Taking a Break

From the blog until New Year’s, as is my custom.

Always answering email at msagan1035@aol.com and always reading submissions of your haiku, poetry, musings, projects, et. al.

This odd window in Mesilla exhibits a truck, a goldfinch, and a wire creature–maybe a bug? Well, it’s been an odd year. Here is to happiness in 2021. See you then!

Bubbe Report

How do babies do it? Do they read ahead in the child development book? Anyway, 21 month old G. is acting a lot like…a 21-month old. I still call her “the baby” but figure at the two year mark she is officially a child (or a toddler).

Language is starting to kick in. I joke that she is my slowest ESL student ever, but she is making great strides.”UP, mom.” “NO NO NO.” “Moon. “Salt.” “Pepper.”

Every time she notices Tiny Dog, the sweet chihuahua who has been G.’s companion since birth, G. tells me confidingly: “dog.” I thought that would be her first word but it was “up”–an important word for a short person.

We still communicate more on the level of sound than complete thoughts.”Caw caw” she says, seeing the crow out the window. I have managed to teach–by example–my silly useless game of fake sleeping, complete with fake snoring. She lies down, closes her eyes, and pretends to snore. Maybe this isn’t a universally useful activity–but I’ve always enjoyed it.

Everything is in groups. I have toes. She has toes. A cookie, broken onto bits, is referred to as Dada, Mama, and baby. Pretty much all objects are arranged this way.

What is she thinking? I’ll never know–and her brain is changing so fast she won’t remember. When she feeds the crayon a grape I sort of get it, but not totally.

Still, the crayon seems satisfied.

Suddenly aware of the dark by Donna Snyder

Suddenly aware of the dark

Blank dark fades my consciousness to empty shadow.
I feel caught in the antics of the Hollywood Squares,
a game show I saw on Grandma’s tv when I was small,
black and white and snowy from the Western Auto store.
A crown of artificial flowers dusty in a green glass swan
nests on a white doily hand-tatted by someone dead.

B list actors playing the fool miraculous as resurrection,
no tv in my parents’ house back in the Twitty flats.
No cable service out there, no money for an antenna,
and anyhow Mama was afraid of attracting storm gods.
So visits to Grandma featured three channels of magic,
handsome cowboys, and Disney’s Wonderful World.

In the kitchen a white formica table below a wall of gifts,
the piece of cedar from the Ozarks with The Last Supper,
the pretty Jesus with compassionate eyes framed in brass.
Grandpa sat weeping into coffee he had saucered to cool
the night Grandma died, the only time I saw him cry. Eyes
closed, I hid behind Daddy, suddenly aware of the dark.


Donna Snyder, founded the Tumblewords Project in 1995 and continues to organize its free weekly workshop series and other events in the El Paso borderlands. She has poetry collections published by Chimbarazu, Virgogray, and NeoPoiesis presses. Her work appears in such journals and anthologies as Setu, Red Fez, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, VEXT Magazine, Mezcla, Original Resistance, Miriam’s Well, and Speak the Language of the Land. Snyder has read her work in Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, and Texas. She previously practiced law representing indigenous people, people with disabilities, and immigrant workers.

On A Cold Winter’s Night by Karima Alavi

State mandate: remain at home. Numbers are high.

The creep of winter’s darkened days weigh upon my nervous heart. My feet long for a walk along Canyon Road where holiday songs once filled the crisp December air. My lips long for a chance to sing with others while candle-lit farolitos guide us toward the warmth of bonfires leaping from inside steel tins.

I ignore the rules for one night and wander alone through Santa Fe plaza, ablaze with a fire-work display of Christmas lights. Blue, purple, red, gold. Strings dance across high branches, glistening orbs against a winter sky. Six other people wander here. Keeping our distance, we converge at the center, remembering that sunny day when a monument to European imperialism was ripped from this piece of earth by an angry crowd. In its place now, a tender circle of evergreen trees decorated by someone’s reverent hands.

I drive home, determined to make hot chocolate though I don’t particularly like it, and search for a bearable Christmas movie on Netflix. As I approach my door, I notice that three holiday bulbs have burned out. One orange, one green, one white. A trinity of lights now dead.


Karima Alavi lives in Abiquiu, New Mexico, where the howl of coyotes and the prowling of skunks inspire her to stay inside at night and get more writing done.

Work by Alexandra Eldridge

At the new G2 Gallery at 7021/2 Canyon Rd., on Gypsy Alley. The gallery is very elegant, in a large gracious space. At a time when so much is closing it is exciting to see something new.

Eldridge’s work is fascinating and evocative–drawing, it seems to my eye, equally from magical illustrative traditions and surrealism.

Poets like her! Two books from Tres Chicas have covers that use her art:

And she graces numerous other book covers.


El Sabor de Nuevo México by Rob David Martinez

El Sabor de Nuevo México
by Rob David Martinez

The sabor of New Mexico is
Chimayo red chile with garlic
Frijoles and chicos salted perfectly
Mom’s homemade flour tortillas, warm and soft

The sabor of New Mexico is
Tamales made with pork and red chile
Or sometimes with chile verde and calabacitas
In the old days, if a young man courted a young lady
And she rejected him, her family sent
A pan of calabacitas to his home
Squash with corn, green chile, salt and pepper
Rejection never tasted so good!

