“High Desert New Mexico” by Lisa Mase

Today, Lise and special guest David Walker talk about three poems, “High Desert New Mexico,” “She Is Everywhere,” and “Jetlag,” submitted to The Golden Walkman

High Desert New Mexico

The White Place claims its same
splendor, chalk and rocks rising sky high.
Cathedral pillars finger down the red canyon
where ancient water cannot return.

Thin rounded peaks reach
to scribble tight scrawl along the morning.
Limestone valley wakes, desperate
to rinse cracked throat and sore foot soles. 

Sun licks dry each leafless cottonwood
while wide ribbed clouds ignore
moist union, drape shade blankets
thin on day’s edge. 

Chaste desert wishes for water,
its smooth, empty pools parched
by sun’s false shimmer.

Drawing the day over thirsty
saguaro limbs, scrambling between
heat-stolen moments until 
silted ledges crumble beneath,

afternoon steals any hope
for escape as sweat marks
each stop on the climbing trail.

Sangre De Cristo range carves
blue lines across the horizon, longing
for cool moon slow on burnt skin.

During sunset journey across the mesa
a low voice echoes its mosque tone
and night’s light breeze whistles
through an empty valley.

She Is Everywhere

Cottonwood shadows draw long
against adobe walls
as sunset lets cold night come
and Earth Mother whispers
wisps of piñon smoke
to cleanse this wild town of its sins —

even though no one can forget
how the Spanish scorched
Pueblo land in the name of a Lord
who does not redeem
los Indios, indigenous ones.

Conquistadors tried to bury
any memory of that massacre,
turned it into fiestas,
selling embossed silver crosses
and stolen turquoise in markets
tailored to Texans —

but no one can forget 
how New Mexico drought
took acequias from its children,
bean fields dry and bowls empty.

At dawn, Earth Mother dresses
in chocolate and clay, 
decorates herself with the ashes
of those sins, ready.

Scent of morning fires rises 
on the wind so she can pray,
shaking dried corn stalks,
asking, “what you would do if 
you did not know your name?”


A biting wind tugs at the sails
of morning. I squeeze my eyes shut
as if they could keep out 
the sunrise.

How could it be
that an almost sleepless night
has already hooked me
into tomorrow, floundering
for a single dream whose whisper
ebbs on the shores of my mind?

Sweating, I flash the lights on
at midnight to see myself alone
without the craggy limestone peaks
and golden larch branches
of the land that raised me italiana,

buttoning into my ironed uniform,
patient for timeless days spent 
making marmellata with Nonna Dina
during breaks from Catholic school.

Flown across oceans just yesterday,
my body is still there,
soaking in the rosemary sun.

Sun rises but I wish it were night,
standing on dream shores
where longing twists
peaks and branches into memories
floating on waning light.