• By Rudy Rios

Effortless winds calmly push stubborn dust storms
Across barren iron rails leaves gallop some small
Children’s laughter heard from adults with a dog.
Wolf wolf he said, something about the sharp rocks
On tender older paws.

Wrock wrock wrock wrock the bantering cry.
Ravens swim in effortless winds, wondering
The younger man scampers the loose fill.
She watches with hoping eyes, that treasure.
Wrock wrock, I’m leaving now.
Seems the bakery is throwing out week old morsels.

Holes tell a tale of violent expansions.
Splintered waves left tossed like toothpicks.
Limber remains here as a solid mass.
What is this reflection of when the edges touch?
Felt tender from the cut of the raw edge.

If I could just climb the edge, the ego would
Transcend all limits. Cut like thick cords of old wood.
A bucket gives the value of productive consequence.
Solitude a busy reminder dates leave no room
Long time for a rotten animal to remain.

Last minute stops
The train is callin
Not here today.
The dirt road.

An Orange Lantern, Eclipse of the Moon, and Failed Poem

Trying to get this to work, but it isn’t yet.

I saw the image in my backyard.


Alas, the orange
solar lantern
didn’t light
but luckily
there’s a moon.

It feels weak. That “alas” is too much. Should it be—“too bad?” But that seems skimpy.

Tried it as a one-line haiku, which falls flat. Orange solar lanterns didn’t light—luckily, there’s a moon. Seems to have no motion.

Now I’m realizing there will be an eclipse of the moon tonight. But if the eclipse is in the poem, nothing lights up!


Birds by Christy Hengst


Richard Feldman Writes On Memory, Calendars, and Rituals

On Memory, Calendars, and Rituals

For much of my life, people have told me that I have an unusually good memory. I’m competitive enough that I have appreciated the compliment while being somewhat disappointed by thinking that I could be even better at recall if everyone remembered as well as I do, motivating me to work harder at it.

Retrieving memories gives me pleasure. One of the ways that my mind has tagged memories for retrieval is by the calendar. I don’t remember making a conscious decision to store memories that way, but it seems that I was genetically predisposed—my father, currently in his late 80s, is still pretty good at calendar-assisted recall, as was his mother at a comparable age.

These observations serve as background to memories triggered by this year’s synchronous occurrence of the September equinox and the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur on September 23. Although the Jewish traditional calendars are based on lunar cycles, as opposed to the solar-based Gregorian calendar, which has become a de facto world standard, an astronomical coincidence causes the calendars to meet every 19 years. Thus Yom Kippur falls together with or near September 23 and the equinox every 19 years.
I wrote up a more detailed discussion of solar and lunar calendars and how they come together, but decided that it might provide more information than some readers would want, so I’ve placed it at the end of this piece, after the memories of previous equinoctial Yom Kippurs.

In 1977, Yom Kippur and Equinox fell on September 22, less than two weeks after I had moved to the commune where I would spend the next eight years. The focus of my ritual observance was the equinox, as I was part of group that marked the event by spending the entire night outdoors on a hillside. I remember the timeless ritual of sitting in a group around a bonfire; receiving a rude gesture from a future romantic partner in response to what might be considered a miscommunication on my part; and taking on the middle of the night task of waking up a snorer who was keeping everyone else from falling asleep.

Nineteen years later, in 1996, Yom Kippur fell on the same day as this year, September 23, three days after I arrived in Santa Fe, the day after the equinox, and the day before I started work. The friends who had accompanied me and the rental truck filled with my possessions across the country had stayed the night, then driven north towards Colorado and their own adventures. The dictates of hospitality had deferred my initial investigation of the Farmers’ Market until the following Saturday. I still found the high desert environment of north central New Mexico fresh and startling. On Yom Kippur itself, we took a walk down to the river, where the bright yellow chamisa was in bloom, and I contemplated the new life that I was starting.

Nineteen years from now, in 2034, Yom Kippur will again fall on September 23, although the equinox will occur before sunset on the 22 for most of North America including Santa Fe. I hope that the coincidence of calendars will again open a window to a trove of memories.

