Man, Alive! Spring 2021
NEW MEXICO MEN'S WELLNESS
Spring Edition 2021
OFFERINGS AND CONTRIBUTIONS
Cover Art: Hank Blackwell
Photos p. 4, 9, 17, 24, 26, 39 by Uwe Schroeter
Photo p. 5 by Aarin Richard
Photos p. 29, 32, 33 by Kieke Norianegra
Photo p. 16 by Hank Blackwell
Tulip, amaryllis, crocus peek up through warming earth. Cranes head north in noisy chevrons. Spring begins to rustle from winter’s hibernation. We also begin to move, encouraged by the arrival of longer days. This spring, the gift of welcoming spring appears to be more poignant following a year-long pandemic. As the opportunity to step gently outside of our quarantines evolves, so might our gratitude.
May we all accompany hope and gratitude as we lean toward the sun and one another. May there be openings in our hearts and compassion for one another. As we discover budding trees and flowers pushing upward, may we also rediscover the gifts of friendship and trust, generosity and growth. May we strive to encourage our higher selves to blossom.
by Kieke Norianegra
Chevrons pointed north
now breaking into
above lifting basalt,
hundreds trilling intent.
Green shoots revealed
in red caliche
and winter’s duff.
by Aarin Richard
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
What a great movie… “Being There”. One of Peter Sellers’ most brilliant performances in the role of Chauncy Gardner, who was really Chance – the gardener, and who unwittingly finds himself in the most unlikely places and circumstances!!
But that is not what this note is about… Maybe a bit closer to “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass, but not quite that either. Please allow me to elaborate.
When I was about 30 years old and a struggling musician, I was, as usual, looking for ways to create a secondary income stream. Somehow, I had gotten the idea to make hand-made leather booklet covers for the old Day Planner appointment / address books we all used to buy at the beginning of the new year. This was well before basic cell phones and personal computers. After making a prototype, I realized I would need a source of wholesale leather.
So, one day I drove to a funky industrialized area of Los Angeles, to a leather tanning facility. There, was a small free-standing building – more of a shack really – that housed all the tanned and dyed hides. I was a complete novice and didn’t know a thing about how any of it worked; if they would sell to me or even talk to me for that matter. Nonetheless, I strolled in, trying to look nonchalant and knowledgeable while I perused the inventory.
An older man was there, more than twice my age, but likely younger than I am now, writing this. He approached and asked if he could help me. I responded in what was surely a vague statement of sorts.
I no longer recall much of the initial conversation. I’m sure I looked uneasy, in what was for me a strange environment. But I do remember, in vivid clarity, one thing he said to me; “That’s some really nice leather on those boots you’re wearing”.
Just a simple phrase. But there, in that moment, an entry was created – into which our real conversation of that day took place… and in many ways, a conversation of a lifetime… with myself.
The words that were spoken that day were not of real significance. Yes, there was a bit of small talk. He inquired about what I was looking to do. And in my questioning, I learned that he was about to retire, in just a few days, to enjoy time with his wife of many years. No – what was of true importance in those moments that day was the essence, which for me still remains vibrant and true! But why?
I didn’t realize it then, nor for many years after, that the old man had made a choice, consciously or not – perhaps intuitively – that he would take a small step forward to “be there” with me, in the place where I stood – in my awkwardness. Once there, he was then able to “be here now” with his complete focus on me. And that he did, as if I were his long-lost son. But he first had to shift some part of his awareness and energy to get to “there”, as if sliding in a fluid nature to the other side of the fulcrum. Do we all have this ability – to flow through a likely unconscious decision point to be present with someone and meet them where they stand in that moment? I think we do but how does it become not just a practice, but a way of being? You see, how we get to “there” is what I’m trying to unravel here.
Over the years, and really much later in life, I’ve aspired to adopt this way into my own consciousness – in a Zen-like, intuitive, subconscious way, as it seemed to be for my old friend. Most often however, I mumble, bumble or simply neglect to meet the moment. Yet it remains a guiding light, with nothing to achieve other than to simply walk the path… the one of connection and compassion. And perhaps that’s the answer to my question of “how”: just simply walk the path. When I think of the people who have had an impact on my life, the old timer always comes to mind. Someone I met only once, who gave me a gift – a template for a way of being in this world… an aspiration.
