Tag Archives: 200 New Mexico Poems

“To Go From Here” by Michelle Holland

Our little lives extinguish themselves
like lit matches – ephemeral brilliance –
then darkness that can’t be helped.

The match is not meant to burn long,
just a moment in order to ignite
something else – a camp fire,
a cigarette, to sterilize a needle
before the splinter is removed.

We flame up, create our colors,
burn briefly, with just enough time,
maybe to start something.
Another life, a movement, a poem,
a garden, a body of work,
a connection with a network
of family, friends, our momentary mark.

Before Jim died, an arbitrary sequence of events,
his son, our daughter, the threat of fire –
led to their family evacuating
to our big, rambling adobe home,
created a chance to connect,
to get to know his silent ways,
his wry grin, his shaggy, black dog.

Just a guy and his family,
a daughter, young and moody,
whose tears brought him to her borrowed room,
where she let him know she wanted
no part of our hospitality, just wanted
to go home. He listened,
and later she groomed our big, friendly horse.

Her father is dead now; only a couple of days ago
he was alive. Suddenly, his match lost its fire,
whatever he was able to touch with his light
done. A son who wants to fly,
the last ignition of a father who made the connection
real. The fire will continue,
in ways no one knows.

Fathers die. Fathers die unexpectedly,
commonly, on the floor sprawled, unaccountably breathless.
The match was lit, and sputtered to its ashen end,
but everyone else he illuminated continues to inhale,
embrace the connection to keep our flames alive.
resist the breath that will extinguish.


Michelle Holland lives and writes in Chimayo, New Mexico.  Her books include the New Mexico Book Award winning collection, The Sound a Raven Makes, Tres Chicas Press; and Chaos Theory, Sin Fronteras Press.

Enjoy additional poems by Michelle Holland: “Take The Apple”, “Approaching Another New Year,” and “Empire of Dust”.

Summer Writing and Revision is Fine

This summer, I have been availing myself of the use of the College of Charleston’s Addlestone Library’s study rooms to focus on several writing projects.

This is the first summer that the library has offered reserved study rooms to faculty, and it all came about in response to popular demand and the advocacy of the Faculty Writer’s Retreat facilitator, Lynn Cherry.

The retreat itself, held during most school breaks, is quite a boon and one that I participate in every chance I get, which has been four times thus far. Unlike a writing conference, which usually involves craft lectures, panels, readings, seminars, and, perhaps, workshops, the College of Charleston’s Faculty Writers Retreat simply provides a distraction-free study room, daily lunches, afternoon snacks, and a sense of accountability. Faculty can apply for a 2, 3, or 5-day stint and available spots fill quickly. Participants agree that they will not use the time to prep for classes, grade or browse social media. Most everyone finds they get a lot done during their selected time period, and even when there are struggles or blocks, most faculty are glad to have had the time to deal with those, too, as it actually helps them  move forward.

Though I come away from the Faculty Writer’s Retreat with a different kind of same kind of high that a conference might generate, I always come away feeling productive, and centered and with plenty of evidence of my hard work. The difference is subtle but important.

This year, after a number of participants expressed just how useful it was having access to a study room, myself included, the retreat facilitator inquired into the matter on our behalf. Thanks to her initiative the good folks at Addlestone agreed to set aside three rooms for faculty to reserve for up to three days at a time during any given week this summer, up until the week that classes begin.

And I have been in one of them every week that I’ve been in town.

The first several weeks of the summer I worked almost entirely on the New Mexico Poem anthology, since that was my focus during the retreat in May, and more or less wallowed in rereading every contribution and reconsidering the organization and title of the sections. What I found interesting about the process was how I paired some of the same poems together in the revision as I had paired in the first collection, which I discovered after reviewing both manuscripts. In other instances, and maybe because of the new section titles and focus, poems wound up in very different locations.

I’m sure I’ve spent over 100 hours reconsidering the collection in detail, not including the breaks I took to remain as fresh and as objective as possible. It’s no lie that being hungry, angry, lonely, or tired will drastically affect one’s judgment, so I made sure not to deliberate while experiencing any of those states.

I sent the manuscript off to my co-editor in mid-June, right before taking off for Kansas City to visit family.  As is usually the case, I found it very difficult to shift my mental state from contemplating poetry to focusing on family for those few days but finally let go and shifted my focus to the present moment and to enjoying my time away from Charleston. Now that I have returned home, the opposite is more true and I struggle to ease myself back into a life groove.

To help with my re-entry, and in the spirit of easy does it, I “suited up and showed up” to my reserved study room on Wednesday, after three weeks away, determined to work on something. I set no specific goal or objective – just brought with me a hard copy of my own manuscript and my computer. After getting settled in, I was able to revise a few poems, rearrange my MS into sections, and, eventually, assemble and submit a six-page manuscript for a literary magazine In which I would very much like to have my poems appear. I think the day was more productive than it would have been had I fallen into either of the two habits that are most common to me: 1) overwhelm myself with a list of a dozen possible projects on which I might focus, or 2) frustrate myself with an improbable goal. It is much better, I am learning, to have an open mind as I approach one small project at a time.

I did wind up canceling my Thursday study room reservation, however,  to meet with an exterminator regarding the Yellow Jackets that have taken residence in my yard, most likely as a result of our neglecting yard work those seven months we were living in an apartment while repairs were being made to the house after Hurricane Matthew. (Yes, I can find a way to drop that bit of info into most conversations.) Yellow Jackets, I decided, are just a little more pressing than having a study room for the afternoon.

The week ahead is a busy one. I am to attend a Writing Across the Curriculum conference and have about a half-dozen appointments to see to. I was tempted to cancel my study room reservations for the week, seeing how I will only get a few hours here and there to utilize the space, but decided against it, for when things are especially busy it is especially important to hold space open for my writing. I may not get as much time as I would prefer, but any time I do capture will go under the column for successes this week.

 

 

softly by Carol Alena Aronoff

sift the soil as if it held the delicate shell
of your mother

archaeology of dreams unfulfilled or pending
astronaut adventurer marathon dancer

dig up her wishes layered as onion, replant
where memories of loss, disappointment

threaten to overrun days in moon’s shadow
there is no way to know the flowers that bloomed

for a morning their scent may have lingered
too faint for recognition

with life ephemeral as blaze of autumn leafing
fragile as moth wing in summer light

take no notice of strident voices or mud wasps
you know what this jewel is worth

what facets still face away from sun
it takes only a hand to turn them

Carol Alena Aronoff, Ph.D. is a psychologist/teacher/writer whose poetry has been published in numerous literary journals/anthologies. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has five books of poetry: The Nature of Music, Cornsilk, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep, Blessings from an Unseen World, Dreaming Earth’s Body. She lives in rural Hawaii.

 

Letters From Home by Steven Hamp

Sometimes,
the routine is broken,
allowing room
to understand
the creativity
that shows itself
in brilliant style.

Often,
the information provides
a sense of time
to discover
the caring
that is celebrated
in grateful joy.

Always,
the expression is open,
giving insight
to recognize
the courage
that is measured
in personal strength.

Steven Hamp is a photographer, writer, and poet who has resided in New Mexico since 1981.  He has been published in various local publications.  His poetry was recently selected as part of the 200 New Mexico Poems on-line collection, and has appeared on-line at the Duke City Fix.  He currently lives in Albuquerque.