Friday, May 29, 2009

Another Santa Fe Poem

for Andrea Martínez

The old one, buttoned up, wind hard at his back.
The old one, pushed forward on his staff.

I wake up

from some fog, bent sun,
hypnotic drone of the car engine

to the Easter pilgrims, everywhere, on the shoulder.
Still a week out, on foot, a hundred miles
from the Santuario de Chimayo.

Because you are gone, my sister, the pilgrimage—

this one, each spring,
the Haj, even the pagan
cure-for-cancer pledge run

unlocks it.

What is my church, Old Man with a staff?
How do you know yours? Believe?

Because I cannot, six months after your death,
feel you near me, I want to join the severest ones,
on their bloody knees.

Theirs is a certainty, yes, and I have gone the other way.

The rain starts, here, on the interstate.
The man, now far behind, is pelted with raindrops,

honed by wind.

He walks on.

I do not know where you are, for sure, though I am given
certain definite options, by those who do:

absolutely nothing.

I have chosen, instead, the hush and no
of unknowingness
and the images I give it—

black hole, mountain fog,
windstorm, river mud.

Things we can’t see through.

Your way, Old Man, sings of some old
certainty, deep in the belly.
I remember it, recognize it again
from our childhood days, Sweet Sister.

It is sharp, sacrificial, the vertiginous certitude
of these teenagers, old couples, men
with their spare boots slung over their backs.

They are dizzying, yes. Their beauty,
this clarity--it slays me.

Valerie Martinez
copyright 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

National Latino/a Writers Conference

Hello All--

The days and weeks fly by. Thursday through Saturday of last week I was lucky enough to be on the faculty of the National Latino Writers Conference in Albuquerque. I led workshops on "The Art of Identity: Writing the Self" and "Writing the Unpredictable Poem" as well as worked with several writers in individual conferences. This is a small, intimate conference which allowed for much individual time with participants, one of the weekend's best features. They limit participants to 50, keeping the conference small and intensive. Thanks to everyone at the NHCC--organizers and staff--for a really good three days.

Coming up, the Taos Summer Writers Conference in July. This is another smaller, intimate conference. It is wonderfully friendly, rigorous while being very friendly, with a terrific "bookstore." If you've got time to travel in July, check it out online.