And likely for him, it was just a conversation and moment he never thought of again. In reflection, that’s not so surprising. We’ve all had a friend tell us ”You know that thing you said was of such importance to me…” to which we have no recollection. Perhaps there are times when we merely serve as conduits – a delivery mechanism through which spirit speaks to its intended recipient. And in those times, we can “be there” as the open channel, not always privy to the import of our words – just present.
We meet the Buddha in the humblest of places. Inside that little shack in East LA, in just 30 minutes, I received a master class – in the interpersonal ways of being. And little did I know then that the lessons from that day would take a lifetime to complete. The inspiration from that old timer, so long ago, remains a reminder of something for me to aspire to – Being There.
by Raymond Johnson
Road stretched forth
to the day’s reach,
through timber and barren hills
while you rest with eyes half closed,
content with the fallen hours
and long long look toward sunset.
These your sojourning days
living off vistas and manners
of a thousand years.
Sunrise and Spider Webs
by Gary Harkins
I gaze from Eden’s window east and nod– spiders are ballooning, leaving home
Floating threads shine, drawing out lines– connecting the oaks, the pines, and me
Gossamer trails flying free on sunlit beams in a gentle morning breeze silk weavings in a gallery of trees, woven by spider lifelines crossing
But am I crossing any lines in me, as I write and breathe these foreign phrases
That write back breathing me– caught in their web, I ebb on aerial tides
Sink inside– seeking to hide– hiding to seek, sending heart to a solid state savior
Not prayers for forgiveness or favors, no fruit looms for my labor
Silicon Jesus please save me– some guilty sins for later
When listening ears disappear, I will still hear– no eyes to read or believe
I still see what I see, I missed– feel what has found me buried spirit deep
In wounded rhyme visions, blown by silent whispers behind the dark night wind
That lifts my lines along to the next tree– verse twinkled up to long dead stars
For writing the dusty elements of style for me– insight out words are never free
I bleed– more than red ink, for not speaking what I think, first third eye to blink
A sentence of Hemlock drink is much too grave for me, so I flee to another dream
Where letters light up walls unseen, small spaces between, where I can walk my own way
Can say, every shield constructs a cage, to keep my brother’s keeper away– no passion play
No Abel to slay, just the genesis of soft feelings that flow out through these hard hands
Hopelessly holding on to lost hourglass sand, here I stand– cold stone staring beyond the east
While Cain from Nod stares back at me– so hard to see, or be seen
Through spider webs and crossing lines
How everything shines– at sunrise
by Jonathan Driscoll
rushing autumn winds call
the delicate still mountains awaken
cottonwood elm and aspen
begin to swirl and dance
wings of golden leaves take flight
enveloping the sky
celebrating their new found freedom
each and every one flutters and is gone
spinning brightly thru the dark green pines
flashing on their way
following the Way
with the urgency of a lover
they awaken and stir me
my body too flutters and flies
living loving and dying on this good earth
we are all borne off on transient winds
be gentle be kind be strong
let us not forsake each other
we are the living spirit
and these mountains are our home
isn’t that the poem written on every leaf
isn’t that the voice within your heart
by Mark Pugsley
You ever have an encounter and know you were not quite all there
i left, went outside
in the distance were sandhill cranes
back inside was without language
walls freshly painted yellow
light streamed in
the dark crows painted on colored canvas
dark and light
intelligent and adaptive
outside of time
said my artist friend
who also said
each painting is a conversation
go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
cannot bear very much reality(1)
i left again
hard to be present
and came back
into the quite room
crows who have something to say with stillness
yes, sharing outside of time
but fully here
i tried to listen
a wordless conversation
did i miss it, yes, no, of course I did
only I hear now, after weeks
not a memory
but a feeling
this deeper conversation
On to New Mexico, 1970
by David Robertson
I graduated from a small men’s college in Ohio in May of 1970 and headed straight to New Mexico. God knows why a men’s college. Not to mention a church college. Maybe because it was like my boarding school except you could date women and drink and do other things.
