your writing is not written

tyler showing me a sampler of the special forest spots
while we ascend along the lichen-covered rock-scapes
and how, once vesta is mentioned, i can’t stop
(calling the land ‘vesta’s place’ or ‘vesta gayfeather’s’, etc)
she tries to remember the name
for the tiny balls of snow/hail
that are neither snow nor hail
but also kindof both
as it bounces off of everything
(the pinecones, the fallen ponderosas, the earth stars) including us
while filling the air with a gauzey haze _______

how i can hear echoes of debbie talking about the grandmothers
(and pot shards and how they like to be seen) as tyler talks
about the rocks around us
i’ll be your sous chef i say to erika
as we head to the river house which is where i discover
(as i chop cilantro, slice avocado, finely chop a shallot and wash the dishes)
that not only do we both grow things,
but we are both writers and we’re both
familiar with this phenomenon
called self sabotage

slicing plantains while i ask questions about things like
why you say your writing is not written
for a large audience to read or why you don’t
want that

the mug of cota tea erika hands me
harvested wild
from the hills/forests
in the time it takes to boil a kettle of water
the slightest moon goes down
into the western ridge

tyler and i peanut gallerying
as erika reads about hermit peak
and augostino, the penitente 
that it’s named for
and how, before that, it was ‘hill of the owl’ in spanish

eight years back in a room

the jingle-jangle of 
bells and chains strung
inside harvey the truck/camper
as we sway in the high winds while heading north
on the 25


in some ways not ideal tyler
(in regards to land/house search, but really, applies to so many things)
but it is still good

kit fox
erika says
of a special animal who visits
along the quiet gurgle
of the river/creek
the sangres were always east in santa fe i say
it’s strange to be on the other side now
and the sun sets behind them
rags whipping in the wind
on a line strung across the 
river house porch

how the smokey new mexico chile scent of soup loaded with cilantro
and avocado cubes still fills the river house
as i curl under the layers of covers
the same bottles of oils
with typewritten labels
including oak moss
in their same little wooden cabinet
that once sat bedside
8 years back in a room in a house
on holland street
where dwelled the best
porch-prince ever
coming alive might be a way
to describe what it feels like
to walk under a sky mad with stars

and all the red

the tiniest trickle i climb up
to investigate whether spring or creek
while michelle hangs out below with monkey and kali
and all the red rock on the way
and the shine of mica
that is mostly irresistable
the hand-painted banner flapping near the top
of the land where the top of the nearby ridge can be seen
its letters read: womyn’s land
since 1979
dykes, bi, straight

plopped on the ground in a patch of sun
we reach in our bags for snacks
and she passes me, brought back from turkey
the best dried apricots/figs/strawberries ever

an occasional ping! pop! now and then
the pots that were taken out of the kiln yesterday
still talking
over tea and ginger cake
on the big couches in the lounge
on kate and i’s last night
and most of the crew is here
i tap out typewritten odes
on notecards
including the ode to the river otter
and an ode to four minutes and an ode
to a maiden voyage

it is the clay and glaze

the tiniest ping! pop! glassy sounds
the clay vessels (fired overnight and laid out on table) make
courtney calls it talking (the pots are talking to each other)
she says it is the clay and glaze
settling in/getting used to
each other

how we speak our gratitudes
as we pass, cupful by cupful around the circle, water
how we fill the water with thanks
before we drink it
how we take care not to spill and learn with each passing
how to take even more care

in a time of dying languages
(and cultures connected to them)
there is extra magnificence
in the voice of the woman
with flowers behind her ear
who belts it out in a way that remindsme of
chavela vargas only 800 times more loud and fierce
while the hair on the fiddle bow frays in a frenzy
and the bass guitarist uses his whole body to play
and the guitarist uses his entire spirit to play
and the fringe on the light brown jacket and chaps of the spanish village folk dancers
slide and stomp and scuff along
to the songs that have been taught/gathered in pieces
throughout the region

while the bend and creak of the floor of the oldest church in santa fe if not the united states
gives (in a sway, not a break kind of way)
and lone Piñon
fills the space
our bodies
our heartbeats
with more heartbeats

dig underneath the story

the slap of wind so cold and hard to my face while running
it knocks the breath out of me
but the morning view of the sangre de cristos
and the jemez off in the distance
are worth it
and my limbs and lungs singing afterwords
is worth it too
the two thumbs down and the fart noise i jokingly make
as toni and i sit down for the end-of-residency check-out
and how we say we’re going
to miss each other

dig underneath the storymaking bruin says
have compassion instead of attaching meaning
sometimes the places we feel the most
ourselves are our growth zones
all the laundry hanging around my room
because it is so dry here that the notion
of a dryer is absured
(this one’s for you jessica zeng)
robert’s cold faces as he holds up a poster
that says you tried to bury us
but you forgot
that we are seeds


i give good legging franco says
i’ve heard that about you i reply
her last name is love and i don’t remember the first name
but she stands at the mic untangling/clarifying
all the current legislation around im/migration
and she is matter of fact and she is badass
and her heart is bigger than this room and when we’re clearing the chairs out
at the end of the night she says
that she is exhausted
(and i can bet every other badass immigration lawyer in the u.s. is most likely saying the same)

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

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

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

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

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.