More on Distinctions and Overlaps among Calendars

This year the sun could be seen directly overhead at the equator in its apparent southbound movement at 8:20 AM Universal Time (sometimes expressed as Greenwich Mean Time) on September 23, which was the equivalent of (more or less) sometime between 8:20 PM on September 22 and 8:20 PM September 23, depending on your local time zone. This moment was what would technically be considered the September equinox (the gateway to autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, to spring in the Southern), although most of us associate each equinox or solstice with an entire day or even several. September 23 was also the date on which Jews around the world observed the holiday Yom Kippur, a day comparable in its solemnity to Good Friday for Christians, although the narrative from which the solemnity derives is completely different.

Yom Kippur always falls on the tenth day of Tishri (or Tishrei), the first month of the Jewish civil calendar. As opposed to the predominant Gregorian calendar, which was designed to have solar-oriented events such as solstices and equinoxes be associated with consistent dates from year to year, the Jewish calendars are primarily lunar-oriented, with the first of each month calculated to coincide with the new moon, the 15th with the full moon, and each month thus lasting 29 or 30 days (on the average, a complete lunar cycle is 29.5309 days). As with the lunar Islamic calendar, the new day begins at sunset, the prelude to the twilight time when the new sliver of crescent moon can first be spotted.

The 12 months of the Gregorian calendar contain 365 days three quarters of the time and 366 for leap years. The closest that a lunar-based calendar comes to that is 12 months totaling 354 or 355 days. There is significant variation among Muslim countries & populations in deciding the day when the new month starts, but all versions lead to a mix of 354- and 355-day years, with no attempt to reconcile to the “tropical” solar year of approximately 365.24 days. In contrast, the canonical Jewish calendar adds a leap month every two or three years, preserving an approximate synchronicity with the Gregorian calendar over a span of a century or two. In fact, as the ancient Athenian astronomer Meton calculated, the amount of time that elapses over the course of 235 lunar monthly cycles is just two hours or so more than the amount of time in 19 solar years (this is known as the Metonic Cycle after its promulgator). Using this information, the Jewish calendar was engineered to a 19 year cycle of 12 regular and seven leap years, so that Yom Kippur or any other Jewish date falls on or within a day of the same Gregorian date every 19 years.

What is Fun?

My husband Rich and I were at the New Mexico State Fair last weekend. We don’t make it every year, but we always have fun. We like the giant vegetables, the model trains, the music at the African American pavilion and Villa Hispana, and most of all the pie. The pie is served up in its own building by a consortium of faith groups who feed the hungry of Albuquerque all year on the proceeds. This year we had raspberry and strawberry rhubarb. “How many places on earth,” Rich mused, “have this big a selection of pie right this very moment?” Very few.
But this led me to muse on fun. What is fun? Are Beethoven and Tolstoy fun? Television? I’m saying no to both. Art takes too much concentration, television too little. The fun zone is a specific one. Otters and children personify fun in its running around mode. I think fun may need motion. (Check for the state fair). Fun needs variety, maybe a nice mix of the expected and unexpected. For example, you don’t want the swimming pool to turn to shark infested waters but a giant beach ball is a good addition. (Check state fair). Fun should have specific food—think picnic (Check). Small furry animals. Large majestic ones. Happy crowds of moderately well behaved people. Things to buy, but in my opinion, no over the top consumption. Check, check, check.
In his book A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments by David Foster Wallace the title essay is about a cruise. But there is one on the state fair. I can’t match his midwestern lyricism on the subject, but I do enjoy myself.
One of my favorite places at the state fair is the Indian Village. I like to watch the crowd, where people seem to know each other. I enjoy some dancing and music and debate eating a Navajo taco. But this Saturday night there was something amazing and different—pole flyers from Mexico. Ceremonially attired men climbed a massive pole, played a flute on the top, and flew off attached to just a pair of ropes each as the sun was setting. It had the death defying quality of Cirque de Soleil as well as religious ritual. Was that fun to watch? Or too awe inspiring? I’d say, just on the edge. Fun needs to be a bit homey—if it gets too exciting it turns into adventure (or disaster).
But walking the midway a bit later, all lit up, with the ferris wheels throwing a glitter of colors across the night sky, and not having to actually RIDE anything was perfect. Now that was fun.