I got a ride with a friend, from Ohio to Little Rock, then took a bus from Little Rock to Albuquerque, then from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, then from Santa Fe to Española. I still remember Johnny Cash playing on the jukebox in the Santa Fe bus station. In Española, my friend Charlie and his friend Jeff picked me up in Jeff’s black VW bug and we drove to El Rito. To this 21-year-old “kid” from suburban New Jersey, I felt like I had fallen off the edge of the earth. I recall my impression of what seemed a dry lifeless landscape surrounded by the red/orange/yellow higher country. And I know how much I have now grown to love it. El Rito was a small town of about a thousand people at about 6,900 feet elevation, with Martin’s store at one end of town and Garcia’s store at the other. It was first settled in the 1700s.
I came to New Mexico to join Charlie. He had come west from New York City earlier that year to live and work with the van Dressers. Charlie’s parents had been friends with the van Dressers in the 1930s in Florida. Peter was an early (early for the 1900s anyway) ecologist, renewable energy advocate, and back-to-the-land ‘er. He had been part of the Decentrist movement and envisioned a decentralized “biotechnic” society. He felt that the Northern New Mexico “uplands” were a perfect location to carry out his vision. Peter started doing renewable energy work in the 1930s in Florida. There was a thriving industry in domestic solar water heaters there at that time. In the 1950s he built a solar house with a wind generator in Potrero Canyon north of El Rito. Peter and his wife Florence are buried at Ghost Ranch, which Peter had worked closely with and where he had built a series of test buildings to determine the performance of various forms of solar space heating: direct gain, greenhouse , and Trombe wall.
Soon after my arrival, Charlie and I moved into the solar house in Potrero. We met the previous occupants, Peter Ashwanden and his family. He was the illustrator for the book “How to Keep your Volkswagen Alive for the Compleat (sic) Idiot”, perhaps the precursor to the series “The Idiot’s Guide To…”
We would go into town to do work for Peter van Dresser. He paid us minimal wages. He had a way of inspiring young men to come work for him for low wages. We were called “biotechnicians”. It was several miles from Potrero into El Rito. The transportation we used to and from town was Peter’s tractor. It worked great and was fun to drive too.
One day I will not forget, we got word that some people had gotten their truck stuck on the way over the ridge into the box canyon above Peter’s land that I’ll call Upper Potrero. The summer rains (we didn’t call them “monsoons” back then) had started, and the dirt road was very slick when wet. I headed up on the tractor in the rain. What I found was a remarkable sight – a couple’s pickup truck had slid off the road and was leaning up against a small tree. In my memory, the tree was maybe three inches in diameter. The truck was loaded down with what seemed like all their worldly possessions – including a nursing baby and a goat! These were true back-to-the-land ‘ers, I thought to myself. Try as I might, I could not get them out with the tractor. I went to town in search of a winch.
This couple and another couple had bought a quarter section – 160 acres – and were going to build houses and live up there. The local Spanish people who had used the land for centuries for summer pasturage for their livestock, probably never thought of building houses and living at that higher altitude perhaps 8,000 feet – and probably thought that “those hippies” were crazy.
A few years later, I and my first wife ended up building a “house” there – more like an adobe cabin. Ours was one among a handful of handmade houses. We built our house for $1 a square foot – really. The house was dug into the hillside, and we did everything by hand – digging the foundation, making the adobes, cutting down Ponderosas for the vigas and latillas. We had trees milled locally for window and door frames, and bought $50 of used windows. We hauled our water, built an outhouse, used kerosene lamps, and had a woodstove for heating and cooking. Decades later, for my 50th birthday, my niece in Utah sent me a book “Legends of the Southwest”. Unbeknownst to her – or to me for that matter – I was in it. A friend I had met in El Rito in 1970 knew the author and had taken him to Potrero. The mention of my name was brief: “and there’s David’s Hobbit house”.
There were several communes in the vicinity of El Rito. Lama was one of the larger and more well-known. It had a strong spiritual foundation. Many young women went there seeking spiritual bliss – some of which I hoped to provide. Ram Dass frequented there, and I later went to a Ram Dass weeklong retreat there. The Hog Farm was nearby. It was made famous by Wavy Gravy, who announced at the Woodstock Music Festival that he was starting a commune in New Mexico and all were welcome. Wavy Gravy at times called himself Nobody, and later ran for President using the slogan “Nobody for President”. New Buffalo was another commune nearby. Of all the communes, Lama is the only one that is still there.
