Dropouts, Renegades, and Utopians–El Rito. A talk with Ben Klein


Counter Culture – Klein

If you have seen Ben’s book of his uncle Irwin’s photos, or if you were around the area (El Rito, Vallecitos, Dixon . . .) in THE days circa 1970, this might be fun. The book of photos is gorgeous. Maybe I’ll see you there Feb 23, 2018 4pm.

The following day in Santa Fe

A Counterculture Encore: Dropouts, Renegades, and Utopians, “new settlers of Northern New Mexico” presentation by author Benjamin Klein.

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NYTimes Jan. 7, 2018

I had a lengthy conversation and a good cup of coffee with my neighbor Richard Ward, an author recently published in the local journal, Bosque 7, and Richard, having recently spent two years in South America, was fairly hot under the collar about the tsunamis of “he said, she saids” ruining men’s careers and lives. He was outraged about the overkill implicit in women coming out in groups to take an offender down.  hmmmmm.

Well, it was fun to step in and  try to represent a woman’s take on the whole shebang. And we kept backing into the walls of the obvious, bouncing off and coming back into the meat of the matter with some passion.  Of course Al Franken ought not to have stepped down–but then again, it was his choice. One can only speculate as to why he made such a wimpy move. Perhaps there was more to his story than he wanted to admit–who knows.

Or maybe Al is the proverbial baby who got thrown out with the bath. And if it’s a battle or a war of the sexes, then some collateral is to be expected. Women have forever been shorted and silenced (secretly, randomly), and if this is a group scream where numbers matter, then so be it. Let every woman who has been wronged have her say in the court of public opinion. I don’t think flirting and dating and procreating are going to end over this ruckus, but I do think men will watch their behavior (become as a group more introspective) and tend to their own mouths and other body parts.

The outcry won’t set right the inequity or iniquity of the 97% of rapists who have been found quilty but never incarcerated; the loud noise across the nation won’t stop sexual innuendo but it might slow down the bosses who serially and incessantly harass employees. This noise from previously silent women might cause some soul searching that results in improved behavior and less violence against women, maybe. The sheer volume may be the awkward and enthusiastic sum of all the silence which has struggled to out itself over the millennia. What’s intended is neither a witch hunt nor an unmanning of men, but the right to mend the torn fabric of society that has been inadequate in protecting women’s basic rights. Let the voices even out. Let the courts, classrooms, and media publish the rules. “The truth has a voice.” Is that Justicia speaking? Lady Liberty? Yes!!! Continue reading

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Berlin Poem Launch Reading at Jules’ Poetry Playhouse


A recording of our launch at Jules Poetry Playhouse right here in our home town, Albuquerque, in the beautiful forever New Mexico.

You can find my Paypal version of buying a signed copy on the last pages of this site! And I have one free copy of Free Love, Free Fall to the first person who actually can contact me with snail mail to send it to. See it also on my book page.


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Squash n Rehab Soup

If you brought nothing home . . .

my new squash soup recipe


I’m grateful I drove to Farmington from Burque on Wednesday

for family day at the recovery center; left my house at 4:40 AM

enjoyed the cold empty roads, the high mesa hills

pink striations topped with blue as if a striped bowl in Cuba, NM

Misty cold, a few truckers and travelers

and our destination, his GF’s and mine, was to sign in by 9 (mandatory)

for family time, dying to see him detoxed and two months sober.


My jaw dropped as we greeted in the greeting room.

He looked like my young father back when I was a teen and

Daddy didn’t know how to raise me but he tried. I trusted my father’s affection.

Took lightly his misplaced critiques of chubby me and not holding liquor well.

(The family disease being alcohol/addiction.) Most of them gone now,

drinking and smoking into some fertile hell, a verdant underground

from which will spring fruit trees and hyacinths—that pretty stuff.

And so I dined with friends, exhausted from the trip all in one day.


For a good Thanksgiving, see your loved ones and friends.  If all you brought was one dessert or side dish, and all you’ve got at home is squash and apples, try this:

Put 8 cups or so of diced or chopped up raw winter squash (pumpkin, butternut, acorn, etc.)into an enameled pot or pan with about 8 cups of water and two veggie boullion cubes.

