Rocio Graham

What does this say to you?

I met this artist recently in a Ayatana Residency/Art Loves Science. She was born in Mexico and lives in British Columbia, Canada where she uses her garden to explore cycles of life and death.

She said that her work often references as yet unwritten narratives in her imagination. I was also struck by how the photographs would make great writing prompts. Try it! I’m happy to post any writer’ response to this work.


About life these days.

In 2021, my mission was to teach for free in different communities. That went well–SW Writers, Tumblewords in El Paso, Audubon Center, some classrooms, and SFCC Library which really proved successful with numerous workshops on Japanese forms.

I’ll do more for the SFCC library, probably still on zoom. Anything you are interested in learning? Ekphrasis? Pantoum? Or?

But I’m not sure if I should still focus on this in 2022. I’m thinking (eep) of going to grad school.

As the year ends, what are you considering?

Swastika by Miriam Sagan

Some hate graffiti recently appeared in the Railyard Park near my house: Vax Jews. It is a bit confusing because vaccination saves lives and Jew is not a hate term. But it can be used as one. And if you think vaccination is an evil plot, then the Antisemitism is clear. This isn’t the first time. A memorial to the pioneer Jews of New Mexico was also defaced. In both cases, the hate message cleaned off. The Chabad rabbi suggested placing a menorah on the site for the upcoming holiday of Hannukah—a nice idea.

The Railyard has been a liminal place since I arrived in its environs in 1984. It was unusually industrial for Santa Fe. The Railyard had an atmosphere where lawlessness could happen. Even though it is now completely gentrified, it still retains a bit of this. Recently a sculpture by an African-American artist outside a gallery was torched. Hooliganism and racism are no strangers to the Railyard.

All this is to say that certain places will never be safe. And one of those places is America. As I was waking to the pale dawn of this lovely November morning I suddenly remembered a swastika. Boldly drawn in black sharpie on one of my mother’s kitchen chairs. A memory surfacing from my childhood. The chair, wooden and straight backed, was slightly decrepit and relegated to the backyard. It was odd lime green, but useful. I’d sit on it by the hour babysitting my sibs on the swing set. It could be used for a fort. It sat under the chestnut tree my grandfather had planted.

The swastika could not be scrubbed completely off. Its shadow remained. My unhandy mother did not repaint the chair, which eventually broke down in rain and snow. And was replaced by some actual lawn furniture.

The backyard was open to the neighborhood. Kids passed by all hours of the day. Anyone could have done it. Swastikas were ordinary, often drawn in pictures at school of World War Two scenes.

The swastika is an ancient symbol, taken by the Nazis. It appears all over the American Southwest, rolling backwards from the Nazi form, etched in rock. It might be a bent solar cross. It might be a symbol of migration. But the one on the kitchen chair meant hate.

My parents did not appear to react. Things happened—and Antisemitism was one of those things. I was glad when the chair was trashed. When the city removed “Vax Jews.”

Message Received

I walk the Acequia Trail behind my house frequently, but recently messages, stickers, and graffiti seem to be raining down in the night! The messages are a bit mysterious at the moment–what do they mean exactly? But as a follower of text, I wanted to share these.

The affectionate garbage can speaks while another hand curses evil.
No They Is An Island–thank you John Donne!
No Trespassing. I love you (in French)