Northern New Mexico was then full of interesting characters, as well as hippies from all over, many from California. For years, El Rito had been a place some went to get away from the law, drop out of mainstream society, or just live in the country. Artists, writers, potters, woodworkers, and quilt makers were there. Because of the El Rito Normal School, Anglos had lived there over the years, and the town was more “Anglified” than most of the Spanish villages, where Anglos often were not welcome. A few hippies and eccentric white people did settle in some of those villages and are now just a part of the local culture.
In a nearby town lived a man named J’wab and his family. He had been one of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters. He was a fun and interesting guy. He staked out some land in the National Forest and filed a mining claim – for pottery clay. He sometimes lived in a clear plastic structure that he had built on the bed of a semi truck – it looked like a glass house. He had goats that he let wander around inside his – and others’ – house. He pointed out that they were very easy to clean up after – you just pick up the pellets. Sadly, he was killed when he was driving a tractor on a hillside and it rolled over onto him.
For a time, I lived in Peter’s “guest house”, built up against the town’s original adobe fortifications. The house had always had low doorways and probably originally a dirt floor. Peter had added a wood floor. The doorway to the bedroom was then so low that I would bend over to go through it, and still graze my lower back on the top of the doorway! While I was there, Peter added a bathroom and we had to cut through an adobe wall to make a doorway to it. I and another of Peter’s workers did so with a two-man saw, cutting straight sides and an arch at the top. With some wire lath and plaster, voila!, we had a finished, structurally sound doorway. In that house, I played hours of the Japanese board game Go with my friends Jeff, Eric, and Patrick. Decades later, I play Go online with Jeff and Eric, both former “biotechnicians”.
Well steeped in Peter’s philosophy of renewables and energy conservation, Charlie and I spent much of our lives trying to live those ideals. In 1971, Charlie and I rode our bicycles 3400 miles from New York City to Santa Fe (via Florida). Charlie has devoted his life to bicycles as a form of transportation, owning a bicycle shop in Santa Fe and using his bicycle for transportation for decades. He has never driven a car. I went back to school, got an engineering degree, spent 35 years working in the public sector with a focus on energy efficiency, and built solar houses on the side.
Peter and Florence owned a restaurant in El Rito. They liked the idea of providing a low impact business to serve the locals and visitors. We ran the business sometimes. Towards the end of the summer of 1970, when they were out of town, they asked us to run it. When they came back, we had some problems. Friends of ours had arrived from New York City. Florence, a stickler for detail, was criticizing something about what we had done or hadn’t done, in her sharp Brooklyn voice and tone. Peter, looking around at us and our friends and apparently not liking what he saw, said “Get out of here, hippies, go on to your next party”. And so we did. We left and went on to Berkley California.
Thus went my voyage of discovery from the Eastern U.S. to Northern New Mexico. That summer, I was only in El Rito for a few months, but those months impacted me for the rest of my life and left me with many fond memories.
by Hank Blackwell
helpless, thin shell
here in resilient
Despots and Seers
by Raymond Johnson
Better to be free
uncluttered in simplicity
than reign in temples
guarded from thieves by thieves.
This the clutch that prisons and shackles
one to places and things.
Impressions from a Certain Spot in the Alley
by Jim Terr
I’ve always been fascinated by Freud’s concept of “screen memory,” ever since I heard it sometime in my late 20s. The idea is that if you’re trying to think of an event that was traumatic for you, too painful to actually remember, that what comes to mind is whatever visual image preceded it. Which could be a wall, a tree, a doorknob — anything that you saw just prior to the event. Hence a visual “screen.”
Whenever I think about writing about what I feel was my relatively boring, uneventful, rather cushy life, I always picture a certain spot in the alley behind our house in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where I was raised from age 10 through high school — and where I’m living once again. (Yes, Las Vegas, New Mexico, a pretty, midwestern-looking town of about 15,000; the original “Vegas,” founded in 1835).
It occurred to me just the other day that this alley view might be a “screen memory” covering up something too painful to remember, related to that spot. So I figured I’d write about it, about everything I can associate with it, til perhaps something concrete pops up.
As background, our family of seven moved to Las Vegas from an even prettier town, Charlevoix “The Beautiful,” Michigan. I remember clearly the night my parents sat us three older children down and announced that we were going to move to New Mexico, which I’m sure I had never heard of. My dad described the town in his very methodical way. He said it was in the mountains…!
