Sunday, July 31, 2011

Richard Vargas, 13 angels rising

Of course I don't think there is or should be any Spanish language requirement for US Hispanic writers: I do think everyone should know another language and can't imagine a life reading poetry in just one language. My personal first choice, settled on long before moving to New Mexico, would be Spanish, also the language in which I discovered poetry. Taking Spanish poetry straight up without intermediaries, no water, no rocks, has been one of the great pleasures of my reading life.

On the other hand, the kinship here to Richard's "13 Angels" would be to that other poet of the city's poems, Baudelaire's "Le cygne" (Andromaque, je pense à vous) and "Les petites vieilles." Best though, for me as reader, is wandering through the connections, from revisiting Tableaux Parisiens to discovering Malena Mörling, Astoria and "If there is another world" (which, in turn. echoes Baudelaire's "La chambre double"), leading me back to Whitman walking the streets of Brooklyn and Lorca, "Poeta en Nueva York." 

This flânerie of reading and link following: encounter a poet, browse poetry pages, expand citylit repertoire and recognize Richard Vargas as a poet of the city. There is never just one poem but interconnected webs of them...
from The Ditch Rider's July 24 Sunday poem in the Duke City Fix

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 gain
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

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