The Sunday Poem: Georgia Santa-Maria... Los Ojos Bar and Grill

Warm weather is here. Everyone is heading for the Jemez Mountains. Now there are only two kinds of New Mexicans: those who have been to the Los Ojos Bar in Jemez Springs, and those who are going. There are a thousand stories about the place. I could tell a couple myself. Anyway, Georgia Santa-Maria casts her eyes around that dark, smokey tavern and gives us a run-down of what it all means.

Georgia Santa-Maria is the author of “The Miami, NM Hippie Mommy Cookbook” and is currently working on a book about her experiences running her great-grandfather’s Abercrombie Store in Anton Chico, New Mexico. She is a UNM graduate and lives in Belen with her husband Arthur, dog Buddy and cat, Pink Floyd.

Los Ojos Bar and Grill

I’m remembering tonight it was you who taught me to love
Places like this--after you burned away my fear.
It was the beer that brought you in. For me, it was always the men.
I feel right at home, with Seurat’s “Grande Jatte” on the juke box, classical
As Marty Robbins sings to the dancing of the football game
Up on the wall, just above the double bear skins.
The quality of light is dim, like the bowl of my father’s pipe.
The waitress, full of Texas, came here in ’68
With a boyfriend who, later, bought a seat on the stock exchange.
She stayed. Toting trays of Dr. Pepper to the tourists in the corner.
She thinks of him every time the Allmans sing “Travelin’ Man”.
Knows all the town’s secrets. The boy at the bar who leaves
His wife at home to cry and beat their kids.
Weapons and plowshares decorate the walls together,
As if to say peace and war can only co-exist.
Winchesters, Sharps, Smith and Wessons
Swords and double-man saws, lanterns and longhorns
A bobcat, a rattlesnake, and above the door to the Ladies Room
The front half of a mountain goat beside a neon cityscape.
Above the bar, best trophy of all, just like the one I have,
Your old hat.
Hank Williams has friends in here.
They know the words to all his songs, to match
The Saturday sanded floor, where so many boots have danced.
Oh, those plaid shirt men in baseball caps, who balance
On the green felt precipice of the pool table, lit red
By Coca-Cola lamps. I learned so much from them.
The Eagles sang “Your Lyin’ Eyes”. It wasn’t always true.
The long haired blonde in titty-pink dances with her boyfriend, slow.
Watching, the grey-beard artist who lives at the end of the bar
Tells how he had a show in Paris once. Now he makes
What money he can with the gift shop across the road,
And supplements by building condos in the spring.
Toulouse Lautrec’s Yvette Guilbert sits in the light
From the window, puffing her cigarette.
She hasn’t changed a bit. But, oh, that cowboy that she’s with!
This valley’s filled with not quite healed calderas.
I remember Gary’s fire lit face, when Marty lived with him
Up at the hot springs. Her parents didn’t understand.
She was fifteen. Sunday morning’s campfire she would cook
Pancakes for seven brawny men. Still, she only slept with him.
All the same, he kept her filled with dope, and lies, and semen.

“Oh, my love, my darling, I’ve hungered for your touch...
Are you still there?”*

Over the doorway, there are nineteen welded horseshoes
To catch the luck of all the drunks who leave.

*Righteous Brothers, Unchained Melody

--Georgia Santa-Maria

Views: 78

Comment by Margaret Randall on April 11, 2010 at 7:52am
This poem not only recreates a place, but through that place an entire era. In this way it stretches beyond the merely poetic to embrace geography, history, culture. Another wonderful gift from The Ditchrider... thank you.
Comment by juniper berri on April 11, 2010 at 10:20am
Margaret- I agree with everything you said and 2nd your sentiments. WOW, this poem is just remarkable. I am touched emotionally and also taken on a lushious journey. I have had many experiences at the Los Ojos, my favorites involve lots of snow and a day of sledding, soaking, and then an incredible burger and bowl of Texas chile. Mmmm.
I've brought people from New York, the midwest and even Persia to Los Ojos. It's not just the food it is an event. It's almost surreal. Great poem! Thank You Ditchrider and Georgia Santa-Maria.
Comment by Michael P. "Martini Mike" D'Arco on April 11, 2010 at 11:06am
Just fantastic! Made we want to revisit for sure.
Comment by Gina M on April 12, 2010 at 11:06am
I love your voice....great lines that I can your voice with ease:
"Hank Williams has friends in here.
They know the words to all his songs, to match"
Comment by Georgia Santa-Maria on April 15, 2010 at 1:12pm
Thank you so much, everybody. Some places are just magic. Where else can you find "Grande Jatte" on the jukebox?
Comment by Patricia on April 15, 2010 at 10:33pm
Hearing you read this at the Blackbird Buvette last week was a treat--visceral, vivid images.


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