Reading for the Santa Fe River

Please join us

Wednesday, May 12th
5-7 PM

for a reading of poetry, prose, and historical writing about the
Santa Fe River
featuring contributors to the forthcoming collection
The Return of the River: Writers, Scholars, and Citizens Speak on Behalf of the Santa Fe River.
(Sunstone Press, 2010.)

at the Santa Fe Community Gallery
Southeast corner of the Convention Center building
201 W. Marcy

People protect only what they love and they love only what they know. For too long the Santa Fe River has existed almost invisibly within the busy city that it nourishes—and it has been neglected and ignored. Now comes a group of activists, community elders, historians, and poets who, by joining their testimonies in this heartfelt volume, aim to restore the river to visibility and to its centuries-old identity. The Return of the River will delight and amuse you, and through it you will come to know the Santa Fe River.

–William deBuys

This reading is a part of a group visual arts show sponsored by the SF Arts Commission and the Santa Fe Watershed. Meander: Works inspired by the Santa Fe River will be showing until June 6th. For more information on the exhibit and related events, visit

Textile Poem by Miriam Sagan

2-3 pm.


You call it memory and weave it tight,
Ancestors and snakes on the mat of dreams,
A tablecloth for morning stitched awake,
Rug hooked from whatever is at hand.

Ancestors and snakes on the mat of dreams,
Not clothed in feathers or fur, we won’t go naked,
Rug hooked from whatever is at hand,
Wrapped in a red coat dangling coins.

Not clothed in feathers or fur, we won’t go naked,
The stripes of the rug like soil horizons,
Wrapped in a red coat dangling coins,
We’ll treat the body like the warmth it is.

The stripes of the rug like soil horizons,
Lace, tent, or apron,
We’ll treat the body like the warmth it is,
An enclosure to call home.

Lace, tent, or apron,
Against the vastness of the plains and sky
An enclosure to call home–
The eye that sees, the eye that is threaded.

Against the vastness of the plains and sky
A child’s pair of embroidered shoes,
The eye that sees, the eye that is threaded,
Sampler alphabet spells out the self.

A child’s pair of embroidered shoes,
A tablecloth for morning stitched awake,
Sampler alphabet spells out the self,
You call it memory and weave it tight.

Lupe & Ruth by Ana Consuelo Matiella: INSTALLMENT #2


Lupe – 1 …continued…

“Come on, it’s a beautiful day and they’re drumming under the cottonwoods!” Ruth was practically begging her to go to the damned drumming party.
Lupe thought about it. Get out in the sun and take in the Santa Fe scene – that might be good. But then came the second thought: Oh, what’s the use? She could just as well stay home, rent an old movie and take the smashed up chocolates out of the trash can.
“Don’t do it Lupita!” She heard the voices of her three little white mice cry out in unison. The three little mice were her personal guides “actualized” in the creative visualization course that Ruth had recommended. The idea of using them as her personal guides came to her when she took her niece to see Babe, the story about an intelligent pig. “Why not?” She asked herself. Why couldn’t she use them as her guides instead of dialoguing with the bearded wizard or the goddess in the flowing golden gown. One cliché was as good as another, besides the wizard and the goddess almost always had something entirely too stupid to advise and the three little mice were cute and white and best of all they could sing.
Ruth insisted, “You’ll get into it once you’re there. You’ll see…”
“Okay,” Lupe said reluctantly.
The party was to start at four and they made arrangements to meet at four thirty. Lupe looked around her messy bedroom. One of her walls was painted crimson because Ruth had told her red attracted romance. Looking at it now, she felt depressed. The red bedroom made her feel like a high school wallflower. She wanted it to be pristine white like she had it before Ruth’s tutorial on how to attract the right man without really trying. She got out of bed to take a shower. As she undressed and looked at her body in the mirror, she thought of the chocolates she had already eaten and was filled with disdain. She took a deep breath and heard the little white mice say, “You look terrific, kid!”
She smiled a halfhearted smile and called Ruth back. “Ruthie, I have a headache.”
“I think I’ll stay home and paint.”
“You feel like painting again? That’s a good sign!”
Lupe didn’t have the heart to tell her friend that she wanted to paint the bedroom white, like it was before Ruth’s series of inspirationals.
“Well, I’m going alone then,” Ruth asserted. “If you change your mind, it’s on Santa Ana Street.”
“Pancho Ortega’s neighborhood?”
“Who’s Pancho Ortega?” Ruth inquired.
“He’s the guy the Santa Fe cops shot four times when he got drunk and threatened them with a kitchen knife.”
“God, Lupe, are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”


