two-coyote day at Rinconada Canyon, New Mexico
by Richard Vargas

black rock mesa walls
eternal gift from
distant volcanoes in
quiet deep sleep

high desert sage winter-dry
brittle skeletons anchored
in ancient dirt peppered
with rabbit droppings

etched into cold hard
flat rock surface
shapes and figures of
another time when

man heard wisdom
carried on the breath
of the mesa winds

at night listened as
the stars whispered
dark stories of
the beginning
and the end

SOURCE: Guernica, revisited by Richard Vargas, Press 53 (April 2014). Order a copy at

IMAGE: “Black Rock Mesa Walls” (Albuquerque, New Mexico) by Richard Vargas


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The petroglyphs on the westside of Albuquerque are mysterious and other-worldly. Animals, humanoid stick figures looking like crude drawings of space aliens, weird designs and scribbles. What did the artists really see, or were they just f**king around? Shamans high on ‘shrooms or a bunch of kids taking swigs from the bottle and doodling? No one really knows, and we probably never will. (Photo by Richard Vargas.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Vargas was born in Compton, California, and attended schools in Compton, Lynwood, and Paramount. He earned his B.A. at Cal State University, Long Beach, where he studied under Gerald Locklin and Richard Lee. He edited/published five issues of The Tequila Review, 1978-1980. His first book, McLife, was featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac in February 2006. A second book, American Jesus, was published by Tia Chucha Press in 2007. His third book, Guernica, revisited, was published in April 2014, by Press 53. (A poem from the book was featured on Writer’s Almanac to kick off National Poetry Month.) Vargas received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, 2010. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference’s Hispanic Writer Award, and was on the faculty of the 2012 10th National Latino Writers Conference. Vargas will facilitate a poetry workshop at the 2015 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference, and he has read his poetry in venues in Los Angeles, Chicago, Madison, Albuquerque/Santa Fe/Taos, Indianapolis, and Boulder. Currently, he resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he edits/publishes The Más Tequila Review, and will facilitate The Más Tequila Poetry Workshop this July at the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference.