Hike to Dripping Springs


The “blogosphere” is a strange world of unlikely connections.  One blogger who found my website is Russel Ray.  I enjoy his photos of San Diego so much that I’ve added him to my blogroll, the links in the right hand column of this page.  You might like his work as well, especially if you have any connection to San Diego.

I’m not as accomplished a photographer, but I’ve been practicing, so here are a few from a hike I took in the mountains last week.  It has been too dry to produce many wildflowers this spring, but there are other things to see.  I hiked up to Dripping Springs in the Organ Mountains, a three mile round trip to several old ruins.  Halfway up are a stunning pair of alligator juniper trees.juniprs

One of the ruins is Nathan Boyd’s sanatorium, built in 1917 for patients with tuberculosis.  That disease brought many “anglos” to New Mexico in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.Boyd's sanatarium

A more substantial ruin is Van Patten’s Mountain Camp, actually a rather nice hotel resort in its prime, built in the 1870’s.  It once had stairs up to a nice entrance.Van Patten front

On the way back down the mountain one can see, though it doesn’t photograph very well, the town of Las Cruces in the Rio Grande River valley.view of Las Cruces

It had been about six years since I made this hike.  The ruins are not much changed in that time.  Two other hikes at Dripping Springs can take you to a cave which once housed a hermit, before Van Patten’s time, or to a waterfall – when there is water in it.  I left those for another day.



Alamogordo, New Mexico, has gotten itself in the news by putting the motto, “In God We Trust” on its city hall.  The mayor has been shown on television saying, “It was affirmed as a national motto by Congress in 2011,” as if that standing was the only reason the city leaders chose to use it.

The atheists are offended, as of course they should be.  The posting of this motto in a public place implies that if you don’t trust in God (some God, any God) you are not one of the “we”―the “we” who are running the town, the “we” who “belong” in it.

Christians should also be offended.  Posting this motto in a City Hall (in spite of its traditional use in American society) cheapens the idea of trust in God.  Those who actually put their trust in God are likely to be found on the fringes: to be poor, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, or to be busy feeding the poor or working for environmental justice.  Or perhaps they are taking a big risk for some hope for themselves or their community.

People who are trusting in God are not trusting in politics, or a bank account.  Most people who succeed in those terms are like the rich young man in the Gospels: it is very hard to let go of dependence on what one has and turn one’s trust to God.  I know my strongest lessons in trust (call it God, or spirit, karma or the universe) have come when other things weren’t working out.  And then, somehow, they did, though often not as I expected.

Poetry for the People


In journals like Poetry there are frequent essays discussing who reads poetry, who should read poetry, why more people don’t, and what the real role of poetry in society and culture is or should be.  It’s a never ending quandary.  People for whom poetry is important bewail its lack of influence in wider spheres.

Now and then, instead of arguing, somebody does something about making poetry more accessible.  Like providing it for free, in small doses.

One such effort is The Rag, put out by Karin Bradberry and Elaine Schwartz and made available free at bookshores and other sites in Albuquerque.  The Rag is a monthly publication on one 8 ½ by 14 inch page, folded in quarters.  One panel has all the background and contact info.  The other seven-eighths of the sheet are crammed full of poetry.  There are thirteen poems in the March issue, one of which is mine:


We have two hands,
dexterous and sinister.

Not ambidextrous, are we
meant to be ambivalent?

Turning this way, that,
picking up and letting go,

the two-fisted body
divides the mind

which waffles, wavers
though the tug

between x and y
is never equivalent.

There is great variety in the poems selected.  I congratulate the editors: March 2013 is their 177th issue.  For any poetry journal, that’s a good long run.  May it continue and thrive.

Subscriptions, for those who live beyond reach of stores where it is offered for free, are $15.00 per year, available from Karin Bradberry, 11322 Campo del Sol NE, Albuquerque, NM 87123.  Use the same address for submissions of 3-5 poems.