Ruth – 2

When Ruth hung up the phone, she went to the kitchen drawer to find a rubber band and put it around her wrist. A woman in one of her Alanon meetings had suggested it as a tool to help with “minding your own business.” Every time you caught yourself “doing someone else’s inventory” you were to tug at it and repeat, “MYOB.”
Ruth tried it and snapped the rubber band too hard against her skin. “Ouch!” she said aloud and took it off. “Well, that’s just plain silly,” she said, tossing the rubber band back in the drawer. And it was not that she didn’t need to mind her own business, because she did. Ruth needed to let go of Lupe. She had her own worries, what, with Larry’s high blood pressure, Allison’s potentially problematic adolescence and her own stomach troubles. Did she need to add one more thing?
And what could Ruth do about Lupe anyway? Nothing. But she still had ideas, useful ideas on how Lupe could be happier, more fulfilled, and just a teensy bit more at peace with herself. For example, right now, she knew that if she could get Lupe out of the house, she wouldn’t eat all those chocolate truffles. When Lupe ate chocolate by herself, it brought about self-loathing. For Lupe, the act of eating chocolate in isolation was the ultimate “mind killer.” But as much as Ruth knew she could help, she also knew that she needed to reframe the situation and see it as another opportunity for her to “Let go and let Lupe.”
But darn it! What was wrong with giving a few suggestions, easy things that she knew would help her friend? A few suggestions would be okay. She could hear Larry reminding her not to meddle. “Let her find out for herself, Ruth. You’re not her mother.” And then there was Alanon. That’s what it was all about: minding your own business. Oh well, she still had feelings. She still had thoughts. She just wouldn’t let those thoughts turn into action, so no more telling Lupe what to do! But oh God, if Lupe only knew how beautiful she was, how sexy her dark hair was, how men looked at her when she walked down the street.
More than a few women, Ruth included, wished they had those hips and that tiny waist, but Lupe was blind to it. She just didn’t get it. Once when Ruth told Lupe that she looked like Jennifer Lopez, Lupe took offense and said, “Thanks a lot. I always wanted a caboose like Jennifer Nalgona Lopez.
“Nalgona?” Ruth asked. “What’s nalgona?”
“Nalgona means big-ass.”
“I didn’t say that, Lupe.”
“Whatever,” Lupe said but Ruth knew she was hurt.
“You’re gorgeous, Lupe. You know that.”
“Thanks, Ruthie.”
Ruth could tell that Lupe didn’t accept the compliment. It was too late. She had already hurt Lupe’s feelings by uttering what Ruth thought was a flattering remark. Lupe was sensitive like that, and especially about any comments regarding her body.
So Ruth worried about Lupe. She knew about Lupe’s eating problem or body image problem or whatever it was. For as long as Ruth could remember Lupe thought she was fat. And she wasn’t. It was all in her mind. By anyone’s standards, Lupe was of normal build, and Ruth knew a thing or two about plump. And so what? She thought herself cute. She had nice legs, and a bosom that any one of her great aunts from the Ukraine would’ve been proud of. But one thing she must never forget to be thankful for was that Larry loved her and all of her “assets.” She had to admit that the fact that Larry couldn’t keep his hands off her helped a whole lot.
As she thought about Lupe’s body issues, she thought about how she felt after Allison was born, when she got to what Larry affectionately called her ‘optimum weight,’ and the size of her breasts were out of control. She worried. It was not nothing that she went from a snug size 10 to a snug size 16. She remembered that she couldn’t fit into her pre-baby bras and she and Lupe went shopping so Ruth could get fitted for a new size. The attendant at Dillard’s said she needed a G cup.
“Jesus,” Lupe said, “I didn’t even know they had that.”
“Me neither,” Ruth said in equal shock. “I thought they just went into the high D’s.”
“What do you suppose G stands for?” Lupe said, “Gargantuan?”
They both had a good laugh at the time but when she reported to Larry that she now wore a Gargantuan cup, Larry took her in his arms and said, “Ah, Ruthie, don’t go there. I think G stands for Great,” and kissed her all over and took her to bed.
But the Gargantuan breast experience took Ruth back to Isabelle. And she learned to eat mindfully, and as per Isabelle’s instructions, chewed each bite of food twenty-seven times. And she added more vegetables and put a “5 a Day Fruits and Vegetables” poster on her refrigerator and came to accept that no woman in her family looked like Julia Roberts and more than likely, she wouldn’t either.
Just like Ruth was grateful for Larry every day, she never stopped appreciating Isabelle. All those years of therapy with Isabelle transformed Ruth. And why couldn’t Lupe see the good that it had done? For years Ruth tried to get Lupe to see Isabelle, but Lupe would hear nothing of it.
“Therapy is not for me,” she said.
Well if not for her, then for whom? Is what Ruth wanted to ask, but better to keep her mouth shut.
So now there was Lupe in Galisteo, living among retired white people, alone with a box of chocolates feeling sorry for herself, 3 ½ years after Simon left her for a younger woman. Ruth felt a stab in her heart. How she loved Lupe! No one deserved to be left like Simon left Lupe. Simon, as Larry put it was a Nogoodnik. That much was clear, but why was it taking so long for Lupe to know this? Lupe, who was smart and fun to be with, not to mention lovely to look at, did not know that the fact that Simon didn’t appreciate her had nothing to do with her. The marriage was doomed from the beginning and Graciela, Lupe’s mother, knew it. Maybe that’s why Lupe hung on to Simon like a barnacle – just to spite Graciela.
“Ay vey, whatever. I can’t worry about this.” Ruth said as she opened up her closet to find something to wear to the party. She would go to the party by herself and make some contacts. You never know who might need a caterer…