The sabor of New Mexico is
My mom grinding carne seca
To put in the fried potatoes
And sometimes in the red chile
¡Muy rico! Sometimes dad brought
Carne seca de venado from Chacón
It tasted like la montaña, La Jicarita, near Mora

The sabor of New Mexico is
Fideos toasted with smoky tomato broth
Chunks of pork marinated and cooked
In red chile heavy with ajo
Espinacas stewed and laced
With green chile seeds and salt

The sabor of New Mexico is
Hot natillas, vanilla heavy with cream
And meringue sprinkled with canela
Billowy sopaipillas, hot, greasy, with honey or chile?
Why not both?

The sabor of New Mexico is
Arroz con leche, sweet rice in milk, cinnamon,
And juicy cooked pasas

El sabor de Nuevo México is
Biscochitos, biscotti to the Italians,
Anise laced cookies made with lard
Sprinkled heavy with canela and azucara,
Latent memories of Maruecos

The sabor of New Mexico is
Mountain air, fresh cut alfalfa,
Chicharrones frying, burruñates
Sizzling in the broiler
El sabor de Nuevo México is…

Rob David Martinez is New Mexico’s State Historian. Curated by Levi Romero.


Book Arts class is over. Here is one more example from the Maternal Mitochodria team-that’s me and Isabel Winson-Sagan.

Our piece is about take-out in the pandemic. It creates more ephemera, and waste. Yet we await those brown bags full of steaming food. The tiny book was the actual assignment–it references the cute charms on Japanese key chains and back packs. Inside the paper bag that the book is attached to–some recipes for perfect noodles. This one by Isabel:

1. Open the packet with a pair of scissors
2. Ready your deepest and most delicate bowl
3. Place your hands on top of your head, right over left, in supplication 
4. Take the advice of any passing talking animals
5. Fill your shirt with water from the purest spring
6. Di liebe is zees, nor zi iz gut mit broyt.
7. Eat! 

The Yiddish says– love is good, but it’s good with bread. 

Does Donald Trump Have a Birthmark Where the Sun Don’t Shine? By Conchita De Luto

Does Donald Trump Have a Birthmark Where the Sun Don’t Shine?

By Conchita De Luto

I don’t know about you, but for the lasts four years, I have been wondering how Donald Trump has gotten away with everything he has gotten away with. What is it about this guy? Who or what is protecting him?

I’ve put a lot of thought into this and I have come up with 3 possibilities:

The U.S. Constitution was built on sand.
Donald Trump made a deal with the devil.
He has a birthmark on his anus.

The third option is the one that makes the most sense to me. Indulge me while I take a detour and elaborate on the cultural nuances of language…

I work with two languages all the time. Everything I do in my work is bilingual and because I am who I am, also bicultural. From this vantage point, I can tell you that some things, like proverbs, dichos and idiomatic expressions, just cannot be explained going from one language to another. Somethings, like the belief that Donald Trump has a birthmark on his butt, is one of those things that don’t translate, but let me try to explain, as we need all the insight we can get.
I have a Filipino friend and he carries with him generations of Tagalog wisdom, dichos, and beliefs that may not translate. I am going to give it a try because when he told me about this, I totally got it, and I don’t speak Tagalog.

He shared with me that his mother, a wise woman of an uncertain age, declared that the only explanation for why Donald Trump may never suffer misfortune or receive punishment for his crimes is that he has a birthmark on his anus. (On or In, I am not really sure.) Apparently, it is an old Filipino belief that if you have a birthmark where the sun don’t shine, to spin it mildly, you are lucky beyond your wildest dreams.

You will get away with everything. Nothing bad will happen to you.

This particular location of a birthmark is the sign of perpetual and eternal good luck.

You can sexually assault women, cheat on your taxes, cage children, kill hundreds of thousands of people because of your narcissistic neglect of others. You can catch and release COVID19 and remain unscathed. Hell, you could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it!

And it’s all because you’ve got a birthmark where the sun don’t shine.

Trouble is, there are only a handful of people who could confirm this.

Should we ask Lindsey Graham?


Conchita de Luto was born in Superior, Arizona and immigrated to Sonora, Mexico at a young age. Because she had been born in the U.S., she came back to attend Sarah Lawrence in 1969. But after completing her studies, she found it difficult to settle in the eastern United States and went back to Cananea, Sonora, married her high school sweetheart and lived with him for 30 years until his death in 2002. De Luto lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her 3 dogs, Chuy, Fernando and Alfredo. She is at work on her memoirs.

A Tale of Two Monuments by Lucy Moore

In 1998, the 400th anniversary of the founding of Albuquerque by Spanish conquistadors, the city commissioned a monument to be placed in front of the Albuquerque Museum. The process was highly contentious. Although over the centuries Spanish and Native blood has mixed, consensually and otherwise, a challenge like how to memorialize colonization can send people into corners where the other – even the other part of you – becomes the enemy.

Sculptor Sonny Rivera’s Don Juan de Onate, leading La Jornada, before he was removed

To read all of Lucy Moore’s thoughtful and informative blog post: