Begin summer
	     Darkness revealed
		By harshness of light
	Surprised by fright of old friend death
	Lust for old enemy
		The longing for the last breath

            Dear God relieve me of consciousness

            And now fall double ought six
            Hope tempered by hopelessness
            Hopelessness tender with
                      The possibility of hope

             As my soul move towards Vietnam

	Soon I will be with the beggars
		On the streets of Hanoi	   				

	mercy and mercilessness
	a single language
	tranquil heart of mandala
	          multiple sclerosis	

	mercy and mercilessness
	a single language
	tranquil heart of mandala
	          multiple sclerosis	
The Last Remaining Cup:
After the Earthquake

Sleepless in the forest
the night after the earth trembled
I stare up at the stars
And think, ³How merciful their indifference
Now when all our little houses
have collapsed²

All over my altar the smell of spirit wine,
the sacramental mead
labeled with Chagall¹s blue beast,
benevolent and mad,
bearing flowers for the groom and bride

After the earthquake
I give the last remaining cup
To our long embittered neighbors
In the ruins of their home

While I sweep up a broken mirror,
stand in line at the Salvation Army,
pick a purple wildflower
for my reconstructed altar,
this rough beast
returns again and again
insistent, repulsive
and unbearably kind

Having passed from some dark place
through a slit in the earth
may I make a home
for the one who has destroyed
my home


Blessed are they that Dare Love

(FOR Anne C. Smith (1932 - ))

Blessed are they that dare love
across generations
for they know the sweetness of life
in the shadow of death

Beloved born before birth
to this sudden meeting
time no vise but vast presence
the dusty desert sky
life itself
brief as breath

Blessed are they that dare love
within the echo of time
for the intimacy of timelessness
rests in their bones till parting
then beyond,

Blessed are they that dare love

Breaking Bread Together

Gather now the seeds
of the coming season
when we’ll let God run
through our fingers
down to the dark earth.

He that falls to her who folds the furrow
will awaken to the sound of the scythe

God the grain, yes,
but also God the scythe
God the stone that grinds the grain
and the leaven in the bread
and God the fire within the stone
and the thickening of the crust.

God the thumbs that break the bread of God
and the tongue that hungers for it
And God, at last, the last song sung
that makes complete the love and grief
of the fallen God

To the Sister of Solitude
(for Claire)

A woman, alone
Hail Mary
glides free
full of grace
in water blue or cloudless space
blessed art thou
lamb or dove
among women and blessed
pomegranate, pear, capulin, grape
is the fruit
peach, manzana, wild raspberry,
of thy womb
Jesus enfold soon your daughter
Mother of God
prays for us sinners now
and at the hour of our death
World at the Root
	for Mother
Michael: You and I burying Paul—your son, my brother—in the cold mud at the end of winter. 
         Will these bones rise? Will they live, sing, cry out to be completed in a prayer? 
         Or will they rise and fall and fall and rise season after season, the dead 
         cast up in memory of us who are temporarily alive?
Mother: Yes, the tides rise beneath the earth, then the release from the embrace of death, 
        dread companion, to race again life. Dust to dust and mud to mud but in this bloodied 
        earth the heart extends its roots.
Michael: The ancient ideogram portrayed questioning the spirits, supplication, 
         the tendered chalice. “It gives you the capacity to change your situation through 
         an image.” The image is simple, Mother. The Grail is extended to the heart and from 
         the heart, and the spirits ask, “What is it for?” Why do you and I carry the bread 
         and the wine through the ruins of a bloody time? How is it that blood becomes wine, 
         flesh the bread of resurrection? Both of us partake. What was anguish is now just love. 
         What was only pain, the shadow of the raven’s wing, the coyote’s howl and the silence 
         of the lost child is now only sacrament.
Mother: I dream three old mestizas beating blades of grass, willow root, horsetail, strands 
        of anguish dyed russet and dull blue and weaving a shallow bowl from which one might 
        serve food. Blood and wine both, mijo. Bread and flesh. Poison and nectar. Beauty and 
        horror and more shadow, three women weeping and the words from a single thin voice: 
        The tears of the virgin are the same as the blood of Christ.

Michael: Who knows the moon quite like the hermit? Its waxing and waning is lost over 
         the bright city. But the one confined to hold solitude knows all the nuances of light, 
         its slow paring to the sliver, then dark, then laminating sorrow or joy till full 
         to the point of blood. I speak to you, my Mother, as one who knows solitude, 
         the smallness and the bastness of it, and so do you honor, our lady of the lonely places.

Mother: They knew this, the sisters of Carmel, that freedom exists only in the prison, only 
        the soul alone with God. One pares down to what is elemental: the simple prayers, 
        the call for meaning, a few tears, the paintbrush, the paint, the canvas. Yes, the 
        moon and the sound of birds also. The occasional deer and then the sun setting into 
        the land I knew as a child, now as an old woman, whose life itself will set.
For Deena

I know the tree in winter
	upraised arms
	leafless branches crisp against cold sky
	pith or marrow
	I know the heart of the wood
		In the thick and the delicate bones
I know the tree in spring
	with arms exultant
	buds burst swift when glanced by the sun
	sweet sap or dark blood
	I know the song of engorgement
	In the throng of the woods or the street

I know the tree in summer
	the arms langorous and strong
	buzz of cicadas in the stuporous heat
	roots draw water from dark dry earth
	or lick sweat from the neck of my daughter
	I know the murmur of water
	beneath the dreams of an afternoon nap

And the tree in autumn I most certainly know
	the pain unpicked fruit dropping
	the nakedness behind the falling of leaves
	red and yellow, I am mottled with loss
	and the darkness of winter gathers again
	with my arms upraised to the rain
Why We Are at Sea
When I offer you my cup
	you pour wine till it is full
	and then you keep on pouring
	yet you wonder why we are at sea
	the ocean dark and red
	and the dolphins drunken

By Martin Ortiz Hill

In my delirium I see Michael.
In our delirium we laugh and dance
And return all the balls of keep-away.

It’s 1969.

Our roof bows beneath the rainwater,
Heavier than a drunkard’s bladder,
Wetter than a crybaby’s bed.
Soggy and sagging with that sort of rain
That defines children too stupid to come inside.

My parents have just divided and divorced
And I am shattered between their fissions and confusions.
It’s too soon to have an order to my feelings,
Angels and emotions spring from my belly
Burst out to splot on the floor.
I become a puddle beneath the table
Something for the dog to lick.

Details, details, details

The magic act begins as mother
Balances the checkbook on her nose
Strains it through the eye of a needle
Burns it with superhero vision
Branding the page with dollar signs
Then laundering her money with tears.

This world is a boulder, child
It’s come to roll over us.
So come to my shoulder, child
It has nothing over us.

Oh my
Oh my mother
She says I am precious and I am precious but how is that so?
It’s so much so as in darling as in beloved
As in it’s too rapturous
As in it’s too often too rapturous.

I am spread out on the floor
Painting by number the coloring book
But all of them are zero.
That’s okay, I have only white 
And the roof weeps to wash my work away.

Michael stands beneath the leak
Mud running down his face
As he erodes away.
He is my older brother.
He was once my best friend.
Now half of him is standing here
And the other half is in ’71.

it’s 1971 and
The rattling train plunges through the night.
We’re huddled and hungry
Mama and her boys.
It’s 1 a.m. and our smells from a day and a half on board
Separate us from the other passengers.
Separated also by the coarse woolen blanket
That bundles us.

Beneath her lids
I see my mother’s eyes flinch
As though she’s fighting for us
Even in her dreams.

It’s 1 a.m. and we’re moving to wherever the hell is Ypsilanti.
The train is cold and shuddering.
Running lights streak through windows like northern lights.

It’s 1 a.m. and Michael is gone.
He’s fourteen and he’s my older brother.
He was always ahead of me.
Swifter with his feet and mind.
I walk down the jolting corridors to look for him.

I hear him sandwiched between the luggage
Laughing with and kissing a fellow traveler.

He was once my best friend.
But now on a long journey through the night and into night
He’s fourteen and making out and I listen.
In a year he’ll run away from home,
But now a train between homes he’s making out
And I sit hidden nearby and cry
And wish that I was him.
By Martin Ortiz Hill
(for my brother Paul, 1964-1994)
It is fall in a Midwestern world. It is fall
And gold-tongued leaves lick paraders’ boots
As off to football battle, majorettes beat drums.

Or is it another distant now
In an elsewhere Rockies’ winter, safe from cold
Inside a cabin capped with flake and starlight, safe
From lashing winds, soft hands are warmed by applewood flames.

Or still else It’s
The constant, separate, and eternal now and now,
Alone and brooding with bloodied wrinkled brow,
Lost in the thirsty wasteland, north of Santa Fe
In an always August desert where empty streams
With sleepless sandy beds dream dessicated dreams.

Beyond the haggard, ragged edge of burning days
Where shards of shattered sky collided then collaged
As sunset bled into soil, then boiled into mirage.
Just a fingernail deep beneath the wounded land
There lies, just a scratch beneath the soil and sand,
There lies my brother’s bones.

With a little water, dried seeds rebloom.
With a little water.

You know the place:
A trailer next to the trailer next to nowhere.
You know the kind I mean, shaped like a can of Christmas ham,
With one end pinched and neither end tall enough
To stand in. I’m talking about the lair of a thin man.
His slender fingers and fat knuckles, all bones and boneness,
Joined or out of time and joint, akimbo; Clumsy
In his walk, awkward and angular, clumsy even
In his emotions. He could stub a toe or wound his heart
With equal ease. You know the man, you’ve laughed at him.
Even his security uniform seemed gawky and
Highwater. You know him, he bagged your food.

He was the too old child delivering your papers.
Children jeered at him. Adults tried to correct him
As though he were an off-sync metronome. Offbeat
Can mean strange or syncopated. Fidgety and listless,
He kept a thousand lists on Stick’em squares; reminders
To laugh or grin. But the thin arc of his lips
Could barely support a crooked, brittle smile.

Now I search the parched-throated river beds for proof
He ever was, but the only signs are those of change.
Are the rooks and towers of new royalty.
Their picture windows are as tall as above and below
And around. They’re surrounded by the earth and sky and
The grit and soot and spectacle of the refracting sun.
They spend each night checkmated in their floodlit castles then
Each dawn in sweet parade like kings, march to kingdom come.
And now Santa Fe, for all this splendor, merely leaves me numb.


The bifocal world splits between near and far-
Away. Between iris (brown) and sclera (white). Tears
Cannot change this. My brother panned the sand for gold,
Then panicked when there was none. Now roots stab his hands
And feet as his blood mixes with the Sangre de Cristos
A thousand tiny cuts of land bleed into the great ravine.
(You only live once and

Let me tell you of brown dreams:
As fertile as the furrowed soil, a furtive world
Hidden between tabletops and mountain tops;
A land whose church is mud and straw
(It is earth, it is earth, and it is truth and truth.).
Let me proselytize for all the colors brown
As perfect as the land, in every shade of as you are
Exquisite and exotic and quixotic.

Or let me tell you of the white dreams:
Up from the dirt an alabastered sire arose
Like a blade it punctured the slip of atmosphere,
Deflating spirits, exhaling gasps and gales.
So blows the homeless wind, the gypsy mad wind scrapes
The land for forage, hungry for a mustard seed.
(Unable to stand, shadows only lean or crawl.)
This church was marbled from another place and time.

There are woods that are white meat like pine
They bleed with pitchblende ore and turpentine.
And there are dark meat woods with pitchblack rust
Like ironwoods that run with irony.
You choose a drumstick then you bang a note
On the tanned skin drawn tight across the living globe.

In a world where everything is singular
Why don’t we find comfort in the strange?

I’m okay. I was built okay, okay?
Grown up from a childhood of broken swings and seesawdust
My brother walked, alone, distant from the dreamy else-
Where, dirt beneath his nails (now between his teeth and gums),
Always exposed, always on the outside looking in.
More than naked, with skin turned inside out so that
An insult would wound him as much as sticks or stones.
And now beside the great divide, a canyon holds his bones.