Daffodil King by Emily Wingren

Daffodil King

I march into the schoolroom which smells of apples, pencils and farts and yell “Get in my car boy!” Noah and I run away singing our victory song. We tear out of the dirt parking lot in my yellow car, often going the wrong way on the new one way. We make up chants and yell at his friends in their parent’s cars.”War is not my voice, I am having another muffin!” On especially hot days I take him out to get popsicles at the store where I practice my Spanish. He talks about the cool things he’s done during the day and makes fun of people. He receives phone calls from his friends and hangs up before they’ve finished talking. “Kay Bye.” “Hey Emily, Lucas is the fat asian princess of the month because he makes the fountain work.” We run in front of the grown ups on walks like puppies. Making up little songs we run around and flap our arms. I ram into his shoulder and receive a mega point. He does the same thing back. We grab each others wrists and throw dirt at each other. “Dirtworks are so pretty!” We borrow each other’s goggles and bandannas to accessorize our outfits. We pour glasses of milk for one another in case the other sibling may want one. I don’t think we’ve had a serious fight since he was about six.
Our favorite make believe game when we were little was called “magical turds.” The premise being that we got things for free because clerks wouldn’t want to deal with the odor. We mostly ate pastries and played with legos before going on space adventures. The game would end with us returning safely to our yellow cylinder. I made tiny felt hats and left them on the frozen bird bath with toothpick scratches to make him think faeries had gone ice skating in the night. He never bought that. He did believe me when I told him I could fly and when I said sparks from a chimney were faeries, he probably still believes that.
When Noah was born I stayed home from kindergarten to watch. I asked my mom if it could wait, because I didn’t feel like having a little sibling that day. He was born bright purple. He had done a somersault in my mom’s womb that tied his umbilical chord in a knot as she was driving down Paseo de Peralta. The midwives were perplexed. He looked like his name should be Einar, the swedish word for Prince, but ten days later that became his middle name. I chose the name Noah, “At peace.” I cut the umbilical chord. When he was born we all had pancakes and the daffodils bloomed.
One day as we rounded the corner off of Camino de Oro Noah said: “I really think I’m the best kid in the world.” I said “You know, I think you’re right”

