Poem by Gary Worth Moody

Hawking in the Boneyard of Stolen Cattle
After Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge’s The Heat Bird (1983)

In this Easter morning’s starlit dark, I drive west toward the river, grateful for the week of wind and sun that kilned the road to burnished clay so tight the jeep leaves no tracks despite each night’s freeze and morning thaw.
At the ridge top before any graying shows in the east I kill
the engine, climb out and open the back, take up the bag with washed beef heart for the hawk, spare jesses, thawed quail, styptic
for the bird’s feet and ankles in case they slip beneath an errant tooth or claw of this morning’s prey.
I open the carrier. The kill starved hawk steps to my gloved left fist. From her anklets trail thin jesses. Each I take between fore-finger and thumb; weave the greased leather
between fingers to hold her tight against the goatskin glove until.
Even though the violet dark creams in its shift toward cyan, the wind still sifts our scents downslope into arroyos that channel craved snowmelt down off ridge spines into the Rio Grande. A sapphire sky shifts
to yellow. Sudden glare of sun sears my eye. My boot heel rolls wrong off what I believe is stone.
Mistaken, I look down upon the first
bleached bone of a steer. A leg I think. Next a pelvis shattered, yet still cradling last week’s dust. A scatter of bone lifts from the juniper’s
shade.
Sheltered, stripped and brittle ribs choir into this new day. Above them, a dead steer’s spine, naked of all flesh and hide, dangles in the lifting wind, unable to shake loose the frayed noose that choked the animal’s keening beneath the butchery tree.
What language, beast
or human, echoed across this killing ground? Did a swollen moon illuminate coyote eyes as honed steel severed tendon? Flayed flesh from bone and bloodied hide.
How many days did heat-birds ride thermals in vigil before all that remained was white and scattered bone? How many rains before the stolen kill’s blood melted into this same red earth?

I step out of juniper’s shelter into Easter light and sudden upslope wind. The hawk unfurls her wings against this shift of air, talons tight
As if my fist were prey, amber eyes sentient of any shadow that dares to move above this earth, spinning into light.

Gary Worth Moody
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Spring, 2010

Green Chile

Miriam Sagan: What exactly would you do with:
1 baggie of excellent moderately hot roasted green chile from the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market?

Candelora Versace: Right about now I’d be chopping it up and adding it with tomatoes and grated cheddar to some scrambled eggs…maybe even throwing the whole mess inside a tortilla..shoot, now I’m really hungry…

Kai Harper Leah: I like it in a sauce. Roasted red onions, traditional bechamel, plus green chiles…..good on veggie dishes or meats. Come to think of it, not bad on huevos either.

Cinny: Green Freeze them for a nice winter Green Chile stew.

Margo Conover: fall to your knees in gratitude. Yum! I’m with Cinny: Green Chile stew!!! I can live off of this and posole (and several pounds of tortillas) all winter long…

Interview With Natalie Goldberg

This is a three question interview with Natalie Goldberg. I wanted to ask her some questions that were outside of the type of thing she usually gets asked.
1. Miriam Sagan: One of my favorite of your books is THE GREAT FAILURE which is about that unAmerican word “failure” as well as your father and the less than
perfect side of zen teacher Katagiri-roshi. I think some of the reception of the book took you by surprise, and perhaps in its own way was an experience of disillusionment not unlike
those which fueled the book. Do you feel ok talking about this? What happened?
Natalie Goldberg: sure i can talk about it. it was a very painful experience to publish that book. i was naive. i didn’t realize how institutional zen had become and that the sangha in mpls didn’t want it out that roshi had committed some sexual indiscretions.  many of the zen teachers up there acquired their authority from being his dharma heir.  but really no one can give you your authority.  also the rationalization was , yes , he did these things but he also gave us such great teachings. that is so true but one doesn’t negate the other.  i wanted to embrace the whole story. who was this great man that i loved so much?  i was willing to go to the mat, to spend two years writing a book to find out.  i never heard from anyone from that sangha again except two or three people who were friends before and remained friends afterward. i don’t think anyone read the book because if they did they’d see how full of love it was. i loved katagiri roshi. i was willing to take him off the pedestal and make him human.  having gone through the hard reception of the book i gained my own authority.  but it wasn’t easy.  also when i named it the great failure i meant it as a buddhist term,  like the great spring which means enlightenment.  what i meant by the great failure was that it was beyond success and failure, or when you completly come to the bottom then failure and success disappear and you are on the ground seeing things as they are. how wonderful!  what i didn’t realize is that america too is terrified by failure and the word immediately upset people.  on book tour i had to defend using the word.  we are always rushing after success and running from failure. we are afraid if we mention it it will contaminate us.  finally, i think it was in boston i said to a hundred people in the audience, ok, who of you hasn’t failed. no one raised their hands. see, i said. it’s part of human life.
Miriam Sagan: I love your book on painting LIVING COLOR. I’ve so enjoyed
looking at painting with you, and happen to love your painting as well.
I’m curious–how did you come to care so much about abstract art? If I
didn’t know, I’d say you were drawn more to the representational. How
do you access it?
Natalie Goldberg: yes mostly i paint representational things like a duck, a church, a piano and make them look like they took lsd.  but it was after katagiri roshi died that i had a need to express things outside of form, to express the formless world.  i’ve painted for 35years.  but it was hard just to come to the page empty of the known world.  i would begin in the middle of a piece of paper and grab a stick of pastel, a crayon, a colored pencil, a paint brush and just begin as though i had no words. how do you say something you feel when you have no words?  i dont’ think i’ve been totally successful but i’ve done some pieces i like.
Miriam Sagan: I think of you as someone who fulfilled her dream of becoming a
successful writer. Is this true? Did you get what you imagined? Is there anything you don’t like about being a writer? If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Natalie Goldberg:
i’d be an opera singer or a farmer or the principal of a small public elementary school in texas.  and yes i did achieve what i wanted. i wanted to be a successful writer.  i didn’t know what i was getting myself into. it’s lonely. it feels like i’m still stuck doing term papers in school while the rest of the world grew up and had a career. you can never count on an income. you have to stay true to yourself because if you don’t you write poppycock (whatever that is).  i would like it if people read my current books and didn’t keep referring to a book i wrote in l986 called writing down the bones. i’ve moved on.  if they like my first book why not read others?  i’d like it if i could go to a hot springs naked and no one recognize me. 
http://www.nataliegoldberg.com
***
This was done in April, 2010. I’m re-blogging it here as part of the Doodling Hearts category.

