On The Bus: a narrative journey through Ravenland



Rio Grande High School is made up of a vast array of students from the largest sized land area of any high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Recently (and forever it seems), the news about RGHS has not been good in the media. A new Principal threw out (deleted) everyone's schedules this summer and much ground in getting this year's school year off to a smooth start was lost. That Principal is now at another location...The beautiful territory of RAVENLAND (Southwest Albuquerque) and the wonderful students and faculty are the same...Take a trip back with me and 'get on the bus' for a tour of Ravenland in the 1990's...

On The Bus

Ken Kesey used to say that you are either on the bus or else you is

off the bus; but, it ain't the sixties no mo'

and today folks we is on the bus....

Here we go waving goodbye

swinging wide

out onto Tapia

then a turn onto historic Atrisco.

The wheels on the bus go round and round as we hang out windows

like children set free at day's end

oohing and ahhing all the way

fascinated with this,

this free bus ride field trip

through Albuquerque's South Valley ;

more fun than the Disney Monorail

this journey through Ravenland

where falcons fly phonelines over alfalfa;

where ranchlands, mesas , rivers , farms,

and miles of family traditions go deep

to make this a truly rich land

where we have come to teach and to learn.

The wipers on the bus go swish swish swish and hey, a pit bull used to live in that house;

my grandpa got his first haircut

right there and see that used car lot ?

Well, when I was a kid a family lived there

in a nice old house and one winter

they plumbed in their own furnace

and before that first spring came

the whole damn place blew up !

And that little square house... it used to be a candy store.

I remember the man who owned it.

He sold candy to all of us kids.

The weird thing was though, he had no fingers !

And look at that old adobe place,

it's over a hundred years old;

used to be a swinging dance hall.

You know, a whole lot of families

got their start there on a

sparkly summer night and they all

reminisced about it the next day

at St.Anne's, St.Edwin's or Holy Family .

And the wheels on the bus go round and round and round down Central to Bridge out onto Sunset

where good quality students grow up

and the world's oldest Blake's Lotta Burger bakes...

Here , homes stay within families and land is

passed down family lines and all of our relations

live without sidewalks or big city rules

but when it rains out here , watchout for the mud !

The wipers on the bus go swish swish swish through Five Points where the largest stores

used to be and where a bank lost big bucks

one day to a bomber who blew up its wall !

And we all got our first pair

of glasses over there at Lovato's.

The horn on the bus goes toot toot toot and the horses and cows and rabbits run

where houses still use coal and wood

to heat by in this land of old turfs :

Armijo , Southside , Five Points ,

and chile verde is roasted

where Jesus is Lord and

families hang together

like old socks too comfortable

to toss aside and

did you know old Bob used to flip his own burgers ,

and now, he owns

four burger places

Bob's Burgers no less.

And the bus driver says SIT YOUR BUTTS DOWN as the Kinney Brick neighborhood flies by

and we come screaming around a turn

and our good Queen, Veronica, almost takes a big spill !

Soon we pass by Joy Junction

and are happy knowing we have our own homes to live in.

And then there's Manny Aragon's castle home ;

what, it's only been twelve years since he started it ?

Still under construction and not a single orange barrel

in this politician's driveway !

Still , the wheels on the bus go round and round and round again over acecias ,

beside dairies and horse farms

out toward sacred pueblo lands

where the sky widens over ancient hornos baking bread ,

and children so alive

their smiles dance along ahead of them.

Down by the river fisherkings fly

and rivers widen into fields fresh

and ready for harvest time

with thanksgivings and corn

and the many blessings of the seasons

passing on one after the other.

And the wipers on the bus go swishy swishy swishy through this land of culture clashes

where dropping out seems to be an option

and where trusting the bus

in the morning is hard to do

but all of those extracurricular activities call

and still students come

to Rio Grande High

where the Ravens fly.

And ever so slowly the wheels on the bus begin to go squeak squeak squeak

as we pull in for a stop

at Jerry's Market in this rich valley land

where no Circle K's stand

amidst the trees of Los Padillas.

So let us sing for the Patriots of Polk Middle School

and shout Hooray for the Harrison Roadrunners ;

March onward we shout for the Ernie Pyle Warriors

and please ,

say a quiet prayer for the children

of all ages in this big house of Angels,Casa Angelica,

this valley so grand.

The wipers on the bus go swishy swishy swish through Valley Gardens just like a little city

here in the county neatly groomed

yard after yard house after house

at home at work at play

and I gotta go potty...AREN'T WE THERE YET ?

And the driver says sit your butts down but whereever you go

there you are

and boom bang we bump up

over the curb

as our field trip comes

full circle back to

the Rio Grande home of the Ravens

home to cowboys and Indians,

LA RAZA and anglo-americans,

big kids and little kids ,

teachers and students,

moving on

into one beautifully big Raven family;

culturally and racially rich,

talented strong and proud;

and our bus door

stands wide open.

Jeff Hartzer copyright 1994-present

Views: 69

Tags: bus, grande, hartzer, high, jeff, on, poetry, rghs, rio, school, More…the

Comment by Masshole in Fringecrest on September 21, 2010 at 8:57pm
I worked at RGHS in 1999 and 2000. I loved the pride and uniqueness of the South Valley, you captured it well in the verses.
Comment by Jeff Hartzer on September 21, 2010 at 11:01pm
Thanks mucho...Go Ravens.
Comment by Ron Da Bomb on September 22, 2010 at 9:38am
Awesome.
Comment by Debra Landau on September 22, 2010 at 5:37pm
Here I am just up the street (Isleta) from Bob's Burgers. So great that Bob's is still in business despite Burger King's presence across the street.
Comment by Ben Moffett on September 22, 2010 at 8:19pm
If I had been born two years later, I would have graduated from Rio, but it didn't exist then, so I bused to Bulldog City. I would have loved to have been at Rio the year it opened. I'll take Rio over La Cueva any day. I lived with my bro on Tapia for a month when we first moved to Albuquerque and my parents were looking for a house. We settled on Bonita Road off Perry off Isleta, and I walked to Ernie Pyle.I go to the Isleta Bob's for my burgers today, although it didn't exist during my day. Good poem, Jeff, and true. Go Ravens. The nickname, I am told, by a reliable source, was selected by its first principal, A.B. Chavez, who moved up from Ernie Pyle. The students had a vote, but the decision was made beforehand. Now it's being emulated by an NFL team, and it is perfect for the Rio Grande.

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