting spiders.
Tall columns of dust demons
spin into homes.
The purple soul of the goddess
bequests treasures of rain.

Every picnic will be disrupted.
Waterfalls will form at irregular
intervals.
Voices alive with candy bars
will sing with the angels.
Golden copper apricots will
become the new currency.

Dances will be held in the muddy
ballpark.  Silent neighbors will
embrace for the first time in 34
years.  Peace will descend like
music.

Gifts will be exchanged.  Grace
will erupt like a sneeze.  Insightful
speech will echo up ad down the
camino.  Pockets full of hearts
will weep from happiness.
The light of the day will interrupt
in a new clarity.

Kathaman has been involved in painting and sculpture in the Santa Fe arts community for thirty years.  She is a retired Peace Corps Volunteer/Afghanistan and registered nurse. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary magazines, including Waving and Malpais Review, as well as included in several anthologies.

#146 Desert Balloons by Marian Olson


 
 
Hot air balloons
rock over the fields of
yellow weeds and sand. Green
and red turbans, perfectly splendid,
real as our lives. That’s what we think,
what we say, how we act.  Multicolored
and smooth as cool air, we move with a
purpose, firing the jets of our minds
to new heights that float eastward
above the Sandia mountains
into the cobalt sky, too
occupied to see
 the last rays of
sunlight.

Marian Olson lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband and red Blue Lacy hound.  She is the author of six poetry books. Among them Songs of the Chicken Yard, Desert Hours, and Consider This. Sketches of Mexico is forthcoming this spring.