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Laureate’s Lariat!

Capturing the wild word! A literary mix presented by Eve West Bessier, Poet Laureate of Silver City and Grant County, New Mexico

This month, I’m honored to feature poems by Grant County writers, Ed Teja and Katherine West. I’m also offering a sestina of my own, which I feel creates a poignant trio.

Old Buildings

by Ed Teja

Long ago, these crumbling walls failed.
With its back broken,
the roof of this weathered house collapsed.
It sagged into a mournful covering for the kitchen,
draped over the bedroom, and
fell to pieces that dot the living room floor.

I connect with these old & broken buildings.
A perverse curiosity draws me to them.
I listen to the wind as it whispers their stories,
spicing them with desert sand.
I want to know the dreams they sprang from
and what brought them to this spot
to build their future.

I walk the main street of a deserted desert town,
now a parade of empty storefronts
with windows broken,
doors unhinged,
and broken bits of flowered tile
in fragments, scattered across a hardwood floor.
A porcelain sink sits delightfully akimbo
perched on the remnants of a tub.
These tantalizing remnants
of something once alive
are all that survive.

Once people lived and loved here.
I like to think they were
confounded by the world
and its changes…
like me.

Raised in Captivity

by Katherine West

Everyone I know in Mexico City knows
Someone who has died.
The neighbor’s dogs know
Someone has lied

To them about food in the bowl.
They keep waiting for it to magically fill
But the master never comes home
And they don’t remember how to kill.

The boys in the bar shoot
Anyone who tries to make them close.
The landlord still thinks about his loot
While I write poems

I set free
Like birds raised in captivity.

The Birds

by Eve West Bessier

Maria Aloma sits in the room filled with birds
all in their white cages; gifts from her Angelo
who is covered now with tears and moss
in the chapel yard where the stones are gray
She puts some stolen color to her lips,
on Sundays, she attends the Mass alone.

Her dresser drawer protects the memories for her alone.
And she sometimes leaves the birds
to bring the yellowed faces out; pictures to press to her lips.
Even so, she never says aloud, Angelo,
but holds that name inside; her thin, gray
hair now pinned away. In her eyes, a moss,
watered by sorrow, covers her visions, a growing moss

like that on the garden walk where she goes, alone,
to pick a rose to alter the gray
of the silent house. A rose for Angelo.
If she could give herself again, give her lips,

like the first time she gave him her lips,
their bold hue remembered now with lipstick. Moss
clings to his grave, yet she remembers young her Angelo!
She sits before her window, gazing inward, the birds
all silent. She feels the sky’s gray.

He had so loved her in red! Now a gray
existence surrounds her, stealing from her lips
the moon in mid-summer, stealing from her the birds’
singing as they sang on the day he brought them. Moss
grows over the joyous places in her mind. She alone
knows the hollow sound of the night without Angelo’s

breathing beside her. It was he, her Angelo,
who promised to remain, to endure the gray
years. She would not be left alone!
Why then was he the lucky one, gone before the moss
came down, the thick farewell? The birds

were silent then for Angelo, and her lips,
tight with fear, went pale. A gray
mist, like moss, caresses her soul. Still, she feeds his birds.

For more about Eve West Bessier, see About The Author below or go to

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Southwest Word Fiesta™ or its steering committee.

Eve West Bessier

Eve is a poet laureate emerita of Silver City and Grant County, New Mexico; and of Davis and Yolo County, California. She has served on the steering committee for the Southwest Word Fiesta, and was a presenter during two festivals. Eve is a retired social scientist, voice and life coach. She is a writer, jazz vocalist, photographer and nature enthusiast.
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We respectfully acknowledge that the entirety of southwestern New Mexico is the traditional territory, since time immemorial, of the Chis-Nde, also known as the people of the Chiricahua Apache Nation. The Chiricahua Apache Nation is recognized as a sovereign Native Nation by the United States in the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Friendship of 1 July 1852 (10 Stat. 979) (Treaty of Santa Fe ratified 23 March 1853 and proclaimed by President Franklin Pierce 25 March 1853).

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