The Sunday Poem: Renny Golden... 2 Poems, Nuevo Mexico & Geronimo

Nothing disappears in this dry Land of Enchantment.  As Renny Golden says in the opening lines of Nuevo Mexico, "The high desert is a dog with no sense of time."  This first poem is a kind of short preface to studying anything about New Mexico's history.  The second poem brings to life the most famous New Mexican of all.


Renny Golden spent nine years as a Dominican nun. She was highly involved with the sanctuary movement in El Salvador during the turbulence there. She has published nine books. Her latest is BLOOD DESERT, a book of poems which takes the reader inside the heads and hearts of witnesses to New Mexico's violent history of the 1800's.  She will be reading from BLOOD DESERT on KUNM's "Spoken Word" next month, March 27th at 8:00.  On March 31st she has a book signing at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 6:00 to 9:00.

Nuevo Mexico

The high desert is a dog with no sense
of time. Its two-legged family might have left
yesterday or five hundred years ago.

The dog wags its tail, the desert blooms.
On the sweeps of pine-scented mountains,
in parched beds, orange mesas,

stippled canals where ducks drift
a mud-brown Rio Grande, the land remembers,
buries its story in stone, sand, and bones.


Words, you Whites, want words.
Nothing, I give you nothing.
Here, stones, the Sierra Madres has

something you can’t use:
the witness of rocks who speak
the language of mountains. We are

this land, stones inside the rain, inside
the mountain which keeps the graves.
Here, Grey Wolf, is another lie, hard

as granite, I give it to you, call it sustenance.
Eat---Why do I give you promise after promise,
rock instead of bread? I want to break your

trust the way Mexicans broke my wife, my mother,
my three babies, their scalps in blood rivers. What
fear can you offer to a dead man? After that

I did not pray…I had no purpose left. I could not
call back my loved ones. I could not bring back
dead Apaches but I could rejoice in …revenge.

So no, I’m not trustworthy. I am wily,
a coyote slipping into shadow. Is it
honor to promise open land and pen us

at San Carlos, that stink hole? See our
lonely ponies, our mountains pouring.
What did you expect…truth? Whose?

Every vow a snakebite; every safe place
a trap. Treachery? Oh, I am a holy trickster,
son of White Painted Woman. I love mescal

which is all I have left of escape, a poison as greedy
as the givers. Mescal… there is something of use.
We are not.

Views: 157

Comment by cathyray on February 20, 2011 at 9:17am

the witness of rocks who speak
the language of mountains.

so powerful, true.

Comment by Margaret Randall on February 20, 2011 at 9:49am
Renny, these are two powerful poems! I was sorry to be sick when you had this book's first launching, and will be on the road for your reading on March 31st. But I will buy the book and savor the poems. Judging from these two, this may be your most powerful book yet. May it have a long and fecund life.
Comment by Dee Cohen on February 21, 2011 at 7:07am
Yes, both poems are wonderful. But the images and metaphors of the first one are so powerful. The desert as a dog will stay with me. Thanks, Dee
Comment by Richard V on February 21, 2011 at 10:33am
great stuff here. looking forward to reading the book. on a side note, Renny will be featured at Alamosa Books, for a National Poetry Month event on Sunday, April 17, 2-3 pm. see the calendar at, or the events section of Duke City Fix.
Comment by Amanda Sutton on February 21, 2011 at 10:22pm
I appreciate that Renny is unearthing the forgotten voices in BLOOD DESERT--the outlaws, the nuns, the ones who fought the colonizers. It's wonderful to learn about New Mexico's rich history through poetry like this.
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on April 27, 2011 at 11:53am
wow--wonderful tribute to truth and history's revolving view points, earth, persistence, cactus blooms, our life   thank you  intense and lasting portrait of Geronimo


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