Illusions, or It’s All In How You Look at It


I had a professor in a religious studies class on Zen Buddhism who was fond of saying, “It’s all in how you look at it.”  Here are two examples of looking.

In the back yard

In the back yard

The early sun shining through the bushes makes splotches on the wall which look, from the window by my writing desk, like a bouquet.  A pleasant illusion.  It reminds me how much of art, including poetry, is a matter of illusions.  Illusions which convey truth, we want to be believe.  This is what we artists strive for.

Bar Canyon View

Bar Canyon View

One of the hikes in my area leads to the ruin of an abandoned house.  Here I’m looking out from the house, and thinking about frames.  Did the people who lived in this house see what I see?  The way we frame a subject affects what we see.

Two pictures from southern New Mexico and a few thoughts for your enjoyment.

A Different Kind of Christmas Poem


George Washington Crossing the Delaware

by Wayne Crawford

I have never crossed the Delaware River nor stood in a row-boat. while crossing any other river. If I were crossing a river in a rowboat, I would never stand with one foot propped on the edge of the boat, especially an overcrowded boat. I imag- ine that if I were to cross a river in a boat, I might cross the Delaware River, and the waves of the river would rise and chop against my boat like those in this painting of “George Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze. In this painting, General Washington is crossing the Delaware on Christmas day. It is a windy, overcast day. Clumps of ice, the height of many of the people in the overcrowded boat, float on the surface of the river. A couple of men must use their oars to push these islands of ice out of the way so that the boat can move forward, so that the Colonists can surprise the English and Hessians and win the Battle of Trenton. It is Wednesday, almost 69 degrees where I live in New Mexico. On Wednesdays, I don’t cross rivers, not even the Rio Grande, which is a mile away and mostly dry this time of year. It’s the Christmas season here too. I’ve been looking in an art book, viewing all these paintings with water in them-slots of seaside scenes, picnics along the river, lovers caught in a rain shower, couples silhouetted against the ocean or dangling their legs in a pond. Today, I crossed the Delaware River. I could drown on a Wednesday afternoon and never leave my study.

Wayne Crawford was a poet and promoter of poetry in Las Cruces for many years until his death in 2011.  He worked to bring young poets and older poets together and was encouraging to all.  I feel that I made significant advances in my work due to the confidence I gained from his enthusiasm and support.

This prose poem, “George Washington Crossing the Delaware,” is from Wayne’s last book, Sugar Trail, published by Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Press in 2007.  It is available on amazon.com

A Special Place in New Mexico: Bosque del Apache


This past weekend I made a trip up to the Bosque del Apache to see the cranes.  The Bosque is a national wildlife refuge established twenty-five years ago to provide winter forage for migrating sandhill cranes and snow geese.  The refuge is only about 120 miles north of where I live, not a long distance by New Mexico standards, especially on the Interstate, but I had never been there during the winter season.  There were a fair number of cars taking the loop road and stopping to see the ponds and fields, but I am sure I avoided much larger crowds who will come for the Festival of the Cranes next weekend.

Geese on the pond

The Bosque del Apache takes its name from its use by Apaches during the Spanish era as a camping ground.  Now the area is turned over to the birds.  Fields are planted and ponds are maintained to provide the habitat needed.  (I think this is a great use of my tax money.  When the refuge was first created, the sandhill cranes were in serious decline.  Now there are plenty of them.)

Cranes in the field

I missed the move of the geese from the pond to their roosting areas.  The pond had hundreds of geese in it when I drove into the area.  Cars were lining up along the pond to see the “show.” When I completed the loop road the geese had flown, leaving the water to a few brown ducks.  I had come to see the cranes and I did.   They were moving in small groups from field to field, feasting on the only young green plants for miles around.

Cottonwood by the trailhead

I had intended to hike and stay until dusk to see the cranes fly to their roosting places, but it was cold and windy.  I decided to start for home before dark.  I had been richly rewarded for my time and travel by this first view of the cranes and the unexpected sight of so many geese.