Bring to a slow simmer.

Add a couple few diced apples.  I used old yellow ones to keep the autumn color going.

Add half-cup to whole cup of orange juice.

Drop in a tablespoon of butter or olive oil.

Add cinnamon ½ tsp., cumin ½ tsp., ginger 1 tsp., and a sprinkle of turmeric.

Bring to a simmer.

Simmer until squash is very very soft.

Mash the squash in the pot or ladle out the majority into a blender to puree, then return to pot.


Optional: Add a can of coconut milk. It’s delicious without also. If you add the milk, choose the smaller portion of orange juice.

Optional: Serve with a tablespoon of yogurt and good toast.




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from Abercrombie’s stockroom–1950s or so

Abercrombie’s (built circa 1860) in Anton Chico, NM

by Merimée Moffitt            Spring 2011


Wow— an arrow-slotted fortress for Comanche attacks

We walk through plumbing parts

unearth your father’s and grandfathers’ old porch lantern

stacked doors lean, the floor a domestic dump.


Grandmothers stood on stools to level muskets

at natives shooting arrows right there–

massacre, slaughter, death: the entire

town of Anton Chico twice leveled by

Comanche serious about staying.

Can’t say I blame them


The invaders’ history lightly dusted

with cocoa powder earth in almost ruins,

this garage holds old glass like green petrified popsicles

walls 3 feet deep a pastiche of fissures

reminders everywhere of shared blood

and food, lace curtains, oak tables, plums


The village howls witch winds through crazy teeth

spiraling to an eye looking;

we kick around the warehouse,

our mother bones, our womanly feet pulled by

the scent of age and paternal stars.


In the smaller, melting house you say

“Know why the pink walls?

My room as a kid,” and smile to your roots.

Mother and father dancing figurines in fancy clothes

bought you the pretty wrought iron bed with hearts,

divorced and danced the door open for you.


Peaches, pears, and apples, a wedding cake of

rolling land speckled with ochre-dotted

agave blues in mica-glitter slabs;

we scramble all day over black rock tables.

Your silver Nissan our bare-back pony.

The land grant rich with flagstone and free-roaming cattle

red heads also, curious about why we visit their Pecos,

meandering under curved-rock shelves layered like tortillas

deep pools of shade and water good as gold.

We wander the gulch where your great great grandfather

hid a herd of stolen cattle from Texas.


On the porch, old stoves await re-installation.

High ceilings impatient for Bob Wills in the living room.

Stars drip down to cover this million-acre bowl.

We play Scrabble, grill steaks in the kitchen

on the wood stove firebox. Child-like ghosts

serve as gatekeepers to this hard-won land like

little dervishes of wind, playing, just messing around

outside time, teasing us with tiny gusts

as we set the latch to head back to the city.


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El Dia de Los Muertos and More

Honor’s 17th birthday cake by me, Grandma

Well, it’s Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, and the trick or treaters have slowed down, a mom or dad with every single kid or group.

In the fifties no parent ever went out t or t’ing with their kids. If you were too stupid not to get run over there were plenty of other kids in the house to eat your dinner. I’m pretty sure the Irish or Italians in the town I lived in invented trick or treating just to get all the kids outta the house for some peace, time to put another starter in the pot. Can you imagine eleven kids, twelve? My parents were weirdos with only five. No one took babies out to beg for candy or to appear adorable in those days. You could go trick or treating if you were old enough to demand it, at least in my family. My mother put costumes together last minute and gave us each pillow cases. I only remember being made up to look like Aunt Jemima on the syrup bottle which involved making me very fat with a pillow on my belly. It wasn’t fun, with black shoe polish on my face and a pillow under an old raggedy dress my mom dug out of her rag bag. I wasn’t pretty or cute, but I was crazy for the candy.

