Tuesday, November 20, 2018

There were those

There were those
who paid attention
to the old
texts which meant
nothing to most.

In those texts
the story of our errors
our incompleteness 
and the danger we wove
around us, called Hubris
by the Greeks.  The freaks
in the class know, but others
of you who read my words now
didn't know the elders’ words
were like gold:  this civilization
will end.  Greed and monstrous

ignorance crowns every empire.
But you didn't get it.  You
wrote notes about 
the football game
drew pictures of Eagles
swooping from the mountains.
Nothing is lost 
to the old ghosts
of your notebooks

inhabiting the hallways.
Of Herodotus they
still whisper and the
wars, the wars, the
wars we went over.  But
there is nothing
important there.  The teachers 
taught to atomic dust.  
For those of us
who remember
it is late.

Monday, November 12, 2018

El Doctor

The dr discovered in
His alcoholic haze
He had no regrets
Didn't spin all day in
Self accusation
It quieted his crazy
Mind which had
Turned paranoid,

solipsistic and the body
A hermit asleep behind
His books. Reaching you
He says, "the pain
Is horrific, mental,
Worse than a broken
Hand. Leave me thou
In this pain state and I will
Go away. Sleep will
The hummingbird
Acquire and be in sweet."

12 Years

Twelve years, the time it takes
Jupiter to transit its own plane
Round the sun. And there are
False prophets about: fists, torches
Like it’s 1938. Am I to tell you
To give up the sky
For the politics of a dying
Planet, with so many infected
By hatred or indifference?
I keep telling myself
This is not my world
Not my Cadillac not
The road I thought of
thirty years ago. You,
You who have made escape
Impossible, well, some of us
Are too old to fight. I tried
To drive today
Made it home in one piece.
Tonight the planets are
Supposed to surprise me.

New Mexican space warriors

What a hectic
Fuckin ride it’s
Been: from cheap
Rural outcast
Un bronco
From Gallup
Un chilero
From Hatch
Twin worlds
That no one
Wanted. There
Were the rough
Albuquerque schools
And the shallow waters
Of UNM. I’m a brown
Guy. I didn’t expect
To go anywhere.
O here I am teaching
Poetry and the apocalypse
Teaching dignity and acceptance.
On the one hand
It may be the case
I am wrong and I am free.
On the other, the ace
Of spades tells me
It will always change, forever.
We want to strive for this, but
Institutional and cultural
Walls keep us apart: imagine
The 18th century and oak boards
Separating sleepers and lovers
All night. That’s your representation.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Songs for the displaced: 1

There is
Terror in
The morning
Especially the
Summer when
The light lasts
The sun springs
Up at 630.  Counted
A thousand
Stars before that.
When I wake
I'm scared
My muscles 
Twitch in
Witchy circles
I bolt from bed like
A crazy baker
Trying to save
A burning 
Cake he left
In the oven
Overnight.  My 
Dreams consist
Of ex lovers 
Traveling in
Large semis,
Impossible buses
And aeroplanes.
We're always left at the
Same place:  a lame
Ranch house
Below the Sandias
Where we find 
Curios, maps, jewelry 
That costs a fortune.
But the machine
Is always broken,
We cannot 
Go anywhere. 
There is the shaking
The hard shaking
In my legs and arms
As I wake consider
My day:   A long
Drawn out sun,
Some rain after 
A walk, stop
Running away.

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.