Alana Woods on “Plaza Antiques”

I was feeling tired from a long drive to Las Vegas. As I  parked the car, my attention was directed to an antique store near the hotel.
I stepped through the door and a first it was overwhelming. A plethora of things from the past, all the memories, family, children, grandparents, love, drama,joy. We leave our impression on things we touch.

The store cat was curled up on a children’s chair, giving the impression she was asleep, as cats do, slyly keeping her closed eyes but really omnipresent to everything around them.

I wandered though the rooms, taking in what I could and smelling an oldness tinged with what smelled like talcum powder. I said to the antique dealer “I always wondered how one could make a living selling antiques”.

“Oh, people do buy” he reassured me, fondly holding a silver candle snuffer. “they love to hold onto objects from their past that  bring a warmth of memory, of love”.

This brought my remembrance of stories I had heard of war days in Europe when many children lost their parents, and were sheltered in orphanages, and were given a piece of bread or even a stone to hold at night, which helped them go to sleep.

The antique dealer moved behind a counter and pointed out a bowl of water in which swam a single goldfish. “Oh, I have several cats and they like to jump up here and lap the water in the bowl. And would you believe? The fish swims up to b licked by the cats”.

He moved toward the front window. “…and here is our resident  spider in her webbed castle” There in the corner of the window sat a fat delicate brown spider in a large web.

“I spriz her with water once a week,” he continued,” I give her a little drink”.
“Oh, I said, I didn’t know spiders needed water”‘

“I don’t’ know, but I give her a little drink'”he replied quietly.


Alana Woods, from Albuquerque, NM has just written a Memoir “The Song I Hear -my life with music” ( available in 2). Has spent a life time involved in sound and music from early childhood. She created a pioneer work in Music Medicine (prescriptive sound) inspired by a visit in Greece.  Web www.soundvistas.com.


Musing in Autumn: Missed Meeetings

I was thinking about life driving to work. I’m giving myself a B+ this week for how I’m doing. The blissful feel of the summer is gone. There has been a fair amount of stress since August, both good and bad. But I feel like I’m back in the grove.

Quite suddenly I saw myself as an undergrad standing on a wet windy corner in Cambridge, outside the Harvard Coop. I’d just won a poetry prize, and the judge had asked to meet me. She wasn’t the most important poet in America, but well known enough in my circles. I was excited. A grown-up, a writer, was taking an interest in me.

She never appeared. After a few unpleasant minutes I could tell she wasn’t coming, but I waited at least twenty, growing sadder by the moment. Wet and disenchanted, I finally left. I think she left me a garbled message a few days later about a headache. In any case, we never met.

Recently my husband Rich reminded me that we’d seen W.H. Auden at a Tolkien Society Meeting in Manhattan when we were young. Reminded, though, is the wrong word. I couldn’t remember at all. Then I had an image of the poet, old and frail (he died soon after) bundled in an overcoat. Can this really have happened? And how would I not remember seeing the most famous poet of the time?

At what point did I go from waiting for life to begin to feeling it had? Maybe when I was about fourteen, and had my friends from summer camp and the run of New York City. But instead of feeling blessed I was just angry about all those wasted years of childhood when I had no agency, was under the power of others.

At what point will I go from looking forward to looking backward? It has started a bit already. I ask myself, did you get what you wanted? If framed a certain way, the answer must be yes. I wanted to get out of New Jersey, be a poet, and have boyfriends. These seemed like lofty unattainable goals, and perhaps for me they were. They seem curiously unambitious at this remove, but they were not easy to attain.

And I would never leave a young poet on a windy corner, unmet.