We might have had six kids instead of five, but my mother had a secret after-lunch abortion which I may have been, at age ten or so, the only one privy to. We’d gone shopping and the two little brothers and one baby sister were in the backseat, one of them asleep. I was honored to be riding shotgun as my sister must’ve been at a friend’s. My mom parked on the street and said, “Now this may take a few minutes, but just make everyone stay in the car.” Nothing new—I was often a car babysitter. When my mom came back, she said something like, “Well, that’s settled. I’m not having that baby,” apparently talking to the steering wheel, “that wasn’t so bad,” she added, giving the wheel a good pat. At that point I was staring at her for some kind of information I could relate to, and she told me the story in brief. “The doctor said ‘Mary, do you want this baby?’ she told me looking at my face very briefly, ‘and I (my mom) answered ‘No’. So he said ‘Hold on; this is going to hurt a little’  and it was all over.” That was that. I didn’t say anything. I’d been slapped too many times for saying a wrong thing, so I often opted for silence.

That doctor’s visit discussion was the entire extent of my sex education. She never mentioned anything having to do with my vagina or hers again. Oops, I amend that. When I was 29 years old, she mentioned some very inappropriate dating she was doing—but we won’t dwell on that. That was the 70s and sex was an open question and all answers were fair. And that same year she had been adamant about me using my rights to have an abortion; that was a tough one, but her counseling encouraged me. If my own mother was going to be so negative about me having a second child, when she judged me an inadequate parent already, I didn’t feel very hopeful. I was barely able to raise my one child on my own. I would wait eleven years before having my second, and insisted that the second child’s father would be a husband. I don’t think either of us regretted our abortions.

Nobody had parents go most anywhere with them that I knew of, to trick or treating or to movies or roller skating or abortions. We didn’t know which women were chosing abortions at the same time we were, legal or otherwise. I didn’t know anyone who died from one, but we knew that women did. My mother’s doctor did a good job—simple and quick. I cried during my third abortion knowing that I’d give up sex rather than have another. And then, the world changed, and there I was riding along in my station wagon while my kids ran up to houses to beg for the oft forbidden candy. My husband did the duty at home.

This year, the trick or treaters are very young, not too many hordes of tweens or teens or old grandmas desperate to get more sweets for their grand-kids. It impresses me every year that the kids are polite. They thank me for giving them candy and wish me a good night. I especially loved the home made Frieda Kahlo. The eyebrows were perfect; she even had the attitude. I loved the halo of roses fanned out high on her head band and her jacket barely revealing her tiny waist. Lovely, as her mama stood proudly in my driveway.

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1977 Arroyo Seco, NM, (at the foot of Taos Ski Valley)

This must have been the winter when it snowed in October and the ground stayed white until May. And I dressed in layers. Under those jeans, some thick long johns, bottom and top, and then the pretty frock, one of the few things I owned not hand made by me, for me. That dress was from a shipment of India Imports clothes my dear friend Miki Long organized every few months. She’s take orders at her house, from her catalogue, and order in bulk. The semi-truck barreling along the highway would pull over, and she’d be there at pre-arranged times to exchange the dough for the bundle of India import clothes for women. She had the same thing going with wholesale foods, health foods, that she’d order up in bulk boxes and bags and we’d divvy up our yogurts and sacks of rice at half the price of going to Santa Fe. All before the coop in Taos took over and became a local health food store. Miki had four kids and didn’t drive in those days. She innovated. Ran her own little business.

And I, in the picture, am in the early stages of my sewing business (Divine Fit Sewing)—the “divine fit” part referenced the deep hysteria I felt about making custom clothes, curtains, upholstery covers, etc., when I really wanted to be doing something more brainy, more engaging. But first, before I returned to college and mainstream society, I sewed for everyone I knew. My jeans patches were a bread and butter industry for me. One handsome guy whose name eludes me now, said if it weren’t for the six layers of thigh patches on his Levis, that chainsaw he dropped would’ve cut his leg off. I charged six bucks an hour to patch pants (2.5 times minimum wage) and wouldn’t touch a pair that hadn’t been properly laundered first.

