a kind of surrender

the palmful of bobbe’s new mexico
blue corn seed that i funnel with an
open palm into the tiny manila envelope
that liana holds open

the tour includes but is not limited to:
the impressive piles of wood, hand chopped
seta’s smile and how she’ll crawl under the tunnel of human legs
the curve and wind of the acequia ditch
and what is guessed to be the three graves of a pet cemetery
that they have decided to leave alone

michelle tugging me to the counter
insisting she pays the artist’s way
to a northern new mexico 
calabacita enchilada meal
and later the trinkets from turkey
(the blue glass eye that is watching, 
the small notebook with the leopard print-clad
man on a horse on the cover and the 
shiny yellow fabric pouch that it all fits in)
that she shares

the squeezy goodbye hug
and how i call
love you! i call out the window
to the farm-dirty twosome
walking down the road past the
tiny co-op and ice cream shop
as we drive out, towards the river and away again
the way i lean in towards
(a kind of surrender) the mountain-melt
of the cold clear rio grande
and al the gray brown gold rocks
that color it
same kind of leaning
same kind of surrender
i might offer
a lover
the incredible dark blue of the jemez
with the incredible sifting of snow
on top under today’s incredible sun
as we drive south in the glow
the plane that david folds
from a piece of orange paper
on which he writes
come on over,
you’re welcome here
it’s our grief i say your grief is my grief
to molly who is overcome with it all
and, really, how are we not all
overcome all the time these days
seems to be a relevant question
and we could be comrades i say to terry
after the workshop
while we joke about me living here
and teaching creative writing at
the community college where she works

from the water world:
Floodwaters surround a playground in San Jose, California. Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate their homes in the northern California city as floodwaters inundated neighborhoods and forced the shutdown of a major highway. – voice of america, day in photos

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there was always a baguette

we can just dance around each other i say to the woman
who excuses her mopping around me in the kitchen
as i arrange an open-face sawndwich
in front of the toaster

what time do you get out of here the young
office depot delivery man
asks after setting down the ream of paper 
outside the office door
the smoothness of his at-least-twelve-years-younger-than-me voice
careening off the white walls in the entryway
walking west into sun so bright and low
that everone
is illuminated
opulence i say as aurvi and i trek our way back
groceries in our bags 
as i talk about photos from the one million dollar wedding

mom and dad and i laughing
over skype when talking about me
calling my senators and him saying 
something like
well, good, this means you don’t see the need to lock yourself to anything anymore
and me saying oh, i still see that need.
all tactics are necessary right now

aurvi standing there with the third bottle of wine
and how i laugh because if she were a superhero
a semi-full wine bottle would be her
magic secret power accessory

how all of us here gathered
around snacks and wine and words reminds me
of our mid 90’s poetry gatherings
with jan (pronounced yahn)
and izzy and brock and jack and marje and angie
there was always a french baguette and
a bottle of wine

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in the glow of the sunburst

the three of us plus fern the dog
perched on the side of the trail,
but mostly in it, in the glow of the sunburst
as the light snow drifts and drops
some flakes glinting as danielle
pours the oolong tea into three 
mint-green ceramic cups

i’m seeing these mountains all the time
i say it’s good to be in them

the steep shortcut we take that
leads us to the stones laid out
like cross hairs but not cross hairs at all,
each point aligning with a 
cardinal direction and the bright
red of carnations left and this
is where i place the small heart-shaped
stone i had been carrying
along the way

the hole worn into the map
next to the you are here arrow
from so many fingers touching it
and tracing along the route they just walked
or are about to head out on
and hilariously, after i comment on this
phenomenon of worn out spots on maps
where people touch them, we notice
a taped-on note asking people to look
at the map with their eyes, not their fingers

and how we stand there laughing
at the trail on the map that we thought
was a ridgeline and when i notice
the blue creekline running alongside it
we joke about how cool it is – 
the ridgeline creek
how we joke about the sign marked
more difficult is denoting the 
tough mudder trail
(how the people who took it are 
rope-climbing up to the ridge
over a pit filled with crocodiles and 
scuttling along the ground
to avoid getting caught by the barbed wire obstacle, etc)

this one’s for you, mica:
when nate asks what i’m looking forward to
upon my return, the first thing i say
is playing ultimate frisbee
and the other thing i say is
village fire

ink kin i call aurvi
who is the essay/non-fiction-writing version
of myself and i am the poem-writing version
of her
(with the shared acknowledgement that certainly
there are differences between our 
‘real lives’ back with our families and where we live)
guess i’m not a butcher caroline says sawing
with a small knife impossibly
working through a raw red hunk
of meat

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will there also be singing

the light through the opaque garbage
bags in the hands of people up and down
the santa fe riverbed as i bike along it under
a sky bright with sun
the weight of 
five oranges, four bananas, one thing of expensive
vegan cheese, one bunch of kale and one head
of lettuce and one bar of chocolate and one
pastry and one bag of crackers and one handful of
sunflower sprouts and one bunch of curry cashews
form the bulk bin in my backpack as i pedal west between 
two mountain ranges that will never cease to be
stunning and eternally summoning up
a sense of reverence 
wind whipping its gusty way through the blue
courtyard kicking small collections of dried 
leaves up into a swirl

the strands in the paper of toni’s
watercolors that she kneels down to me
with – how the textures and blues
match her shirt
digging up some old details of a showdown
between a kitchen manager and myself
which helps me define point one of what i mean
when i say i want to be free
(point one: i don’t want to work under a boss

or a manager
or supervisor)
aurvi’s blue and black cursive written
on the piece of paper she holds up 
as she stands against the blue wall
under the hazy sun that reads
in the dark times
will there also be singing?
yes, there will also be singing.
about the dark times
(a quote of bertolt brecht’s)

aurvi and i laughing at the joke
that i’ll never get but i’ll always 
keep doing it anyway,
the joke about things like working on a project
for six months and finally
rejection after rejection
having it published and getting excited
about the $100 prize/payment
(i think this is one example of what
frank buffalo hyde meant when he talked
about sacrifice yesterday)
the yellow fade-t0-white dress 
(like a daffodil in opposite order) that one of 
the women dancing around the musicians
wears at part of a wedding celebration outside
under the sun
in a short video my sister sends from delhi

