The Sunday Poem: Dee Cohen... Slouching Toward ABQ

Nothing reflects the inspiration of this weekly column more than this:  an Albuquerque poet writing about our own town.  Here the talented Dee Cohen, with all imaginable energy, muses how the Duke City has changed her.  This poem, and about a hundred more poetry gems, are available in issue #3 of Adobe Walls.

Dee Cohen's work has been published in assorted print and on line journals. Her chapbook Lime Avenue Evening was published by The Laguna Poets group of California.

Slouching Toward ABQ

I used to dream in black & white.
Now I dream in Albuquerque.
Ragged city, lovely city, damaged city.
City of lost cats & abandoned cars.
City of blue against orange,
of murals against sky,
of tile chips floated in mud.
City of last licks, second chances.
Of silk & gauze & chenille & oilcloth.
Epic city. Mythic city.
Stink-eyed city
of rust & grit & gravel & graves.
Loose dogged city.
Of cross-hatched streets, mortar & lime.
Stained city, below a piñata moon,
paper mache mountains & tack ragged skies.
City of stalled clouds, cold winds, & oxygen tanks.
Of bulrushes, sedge, cattails & cottonwoods
and gunny sacks in pick-ups trucks
Sluggish river, muddy river, terra cotta river.
Albuquerque, poor thing:
Fingerless, armless, legless, limbless,
Stranded on a corner,
505 tattooed on its brown belly.
Under the tent of your blessed funkiness,
a horse stretches its neck and whinnies.
There’s no looking back
as I trail a skateboarder who glides
down Central in a Day of the Dead tee shirt.
I used to dream in black & white.
Now I dream in Albuquerque.

--Dee Cohen

Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email

An added note:  This column is published every Sunday morning from the front room of the Flying Star restaurant on Central Ave. in Nob Hill.  This morning my wife MaryAnn is eating an orange.  Margaret Randall is at the next table on her laptop waiting for me to post this morning's column.  Barbara Byers nibbles at her oatmeal while talking to my wife.  If you would like to meet these poets or maybe just eat breakfast, feel free to join us.  Any Sunday, about 7 to 9. --Jon (theditchrider)

Views: 387

Comment by Margaret Randall on January 22, 2012 at 8:20am

I remember hearing you read this poem, Dee. It works in your voice and on the page. It both evokes our unique city, and also reminds me of a young Nicaraguan poet murdered by Somoza's military before his 21st birthday. His name was Leonel Rugama... look for his poetry: it is magical. One of the things Rugama said was that the people of Nicaragua dreamed in black and white, and when liberation came they would all dream in color! "Dreaming in Albuquerque" is a whole new exercise.

And on the subject of Sunday mornings at Flying Star / Nob Hill, I can testify to the fact that poetry is in the air. If I come in and don't find Jon Knudson debating about which poem to put up on his site, I don't feel the week will be right. Jon's wife Mary Ann likes to sleep in, so she usually shows up a half hour or so later. We would welcome other poets and poetry lovers to surrounding tables. Who knows what yet another venue in Albuquerque's vital poetry scene might evolve.

Comment by BARBARA BYERS on January 22, 2012 at 8:33am
Dee, I love this poem. Thanks.
Comment by Jules Nyquist on January 22, 2012 at 8:37am

Congrats, Dee! I remember this poem from Adobe Walls...well worth repeating here. Albuquerque definitely has a hold on me, too. It was good seeing you at the Hispanic Cultural Center for Spanish classes. You are in a more advanced class, but good to know we can converse in our new languages at some future date.

Comment by cathyray on January 22, 2012 at 10:38am

I used dream in black & white.
Now I dream in Albuquerque

fantastic!! I love, love this poem! It captures our city in a way I've never heard before but instantly recognized. great work.

Comment by JeSais on January 22, 2012 at 10:43am

When people ask me how I like Albuquerque I usually say "It's ok, I'm not in love with it, but I'm enjoying my time here."  I say that I don't see myself here forever, but I find it interesting--in a good way, I say that Albuquerque is real...  your poem says that so much better and says so much more.  I think next time someone asks me how I like Albuquerque I'll link them up to this poem. (in fact, I'm gonna post it on Facebook).

Comment by Adelita on January 22, 2012 at 10:44am

I LOVE this!  Thank you!

Comment by Merimee Moffitt on January 22, 2012 at 11:04am

Oh make me smile and laugh--Dee  I love Burque and your dream poem is here, aqui en Alburquerque

A veces he estudiado español, assistiendo muches classes pero tambien, no puedo hablar en la lengua.  Necitamo una maestra para praticar y platicar mas.  

Comment by cc on January 22, 2012 at 1:01pm

I like the way this poem is crafted! Chock full of images, too. Inspiring more, I hope, as there are many interpreters, lovers of this Duke City. Thanks, Dee!

Comment by Dee Cohen on January 22, 2012 at 3:13pm

Thanks for such generous comments.I hoped this would strike a chord with other transplants and natives too. Thank you always to Jon for posting the poem and the thrill of the Sunday poems in general. Best, Dee

Comment by Dee Cohen on January 23, 2012 at 7:51am

Thank you Ben. I agree. This is one unique town. I'm planning on staying....Dee


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