the source

the bright blue
of the mountain bluebirds swirling
about a puddle of water
in the red dirt parking lot
and how i cannot stop watching
the brilliant streaks of them
as they move through the light
it looks like a prison jan says
of the razor wire
coiled atop the fences
of the wastewater treatment plant
whose cylinders and rectangles of builidings
all appear a beige-orange
with black block letters to indicate
what’s inside
the five-gallon bucket that bobbe finds
lodged into the sand
that is sometimes a river,
and all the plastic bottles, straws, toothpaste tubes we fill it with
and the fact that we easily could have filled at least five more

how this sense of discovering
is light, with plenty of moments for joking/laughing
and how the same items
(sun-shredded backpacks, a toothbrush, a tshirt)
carry a different weight
in the arroyos of the borderlands
she takes on her meander again bobbe says
about the river once
outside the city
was a meanderer before it was industrialized

one tooth still intact
yellowy against the bright white of 
the rest of the skull
how i carry it with me for some length of the river
and then place it in a pile of leaves

the source bobbe says, nodding
in the direction of the saddles and peaks
of the sangres
of the river

smells like benzene jan says
her nose tucked into her collar
as we hover around the effluent
from the water treatment plant
at the place where it flows into
the santa fe river
a confluence

and this, it is imporant to be noted, is what my notes say about benzene:
with exposures from less than five years
to more than thirty years, individuals
have developed and died from leukemia.
long term exposure may affect bone marrow
and blood production.
short term exposure to high levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, uncounsciousness and death

how the asters turn
into an explosion of stars
bobbe says
pointing to a bush of
dried yellow star-shapes


beaver deceiver is what she calls the 
metal cage-like forms
in the effluent wetlands
and tells us how they obstruct the beavers
from being able to build a complete dam

roadside, we touch the thin deep red tamarisk branches
whose fluffy sheddings kill everything around it
due to their salt content
yet another moment of 
the thing i have read about
coming to life
and then, there’s also the russian olive
that i mistake for a willow
but its two inch spiky thorns
give it away

the fuzzy blooms of a plant called winter fat
that the birds feed on
in the colder seasons
from up here, among the petroglyphs
the view of the sangres
and everything else that spreads out before them
this is what i came here for
this is what feeds me
the smell of a few small sprigs
of tender mountain sage
tucked into my front jacket pocket
from the water world:

Christian Orthodox priests re-enact the baptism of Jesus, during the traditional Epiphany baptism ceremony at the Qasr-el Yahud baptism site in the Jordan river near the West Bank town of Jericho. – voice of america, day in photose

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the way the winds are or aren’t

the woman on the radio
who lives on the island lesbos
saying how it used to be
just one or two boats packed
with 59 adults and children
per day and now
since the conflict in syria
it’s around 200 boats per day
we give them what we can – we collect and sometimes we give them our own clothes.
we can’t stand by and watch them drown.
we have received death threats
she says because people think that us providing humanitarian aid is what draws them here

do you believe that? if people stopped helping, would they stop fleeing  the radio person asks
no she says of course not

the light-colored rabbit
whose fur matches the colors of yellow sand/white snow
that wanders out of the junipers
when i take a non-sidewalk shortcut across campus
how we both stop,
and how i could stay this way
just watching
for hours
the kind woman at the branch library
talking about the un-keep-up-with-able busyness
while she suffles and hustles books
and how she does so without being angry
and how her co-worker asks her
if she needs some juice or water or a snack
the satisfying weight
of books in my backpack which means finally
i can dig in
the unaccompanied uncollared dog
that i first mistake for a coyote
ahead of me on the short trail to the library
and how she lays down in the scrub
her ears poking up and how
if i lived here
i’d be tempted to take her home
universe, i’m ready to meet my unicon. let it rain she says
must be the way the winds
are or aren’t
because for the first time in thirteen days
i hear the bells – 
some xmas song at noon
and then the 6oclock chime heard from my desk
and two hours later
from the same spot
the 8oclock

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layered like a landscape

the importance
of standing/walking/being outside underneath sky
especially when its clouds make the effort
to come down magnificently
(broody, gray, heavy, textured, layered like a landscape)
to meet us
(something akin to the gesture of a bow)
the bright blue glass of the riesling bottle
in the shelf on the door of the fridge
and how it makes me think
of my sister
sylvia’s accent
and how she says
she’s from london as she and lois
unpack their grocery bags

always the one
with the colored sprinkles
if there is ever a doubt
of which doughnut i’d pick out
around the time perhaps
i was graduating high school
jessica’s parents
and all their siblings
begin their journey
from a small rural fishing town in southern china
to the united states
sponsored by a relative (just like my grandparents)
to arrive to
the music of raíces
(from 7:30-10pm)
playing quietly
(flutes, drums, electronic –
sounds new to me and filling out
this sense of place)
as i read about the hydrological apartheid
of israel/palestine
thinking about walls and water and filled with
the sense of something slowly taking over
from the water world:
Residents and tourists swim in the sea at Barra da Tijuca beach during a summer day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. – voice of america, day in photos

A small boat trapped in the frozen Danube river is seen in Belgrade, Serbia. – voice of america, day in photos

