reading and writing the poetry and stories of our people and places

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I lost my voice.

I was in Taos for a week for the Summer Writers' Conference and all was fine. I spent most days alone in my room trying to write. I really did write some. I edited old pieces and typed up new pieces. I thought about reading my "I Do Not Speak For the Voiceless" poem when I was scheduled to read on Tuesday at lunch. I started forming ideas about next steps with different poems and stories.

Tuesday afternoon (or, "Tue-oo-oo-oos-day Af-f-f-f-ternoo-oo-oo-oon" like the Moody Blues sing), my workshop instructor took us to the plaza. She told us that this is where they--Spaniards--hung four Pueblo men for their part in the Pueblo Revolt. She pointed out the larger than life statue of Padre Martinez. She gave us a writing assignment and we scattered. I found a bench, sat down, and wrote.

3:12 pm at Taos Plaza (I always start my journal entries with the time and place if it is not home.)

Line: "Something happened here..."

This is where some of the Pueblo revolters were hanged. In the plaza. P-l-a-z-a. Spanish word. What can I say that has not been said?...

There's a statue of Padre Martinez here too. I just read his plaque. I didn't know he supported New Mexico being annexed by the U.S. His name headed the petition saying so.

Behind his statue are "Taos Summer of Love" banners attached to lamp posts.

(This woman came and sat down on the bench with me. She asked, Are you a part of a writing group? I said yes. She said, Oh, I was wondering why people were writing. Then her cell phone rang. She answered. Nada. Nother call. She answered and talked. Then she called someone. Finally, she got up and walked away.)

4 men were hung here
12 women were killed here

This line, "Something happened here," reminds me of R.

I feel short of breath.

After that woman, one of the two maintenance workers I noticed when I first arrived talks to me. This is what I later wrote.


my white teacher brings

our mostly white class

to taos plaza

i see the two brown maintenance men

the two white maintenance trucks

taos 1934

painted on cab doors

summer of love anniversary

has brought mostly white

love children of all ages

in their rainbow tie dyes

but these raza

they water flowers

and pull weeds

bend over

in the unshaded parts

of the plaza

in this 7,000 foot high

global warming heat

i can’t help but watch mi gente

while i stare at padre martínez

remember los pueblos for their revolution

write una poema

de mi barrio

mil millas de aquí

the one closer to me asks,

are you with a class?

yes. are you from here?

yes, my family’s been here since…are you Spanish?


(i quickly add)


When I tell Gina, I say, I knew he meant raza. We laugh at me and my brown Spanish ass. Right at the point of my life when I'm getting in touch with my Afro Mex roots, I answer yes to being Spanish. Twenty-five years ago I went to that village in Spain smaller than Taos. Arellano. A plane, a train, a bus, and a cab ride away. And 500 years. And I still feel every inch and second of the distance.

The conference was good. I've been writing about my homeland, San Francisco's Mission District, for years, but I felt I needed something...extra...a kick in the pants...so I signed up for a workshop focused on place. The workshop instructor was better than I expected. I like how she respected her adopted land and the people there and some of their history. She sounded more like a resident-owner than a possessor.

When I was set to leave eight days later, my throat felt sore. Yesterday, I got an email that a woman in Santa Fe might interview me on the radio. She asked if Tuesday or Wednesday was better. I said Tuesday--the sooner the better. I drank tea and sucked on lozenges and zinc tablets. This morning, I wasn't 100%, but I thought, I can do this. Walking to the front door, my cell phone vibrated off the table. I picked it up. It was her. She told me that she had other guests if I wasn't feeling well. I took the out.

Now, I've started this. Why? So many reasons. For today, just because I want to have a conversation without my throat hurting. Also, I hope that this thing will serve as an electronic journal, help me with my writing, let me try ideas out, keep in touch with folks, and, mostly, connect with others about people and places.

Please share your thoughts, comments, or suggestions about anything I've written or your own places or people. Let's see where this goes. Let's see where we go. I'm more scratchy than voiceless. Y tu?

Time to put more hot water for tea on.

(This foto was taken at Arroyo Seco near Taos.)

1 comment:

  1. Just read some of your blogs. Good Stuff, keep writing. M Salazar


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