The Sunday Poem: E.A. (Tony) Mares and Larry Goodell... two poems, Rio Grande & A La Local

The Duende Poetry Series of Placitas, now in its eighth year, will sponsor the fourth (and last) reading of 2012, today at 3pm at the Anasazi Fields Winery in the old village of Placitas. The featured poets will be Duende director Larry Goodell and one of New Mexico's most well known poets, E.A. "Tony" Mares of Albuquerque.  Also reading will be Duende directors Jim Fish and Gary Brower.  If you have never been to the Duende series, or even to Placitas, the occasion of this historic reading just might be the time to go!

Tony Mares, who was born in Old Town, is a Professor Emeritus of the University of New Mexico. In addition to being a poet and teacher, he is also a playwright, journalist, translator, historian and fiction writer. He was part of the Chicano Literature Renaissance, which was centered on Embudo in the 1960's and 70's.

Duende director Larry Goodell (originally from Roswell) has lived in Placitas for more than 50 years and is another of the state's legendary poets. His poetry is known for political commentary, humor, satire, performances with mythic accoutrements at times, nature and gardening imagery and themes, and his love of New Mexico.

Rio Grande

el rio grande
three words in Spanish or English
become the mud red water

the thunderheads with clouds
rain like a wide-skirted
walking woman or
narrow like a thin man

Navajos call this the Mexicans’ river and
female river while I prefer the rio bravo
the fearless river south of El Paso

it is the river of potsherds of dreams
a crying woman drowns her children
and looks for them in the mother ditch

her brambled arms grasp the shimmering air
it is the river near the Central Avenue Bridge
where I never find my daughter

blood red water flows over me
watermelon sun of dawn and twilight
rises and sets on the Albuquerque bosque

heat bakes the riverbed
cracks it like weathered shoe leather
the wind sweeps my ashes
across a crow’s blank gaze.

--E.A. Mares
from With the Eyes of a Raptor (2004)

A La Local

Something is new in the corn dance of the heart
the Santo Domingo, San Felipe ceremonies that a white guy remembers
pounding plaza, elders, newbies, off beat dancers all on beat
the words to the four corners of the local universe
        only imagined from books to me
as I sit down on an anthill and they laugh at me only
less informed, as a koshari, a funny priest, at least
I don’t dump urine on your head, but I sit back here
reminded how penetrating those Zuni nights of ceremony of the Long Horn Clan
those Cochiti colors in running flags with banners
and an Aunt Jemima Indian in the elder chorus
                        I’ll never understand.
And an Apache devil-dance toward the fire with zigzag head shadows
                                            down at Mescalero
as I realize how puny my transplanted fate of beliefs,
a religion I can’t believe in any way that I know in the parade of unknowns –
true faith must come up from the ground you live on.

--larry goodell / placitas, new mexico

Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email

Views: 213

Comment by Margaret Randall on October 28, 2012 at 8:17am

I'm really looking forward to this reading by two tough old New Mexico poets... tough and wonderful and always surprising. These two poems give us a good taste of what I'm sure we'll hear this afternoon in the inviting ambiance of the Winery in beautiful Placitas. Thanks, Ditchrider, for this preview!

Comment by Merimee Moffitt on October 28, 2012 at 9:48am

Tony, bravo as per usual--the beauty and the sorrow captured for our contemplation--gracías

Larry, yes--Aunt Jemima was a symbol of plenty and well-being.  Thank you for throwing her in your corn dance poem--yes, and our whiteness.  bright memories.  thank you

Comment by Dee Cohen on October 28, 2012 at 3:08pm

Thanks for these fine poems from two of New Mexico's treasures. Dee

Comment by Margaret Randall on October 29, 2012 at 8:50am

And the reading didn't disappoint!

Comment by Merimee Moffitt on November 3, 2012 at 1:01pm

Hi Aaron, "our whiteness" is an off-hand reference, to Larry and to me maybe, about Aunt Jemima, an icon of wonderful syrup bottles filled with maternal comfort.  Color, like in blankets, everywhere in life, and in a group of animals is simply a reality of vision.  Jemima has been referred to as a racist icon, but I defend her from such negativities.  I'm not sure if that addresses your question.  We should take it up elsewhere anyway if there is more to say about my comment.  I've been to Indian dances, just a few, and they are of different flavors depending on place and circumstance..  Very cultural.

Comment by larry goodell on November 20, 2012 at 4:54pm

thanks for remarks . . . what a privilege to do my poems aloud on the same platform with Tony Mares, an old friend . . . I've always loved his humor, the depth of his historical knowledge, and his honest eye on what's going on in our rather famous locale . . . poetry lives, or should, in everyone's heart.


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