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for every massacre

the two huge crows chasing each other
in huge loops over me as i
run east, toward the trail worn at the one
wild edge of campus
it’s a sacrifice, but you don’t know
it’s sacrifice, it’s just what you do

frank buffalo hyde says about
making art while he walks us through
his show I-witness culture at the
museum of indian arts and culture
the view of the jemez
from up here (near upper canyon road)
how if i had a camera, i would
take a picture of all that blue
(blackblue mountain shapes sifted
with snow and above that,
whiteblue and brightblue sky
and the brightwhite strip of clouds
stretched across it)
it can keep you honest frank says
about the tool that a smartphone is
it’s useful, but it depends on how you you use it

for every massacre you know/read about,
there are 10 more that you don’t know about
he says amongst the buffalos and ufos
the pink and stars of the 
smells-like-teen-spirit influenced
hopi cheerleader
in mid-cheer
how i dip my fingers in the
raspberry tea that fiona poured and then
use the liquid to smudge the rainbow lines
drawn across the page

over fresh holly-made oatcakes
and butternut squash soup
holly, fiona and i take turns
asking each other what it takes
(in a living situation/at a job/in life)
to thrive
for one it comes down to a sense of home
for another it comes down to spending time
with her mom 
and for me, well, it’s not so clear
but then i say how i want to live in 
the beginning of the lord of the rings trilogy
before all the evil forces grab hold


Natan Cabral, 5, stands on the cracked ground of the Boqueirao reservoir in the Metropolitan Region of Campina Grande, Paraiba state, Brazil.

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the nest

tonight, there is only one detail.
and that is the nest of sadness (or is it a nest
with eggs of sadness inside)
settled in the space of my ribcage

sad at the news of a friend receiving a
deportation warning/notice in the mail
with her friend (like family)’s name on it
sad at the sound of the words sad and tired coming
out of my friend’s mouth
lost it at work she says tearing up at the front desk
and i don’t cry much less cry
in public
and this is true

she says she can count the number of times
she’s cried in her life on two hands
and one of those times was because of me
and i was there
and there were barely three tears

sad at the alarming quickness
(the only way i can think of to addrress this is say
there’s a lot of shit flying around around right now
let me know if you need an umbrella)

sad at the images of  gaudalupe garcia de rayos in phoenix arizona
after over 20 years of living in the u.s. and regularly
reporting to her immigration check-ins
behind the grate of a window of a vehicle she was locked in
to be deported
her son’s face in the window’s reflection

alongside the sadness
there are also de rayos’s teenage children
saying it’s hard not to cry
but we are going to be strong
i told her i love her so much
and that everything is going to be alright

alongside the sadness
there is also the swell of sound
of the protestors surrounding the vehicle
and locked to it
putting their bodies on the line
in order to keep the de rayos family together
for at least some hours longer

alongside the sadness
the one who couldn’t help but cry
behind the counter at her workplace
also tells me about the laughter
amongst the heaviness of the grief
around the table or in the living room
chilling hard
in the company of chosen family/community/loves

alongside the sadness, attorneys
stepping up to  do what they can
to bring de rayos
back home

sad because i know about the complication and very realness
of love across borders
angry because arizona used to fucking be mexico anyway
by yet another moment
where there must be more that i can do,
that words can do,

that this nest can become

from the water world
A child sits on a chair as flood waters reach his house in the Sidakaton district in Tegal, Indonesia, Central Java province, in this photo taken by Antara Foto. – voice of america, day in photos

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sweet and cinnamony-ginger spice tea
scents tendriling in the air and drifting
up and out of my studio
where i pour small steaming batches
into the lid/cup of my thermos
the tiny white dog with
the highest-pitched voice
barking at me from the other side
of the chainlink fence
as i sidewalk my way in the
clear-sky-sun down siringo road
singing tori’s version of
home on the range

how i come upon a long strip of a park
weirdly positioned low and long as if
the concrete path was once a river
and how i consider walking it
but want to stay up
where the sun is
(the sign at either end of this park reading:
marcel marc brandt park)
holly the crepe expert
at the stove inviting us to take
turns grabbing the pan by its handle
and giving the hot crepe a flip

that’s another thing on my profane list
(filed under ‘one-time-use’) i say of

the lanyard and plastic sleeve attached
the ting! ting! cling clang! of the flute glasses
with bubbles rising in them
as we lightly tap them to each others’
in honor of jessica, the millenial, the intern,
the baker and sculptor and writer

inky sky, clear moon, bright handful
of stars as seen through the plate glass
looking out from the north end of the courtyard
in the late journey from studio
to bathroom and back again
crossing off deadlines with 
bight colored markers

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