The Fado Suite
A cry for hope.
Sure, but so little.
Just because a swallow dies, spring does not end.
The soul gets tired.
The fingers take orders from the heart.
We leave our bodies when we sing.
The alchemy of sound and poem,
it’s inside us from birth.
I cannot remember if
there was a candle
on the clothed table
set for one.
I do remember the vinho verde
chilling in a teakwood bucket,
poured solemnly between
sets of fado, smoldering and
tearful singer, wet cheeks lit
by dying candlelight.
Listening to Amalia with the windows
saudade piercing the autumn
My new Portuguese guitar
yearns for me to learn, to teach
old fingers new licks, so I dream
I am wandering the calcadas in Lisbon
inventing my own heteronyms, humming
melodies born under different names.
I greet Fernando Pessoa,
“Bom dia, Senhor. I saw you sitting
outside the Brasileira today but
you were not actually there
nor anywhere else.”
“That is how I prefer it,”
they replied without inflection
then vanished scientifically
in the color-swarm of Chiado hordes…
I awake to Amalia singing
life’s last song,
to the gray-soaked murk and
The music pours through
my opened heart.
My weeping eyes listen
to the distant, wild ocean wind.
(c) Eric Walter 2022
Through the blurry window of morning eyes
A sky on fire over the Sangres,
Rose wisps crowning the Canjilons,
Headlights below Mesa del Yeso
Like earthbound satellites drift
Toward unseen Cebolla and Tierra Amarilla,
Silver sheen from the basin below
An eerie glow off the unnatural lake,
And to the south the charcoal silhouette
Of the stern yet giving mother mountain
Pedernal, watching over all.
All the fading lights of her children villages
Abiquiú, Youngsville, Cañones, Coyote…
Where days begin with promise and with worry
With piñon smoke and green chile
Fresh tortillas and sopapillas
Folksong, liturgy, and ancient rite
First light on adobe churches in dusty plazas
Broken walls of abandoned pueblos
Ghost corrals of ghost horses
Cottonwoods from which rustlers were hanged
Now luminous skeletons themselves
Stripped bare by the austere autumn wind.
When the sun finally tracks me, I am listening
To the lowing of distant cattle and
The twittering of scrub jays in the juniper,
The whispers of rabbits in the rabbitbrush
And the creaking of my own grateful bones
Warming to the business of a new day
In the Valley of Shining Stone.
Astride my proud mount, Camino, we ride
Through the forms of earth at Ghost Ranch
Subject of Georgia’s paintings long ago
Iconic landscapes and shapes still visible--
The rolling red hills, a lone dead juniper
The formation called El Puerto del Cielo
Entrada layers of orange, white, and yellow
Quirky hues shifting under the mischievous
New Mexican late-autumn sun.
Across the shimmering llano
The mountain heart Cerro Pedernal
Sacred to the Tewa who call it Tsee p’in
And to the Navajo and the Jicarilla Apache
La cuchilla of the Jemez Range
Destination for thousands of years
To roaming bands and settled tribes
Who prized the chalcedony and chert
Found in its slopes,
Prime stone for arrows and spears.
Georgia claimed it for her own and
Had her ashes scattered there.
With a slow hypnotic gait, we traverse
The gauzy sands swirling
In the juniper-laced afternoon wind,
We descend craggy crumbling arroyos
Sure-footed Camino and I
Gently reining him in as he trots
Up the other side, thinking maybe to gallop
Thinking maybe to fly
Up past El Rancho de los Brujos
Beyond the sacred flint mountain
And through the gate of heaven.
La Plaza Blanca
You could see it from
Her house in Abiquiú
Across the Rio Chama
It’s owned now by a mosque
Dar al Islam
That grants us heathens
And pilgrims of Other
To this pallid sanctum
Of tuneful wind
Raven song ringing beyond
Chalky hoodoos and
Along milky ledges
Pastel creek beds
That seem to run
More ways than
Then song again
With the ghost of Georgia and
The hosts of Muhammed
We’re tracking a shadowy past
Slipping through Crescent fences
Of barbwire and bone
Pondering strange exhibits
Of black stones on this ashen canvas
Stretching beyond time
This sun-bleached forever
Is quite hard to find
There are no signs
And the address in the local guide
Is 1234 Fictitious Lane.
Slow Road West
Slow road west from Española
Classic cars, fins and whitewalls,
Sleek new high-tech low-riders
Grumbling past ramshackle adobe
Crumbling walls and old houses
Cords of piñon smoke twisting
Up orange cliffs to
The azure infinity
Of November sky.
(c) Eric Walter 2019