The Sunday Poem: Richard Vargas... 13 angels rising

No one comments more on news of the day than Albuquerque poet Richard Vargas.  He is always on duty.  And the recent headlines about prostitution have not gone unnoticed.


Vargas recently won the 2011 Hispanic Writers Award at the Taos Summer Writers' Conference.  He also edits and publishes The Mas Tequila Review.


13 angels rising (after Malena Morling’s If There is Another World)



“Starting early in February investigators recovered 13 sets of skeletal remains from a once-remote section of mesa now being developed as a residential subdivision. Four have been identified… They are among a list of 16 women reported missing between 2001 and 2006.”, 3/27/09


“According to APD, Garcia is… one of seven site moderators known as the “Hunt Club.” Moderators are in charge of bringing in new clients and prostitutes…”

The Daily Lobo, 6/27/11


they say good is greater than evil

and if it is then the dead

shall rise and walk again

right out of their Westside graves

past the tracts of generic

cardboard neighborhoods

past the cars cruising Central Ave

driven by men with bloodshot eyes

and Budweiser breath who wave

dollar bills in the air

like honey coated flypaper


and if so inclined the dead

will reinvent their renewed lives

so that closed fists open up

become soft as pillows where

dreams of violence fade away

the way a bruise heals when

kissed by a seraph’s lips


families, babies, and friends rejoice

embrace their return from

the eternal night

the cruel night

especially now as

the sun’s light

shines down and

warms the sidewalk

beneath their feet


especially now as butterfly wings

with a gossamer sheen sprout

from the satin skin stretched

over once-battered

shoulder blades

healed and whole


especially now as they

show us how to fly

and rise above the din


the nature of our sin


not a moment too soon

to come back and save

us from ourselves


inclined to walk among

the demons we all have

within and show us


how like a pebble

dropped in water

calm and still

our inhumanity

ripples outward

touching one

and all




--Richard Vargas




Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email

Views: 88

Comment by Margaret Randall on July 24, 2011 at 8:30am
Richard, first of all congratulations on winning the Taos Summer Writers Conference 2011 Hispanic Writer's Award! Sorry I missed that when we were there. This poem moves me to tears... and action. The west mesa women--murdered, buried anonymously, and then joining the legions of disappeared women everywhere, only coming into public view because developers wanted to get on with their work--have returned to haunt me in the context of the recent Chris Garcia/UNM scandal involving an online list of high class call girls. The gendered nature of society is evident in how much attention is paid the men in this recent scandal, while the women are hardly noticed. The class nature of society is evident in how nameless those west mesa women were for years... and the fact that the word "prostitute" was always linked to them. Your poem brings this ongoing story into immediate perspective, emphasizing the humanity that connects us all. Thank you.
Comment by BARBARA BYERS on July 24, 2011 at 8:33am

Thanks, Richard. Spot on, just like you do. Thanks for being the poet you are. Congratulations on you award in Taos. Thanks for always bringing the real things to the front. Keeps me sane.


Comment by Dee Cohen on July 26, 2011 at 8:19am
Congrats on your award Richard. Well deserved! Thank you for this moving poem. Systematic violence/cover up against women continues.You've spotlighted it in a touching and hopeful way. Dee
Comment by Richard V on July 26, 2011 at 2:11pm
thanks to all who took the time to read and comment. much appreciated.
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on July 29, 2011 at 11:07pm
thank you, richard, always for your political alerts and commentary.  There are indeed real families who belonged to these women, real teens who have written poems about their aunties being buried over there, back then--no crime solved.  and these atrocious academic high paid men like Garcia running a game for profit with desperate women's lives at stake--terribly upside down and ungolden.  And still I have students this term, most all of them, who cannot call themselves feminists out of some weird fear of defending women.  I hope you enjoyed beautiful Taos . . .


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