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if there ever was a time
to use the word hubris
now, this political circus moment, is it

in a gathering of
writers resisting
one person mentions pedro reyes
turning guns into musical instruments
and another says all great movements
begin around the kitchen table

and another talks about talking to his father
about violence against women
and violence against the earth and his father says
it’s the same thing
and another reads a poem titled
try to praise
the mutilated earth
and another says
this is our power,
it’s our time,
we are a formidable force
liz across from me sits and
introduces herself
and how it doesn’t take long to discover
this art-making food-growing commonality
and how she pulls her bright orange-red hat
over her head before she walks out
into the night shining with snowrain
how there was a kind of emptiness
a sort of longing,
and then, there we all are
appearing at the kitchen table
laughing with whoopie cushion fart jokes
through things that would otherwise make us cry
and when i say goodnight
gut muscles warmed from
getting through however we need to/can
(in this case, the heavy moments
that we allow to take up space and pause
and all the laughter
that has to follow)

i go back to my room
the three remaining
spelt almond cookies
liz from smudge
hands to me

i try to gesture the compressing
the layering
(how i am not at all my grandma
but how, in some ways,
we all carry each other/
each other’s traumas
and how we are like overlays
(my mom, my grandma and i)
set one by one on an overhead projector
coming together to form
a version of whole)
the whiteglow of snow
coming in through the windows
softly illuminating
this room

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the three-part percussion

the unbelievable red glow
of the ristras (and other chile arrangements)
laid out in the sun on the table
in the railyard
and the draw of the drumming and other percussion
echoing out through studio doors
and all the while
clear sky that was supposed to be rain
the sun blasting its brightness
onto our
all of the rocks jan and melanie and i
can’t stop treasuring
because of lines running through them or
unexpected colors or
bits of shine or
the thousands of years of history
layered in
a word for watching the sangre de cristos for days now,
learning how they lay to the east,
understanding their sacredness as birthplace,
and only today do i finally
enter their edges,
walk along their waterways,
train my ears to their rustlings and
marvel at the tips and peaks rising
around me

the orange/red of what i believe to be desert willow
against the sagey dried yellow blue-green of the rabbitbrush (chamisa)
against the dark green of junipered mountain side rising
into sometimes blue sometimes gray sky
unsealing the sandhill salsa and setting it
on the table i grew those tomatoes i say
the largest number of people deported
under any president
the codeswitch guest
says about obama
and it’s still a marvel to me
how quietly it’s been kept
oh that’s bad amy says
that means the water’s really low when we tell her
about the pipe in the two mile resevoir
that we could see water draining into
that used to be santa fe’s main source of water (and is still some of the city’s source)
before the wells were put in
the three-part percussion
of the first raindrops of the night
hitting the roof/skylight plus
the click of zippers spun/tossed
around in the dryer across the hall plus
the sound of the emptied piñon shells
hitting stainless steel camp bowl
next to me on the bed

shiz and gina reporting live
from their annual symphony outing
which i, for the first time in three years, amn sadly in absentia from

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listen to the trees telling you

the hum of the knobby tires
agianst the cement of the river trail
as i pedal east
towards the snow-speckled range rising
swirls of birds smallish and appearing
black against a cloud-gathering sky
as seen from the red stone slab picnic table
i perch at
listen to the trees
tell you you’re beautiful
 ellena suggests this
as i am park-poised and surrounded
by trunks and limbs and i say something
about how i never thought of it that way
(how i’m always telling them
that they’re beautiful
but i never considered that maybe
they might be saying the same thing)

we operate very differently in the world i laugh with shiz
about me and a certain root vegetable
she’s the town crier she says and you’re… the town’s meditative observer
from the water world:

A devotee blows into a conch shell as he offers prayer by submerging in the Hanumante River during the Swasthani Brata Katha festival in Bhaktapur, Nepal. – voice of america, day in photos

A man tries to keep his balance as waves hit the seawall at the beach in Anglet, southwestern France. – voice of america, day in photos

A man paddles a boat on Casa de Campo lake in Madrid, Spain.- voice of america, day in photos

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this brutal history

ashley with public transformation
swooping through with her videographer
before they head out for texas
breaks down the differences between
an independent artist
a community artist
and a civic artist
by saying something like this:
an independent artist
is holding the paintbrush
and bringing to fruition
their vision,
a community artist
engages through interviews or
listening to storytellers or other ways
of hearing/holding/taking in a community story
and bringing it into their work
while still holding the paintbrush,
a civic artist
hands the paintbrushes out
to the community to make the work
while offering mentorship and guidance
but letting the community’s work
come out through the community


what feels like the first time
in forever
watching clouds under the sky
move over
(white whisps against a blue a so blue
it almost hurts)
how the book about here
also names the four cardinal direction mountain ranges
surrounding tucson
and also mentions the cleaving
the decimation
of a 2,000 person community
whittled down
to just over 100
and this is part of what we mean
when we talk about
this brutal history
in an expanse of mostly flat/cut goldyellow,
a few of the eyebrow-shaped lightning boy grasses
standing a foot tall
noticeable in the sun
upon closer inspection
the big blocks of
mauve stucco
washed by today’s bright sun
and rising
into the scene of sky

how i pause before i say delightful
because really, perhaps what i mean is:

complex and fraught
niepa in her narwhal/unicorn/some kind of fabulous creature hoodie
planking across the arms of the great fireplace (p)leather chair
saying she’s roasting
over the barbecue
jessica’s brazilian cheese bread
which reminds me of cynthia’s popovers
puffed and domed
in the muffin tin
from the water world:


Nepalese Hindu devotees gather to bathe in the Shali River on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal. – voice of america, day in photos

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