April Snow by Peter Rabbit

April Snow

We’d booked Phil Whalen
to do a reading in Taos,
we’d been trying to get him here for years.
We rented the biggest hall in town.

About noon it started snowing,
One of those big wet big wet snows.
The flakes clump together
on the way down
till they’re almost snowballs.

By evening it was
swirling in the headlights,
tree limbs broke under the weight,
sparking powerlines
writhed on the white streets.

Nobody with any sense
was going anywhere.
We slogged through
to the gig.

The audience was the couple
who’d driven Whalen up
from Santa Fe & us.
Phil read like it was Yankee Stadium
& he was a simple buddha.

That same snowbound night
someone had booked
the Newyorican-Chicano connection
into the Caffe Tazza,
Rudy Anaya, Jimmy ‘Santiago’ Baca,
Miguel Pinero, Lucky Cienfuegos,
Miguel Algarin, & Lucky’s honey, Candy.

As soon as Whalen finished
I sent him & his friends
home with Annie
& made it to the Tazza.

Five poets on the stage,
Andy Vargas was the audience.
When they finished
I took them home.

The giant snowflakes kept coming.
Weird auras over
the super market parking lots.
I fired up the wood stove.

Annie put everything we had
to eat & drink up on the counter.
Whalen was watching the snow
out the window & sipping wine.

We strung hammocks & laid out pads
all over the living room.
Pinero had a black satin jacket
With the NBC peacock & Miami Vice
embroidered in rainbow colors on the back.
Cienfuegos wore a brown leather vest,
no shirt & a Japanese flag for a headband.
Hello, we’re in a snowstorm.
Lucky was feeling no pain.

As the night rolled on
& the drugs got more serious,
Andy Vargas took Rudy Anaya
To sleep at his house.
The snow eased up.
The Sagans took Whalen
back to Santa Fe.
Lucky & Candy wanted to go to a motel,
that’s a whole other story.

Pinero & I stayed up all night
concocting & acting a drama.
We were old Puerto Rican janitors
retired on Social Security
who’d bought an upstate
New York chicken farm.

Nothing to do in winter
when snow covers the world,
so unlike the Island
where it’s warm all the time.
We moved closer to the stove
& the dialogue continued,
“Yup.” “Nope.” “Yup. “Nope.”

rabbit

The Santa Fe River Trail and River Channel Improvements are Completed; Celebration is this Saturday, April 28–Report and Photos by Ursula Moeller

The Santa Fe River Trail and River Channel Improvements are Completed;
Celebration is this Saturday, April 28

Santa Fe, NM – April 24, 2012 – On Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 9:30
a.m. to 11:30 a.m. the City of Santa Fe will celebrate the opening of
new segments of the Santa Fe River Trail, and the completion of
extensive improvements along the Santa Fe River between Camino Alire
and Frenchy’s Park. The celebration will take place at the southwest
corner of Calle Don Jose and the Santa Fe River Road. The gathering
will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, music, activities for
children, tree planting, and a group bicycle ride. Attendees are
encouraged to ride their bicycles (or walk) to the event. Park-and-
bike options include Alto Park, Griego Park and Frenchy’s Park which
are all situated along the River Trail.

The newly completed sections of the Santa Fe River Trail add 1.3 miles
to the city’s urban trail network for pedestrians and bicyclists. The
River Trail now extends from St. Francis Drive west to Frenchy’s Park
for a total of 2.1 miles of off-road, non-motorized travel along the
river’s edge.

Extensive work completed on the Santa Fe River includes new grade-
control structures, built with large limestone boulders. The
structures will help to control erosion and prevent the continued down-
cutting of the river bed. New bank protection will stabilize river
banks to protect the river trail and other adjacent properties. With
grading and contouring of terrain, steep eroded river banks have been
reduced to gentle slopes while the river’s flood plain has been
widened which will slow down storm flows. Rock-lined structures along
the river’s edge will help capture and clean storm-water runoff from
adjacent streets. Plantings of new trees, shrubs, and grasses will
provide for new greenery, shade, wildlife habitat and additional
channel stabilization.

The $4.5-million project was paid for with funds provided by the state
of New Mexico, plus city of Santa Fe bond funds that voters approved
for the development of the city’s urban trail system.

