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

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

West Side Women

West Mesa Women

west mesa women


no killed

killed and left behind

not forgotten by familias

mothers and daughters

come on TV

we love her

we miss her

we wont forget her

we never forgot her

even when TV ignored our cries

the killer ignored her cries

newspaper columnist

a woman

brownest thing on the masthead

writes how TV reporters

went to families

requested responses

to police officials finding

mother/daughter/sister remains

mothers/daughters/sisters have no comment now

cuz when they asked TV

to broadcast fotos and films of

their mothers/daughters/sisters’ faces

TV asked

Where’s the story?

What’s the angle?

TV said

Television is an expensive media…

The Albuquerque market…

we want to lock up cops who say

You didn’t report her missing

Well, not right away

and they’re right

until she appeared on the cover of The Albuquerque Journal

we wouldn’t have known her

if we had passed her on the street

maybe we did pass her on the street

if we’re honest with ourselves

we can admit

we probably passed her on the street


walked by

walked on by

kept on going

cuz we do that

sometimes we just walk by

we don’t know how to help

don’t know what to say

what to do

or we choose not to

do anything

she’s choosing

she chose

she left her parents’ house

her husband’s home

left her baby girl in front of the TV

left her boy at the sitter’s

and she walked

but why did she walk?

why would we leave

our loving mothers

protective fathers

supportive sisters

understanding brothers

strong men

innocent babies?

why would we

go out with people

who don’t respect us

take drugs

sell our bodies?


mom turned her eyes

at the same time uncle put his

on my


dad left long ago

and i want to finally find him


the teachers

kept assigning homework

and didn’t read the notes in the margins

help me

i’m scared

i don’t know what to do


the babies wouldn’t stop crying

they just cried all the time

for everything

even when we asked


for them to stop




they didn’t stop until we

placed our hands on their little mouths

little mouths so close to little noses

maybe they stopped cold

left us with nothing but hot fear

we still couldn’t hear

ourselves think

until we smoked a little

drank a little

just a little

for a little while

maybe we just needed

a time out

that’s when he came

around the corner

with a kind smile

smooth words

cool wheels

slow drive

to the west side

maybe he listened

for one moment

someone listened to me

before he screamed at me

bruised me

broke me

pushed my bones into dirt

drowned my breath

with west side dust

In December, I attended a vigil to remember a young woman who died from a drug overdose hours after being released from police custody. I had never met her. Her girlfriend's mother invited me.

Family, friends, community individuals, and organizations, especially Young Women United, began gathering in the young woman's name to press for changes in policies to benefit others, especially other young women. Some of the changes we have been seeking are: drug treatment on demand, rehabilitation not incarceration, and for the jail to stop releasing people in the middle of the night and not allowing folks to call someone to pick them up before being released downtown.

There was another vigil in January. By February's vigil, a woman was walking her dog on Albuquerque's West Mesa when it found a hip bone. By the time the official search ended in April, 11 sets of women's and one fetus' bones had been found. Seven women have been identified.

Also, there are still at least 13 women considered missing. Some of the women who have been identified from the West Mesa were on a list of local missing women compiled between 2001 and 2006 by the Albuquerque Police Department. There is some feeling that police did not do enough--or do enough early enough--to find the women. Also, family and friends went to mainstream media to publicize their loved one being missing but received little to no help.

A woman who has been working with the families of the murdered and missing women suggested that the community come together this month to celebrate in the name of the women. This past Sunday, the vigil was a picnic.

I will update as...now I hear on the radio about George Sadini (sp?) killing 3 women and wounding more in Pittsburgh. Murder here, there,...I'll stop for now.

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