In the photo, I’m wearing an alpaca sweater from the Free Box in El Prado, warmer than most coats, and I’m caught here in the act of wrapping a long mohair scarf round my neck to top off the coziness. The Sorrels were a thrift store special which I loved to pieces and if it was above 10 degrees, I don’t think I bothered much with hats and gloves. I may have been going out to the woodpile to chop up some wood, our only source of heat in that big old adobe. The vehicle is my old Dodge slant six which thankfully had a block heater so she started right up in the morning. Amos was in school in town some eleven miles down the road. The wood stove was an airtight so the fire would go to embers, but I don’t remember ever being cold. I was busy.

In the spring I went to Alamogordo to get help with my relentless depressions. I think this picture was taken after my first session with Robert. I looked happy. I remember feeling happy, how hopeful I became about having a better life, better than endless torment over the missing Michael. I’d given him up entirely, and in this picture, I am feeling empowered and joyful.


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(Dreaming My Addiction Poems Oct 9, 2017)

Abstractions of Addiction

A is for Addiction

B is for Blame

C is for Compassion

D is Deranged

E is for the Elephants, traipsing through the room

F is for Falling, failing, falling, flailing, fear of

G, for Getting: high, low, money, clean

H is for Higher Power who isn’t someone you know

I is for Ignorance, ignoring, ignored

J is for Jail bait, jail birds, the red yellow orange of Justicia

K is for Kicking over and over, kicking back, down, in

L is for Love, for losing everything and everyone

M is for Money, for me, mine, mother

N is for Never  try them, Baby oh

O is the Poppy flower, the Orient Express

P for Paying, for Papas gone, prison

Q is for Qi, the circulating life force, veins

R is for Relapse, rehab, relapse, sorrow

S is for Serenity, the prayer before the step

T  for Terrible, the disease, the terror

U is for Us mothers, kids, lovers, fathers, friends

V is for Very very hard to let go

W is Waiting and waiting: the phone rings, a door closes

X is for EXtra sad, extra happy, extra life, ex-wives

Yes, Y is for Yes, you are loved by your kids

Z is for Zealots who work to end the silence

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One Half and One Whole Sonnet, a Wedding Poem


One half and one whole sonnet.

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds

Or bends with the remover to remove:

Oh no; it is an ever-fixéd mark,

That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark . . .” (sonnet 116)


Born glad, she suckled, slept and let me rest

The gift of her, calming to our fam’ly.

Preparing us with pen and line, we signed.

In youth her travels set to Germany!

Robert, gazing west, honed skills, learned South Park fast

Simpsons, American, challenged his parents

Daring and smart; he’d win this lass

His tall agenda writ upon the wall.

Their paths crossed twice one night, in dark Berlin

Fate gave a glimpse how opposites attract;

Also true that Same gives bliss. In One

the joy of being themselves bears no lack.


From the second third of life, it’s now said:

Enjoy a long love, unto each other wed!








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I’d guess I’ve garnered and spent

photo by Meg Bridge

I guess I’ve garnered and spent at least 6 minutes of my Andy Warhol-limit of 15 minutes of fame. The “Finalist” surprise came just before the wedding weekend so I missed it. Days passed before I could open my computer. Vows under the tumultuous summer-to-fall teasing storm clouds in an almost sunset! Such a background in the Elena Gallegos amphi-theater made for a tender and beautiful exchanging of vows. I have a new son-in-law! My family has expanded and our German in-laws are as friendly and compatible as I could dream for. If life were a contest, I’d be labeled winner all over the place.

But it’s not, not a contest. It’s a coming together to celebrate and “finalist” status is one of those balls tossed around, or the storms that hit the ground, the bingo on your card. We share those honors. What’s an author without an audience? Without readers? We all have roles to play and live, and so today I celebrate the joy in being alive, still in the game. A feather in my cap or a one up on the scoreboard is a flicker of light, and that light, added to yours, makes the paths visible, the dark less dangerous. Uh oh—give me a little prize and I babble forth like a brook trying to be a river. But what the heck. Light those candles. Dance that dance.



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