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18 April 2013

Things in Light Poetry Series 2013: Luis Peña

Samantha Anne Carrillo

The twelfth installment of TiL's 2013 Poetry Series features the work of Luis Peña and proffers an A/V treat: fotografía 505.

How Many Names Do You Have For Water?

Water is memory alive
two hydrogens and one oxygen
three distinct states on Earth
a holy trinity of solid, liquid and gas
the basis for all life on the planet

The memory in water is
coded deep as connections to
zero, the very beginning
when cloud people danced
across coral colored skies
and thunder was the drum
and the drum our hearts
and we celebrated many names for rain

these memories are
proportional to water in living flesh
and bears witness to every moment
so watch it flow by like
sinew and tendon across bone
liquid silver and turquoise intention

My memories are made of
arsenic, iron and soda pools
spring runoff and melting ice
moss rocks and golondrina trills
water balloon fights and the
way the frogs sing after a good rain

I fell into the acequia as a child
and felt the downward pull
gently swallowing panic for air
then the unsound of underwater silence
somewhere the memory of birth
and the sting of every La Llorona threat

As an adult the memories are
full with strength and respect
the birth of our three children
the power of the ocean waves, atl
headwater prophecies, agua
playful water serpent, kha'poo

in every moment there is water
Something worth fighting for
Something worth dying for

in every moment worth fighting for
in every moment worth dying for
there is water


what is a desert consciouness?
how does it manifest?
as a perfect square or maybe 
a cross shaped monolith?
plotted out as cardinal points
or maybe some sort of plant
hard and bitter, skeptical
like yuccas combed clean of flesh
stripped and ground down
bound by saltine dreams and humility
or maybe a conciousness 
like melted wax, pieces of time
that burn away slowly and
are hot to the touch, perfumed
a vehicle for intention and superstition
a south facing wall in the winter
or a cool shadow in the summer
a goathead on the foot
dry bones in the backyard
gratitude encarnate as rainfall


You ever notices how God's will
looks suspiciously like a Man's political agenda
and how, when you unravel all the doublespeak and
false ideology, you find a scared person 
who fears change too

And have you ever hit a stoplight, around Christmas
and come face to face with a homeless soul
and for one second you exchange places
and all of a sudden, that's you holding a sign too
in the freezing cold

Have you ever watched them drop bombs
on the evening news, on villages in far away places
whose names you cannot pronounce, and see pain
on the faces of people whose name you cannot pronounce 
and thought, that's me they're bombing

Or have you ever attended a burial
only to find yourself looking up
from the bottom of the hole
skywise, to see yourself cry
for the loss of such a great friend

I've often sat listening to music that
pokes at the sore spots and wails
as it speaks to heartache and loss
and have realized, hey man...
that's me they're singing about

necessary for growth
but damn
it hurts like hell

creation story

/// i have been created
/// in divine light
/// and in the anger
/// of creation reverse

.// obsidian winged
.// butterflies that
.// dwell in colony
.// wind drifted

../ i have been created
../ in the mischief
../ rabbit tricksters
../ on smoking altars

... golondrina whistles
... swallowing silence
... like watery sound of
... turquoise and silver

../ i have been created
../ in liquid feather
../ reptilian parietal eye
../ a social construct

.// other siders
.// lucid dreamers
.// whispers of ghost
.// dancers and fiber optic

/// i have been created
/// in the space between
/// irrational numbers
/// and rational love

Perfect White Torpedo
He drinks from the chipped porcelain coffee cup, which reminds him that life can be cold & bitter at times. Back in the living room he rolls another cigarette, gazing at the snapshots and fractures. Fat children with exaggerated smiles and stone faced testaments to military service line the walls one square at a time. His fingers fumble back to pack the tobacco in the small white oja, to roll a perfect white torpedo. Top brand of course, zigzags are for the marijuanos.

The match strikes

His stare stretches on for 100 miles after the first drag, gazing into purgatory. The silence is witness to the gathering of angels who sit next to his fogon, patiently waiting to impart wisdom while the clock ticks on in impatience. In his head he hears radios and interference, bomb whistles and explosions, screaming and directives. The smoke twists about his face in an effort to refocus his attention, in the way that children with important ideas sometimes do.

Home has never been the same, even though that statue of the Guadalupana has not moved from its place in the trastero. She stands there, arms outstretched among the collection of crosses and tea cups. Her heartbeat echoes off the canyon walls that surround this little casita, because she still loves him. But instead, he chops wood to pass the time and avoids the dogfights at the bar. It doesn't matter much, the faces change but the roles remain the same. Just ask the three legged dog. 

There are no jobs and he won't accept handouts. Fortunately for him that beans, potatoes and chile never get boring

Beans, chile and potatoes
Beans and potatoes
Chile and beans
Potatoes and beans
Chile and potatoes
Potatoes, chile and beans

Just enough calories to keep the Jeep on the road. In the night, he pleads with his sergeant  to join the rest of his ghost platoon. And the son of a bitch kids call him crazy and tease him when he's not looking. So he conjures the big yellow schoolbus to take them away and it passes swiftly against the kitchen window. The brakes and the grinding gears give him a sense of order and the way the sounds fade off into the distance is predictable. Not it same way the ocean does, or the way he can still speak Korean through cracked lips.

His daughters don't understand, but every year they cook him a big turkey on Veteran's Day. And in that moment, it's all trumpets and streamers and sparklers. His shoes shine and you can bounce a quarter off his bed. He laughs and leads his grandson by a calloused finger and tells him,"El diablo sabe más por viejo que por diablo." The little boy smiles back in confusion.


He problem solves
Inside equalibrium
Gifiting elders with
Fresh blanquillos

Super secret
Liquid purple
Split & stacked

Hermano Raton
Sings softly to your
Coffee pots and
Spring runoff

And right about now.

Cloud people are
Irritated by cable TV
And the pop of cheap shoes
On linoleum floors

Somewhere. Dream deep.

Deep as mica mines
Deep as camotes
Somewhere. Clan animals
are chasing car tires

And here you are
With me, watching
Thoughts go by like
Stock tickers

Even the second hand wastes our time...


When he's not digging through 1's and 0's, Luis Peña has been known to kick it with poets and in gardens. He hopes to someday become a seed saver and a hollow bone for Creator. His thoughts tend to drift towards cloud formations, subwoofers and the current state of water in the Nórte. You can find him in Santa Clara Pueblo, NM or at luispena505@yahoo.com

Samantha Anne Carrillo / a fifth-wave feminist from the fourth estate | a burqueña | a ladyboss | a writer + editor

I am a fifth-wave feminist and a reluctant member⸺hey, Groucho knew whereof he quipped⸺of both the fourth estate and the gig economy. I am an Albuquerque-based freelance writer, editor and social media marketing and branding+PR consultant. I remain an observant ’90s riot grrrl and a devout practitioner of halfhearted yoga posturing and zen and the art of the sentence diagram.


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