Piece from Natalie Goldberg’s Workshop by Sandra Willey

The Story of a Last Kiss

We sat in an airy light, high ceilinged room open to the cerulean Taos sky. A mostly female, mostly leaning toward middle age gathering of writers from novice to published, we had come to engage in writing practice as taught by Natalie Goldberg in a workshop titled, “Doodling Hearts” where we would look at love and relationships, turning them like diamonds to note and learn to describe the light reflected and refracted from different facets. On day one came the prompt, “Tell me the story of a last kiss”.

A romantic last kiss? Not the last time my sweet Ian wrapped his fifteen month old arms around me and planted a sticky wet one right on his Gramma’s lips, tender, so tender. He touches my necklace and whispers, “pretty”, adding his own verbal shorthand for whispering sounds, “skerssy, krss, skriss”. Not the kiss from my eighty-two year old mama when I left for New Mexico, and I could feel the scratching of her chin whiskers, and I hoped she wouldn’t try to shave on her own (nearly blind, on Coumadin).

No, the last loving kiss was from the man I am no longer married to, the only man I have kissed since 1974, the man whose bride I was, and at some place in some way in that paralysis of the eternal now, whose bride I am. . .
and I can’t recall it. We had so carefully negotiated a shared space, so cautiously separated from one another. Is this what an organ transplant team sees when the donor cadaver displays terrific vital signs maintained by the most fantastic technology? A perfect heart EKG on the monitor with adequate blood pressure to keep those treasured hearts, lungs, kidneys perfused, but the body housing them is dead, dead, dead. Know ye not, ye are the temple of the living God? This removal of the heart is so carefully choreographed. First, ligate here; cut tendons, fascia; suction the blood, the inevitable blood that testifies to the viability of the organ being removed, suction to maintain enough of a visual field to harvest the heart, a final cut and it is free, waiting for its new home where, God willing, it will resume beating when newly and appropriately tethered.

I know there were final kisses with the final clinging together before the final rending. Because neither of us had the skill or discipline of a surgical team, the final severing was more like tearing apart a whole chicken when you knew you should have just bought the boneless, skinless breasts in the first place, but there was yet, still, and again no money for food, only for bars and the whole raw chicken. The dull knife makes for an uneven distribution of meat between the leg and thigh.

In our bedroom, which was our refuge, our passion held on so much longer than the details of day to day living. We shed our clothes and still loved looking at each other, our eyes, blessed by the memory of how we used to look naked, graced the stark, clinical reality of who we had become.

Florence Pierce

Florence Pierce was one of New Mexico’s important abstract painters, in the ilk of Agnes Martin. These paintings of hers are on display at Charlotte Jackson Fine Art on Guadalupe Street. It may take a few minutes of quiet looking for their luminousity to shine. The show is called “Reflections.”

The following poem, written about Pierce, appears in my poetry collection MAP OF THE LOST (University of New Mexico Press):

..what comes in across the plains

white space+silence?

a few droplets
a child’s finger traces the windowpane

algebraic equation of expanse

how are you doing?

void, empty, blank, open

without footprints

What The Santa Fe Literary Review is Looking For: Slush Pile Roulette by Meg Tuite, Fiction Editor