***

Ursula writes:

The Legislature decided to let water run in the Santa Fe RIver twice this year. Water began running on April 16th and arrived near Frenchy’s Field on Wednesday, two days later. SInce then I’ve been walking along the river daily, marveling at the work the city has done preparing the river bed, adding huge rocks and planting hundreds of native willows and many cottonwood trees along the shore. Both willows and cottonwood trees have leafed out in the last few days. The water threads along in ribbons, tumbles over small waterfalls and round stone dams that people have added. Within a few days, swallows circled overhead and a killdeer ran along the water’s edge. Ravens took baths and perched on a new fence to fluff their wet feathers.

Many people of all ages have been enjoying the river. I’ve seen children lying on their stomachs in the water, running gleefully barefoot in the wet sand, marching down the rippling water and sitting in the middle of the river, watching it flow around them. One laughing boy was floating a homemade blue boat on a string behind him. There are “installation pieces” made of heart rocks and sticks. One has blue ribbons tied to willows where people have written blessings and poems on the ribbons.
There is a strong sense of community about it already, with people smiling at each other commenting on their joy in having flowing water. Many are walking, riding bikes, roller skating and skateboarding, running and pushing strollers along the new path beside the river.
It is lovely in the quiet morning light, under the midday sun and gleaming silver at sunset. It feels like a miracle in our high desert.

Particles of Silence by Gabriela Cover

  Particles of Silence
 
As my water arrives-just water, no ice- I think about how our world is made of particles. Bubbles of trapped air are swirling through my glass like a whirlwind and broken off pieces of conversation reach me, only to bounce off again onto another body; the air is full of particles of sound. Sound bites from the nearby fountain; water falling, being pumped back into the system, ascending, then falling again, weaving an intricate net of air trapped foam in its path. My black granite table top has particles of shining Mica in it-they reflect light and I imagine them absorbing some of the sound through the angles of shine, facets, canyons where sound falls and is forever lost.
I want to lose these words my ears don’t want to hear, but which come at me, stubbornly, from the nearby tables: toddler, parent, discipline, tantrum…I want to drown them out, so I envision them being absorbed by my table… whipped out, eaten, eradicated from my life, then regurgitated with upward motion, only to fall even deeper into the ridges of my mental canyons where no sound lives, only quiet.
 Particles of cold air are sifting quietly through a crack in the closed door of the restaurant and so I keep my jacket on to ward off their bite. My jacket of down and feathers- a million particles woven together to shield me from the frost outside-the white glistening snow; water molecules frozen into beautiful capricious shapes, then frozen further still into impenetrable ice –sleek and cold, like your stare-unreachable; leaving me outside the gates of your soul, through which I may not pass.
A broken woman sits at the table across from mine. She is propped up and holds herself together, staring into the distance, occasionally nodding absentmindedly at the conversation around her. Only her body there, held together by brittle stitching- but she is coming apart at the seams; literally, and as I look closer I can see the hidden stitches:  thick dark XX”s, painfully drawing designs across her body; lines which follow her tired joints: arm to shoulder, neck to head, leg to thigh…attempting to hold her together just a bit longer…just through this meal…just through today…just through the night and perhaps another hopeless day.
She needs to hold it together…but the desire to run, hide, and scratch at her wounds, which burn to keep her alive, is almost unbearable. She restrains herself; holding her hands together, knuckles white with effort, within view of the others; the silent witnesses who do not see, do not hear, do not say.
As she restrains herself she feels the pain of taut skin and coarse thread-and yet she knows they cannot hold her together forever. At some point the first bridle X will give, stretched out too tight, too long; and give place to a Y and then just a gap through which her soul might escape like smoke-barely perceived by the naked eye. (That which pains her is near, it speaks through gaping mouth crowned by handlebars stiff with gel.)
Particles of shame evaporate from her now open pores and that single X, which gave, is a break in the dam. She fidgets uncomfortably in her chair, wondering if they can see; wanting to run but finding no legs; wanting to scream and finding no throat, no voice…afraid to make the gap bigger with a move, she sits and tries to smile, but stops when she notices vapor seeping through her barely open lips; vapor the color of smoke, the color of pain. She closes them tight against the horror-a thin white line which makes her look a bit more invisible; almost melting into the wallpaper background…but just then He sees, and turns to her a ice cold eye.
(Attention is brought back to my table as the waitresses concerned voice speaks, shaking me back into my own reality:” What?” I ask “Your water. You don’t want?” she asks. “Oh, no, thank you. I just wanted to watch the particles floating inside…”-“The what?” she asks “Oh, nothing. Just the check, please”)
I look back at the table across from mine but the woman is no longer there. Her vacant seat seems unmoved, her food untouched; conversation at the table unbroken as the handlebars, still moving to control every syllable spoken, bob up and down to reveal a set of false teeth gleaming unnaturally forth.     
She is not there.
 I search the room, and in my panic, notice a small cloud of smoke particles moving quietly, in an almost unperceivable roll, along the ceiling. It is slowly making its way towards the exit door… Small, dark and quiet, it is tortuously creeping out…
I rush over and open the door to the cold night air: snow flakes are drifting in, and a nervous waiter politely asks me to please close the door again, which I do, slowly scanning the ceiling above for any sign of her… but she is gone; she has slipped through the icy crack of silence and night.
And no one at her table has noticed.