I immediately pictured sleepwalking and falling off a cliff. I had never sleepwalked as far as I know, but this now provides a clue that I had an anxious personality of some sort, and a vivid imagination. He then said there was a river running through the middle of town. I pictured the truly scary boat channel that ran through our town from Lake Michigan to Lake Charlevoix, and falling in and drowning! (See above self-psychoanalysis).
We arrived in Las Vegas in two cars on July 4, 1958, to an empty house because the moving company had failed to bring our furniture and stuff on schedule. I laid down on the itchy purple carpet with the most intense headache I ever remember, while my family joined the Taichert family across the street for their July 4 barbecue. (Seven more people? No problem!) The fact that we ended up across the street from one of the few other Jewish families in town was just a bonus, and we remained close, pretty much intermingled, for years. We stayed in a motel for a week until the furniture arrived.
As for the headache, I suspect it was due to the trauma of leaving my beloved green forests and beaches of Michigan for a town that, while midwestern looking, was still New Mexico — comparatively hot and dry.
Years later, my dad told me the story of how we happened to move there: He was a physician in Charlevoix, a little tourist town. In the winter, the tourists went back home to Chicago and Detroit, and the town’s population was almost halved, making it even harder for my dad to support a family of seven in a town with a surplus of doctors.
He claimed that he put an ad in a medical magazine saying only “Situation Wanted” (he was a man of few words). One of the responses he got was a letter from the wife of a Dr. Dellinger in Las Vegas, New Mexico, which he felt was unusually well-written and well-organized, laying out clearly the opportunity for a partnership with Dr. Dellinger, and describing the town. My dad appreciated clear, organized writing.
He said that he and my mom both had a bleak impression of New Mexico, having only driven through on Route 66, so were not interested, but he showed the letter to a friend of theirs who was a private pilot, only because it was such a well-written letter. This pilot friend said oh, I know that town; it’s pretty, not what you’d expect for New Mexico. On that basis, they arranged to visit and check it out.
They arrived on a snowy day in May (as they say about northern New Mexico, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes), and they liked Dr. and Mrs. Dellinger and that they were offering, they liked the pretty, multi-cultural, bilingual town and the fact that it had a university, which they felt made for a better school system. I don’t regret their decision; it’s been a fascinating place to live and to grow up.
My childhood in Las Vegas was uneventful on one level, but of course with more than my share of inner turmoil. I had only one friend, and we spent hours walking and playing in the alleys that ran all through the town. The alleys were a whole ‘nother world, sort of an underworld for us. And I spent much of the rest of my time speeding around town on my bike, playing with my Erector set and other gadgets, making things in the basement, and shooting my pellet pistol from my second-story bedroom window.
Whose crazy idea it was go give me a pellet pistol I don’t know. But one of my main targets was — aha! cats — right over in that alley area I picture now. I don’t recall whether I hit any, since it was a difficult shot of about 100 feet, but I think I did. I may have even killed some; I never checked.
Years later I wrote a poem, which spans two events both before and after this time:
Two Birds I Shot
Two birds I shot at different times
In different worlds, in different climes,
They haunted me in different ways
And yes, I think, for years, not days.
The first in northern Michigan
I must have been – well, not yet 10.
A robin hopped in front of me
While I was doing archery.
At 30 feet I aimed and drew
And shot the little fellow through.
I ran him home and screamed a bunch,
(My dad just home from work, for lunch.)
Mom said “Please do something, dear.
Jimmy’s going crazy here.
Can’t you give the bird a shot?”
(Cuz Daddy was, you see, a doc.)
He probably took it out the back
And gave that bird a final whack.
(With possibly a tinge of pride
That I had nailed him in the side.)
Fast forward to New Mexico.
Now 30 or 40 years ago.
I used to go out hunting dove
(Yes, you heard right – the bird of love)
With no idea what I was doing
So I did not cut short much cooing.
But one day I brought down a hawk.
He fell to earth without a squawk.
A neighbor into taxidermy
Mounted him quite nicely fer me.
And so he stared at me for years.
(If I had doubts, I did not hear.)
Only now I feel disturbed
And wonder how his look reverbed
Inside my skull. And so I wonder
If he still does drag me under.
So I suspect that I felt guiltier about shooting cats than I realized at the time, in my Little Cowboy mode.
