Good morning, Albuquerque! Rich Boucher here, weary and happy and tired from life and loving this thing that we're doing here! Right now I'm padding around the house in my bunny slippers and kimono and trying to find out where the English Muffins are in this house. Did anyone put on the coffee yet? I'm not sure I'm gonna be able to make it without at least two cups this morning! It's soooo early! I really must commend you early risers; how do you do it? How do all of you and the roosters and the chickens and all the other birds of prey in Albuquerque manage to rise from your beds at this insane hour? Even the angels all have a case of bedhead right now. But, it's a wonderful thing and life is too short to sleep too late, I suppose. Listen here, it's time for a poem...
...I love this poem by Andrea Serrano. There's so much going on in this poem, almost deceptively so, within all of Andrea's beautiful and plain-spoken real-real lyricism here: a combination, a poetic merging of the personal with the cultural and the spiritual, a poem as a narrative, a personal memory artfully illustrating the startling intersection of personal concerns and cultural iconography and spiritual resonances. It is compelling, what she does here with her words, how she speaks the plain truth about the bonafide, real, hidden costs of what many people are only too happy to refer to these days as “progress" (and by the way, you've really got to catch Andrea live some time, to see how Andrea just lays all of this beauty out for you on the mic; you're missing out if you have not seen her perform). This poem can see the way that things never change even as change is, as they say, the one constant in our lives. It’s impossible to ignore what it is that she asks the reader to countenance when she talks about people just driving by, how often we all just "drive on by". Do we stop and take a moment, ever, and really think about what we have seen? Do we? And if we do stop to think about it, can we learn? I asked Andrea recently what her favourite things are about Albuquerque, and this is what she said: "My favorite things about Burque are the endless sky, summer evenings, sunsets and people who love this city and see her for who she is; not what they can make her be." Andrea, you got this.
Rio Grande Blvd.
A yucca plant
Is all that remains
Planted at the feet
Of the Guadalupana painted
On a crumbling adobe wall on Rio Grande Blvd.
Thousands of cars pass her by each day but no one ever stops
to pray or pay homage or even just say hello
The wall shared a parking lot with Ned’s Lounge
Where $2 Tuesdays
Meant cheap vodka tonics and even cheaper tacos
The Virgencita on the wall faced the door
I never thought to stop and ask her
“What’s a nice girl like you
Doing in a place like this?”
Never mind what I was doing there
Anyway, most nights I went home alone
I didn't think much of it
When Ned’s closed its doors
No regrets that I didn’t get to have one last drink
Those days have long passed me by
The comfort of home is where I spend most Tuesdays
A friend said Ned’s was going to be knocked down along with a few other buildings
To make way for condos and offices and a way of life
Not meant for me
I didn’t believe him
until the other day
when the first building was reduced to a pile of rubble
I was gripped with fear and sadness when I saw it
But thankful when I saw the wall was still up
I gave thanks for one more day
Until I drove by
And she was gone
Work men with purple brown skin and hard hats
Threw bricks in a garbage bin
I imagine the one who knocked the wall down
Closed his eyes and prayed before his bulldozer
Made contact with her image
Fake adobe buildings will soon be built on top
Of sacred neighborhood space
Like cathedrals on the tops of temples in Tenochtitlan
And mission churches on the tops of kivas
Throughout the Pueblos
To just drive on by
Albuquerque native Andrea J. Serrano has been writing and performing poetry since 1994, and is published in Malpais Review; the Mas Tequila Review; ¡Ban This! and the BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature. She has performed at numerous venues including the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in NYC, Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco and was part of the Librotraficante Caravan Reading in Albuquerque. Andrea is the youngest of seven daughters and credits her family, her ties to land, language and culture and the experience of growing up Chicana in Albuquerque with influencing her writing. Andrea is a member of the band Cultura Fuerte, and is the creator and host of Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido, a monthly poetry venue. Photograph of Andrea Serrano by Senaida Garcia, 2013.
Poetry submissions are welcome. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Poetry Event News: In addition to Jules' Sestina class and the Second Saturday Slam in Rio Rancho, I'd like to mention an event scheduled to happen on Friday, July 5th. 2013 at 7 PM. The "Rally in the Desert 2" will take place in historic Madrid, New Mexico. This show will be a fundraiser to help send the 2013 Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team to the National Poetry Slam Competition later this Summer. There will be, as promoter Zachary Kluckman informs us, "a short open mic for the poets, followed by a showcase of collaborative pieces, and then - in honor of Independence Day - a no rules, no holds barred mini - slam pitting the poets from the ABQ slam team against each other!" After the event, guests are invited to spend some time schmoozing and loving up on the poets at the Mineshaft Tavern. Attendance for this event is $10; this money will go to support the Albuquerque Slam Team in their efforts to get to Boston for the National Poetry Slam. Interesting fact about this theater: it's the only theater in the world with a full sized steam train on stage. The Engine House Theater (behind the Mine Shaft Tavern) is located at 2846 Hwy. 14, Madrid, New Mexico (on the Turquoise Trail. For details and more information, please call 505-473-0743.