***
Gabriela Cover is a student in Terry Wilson’s creative writing class at Santa Fe Community College.

Oh, What’s Your Name Again? by Elizabeth Jacobson

Oh, What’s Your Name Again?           
 
 
 
            One Manhattan spring in the mid 1980’s, when graduate school was out until fall, a friend asked if I was interested in a job as an assistant to a very well known photographer.  She said a friend of hers was leaving the job and looking for a replacement.  The photographer was married to an even more celebrated writer, they lived in a townhouse on the East Side in the mid 50’s, and she was willing to hire me simply on the criterion that I was willing to be hired. 
            I showed up on my first day dressed in Levis, a white tee shirt and one of my father’s hand tailored suit jackets, which fit me well as I was taller than him.  I had walked across the green and blooming park, a 20ish human being in the early stages of    extraordinary optimism.  I entered the townhouse through the font door, and was immediately ushered down into the basement by a cleaning woman who pointed me in the direction of the photographer’s office, before she rushed away.  The photographer sat behind her folding table desk, which faced the open door, ferociously scribbling away on a yellow legal pad.  She didn’t look up for some time, ever after I had said hello, and then when she finally did, it was, ok, ok, here is a package for you to deliver, hurry up and get back.  Oh, what’s your name again?
            She sat motionless in her straight back chair, and directed me with a long finger to the basement entrance/exit that I was to use.  I left the building wanting to please her, and as she had not given me instructions on how she would like me to get to the downtown address printed in her handwriting on the envelope, I decided I would be thrifty and take the second avenue bus.  I returned quickly, and she said this much to me, then put me to work filing negatives and other data in a large storage closet.  I was definitely not to answer the phone, or touch anything in the office, unless she told me to, and so when the black rotary on her desk rang an hour later and she charged at it from the hallway, shrieking to me to pick it up already, and then screaming a reply to whomever was on the other end, slamming the phone down, and storming into the closet demanding to know why I had left the package at 1299 and not 1799, I was immobile.  She became even more hysterical, pulling on her dark hair so that it first jerked out the side of her head and then out to the back.  She called me an idiot, a moron, a stupid girl.
            She didn’t want me to deliver the package to the correct party.  I was to return with it, and she would call a messenger service to take it over.  I leaned back into the sticky vinyl seat of the taxi.   The wind came in from the rolled down windows, drying the dampness off the side of my face.  The day was clear and I watched the way the clouds formed patterns on the sides of some of the tall buildings.
            Immediately I saw how it had gone wrong.  She had crossed the 7 carelessly at the bottom, and I had mistaken it for a 2.  I showed her this upon my return, hoping somehow to reconcile with her, but instead she waved me away into the file closet without any consideration.  I told her that I didn’t think this was going to work out.  She agreed, but said that I could absolutely not leave until I found my own replacement.  She said she was going out for the rest of the day, and that I was to finish this and that before I left, and to then take the stairs to the top floor, which was her husband’s room, and leave this envelope for him on his desk.
            I went to the kitchen for some water, and found the cleaning woman eating her lunch.  She opened the refrigerator and pulled out a platter of meticulously arranged meats and vegetables.  There was sliced bread on the counter, mustard, mayonnaise and pickles.  She told me to have some, and then she would show me the house.  No one was home, she said, I’ll show you her bedroom.
            Every morning at 5am the trainer comes and she works out next to her bed.  The cleaning woman said that she comes in at 6:15 and sees him leaving.  She showed me the perfumes in the bathroom, the blue enamel sink like lapis with gold edging, the bottles of Chanel nail polish lined up like precious stones.  There was a zebra skin rug, animal print linens, a four-poster canopy bed, lots of gold and rust.  Nothing looked as if it had ever been touched; even the bottles of nail polish were completely full.
            The cleaning woman left me to my task at the bottom of the staircase leading to the top floor.  A red painted door was open, and I softly called hello a few times before making my way up the narrow steps.  It was like a staircase that might be in your grandparent’s house; the only part of this building that had gone unrenovated.  The steps were carpeted in an ancient deep blue that was threadbare in places.  At the top, this mysterious room with its low ceiling and small attic windows appeared to have been stopped in time.  There was a narrow cot in one corner, under an eve, with an old scratchy wool army blanket covering it.  A small area off to one side of the room had a sink and a mini fridge, and his desk, a grey folding card table, was at the center of the room, facing the two windows.  A half eaten sandwich was on the table and his small electric typewriter rested next to it, complete with a page in progress of his latest writing.   I looked at it, I studied it, I tried to memorize it, I read it over and over again, I saw THE END written close to the bottom of the page and felt the weight of those words on this page in relation to all the other pages that had come before this page in this new work, and in relation to this artist’s entire large body of work, and I took a bottomless inhale of the smell of it all – salty, smoky blue, wild grass, wet mud, alive blood and dead blood  — before placing the sealed envelope from his wife on top of his half eaten sandwich.

