Thursday, December 01, 2016


This hammered out darkness
has been here for while.  I’m
reminded to recall darker
ages. but I hadn’t expected
the fall to whittle me away
shredded, carved, discarded.

About those ages:  young
I picked the apple tree & dreamt
of leaving,  packing up
books, towels, credenzas
in a truck that was going
somewhere I’d expected
but somehow didn’t know:

it’s the time, dear one, to
make decisions.  The wind & rain
have come on strong.
Sheltered as you are,
someone has written doom
somewhere in a book more
like the symphony of humanity
scored by the devil, odd
notes and a trail of codas
as it becomes a sequence

of sirens going off in the night.

Light in La Jornada del Muerto

The daemon of Southwestern
light wove in and out
of the thick summer clouds.
Now the war’s been going on
For 70 years, at least.  Even Bear
saw the happenings—the
last beat-down on the rez
made him sick.  If you start
to lecture about the future
you’ll lose.  Nothing cuts
through times that
no longer exist, perchance
perhaps a page from a book

radioactive, not yet
burned for warmth
the war in that phase
a deliberate attempt
to break the mad ones
down, making new
made mad ones only this
time with other enemies

who I shall not mention
For the State is large
on me these days, heavy
as canvas sacks filled
with depleted uranium. 
And what to fear. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Because I'm Not Chicano

It's because my family's
been living in Cruces
since the 1860's. Its because
my mom's father was
Apache, but there are
plenty of Germans, too.
I grew up watching
my dad's mother
making tortillas
my dad's dad practicing
the fiddle so he'd
play well at the wedding
that weekend.  Any wedding
in Cruces, any time they
needed a strong, resonant violin
player.  But my parents
who spoke Spanish
with me lived in the
suburbs of Albuquerque,
sheltered me from
that life.  So I

went out to Cruces
this summer, went
to Tucson, too
where the other half
of my family
lives.   There
is the pain of the
desert, pain of separation,
the infinite desecration of land
of peoples,
but I am not nor will
ever be a part of the pain
you write.  It's my own
pain that's my muse
and I like Lowell more
than Castillo.  I'm sorry
if this fact offends you.

I am sorry I am not
en la frontera fighting
our battles, which seem
more like yours, not
mine.  I have children
to raise, and their
mother's Irish-Italian,
that is, we are now
Americans and have no
need for tribalism, even
though the world
is ruled by such.

My real friends
laugh, and those who
know my work laugh.
I will go all over
this country reading
and blazing like a fox tail.
For I am hot as hot coal
there is nothing to stop my words
now, no redneck county sheriff
to tell me shut up, Mesican, or
shut up, Indio.  My children
are free and mixed and I am alive.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

South Fair Acres Road

I have been
in the Sonoran
Desert, the high
Chihuahua too,
so dry the desert
took most of my sadness
the way the heat
out there drains
you of water without
you knowing.  108
in Bowie.  Later,
that day in
Truth or Consequences
eating stuffed
sopapillas.  All of,
all of my friends
down in the Great
Eastern Forests
or living or living.
In drenched metropolitan
scenes, havoc
of the suburbs.  Shame
that I, between dry
old cities, could take my
car, take a turn on
some old highway,
drive into the salt
flats, chasing dust
devils all day.  Or that
there would be no
one out there, and I
know this because
from my little hotel hovel
in Cruces it would take me
not time at all
to be in desolation,
away from the river,
a bus ride.  A simple
walk to see the stars alone at night.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

NM HWY 185

When my grandmother
Josefina died, my grandfather
Felipe let all the rabbits
go.  The fat ones,
the wise ones
who knew she liked
paella with rabbit & shrimp
she bought at the Albertson's
in Las Cruces.  A dish
her mother taught her.

Today at the old farm
there's nothing but
wood to burn.  An empty
house, the fields wild with
volunteer cotton.  I couldn't even cry.
There are the old photos
folks I'll never know,
land I'll never plow.  Shadows
from the old hickory
in the yard--a ghost place
that I'll never see again.

