#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
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.


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

#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.

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