3 Questions for Heather Kamins

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

It’s mostly intuitive for me, where to break a line. It depends a lot on the poem, what that particular piece seems to want. I’ve become more interested in long lines than I used to be, partly thanks to a poet friend who put me to the challenge of writing something with long lines (which turned into my poem “The Great War,” readable here. I also discovered the work of Richard Jackson, who writes these incredible long lines that stretch across the page, filled with amazing images, one tumbling into the next. His work just astounds me, and he’s become one of my very favorite poets.

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

Absolutely. When the words are flowing, they seem to come directly through my fingers onto the page. It’s like my conscious mind is cut out of the process entirely, at least until the editing phase. When I’m not in a flow state, sometimes I’ll try switching writing methods to get things going. Depending on the day, I might use a computer keyboard, handwriting recognition software, a typewriter, or a pen and paper. Especially when I’m just starting a piece, my fingers need to physically form the letters rather than just pressing keys in order to gain momentum.

The body is also important subject matter for me. I had to deal with some serious health issues from a young age, and those experiences shaped my perception of the world. One of my biggest artistic questions is what it means to move through a physical world in a physical body. That question seems to find its way into much of my work in one way or another.

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

I have mixed feelings about applying the term “poet” to myself; it can feel limiting since I also write fiction and hybrid forms. Plus, my degree is in fiction, so calling myself a poet seems a strange fit sometimes.

One of the tough things about writing poetry is encountering people who say they don’t read poetry. I don’t think you see that so much with fiction or non-fiction. Unfortunately, many of us were taught early on in school that there was a “right” meaning and a “wrong” meaning for a poem — that we had to correctly determine the poet’s intention or else we weren’t getting it. I think enjoying poetry is in large part about opening yourself up to the unknown. To do that, you have to be comfortable with ambiguity and to allow yourself to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, and that can be tough. It took me a long time to be able to do it. But that kind of vulnerability allows you to become more open to the world and live a richer life, and that’s the beauty of poetry.

The Supernatural Subjunctive

I could have become a ghost in the hallways of your nights.
I might have been a photo of an alternate universe.

You might have heard the jangled bells of my laugh in the echo of a crowd.
We could have met in dreams of places that will never exist.

I would have been the room you forbade visitors from entering.
I would have made your windows open by themselves.

You would have tried to call me the wind.
You would have called my name, and then remembered.

Every sound could have been me, the amplified floating, the irretrievable creaking.
I might have been the shadow of history’s questions.

No deadbolt could have kept me out.
No hallowed ground could have contained me.

Bio:
Heather Kamins is the author of a poetry chapbook, Blueshifting (Upper Rubber Boot Books, 2011, http://www.upperrubberboot.com/blueshifting/). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Pear Noir!, 580 Split, Alehouse, Neon, and elsewhere. Visit her online at heatherkamins.com.