The Sunday Poem: Mitch Rayes' version of "Friendship"

Mitch Rayes is always at work for poets behind the scenes. He's often referred to as the "Godfather of the Albuquerque Poetry Scene" because he produced four poetry festivals in the '90s and created Flaming Tongues and is infinitely supportive of other poets. (Here, in the banner above, and photo by Mark Weber below, he's adjusting sound at the memorial for the recently passed Todd Moore.)

Now Mitch's own work is coming to the forefront with a recent feature and interview in the Malpais Review, a new literary journal edited by Gary Brower. The seven poems in the journal reflect Mitch's work on Chiapas, as did the last poem Mitch had featured on the Sunday Poem. Today, we're going to showcase a different trajectory: Detroit. The title for this manuscript collection is "Carrying Corpses."


I stick out my foot and a hemophiliac falls

I break his leg
and cement our friendship

we are in the third grade
his mom wants to beat up my mom in the parking lot

for the next seven years
the rest of his life
I wheel him around school in his chair
on good days he uses a wolf’s head cane
with a twelve inch stiletto hidden in the shaft

his baby brother
sometimes tries to steal attention by biting him
great green and purple bruises blossom
up and down his arms

he breaks his leg twice more in our time together
once on the just mopped floor of a supermarket
and once on his first and only attempt at riding a bicycle
a birthday gift from his parents

we set fire
to faces torn from the pages of horror movie magazines

we try to commune
with the spirits of the dead

sometimes I let him get me in a headlock

he knows
I won’t try to fight my way out

You'll be able to catch Mitch, along with his daughter Sirena Rayes (next week's feature) at the Poets & Writers Picnic in Mountainair in August.

Submissions to the Sunday Poem always welcome. Send poem, bio, pic to

Views: 75

Comment by cathyray on June 13, 2010 at 9:33am
This is very moving . . . . so vivid.
Comment by bg on June 13, 2010 at 9:47am
A poem is such an ideal opening to Sunday. I am continually amazed at the perfection of words plucked, perfectly ripened and presented just so for our edification and enjoyment. Gods of language.
Comment by Barelas Babe on June 13, 2010 at 10:01am
The first line just grabbed me - such an exquisite capture of that innocent mixture of childhood teasing and play without understanding of the consequences. Captivating and compelling work - thank you Mitch!
Comment by Margaret Randall on June 13, 2010 at 10:05am
What a personal voice describing a profoundly moving relationship that somehow also opens up to embrace us all, anyone who can remember some odd coming together that became larger than itself. Great to see this here this morning, and great too to see the cover of the new Malpais Review, which is also a terrific addition to our local poetry scene.
Comment by lisa gill on June 13, 2010 at 11:19am
THis is one of my alltime favorite poems :)
Comment by Richard Read Oyama on June 23, 2010 at 10:53pm
I love the violent tenderness of the poem, Mitch, the image of "great green and purple bruises blossom,"
and bet most American males, including myself, live with such guilts.


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