For A Happy Life: Poem by Marie Bartels Willey

Marie Bartels Willey


Listen to old wives for the simple reason that they
Grew old.
Carry an acorn.
Never lay a hat on your bed.
If you see an ambulance, pinch your nose and hold your breath
until you see a black or brown dog.
With that in mind, avoid ambulances.
Face your bed east or west and always get out of bed on the same side
you got in.
Never prop a broom against a bed.
If a coin lies before you on the ground, pick it up
but only if it’s heads up.
Leave your house through the same door you entered.
Make sure the first butterfly of the year you see is white.
Allow crickets into your home.
Put up pictures of elephants but only where they face a door.
Never sail a ship on Friday.
Never say the word “pig” while fishing.
Allow frogs into your home.
Don’t open umbrellas in the house and certainly never
drop them.
Finish all knitting projects.
Don’t walk under ladders while you’re knitting.
Never- either on purpose or by accident -kill a ladybug.
Never break mirrors.
If you do break a mirror bury all the pieces.
Don’t look at owls in the daylight.
If you forget something after leaving your house and
have to go back inside to get it, make sure you sit down before
leaving again.
Wish on shooting stars.
Wish while throwing a coin into a fountain.
Wish while pulling apart the dried breastbone of poultry;
get the biggest half.
Never tell anyone your wish
especially not Old Wives who will remind you that
Wishes Told Won’t Come True.
Listen to your heart;
let it take you
where Old Wives fear to tread.

What Are the 10 Most Important Things In Your Life?

What are the ten most important things in your life?

I thought up this writing/thinking prompt because I sometimes found myself in confusing conversations where other people assumed I didn’t care about things like home decorating, money, or beauty treatments. As in a family member saying something like “you’re such a hippie, you don’t care about money.” I started listing things in order of importance and found out I did care, just that these items weren’t that high up (well, not beauty treatments, I obviously never care).
When I was young, writing was number one–the top of the list. It has dropped as the years have passed, less important than other people. Interestingly, though, after a recent lecture someone said “well, you’re selfish” in response to a statement about prioritizing writing. My feeling has always been more accepting of the ebb and flow of priorities. Who wants to appear unselfish enough to give up creating art? But I was never one to feel I’d save a poem from a burning house instead of a baby!
So–what are the ten most important things in your life?
The next ten?
The next?

New & Briefly Noted

New & Briefly Noted

Mark Jackley kindly sent me a copy of his LANK, BEAK & BUMPY, in a beautiful letter press design from Iota Press. Short imagistic poems here please with such lyrics as:

“Moon” is round and cool
on my tongue,
a pearl.

And also in “January”:

Small pile of snow
in shadows

for weeks,
fist of hard

left over

last year.


Natalie Goldberg passed Carl Kavadlo’s DARK VISIONS on to me. The strongest works here are the short poems, like the senryu we can all relate to:

there are few noises
sweeter than a car alarm
shutting itself off.

And there is the writerly haiku:

a single poem:
you are as rare as a day
in dark alaska.


Tracy Koretsky’s collection EVEN BEFORE MY OWN NAME (Ragged Bottom Press) has a particularly vivid haiku:

the sound of waves
on a moonless night
–distant friend

I like this one because it has some levels of meaning. At first it seems the poet is listening the the sound of waves in the dark and thinking of a far-off friend. But as I read it again I began to feel it was the sound of the waves that truly was that distant friend.

3 Questions for Donald Levering


1. What is you personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That
is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

The poetic line distinguishes poetry from prose. The end of a line signals a pause in the reading. Enjambed exceptions to this principle are executed, as any exceptions to patterns in poetry, to create an emphasis. A line is also the unit in which meter is developed. I generally write lines of ten syllables or less; longer lines tend to feel ungainly to me. Another theory of the line is that it is tied to the amount of speech a person can say in a single breath. If I were to use that method, I’d have to turn all my pages sideways because of my lung capacity (segue to question two)…

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human
body? Or between your writing and your body?

The question reminds me of that moment in an early Bill Cosby skit on the dialogue between Noah and God. As God is giving instructions for building the ark, Noah asks, “What’s a cubit?” – The sounds we recognize as words, in our 7,000 or so surviving human languages, are created within the range of utterances possible for the human body. Writing, which preserves and transmits language across generations, tends to be related to the hands, whether it be inscribing in stone, moving a pen across paper, or tapping a keyboard into the electronic machine realm. The late New Mexico poet Keith Wilson said that he experienced a peculiar feeling in his hands when he felt a poem coming on. Others, including Wordsworth, walk out their poems. Me, my tongue swells (just kidding).

3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

I dislike that moment when a well-meaning person I’ve just been introduced to learns I am poet and asks, “So what are your poems about?,” or “What kind of poems do you write?” You’d think by now I’d have a little canned summary to recite, but my feeling about the uniqueness of poems bars this survival technique.

