The Sunday Poem: Bill Nevins... Atrisco Sunset Redux

Great writers are also great listeners.  This wonderful piece moves us through the life and times of South Valley resident, Don Juan Rey. 

Bill Nevins reads regularly at the East of Edith and Fixed and Free poetry gatherings and will read Irish poetry on March 16 2013 at Belen Public Library. His book of poetry tentatively titled Heartbreak Ridge is due to be published in 2013.


Atrisco Sunset Redux

Like their pretty women the beers of the Germans
On that European tour Don Juan Rey took, courtesy of LBJ’s draft,  
Were pale, cool, filled with hidden delight:
Every Deustch burgh served up its best
To a rock n roll G.I. and a journeyman barber
Who joked en espanol or ingles
And tried to gaze into every  new friend’s eye
 taste every rare brew
So far from old Nuevo Mexico
so far from home
So far from mother dad
hermanos y hermanas vatos y amigos
far from all he knew

Gone away without leave
 tasting Europe’s hidden delights
Learning tastes and songs  fresh and new
Sharing their company,
Sharing his smile, his dry Atrisco laugh,
He won many hearts and minds for NATO
 for Nuevo Mexico for Atrisco:
His barrio hid in la resolana by the bosque
-- which few in the great wide world knew:
Old as its deep dirt, cool as its alamo shade

On this holy ground of his abuelos, abuelas,
 Don Juan Rey rode his proud John Deere tractor,
Tilled and nourished his fields down all these long hot years,
Where the grujas cranes soared and gathered in spring and fall
Where his brothers sisters son daughters primos y amigos
In laws outlaws and even the odd visiting gabachos
All hoisted heavy bails from his fields up to Don Juan Rey’s troca
-- hook and sweat!
Honest labor in the old way of this familia, this tierra, this pueblo.

After such sun soaked work they still sip good Yankee Buds
 or perhaps Tecate
With smiling Don Juan Rey who remembers the clear rare beers,
warm eyes, sights, songs and hearts of Europa far away,
Far away.

We sing Las Mananitas, taste his carne adovado
After mass each Christmas Day,
his birthday,
we toast his life his ninos ninas grandkids nephews nieces
His good crops hard work warm words jokes and quiet smiles and
We toast again his joy his dark Dona,  the true bright love of his life
We honor and envy his memories his joys:
Don Juan Rey’s clear beers, Don Juan Rey’s cool and hidden delights.

–Bill Nevins

Views: 204

Comment by Jules Nyquist on September 9, 2012 at 11:23am

Thanks, Bill for this poem. I remember you reading it at East of Edith....strong images. Love the John Deere tractor reference!  Cheers!

Comment by Izquierdo on September 9, 2012 at 11:41am

As a South Valley boy myself, who spend his drafted daze (JFK, not LBJ) not in Alemania, but at Fort Bliss, fast by the bridge to Juárez, tequila y Corona, I applaud and toast Bill's poem and Don Juan's adventuras, carnales y carnes. I suppose we just missed meeting at Ernie Pyle Jr. High.Thanks to El Rey, Dona (con o sin ñ?), Guillermo, y Acequia Man.

Comment by Hakim Bellamy on September 9, 2012 at 2:35pm

Nice work, Mr. Nevins. Good storytelling, the repetition of family. "mother dad
hermanos y hermanas vatos y amigos" "ninos ninas grandkids nephews nieces" "brothers sisters son daughters primos y amigos
In laws outlaws and even the odd visiting gabachos" I'm a fan.

Comment by John Roche on September 10, 2012 at 8:27am

Great poem, Bill, and a fitting tribute to a life! Glad to have heard you read it live.

Comment by Dee Cohen on September 13, 2012 at 5:02am

Beautiful tribute. Thanks


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