The Map of Longing: Poem and Chapbook


How shall I properly introduce my chapbook The Map of Longing now that it has snuck into my blog entries through a poem called to mind be recent experience?  It is my second chapbook with Finishing Line Press, published in 2009.  It is a collection of poems about loss and longing within the ordinary phases of life.  I had the fun of working with a friend who is a photographer to choose the cover picture, which shows a road leading to some unknown place through overhanging trees.  The fact that it is a scene from my home state, California, was an incidental plus.


My mother, Emily, in her prime

Many of the poems in this collection relate to my mother, including some about the last months of her lifeand clearing outher house.  Others refer to my own move from Pennsylvania to New Mexico, which happened the same year as my mother’s death.  Is it any wonder the two themes are intertwined?

There are several poems, however, which attempt to capture the feeling of being lost, disoriented, out of touch, as a general human condition, not connected to any specific circumstances.  One of these is the title poem, which expresses the mood of distraction and disorientation by the very number of its metaphoric images.

The Map of Longing

The express train
knows where it’s headed.

I zigzag,
a squirrel before cool weather
signals gathering,

no pattern tidy
as trimming for a skirt,

no purpose,
like switchbacks
up a mountain.

My turns random as leafing
through a dictionary,

I skid like a getaway car
within a movie frame,
constricted by the tracks of time,

direction inescapable
as A to Z.

The Map of Longing is available through Amazon.  You can get a signed copy from me via ERYBooks.

Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico

1 Comment

Cliffs at Ghost Ranch

Ghost Ranch is a feast for the eyes, a wonderful place for a photography or painting class.  I was there to write.  All week, I tried to find words to describe the turning cottonwoods, yellow, gold, against the evergreens of pine and juniper.  I failed.  But I came away with many words on other subjects: new material to work with.  More on the people, the place and the class in a future post.

Cottonwoods at Ghost Ranch

Viva New Mexico


This desert globemallow is a southwestern native plant growing in my yard.  This one grew from a seed dropped by a plant I dug out of the sand in the arroyo near our house and transplanted several years ago.  Transplanting from the desert is tricky because the plants very quickly send their roots down deep for water.  If you cut the root the plant most likely won’t survive. Desert globemallow is a short-lived perennial, so I was pleased when two new plants arose to replace the old one.

I am setting up this post to go public while I am at a writing workshop at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.  That’s Georgia O’Keeffe country.  I hope to see, and photograph, some beautiful rocks, and perhaps some New Mexico native plants that don’t grow in the desert.

To experience more of New Mexico, click on 200 New Mexico Poems in the side bar.  This site has poems relating to many areas, landscapes and cultures of new Mexico.  New poems are being posted almost every day, growing toward the promised 200 poems.  It’s worthy of frequent visits.

Happy Autumn!


Autumn’s just beginning, but I’m thinking of the tree outside my window at my old house: a small red-leaved maple.  Beside it in the front yard was a small green-leaf maple, so in fall we had a two-toned orange and red carpet across the lawn.

Autumn is my favorite season, though I don’t dislike any of them.  It’s the time when my energy rises and all things seem possible.  “Maybe this is the year I reach my full potential,” my heart sings, even as my head labors to track all the events filling the calendar.  So much of our activity rises and falls with the school schedule, though no one in the household has been in school for many a year.  This is the pattern of society, and I think the weather has more to do with it than we may want to believe.Now, instead of the decades-old maple tree, probably planted when the house was built, I look out my window at a small mesquite tree, just six years old, which I planted myself.  It too will turn color later in the season, though its color will be a rather uninspired yellow.  It and I have settled in together.  It is now growing at a steady pace, and so can I.

On the day I began drafting this post, a roadrunner appeared in our back yard.  This pleased me greatly, because I want our yard, small though it is, to be a wildlife haven.  How he came in I have no idea, but he was finding good things to eat.  He wouldn’t pose for the camera, but here he is enjoying the shade of the small mesquite tree.


Older Entries Newer Entries