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Spring Walk and Story

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In the arroyo behind the dam people have walked, ridden and run their dogs for years.  The city has recently been improving this area, making fixed trails.

P1010120The coursing water does not always agree.  Neither do I.  I want to say, “If you want me to stay on the trail, don’t pave it.”

P1010117There’s a section still only graveled along a fence which keeps people from wandering into a conservation area.  Except when it doesn’t.

P1010118There’s a story here:

Something was built.
Something was broken.

That’s the essence of story, but I have no idea of the particulars.  Make them up for yourself; the possibilities are numerous.

purple mat0119On my recent walk I found the first bit of purple mat “in the wild.”  It is already flourishing in the sheltered space of my back yard, where I have been encouraging it for years.purplemat home0121

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Parley of Instruments: A Tale

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“I’m feeling off, and achy,” complains the watch as his band stretches around the boy’s hand.  “I’ve been reset so often my knob’s worn down.”

“My time is right,” the clock on the stove calls out.

“So is mine,” the clock on the radio mutters.

“B-bong, b-bong,” the windup clock on the wall begins to chime the hour.

“You’re two minutes early,” stove clock declares.

“Close enough.  I don’t run on current like you.”

“At least we agree,” stove clock assures radio clock.

“Of course!  We run on the same power!”

“You’re grumpy this morning, radio clock,” wall clock says.

“Stove clock’s acting like she’s in charge – again.”

The boy looks at his watch, which is running five minutes slow.  “I’ve still got five minutes,” he says to himself.

“You’re reading the wrong timepiece!” the others cry together, but to the boy they are as silent as the lights flashing at the school crossing, where five minutes is enough to mark him tardy.

“He didn’t look at any of us,” stove clock sighs as the door closes.

 

This little story was a side trip in my journey with William Paley’s Natural Theology.  The image of the watch which opens Paley’s argument is so strong that it took me a while to realize that Paley is not really interested in what watches do, that is, tell time.  He is interested in the watch as a mechanism which must have had a designer.  It is a parallel to the eye, ear, and all the other parts of the body which, it is his project to demonstrate, must have been designed.  Paley’s world view is a topic for another time,. as is our contemporary bondage to clocks and the minutes they represent.

If Society Were Child’s Play

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William Paley (see entry on “My Current Obsession”) and William Blake were contemporaries who never met.  They represent opposite views of society, religion and much else.  Picture them as two six inch pieces of wood, a square pillar (Paley, Anglican clergyman) and a round column (Blake, nonconformist and visionary).  I see them lying on a green wall to wall carpet near a wooden box with holes.  The child who plays there has wandered off.

The pillar has been in and out of the box several times.  The column is too wide to fit.

“Square up, man,” the pillar says to the column.  “Then you can join the party.”

The column protests, “I cannot be four-faced, confined to opposites.”

“But see, the holes are square.  This is our proper shape.”

“If all are square, society is too boxed in for me.”

“You’ll end up all alone.”

“I can live with that.  My dreams are different, my desire’s to roll.”

“Don’t be stubborn,” the pillar pleads.  “You’ll find it’s not so bad.”

“The same as not so good,” the column counters.  “I’ve wider visions.”

“It’s just a slice or two . .”

“Or four, I gather.”

“You’re fat!”

“I’m a well-proportioned cylinder, you fence post!  Why blame me if I don’t fit in?  I say the holes are wrong.”

“Your core remains.  You’ll be the same inside.”

“I’d lose my voice, my round cadences.  Better to sing out here than narrow to a sigh.”

“It’s what we’re made for.  You’ll be a part . . .”

“With a splintered heart!  For wholeness, I must keep apart.”

 

 

One New Mexico Poet

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Levi Romero is the New Mexico Centennial Poet.  This means he is making a lot of presentations.  One of them was at NMSU in Las Cruces recently.  He read from his collection, <i>A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works</i>.

A poet who is willing to subtitle a collection “New and Rejected Works” certainly gets my attention.  It turns out this subtitle is also the title for a poem, which is placed as part of a section on lowriding, the passion of the young men Romero grew up with in Northern New Mexico.  Many of the poems describe the world of Romero’s youth, others focus on family and on community that hasn’t disappeared but is at risk.  The second and last poems in the book describe Romero’s visits to his mother in a nursing home; both are about telling stories, listening to stories and passing them on.

Some of the poems are in Spanish, and some mingle Spanish and English.  My bit of Spanish could get many of the pieces, but not the whole poems.  In his presentation Romero explained that he uses the mixed dialect of his northern New Mexico region.

August and fall seem to predominate in these poems, suggesting all that is passing or has passed as Romero moves into his own elder years.  He is well aware of the unreliability of stories also, as indicated in this section from “Most Skin Hits Road”:

our own histories
who we are
where we come from

could be reinvented
in the next sentence uttered
the next clever line spoken
the next interjection of humor and
sincere display of pleasantries
masking over the face of a new persona

and further answers to all possible questions
made more believable
than the reality of our own true selves
our leaking faucets, ragged lawns
oil stained driveways, two nights of dinner dishes . . .

Romero makes the reader welcome in his story-filled, ambiguous and basically cheerful world.  I recommend this book as an introduction both to an unusual subculture and to a writer who accepts and honors the layers of complexity in contemporary life.

Poems describing more of the many cultures and landscapes of New Mexico can be found at http://200newmexicopoems.wordpress.com/