The Sunday Poem: Jim Fish. . .The Hissing Of The Ether


At one time

Nothing rippled

The stillness

And the silence

Of a clear summer afternoon

In the remote limestone canyons

Of West Texas

Except for the sounds of the landscape itself


The flap of the wings of a passing raven

The rustle of a lizard in dry grass

The buzz of cicadas


And the rare rippling of these sounds

By a modulating wave

The cosmic disturbance

Of an exceptionally large solar flare

Spreading across the landscape

A new ripple

With an insidious nature


Appeared in early 1940s


Under perfect atmospheric conditions

The transmission of Radio Station WGN

Broadcast at 50,000 watts from Chicago

Would bounce off the ionosphere

And briefly flood the canyons

Of West Texas

With its 720 kHz signal


In 1947

Radio Station XERF

With its 250,000-watt transmitter

Sitting in Ciudad Acuña

Across the Rio Grande from Del Rio

Added a continuous 1570 kHz disturbance


The silence

Of the clear summer afternoons

In the remote limestone canyons

Of West Texas



Around the same time

Airplanes started passing regularly overhead


With perfectly good intentions

The Rural Electrification Administration

Started stringing power lines across the landscape

Adding another constant hum


And now

At scattered production sites

Natural gas screams thru orifices


Trucks lumber down asphalt roads

All-terrain vehicles rip

Across the landscape


The omnificent signals

Of global positioning satellites



WiFi hotspots


Cell phones assault the senses


The remote limestone canyons

Of West Texas


For the stillness

And the silence

Of a clear summer afternoon



Jim's poems are verbal photographs of land, sky, sights and sounds, critters that roam the landscapes, and the ever-changing light.


He shares with us the historic village of Placitas, the Sandia Mountains, Ojito Wilderness, Taos Ski Valley, the canyons of the Gallina people northwest of the Jemez Mountains, the coast of Northern California, and the ranch in West Texas where he grew up, halfway between Del Rio and Sonora.


Throughout Songs of the Landscape, his fourth book of poetry, he "dances from one side of his brain to the other, from the observations of an artist to the explanations of the underlying scientific principles."


In addition to writing, Jim Fish sculpts wood and is the winemaker at Anasazi Fields Winery. His longstanding interest in poetry made starting the Duende Poetry Series possible 9 years ago. Jim's energy and the beautiful space he has built for his winery business provide us with a place for voices of poetry to be heard 4 or more times a year.

Larry Goodell

Note: The 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards includes titles from our friends at Beatlick Press and Mercury/HeartLink Press. Congratulations!

Digital alert: here's what can be done to bring original poetry to us. Amazing! The Emily Dickinson Archive comes alive.

Do tell your friends to look for poetry here every Sunday and link to the poem when you can. Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email

Views: 265

Comment by Dee Cohen on September 22, 2013 at 6:56am

Yes, a lovely description of the sights and sounds that disturb the natural environment. But hey, I'm thankful for what we have compared to other areas...Dee

Comment by Margaret Randall on September 22, 2013 at 8:02am

Jim, what an evocative poem. I love the juxtaposition of natural and imposed sounds. As moving as your sculptures. Thank you.

Comment by Izquierdo on September 22, 2013 at 9:53am

I like being taken back through snippets of history, especially focused on the Southwest. Thanks. I wonder if that Acuña station was the one that loudly proclaimed the Second Coming to New Mexicans. i was young, and can't remember the call letters.

Comment by cc on September 22, 2013 at 6:18pm

Jim Fish poems rock.

So glad they are here - Ditch Rider - Thanks.

Jim - thanks for interpreting this change in a lifetime, in the natural world everywhere now.


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