Donald Levering is a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant in poetry. He holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University. In 2002-2004, he was the Director of the Theaterwork Poetry Reading Series. In 2007, he was an Academy of American Poets Featured Poet in the Online Forum ( His poetry books include The Jack of Spring, Carpool, Outcroppings from Navajoland, Mister Ubiquity, Horsetail, The Fast of Thoth, The Kingdom of Ignorance, and Whose Body. An interview with him is featured in the 2009 inaugural issue of the New Mexico Poetry Review. Also in 2009, he was featured in the Ad Astra Poetry Project blog. In 2010, he was a featured reader in the Duende Poetry Series in Placitas, New Mexico.


The Treatments

Not for the honey

his back yard hums

with a dozen hives.

Though he’s learned how to harvest

the combs, though jars of it gleam

in their cellar, he nurtures the bees

to treat his wife’s disease.

Her prognosis has swollen

their dwindling days together,

as all their past and future

crowd into her slipping grasp.

Who would guess from his dizzy mien

that he has acquired a tailor’s

dexterity-whenever one

of the creatures escapes

his fingertips, the venom

that gives her relief

is wasted on him.

Even as he tells

of bringing her back from the verge,

his earlobe is swelling.

His eyelashes, like a blind man’s,

flutter as he talks without pausing

about the treatments,

fervent in his faith

to repeatedly thrust his hand

into a jar of bees

to make her walk again.

By its wings he plucks one out,

feels with his other hand

for the healing place,

and presses the bee to her flesh.

Dead bees litter her bedsheet

as he keeps stinging his wife

to lessen their pain.


Glass Flowers Haiku by Elizabeth Searle Lamb


At Harvard’s Peabody Museum there are botanically correct glass flowers. I used to enjoy wandering among those slightly dusty shelves when I was a student (and a botany major for one semester). Haiku poet Elizabeth Lamb visited when her husband Bruce wanted to see them. He was a forester and ethno-botanist, author of the classic book WIZARD OF THE UPPER AMAZON.
I enjoyed finding these among Elizabeth’s papers. This is selected from a longer sequence, which I believe is not collected in any of her books.

unable to fade,
here in drawn glass
blue morning glories

a bright young voice
“this one is real–
it has to be!”

New England asters:
the dust of an autumn

she comes for a look,
Pekingese under her arm–
both a little bored

a botany student
carefully noting down
all the scientific names

an evening moth
visits the bachelors-button

Hummus Bi Tahini Recipe by Chef and Poet Behzad Dayeny

The western world has been fascinated by the unique taste of hummus-bi-tahini for decades and most people ask me for a recipe when they find out I am a Middle-Eastern chef. So, here it is:
There are two ways to make hummus, the long way and, the short way. The long way requires you to purchase dry chickpeas, soak them in water over night, and cook them for several hours to get what you can readily purchase in a can.
The short way will take you just a few minutes (as long as you have your mise en place).


1 can of chickpeas (12-15 oz)
4-5 cloves of garlic peeled
Juice of ½ lemon (may need more)
1/3 cup tahini
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
Salt to taste
¼ teaspoon red chili powder or paprika
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds if available (they usually have them year around at Trader Joe’s)

Drain half the liquid from the can and save.
Place the chickpeas with the other half of the liquid from the can in a food processor; add the garlic and lemon juice and process to a fine creamy texture, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times to ensure even processing. If the mixture is too thick to mash, add some more of the liquid from the can and process a few minutes longer. (It is important that you make a very smooth and fine paste from the chickpeas before you add tahini and oil to it because the mixture will stiffen afterwards making it harder to work with) .
Add the tahini and the olive oil and process until fully mixed, again scraping the sides of the bowl for an even mixture.
Remove from the food processor and scrape out the hummus into a mixing bowl. Add half teaspoon salt and one and a half tablespoons of chopped parsley and mix well with a rubber spatula. Taste for salt and lemon juice and add more if needed.
To serve, spread hummus inside a deep plate, flatten the top with the spatula, with the back of a spoon make a shallow well or indentation in the center of the plate, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle the remaining chopped parsley on top, decorate the edges with a little red chili or paprika, and garnish with the pomegranate seeds.
Serve with warm pita bread.
P.S. some people add extra tahini for a stronger flavor; it all depends on your taste.