* * * *
Having been a surgeon in her workaday world, I believe Sylvia carries a scalpel to the editing table. Her clean images, lines, and content belie the fact that she hasn't been writing her entire life. I appreciate her crafted and effective poems;she's loaned us two for this special, end of the Fix, goodbye.
After Sylvia's work, we are fortunate to have a few from our wandering compadre who left Burque a couple of years ago in order to find adequate employment. Let's hope he returns to us upon his retirement.
* * * *
I first met Rich Vargas at a Sumner & Dean reading, upstairs in their art gallery downtown, a place Jessica Dalzell had secured for her women's writing group, quickly appropriated by a couple of eager male poets hungry for attention. Jessica left town shortly thereafter. However it went, whatever your version of that story is, the venue brought Rich Vargas to the mic. Burque was never quite the same; political poems anathema to the slam scene at the time, now had a shining star. Thank you, Rich Vargas, and how I loved the reading you gave that night of your version of "Howl."
Memorial Day 2016
-Montefiore Jewish Cemetery, Las Vegas NM
No flags, no saints, no visitors
save five crows in black vestments
hunkered down on a wind-whirled tree
near weary adobe fence.
Rows of ancient headstones,
a scattering from recent times,
struggle to remain upright,
fight burial under endless
swirls of red-dust devils
Names I saw engraved in buildings
downtown around the Plaza call me—
Ilfelds, Rosenthals,Taicherts, Sterns—
East European merchants
who traded Old World conflicts
for new lives in an alien place.
The dead lie undisturbed,
perhaps unremembered, covered
by sparse blanket of tiny, yellow-eyed
white and purple wildflowers wavering
under a painfully brilliant cloud-heavy sky.
Across the rusted wire gate,
closer to the main entrance,
Masons and Woodsmen repose
and, just beyond a graying stone virgin,
an old woman sits shrouded in memories,
unmindful of the souls around her.
Sylvia Ramos Cruz
* * * *
(Sp. blind mouse, bat)
No me conoces.
You don’t know me.
This name you gave me is misnomer.
I am neither blind nor mouse.
When I slammed into you at dusk
it was not to tango in your hair nor taste
the provocation of your neck
shimmering in the flick of fireflies.
Nor was it curiosity.
I know you,
spied you many times
from far-off perch beneath
a plumed papaya
climbing the jagged back
of El Yunque rainforest.
You startled me as I startled you,
yet I did not call you names.
I could have— despoiler, destroyer,
Before you were
I echoed darkness,
pierced Earth’s marrow
in the succulence of mangó
assumed no name,
traversed translucent skies
and pristine forests for eons,
left no trace save my residue
decaying under the canopy,
in emerging primate faces and howls—
a new order rising
from the steam-bath
of mud and stars.
Busqué santuario from which
to watch you roam
and hear you roar.
No me conoces – You don’t know me
tango – tango dance
papaya – melon-like tropical fruit
El Yunque – rainforest in Puerto Rico
Fué accidente – It was accident
adolescente – adolescent
mangó – tropical fruit
aguacate – avocado
guayaba – guava fruit
Busqué santuario – I searched for sanctuary
* * * *
Murcielago was published in the Malpais Summer 2016 Anthology.
Memorial Day 2016 won 2nd prize in a 2017 National Federation of State Poetry Societies contest and was just published in their anthology, Encore: Prize Poems 2017.
Sylvia Ramos Cruz is a mother, grandmother, surgeon, women’s rights activist, gardener, world traveler, friend and lover. Her poems are eclectic in form and content. Many are inspired by works of art in all its forms, women’s lives, and every-day injustices. A project in progress is writing Haibun about her journeys to find Historic NM Women road markers and the women they honor. Her poem, Memorial Day 2016, won 2nd place in the Donald Stodghill Memorial Award contest and is published in Encore: Prize Poems 2017.
* * * *
Poems by Rich Vargas
doing laundry the saturday after the election
wondering if the numbing sensation
i wear these days like a second skin
will ever slough off
will i ever feel again
when on cue
as if she could read my thoughts
a stout and voluptuous black woman
standing at the table behind me
breaks out into song while folding
garments of all sizes from the several
piles of clothes rising up before her
her sultry voice honed from a people’s
hanging from the wrong end of a rope
sings of being a motherless child
needing guidance from heaven
and a strong shoulder to lean on
during the dark days ahead
so it happens here
in the most unexpected of places
gospel and blues wrapping around
the cold dead space in my chest
transforming it into a warm shelter
for my anger to lie down and sleep
this is the part of the poem
where i’m supposed to praise
our ability to take a hard sucker punch
and carry on the good fight
but the reality is this pool
of sewage and shit we made
for ourselves is sucking me down
i’m choking on tears
yet to be formed
the words on the page of the book
i hold in my hands begin to blur
and slide off the paper
my cheeks are hot and wet
i pretend to continue reading
* * * *
a note to the young artists living in these dark days
go paint a picture in the rain
and watch the colors run or
write a poem while getting drunk
and listen to the random noise
of empty bottles breaking in the street
pick up a drum and beat it mad
as you dance naked in the backyard
under a suburban moon or drive
to the beach and sing jazz
to the stars hanging in a black
ink sky while wearing discarded
rags found in the trash bins
of local thrift stores or get
arrested for carving your visions
into the walls of public restrooms
know that the difference
between a dollar bill and
a sheet of toilet paper
is the green ink
close your eyes and
jump off the cliff
art will catch you
it always does
i awaken in the early hours to thoughts of you swimming through
the cool depths of my sleep, each one a silvery minnow reflecting
the moon’s light dancing on its scaled skin. they sparkle like streaking
meteors, criss-crossing to the sound of a whispered splash. i gather
spider webs, weave a net, cast it with the hope of catching a poem,
then releasing it back to my ocean of longing.
lovers burn apart
dream alone with visions of
a flame’s kiss dying
* * * *
Bio: Richard Vargas was born in Compton, CA, attended schools in Compton, Lynwood, and Paramount. He earned his B.A. at Cal State University, Long Beach, where he studied under Gerald Locklin and Richard Lee. He edited/published five issues of The Tequila Review, 1978-1980, and twelve issues of The Más Tequila Review, 2010-2015. His first book, McLife, was featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, in February, 2006. A second book, American Jesus, was published by Tia Chucha Press, 2007. His third book, Guernica, revisited, was published April 2014, by Press 53. (Once again, a poem from the book was featured on Writer’s Almanac to kick off National Poetry Month.) Vargas received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, 2010. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference’s Hispanic Writer Award, and was on the faculty of the 2012 10th National Latino Writers Conference. Currently, he resides in Rockford, IL, where he would give his left testicle for a green chile and bacon breakfast burrito.
* * * *
To all of you who have enjoyed The DitchRider, all the various poets and writers who edited and submitted, Thank You. I will be attempting my own weekly blog currently merimeemoffitt.wordpress.com, soon to be merimeemoffitt.com, and I will be inviting guest poets and writers to publish on my page eventually. Stay in touch, check out my relaxed prose about the 60s that I'm blogging currently. Contact me at email@example.com or on the blog site. Keep writing. We all need each others' voices now.