Black Mesa Poems

Black Mesa Poems

Black Mesa Poems

Black Mesa Poems

Synopsis

Black Mesa Poems is rooted in the American Southwest, the setting of Jimmy Santiago Baca's highly acclaimed long narrative poem, Martin & Meditations on the South Valley (New Directions, 1987). "Baca's evocation of this landscape," as City Paper noted, "its aridity and fertility, is nothing short of brilliant." The individual poems of Black Mesa are embedded both in the family and in the community life of the barrio, detailing births and deaths, neighbors and seasons, injustices and victories. Loosely interconnected, the poems trace a visionary biography of place.

Excerpt

Odds
were astronomical,
like the field goal
Bernie kicked at Harrison Junior school,
two seconds to go, and he
booted it from the 45—
wobbling end over end, over
and through the uprights.
We won.
Others came to ask about this
leaf-cushioned house,
neighbors and newlyweds,
always denied, ‘til we stopped,
asked a man walking down a dirt road,
“Who owns that house?”
“Ms. Thompson.”
“Is it for sale?”
“Oh, forget it. Everyone has offered
to buy it, offering much more
than it’s worth. Myself ten years now,
but she won’t sell. Just won’t sell.”

Stooping over, rubber-gloved, tattered
sunbonnet, hoeing, lean, fully
clothed in August afternoon
against wasp bites, she rose,
lit a cigarette, leaned on her hoe.
“I own that house,” her voice
a long guttural stretch of barbwire
protecting what’s hers,
“…leave your number and we’ll see.”

We never expected her to call,
drove off in my battered, fender-clanking . . .

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