The Sunday Poem: Mitch Rayes... Postcard from Chiapas

For eight seasons Albuquerque poet Mitch Rayes outfitted jungle trips to remote rivers and ruins in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. He first arrived there in 1979 and for almost two decades spent a large portion of his time in an area of Chiapas inhabited by a small group of indigenous Maya known as the Lacandones. His most recent poems are based on reminiscences of those years.

Born in Detroit, he made his first visit to New Mexico on a family vacation in 1970. Later, after attending Wayne State and Naropa, he returned to live here and alternate his time in Mexico. As the founder of Flaming Tongues and producer of the Albuquerque Poetry Festivals in the late 1990s, his name has long been a familiar one on the Albuquerque poetry scene.


hammock slung in a lacandon hut
a kerosene lamp burns
on the table in the corner

the floor is dirt
the walls are sticks
thatch roof
dark and fragrant
from years of open hearth

black beans
tortilla pats
fresh eggs
fried bananas
lime and mango
ripe from the tree

after sunset I hear Antonio
call out a greeting from the main house

I turn in my hammock
to look out between the sticks of the hut

in the half light
I see Antonio walk out to the trail

Kin Bor has emerged from the forest
a stringer of game birds
tump-lined over his forehead

I see the glow
from their home grown tobacco
catch the aroma

they shake their long hair
and talk
as the night erases them

above their heads
air moves in the dark branches

fireflies sift down
and fix themselves to the sky

Submissions to The Sunday Poem are always welcome. Contact The

Views: 21

Comment by cathyray on May 31, 2009 at 10:44am
Ditch Rider has done it again. This poem is a wonderful way to start a Sunday. I, too, saw out between the sticks.
Comment by cc on June 1, 2009 at 10:32pm
At the end of my Monday, this poem reminded me of cooking fire smells permeating soil and wood. Thank you Mitch! And thanks Ditch Rider for still doing this.
Comment by Margaret Randall on June 13, 2009 at 11:42am
This is one of my favorite parts of the world, and this poem took me back there. Thanks.


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