So on the ride home, along
El Rio Grande, which is full
of promise, full of water
I fell for the desert again,
I said your name
wishing you could
see the farms and fields
rushing by, the river
at its height, the acequias
which mean so much.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Mariposas Sin Mundo

How long
will the butterflies
last.  Your son
says fifty years.
Maybe one or two left
in the high Montana
Rockies.  He says
by the time you die, dad
the sky will be forever
pale gray unforgivable,
like the sheer weight
of steel on the world.
Like Atlas you say,
holding up a
losing proposition.  I am
always "suffering dreams
of a world gone mad."
My ethos savory
like a burnt offering.
Most of us
happened to Earth, unaware,
weather unpredictable, late
spring and early summer confused.
But the morning glories
still fight their way
out of the clay
to honor the Sun God and
the Prince of Flowers
who'll have nothing
to do with us, anymore.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Guitarists at Noon

It's not as if
they were drunk,
acting like Russian
Cosmonauts.  In the
neighborhood it happened

while the dishes were being
dried, while the floors
were being swept.
Now you know
the august truth:

even a tether can
break.  High up
in granite or even
when you're towing
an old Volkswagen:

you might see it
like a ghost
chasing you.  Like
La Llorona in the
twilight beckoning

while the crepuscular
light does it work, whispers
that you stay.  And let me
tell you there are
so many ways to go

on this ride.  One time
the Hardy boys
jumped into the mix.
You never know what
might happen.  Just

a story here and there
like so many mulberries
smashed into the sidewalk,
signifying summer, all
there is to come.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

King Tiger to Rose Arcade

And then the battle began.   It’s not
a pretty fable, this time the lord
of plenty up against the dark of
nothingness, indefinable unless
you’ve seen a dead body or stood in any
cemetery.  For a long time there was

nothing, some vague threats over the radio.
Even the Apricot trees bloomed.   There were
always rumors of war when we were young. 
Nothing now but old swords swinging
in the wind. In a county not unlike
ours each little town is an armed camp

of rifles and the miles go by
on highways built for tanks and heavy trucks.
If you see the pictures there are
young men holding each other
hostage.  Imperial Moloch and
solitude have brought them there.

Famous Science Fiction Novels

In the end the earth
dies, of course, and either
the detestable aliens
offer us a new ugly
religion or we are
simply ash, our
buildings empty,
on fire. Usually
the humans who are
left learn to sigh
and may even
forget the old
god who got them
into so much
trouble in the first place.

But remember
in some books there are
children picking
weeds and dandelions
from front lawns
all across America.
No one mentions
the wicked step-father
who takes literally
his little patch
while the ghost
of an alien satellite
plays tricks with
his brain.  He will
eventually drive
to the desert
leaving his car
and his jacket
on the road
and no one will
know where he went.

Al fin del siglo,
the largest and widest
of these volumes
echoes off the walls
like a bad opera,
too many notes and the people
really don’t know what
they’re doing, except
that they have special
guns, horses, and parades
like we do here, only there
the masters make clear
their plans, their
domination of the solar
system, the large rocks
that fly by our little
planet, not knowing
we’re here at all.

Midnight and the Jack of Spades

Are you any
busier than you were
twenty minutes ago.
If so, I'd like to know
the secret of your
departure, what
time you left your
room in search
of an awkward
feeling wafting along
the byways
like diesel smoke.
In fact, that must
have been you
speeding by
like fast freight
train, so full of
energy it would
take you miles
to stop.  Now
the years are
just as heavy.  A friend
asked what happens
when we outlive
our dreams, our ambitions.
I said I'm being courageous
enough to get out
of bed in mid winter
at five am to scrape ice
from the car.  The
one my father
wanted me
to own, sometime
in a future he knew
he'd never see.