Meg Tuite
The Santa Fe Literary Review
Fiction Editor for the 2011 issue
 
Slush Pile Roulette
 
The slush pile is where it all begins for the fiction editor. Now, of course, in order to get that pile accumulating a call must be sent out for submissions. Miriam Sagan put an ad in Poets & Writers for The Santa Fe Literary Review asking for poetry and flash fiction (stories up to 1000 words) with an edge. The deadline for the submission is Dec. 1, 2010. That was the official call, but there are many others. The fiction and poetry editors of the magazine have taken to the classrooms and the streets to rustle up writer’s to send in those pieces that have been sitting in their file cabinets and under their beds, drag them out, and get them shined up and spit-ready for submission.
            Most writers have heard of the slush pile. There’s even a literary magazine out of Cambridge titled The Slush Pile. They pack up hundreds of rejects from The Harvard Review in wheelbarrows or some such, and roll them back to their homes to rummage through them, searching for lost nuggets like sifting for gold.
            So, every two weeks, I meet with Miriam and pick up the accumulated manuscripts that have been mailed in and take them home to read. I think I can be safe in stating that almost all poetry and fiction editors are writers or have been at some point in the past. Why else would we do it? We love writers and we love to find those gems in the stacks that work for our particular magazine. We also know the joy and relief of deigning a story or poem finished. That means we have worked it over, for who knows how long, and either work-shopped it or sent it to those writers we trust to give us their final critique, until we feel ready to take that plunge and send it out. We send our babies forth into the unknown hands of editors across the map to usually wait for months, but sometimes just weeks due to online submission internet immediacy, in hopes of a communion with that stranger reading our poem or story who says, “YES, THIS IS IT,” and emails us back with a congratulations and an acceptance into their magazine.
            Most writers, who have been sending out multiple submissions for months or years are usually inundated with rejections. Believe me, a lot of the submissions that are rejected by twenty magazines or journals could one day be rejoiced and picked up by another magazine. A lot of the rejects are beauties that may not fit within the criteria of that particular journal they were sent to, so we can’t give up!
        The reward is always in the work, and we as writers know that, but let’s face it! We all want to be read. We yearn for an audience out there in the cosmos to feel something, anything, from those words we scrawl on the pages and string together into poetry and stories.
            I am excited to be a fiction editor for The Santa Fe Literary Review’s 2011 issue. I love and anticipate receiving your work! The deadline is Dec. 1, so please keep sending it in! We couldn’t have an incredible magazine without you!!!

Poem by Phillip Lopate

My Memoir and Personal Essay class began this week at SFCC. Part of the inspiration for the class is the textbook itself, edited by Lopate. Although some of the reading is dense, I find it rewarding year after year. The other book for class is Natalie Goldberg’s “Old Friend From Far-Away.” By seeming coincidence, Natalie just forwarded this poem by Lopate to me.

***
Indigestible
by Phillip Lopate

A friend called up saying he was in a pre-suicidal mood.
I told him to come over.
I’d pay for the taxi.
“Will you go back with me to my apartment if I start to panic?”
I told him I would.
He arrived feeling chipper.
He wanted some wine.
I gave him a little cold sauterne that had been sitting
around in the icebox three weeks.
He said it tasted sour.

He looked at all my photographs.
He said he was feeling better.
We went out to dinner,
But it had to be on Madison Avenue.
For some reason he trusted Madison Avenue whereas Lexington, Third, Second and
York were out to get him.
We sat in the last table far away from any draught.
I had my eyes on the delicatessen floor.
The radio was full of George Wallace being shot.
“Just like Huey Long,” said my friend.
“Nixon did it
Now the gangsters are in the White House!”
I didn’t argue.
My eyes were on my plate, Stuffed Derma and french fries.
Indigestible.
Suddenly he asked: “Are you feeling closer to me…?”

Of course I was,
I loved him.
But I used different words so as not to frighten him.
His head vibrated like a top whirling so fast you can’t see it spin.

We paid the check and I told him as we were walking along Fifth Avenue, to catch the
park and its rusty sunset, that I was also going through a bad time.
I had pinned my hopes on a shallow woman.
Though I no longer wanted her I felt curiously enervated.
Why this pain in my abdomen.
“Very simple,” explained my friend.
“You experience an expansion, joy, the energy flows into all parts of the body.
Then a contraction, blocked, everything goes to the stomach.
You’re still in high energy.
But there’s no release.
The result is despair.”
“That’s it exactly!” I said to him.
It was getting darker and the first fat raindrops spattered onto the canopies.
The doormen were slipping inside, I was too excited to care.
“Answer me one more thing: expansion, contraction, physiology, I understand
perfectly.
But what is it that stops us, when we’re so near to joy?”

Only now did I notice my friend had his mad look.
His eyes, always beautiful, slid into passing cars.
He begged me to stop talking but I wouldn’t.
I challenged him to explain the connections.
This nightfall, the orange chocolate smell, the dumpy couple walking by.
“Look at them,” he said. “They’re not going crazy.
Because they’re healthy?
Or because they can’t feel enough, because they don’t know how to feel it.”

Just then I felt it! Right through my body. “I feel it! I know what you mean! I feel it too!” I wanted him to know… “I don’t think I’ll wait for a bus,” he said and jumped into a cab. His face wobbled against the wet glass.

The next day he was still alive. Still alive.

***
The poem struck both of us as amazing. It is confessional in a away, with a bit of what I think of as NY School of Poetry jazziness but what really gets me is how it moves into a more private emotional place–still talking to the reader. Enjoy!

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