In thinking about writing this essay, I realized that my other memory surrounding that spot in the alley is very much related: We had a friend, a contemporary of my older brother and sister, whom I’ll call Andy here. Andy was old enough to drive, and he had a fun game called “ditchem.” The idea was that two cars would chase each other, mostly through alleys, at night, with the lights off, the lead car trying to ditch the pursuing one.
Andy took me on a couple of these rides, and of course in retrospect it’s amazing we didn’t have any wrecks. But another element of the game, at least for Andy, was that he would try to run over scared dogs and cats running ahead of us, for “points.”
Again, I can’t remember clearly whether he succeeded while I was with him, but if it bothered me at the time I stuffed it in the interest of playing the game.
So you see, in writing this story I stumbled across two now-painful memories of animal cruelty which I associated with that spot in the alley, which I never thought of til now, and which might explain why that scene comes to mind so often.
An update on that feeling of stuffing painful emotions: The summer after my second year of college I had a job shooting news footage for a TV station in Albuquerque on weekend nights. The “news” on weekend nights consisted almost entirely of car wrecks, fires, and other emergencies. I would doze at the TV station with an ear out for the proper police codes for these events and, hearing one, would load the movie camera (yes, film, not video!) and lights into the car and go get my footage. I saw many painful things, including fatal wrecks and even a stabbing, and dutifully filmed them without letting them bother me — which would have interfered with the job.
Only after getting away from that job, and for years later, did the terror of what I saw come seeping up every time I would see a wreck, even from a great distance. Such is the nature of buried pain and terror. Which is why I have infinite sympathy for combat veterans, police, fire fighters, and emergency workers who have seen more and worse.
Crows Along the Wire
by Mark Pugsley
my outburst was entirely unfair
you are, you are, my planning friend…. rigid
i made an unplanned suggestion
let’s go see art, paintings about crows during pandemic
the week caught up, putting out effort, wanting my partner’s birthday to be special
that was thursday
friday I suggested the change
text is a poor way to communicate
but when withdrawn, disappointed
i knew they would not come
i raged around the bedroom
fuming in blame
narrow and knotted
because of what is underneath
let down, abandoned, old bones
tired of holding it all together
a burdened exile, a therapist named this experience
tired of holding my friend
i never told him how let down i had felt
over a year ago
what a weight he had been
what is underneath
hold me, a voice cries
because no one is listening
another short text
anger mingled with embarrassment
still withdrawn, my bad
saturday I went to see the crows
then walked down to the river
listening to birds land upstream
without any reason
a waterbird dove under murky water
i went back to the paintings
a second time
in an empty room
crows along the wire
heard my silent cry
First, I Cry
by David Kuenzli
Sometimes life gives me more than I think I can handle.
That’s when I ask myself, “What do I do now?”
What helps me make it through is the love I feel from you,
a love that holds me close and reminds me of what’s true.
But first, I cry. I can let those feelings flow.
I don’t have to hold back the pain that’s in my soul.
Some days I don’t feel strong.
The nights, they seem so long.
I know that life goes on,
But first, I cry.
Sometimes I wonder why my life’s not how I planned it.
At times I doubt if I have the strength to go on.
What helps me make it through is the power I feel from you.
Thanks for being here inside to remind me of what’s true.
But first, I cry. I can let those feelings flow.
I don’t have to hold back the pain that’s in my soul.
Some days I don’t feel strong.
The nights, they seem so long.
I know that life goes on,
But first I cry.
I know winter turns to spring.
Maybe then my heart will sing.
But first, but first I cry.
Coyote Sky Calling
by Gary Harkins
Coyote calls pierce my pine tree walls– yipping, a hunt for dawn
I’m in the dark, but never alone– old echoes wrap me in their arms
They come and stand beside me when I raise my head and call
Then fall– for far away stars that make me feel so small– minded
I see them shining, see me trying– to know my unknown
Dogfights– got the scars; hide my eyes while sunlight hides the stars
But come night, I write– my insides out, love, doubt– yearning
For a page worth turning– for a book worth the burning
For a howling pack that can run real fast and play
I gaze at Orion
Letter to a Young Black Man from an Old “White” Guy
by Vittorio LaCerva
I am ignorant, I am biased and racist in ways I do not yet realize. And I am open and willing to evolve my understanding. I am listening deeply, like one does at night in unfamiliar territory, with great attention. I hear your impatience, your frustration, your anger—and deeper below that your pain. I cannot imagine what life is like for you, to be both invisible in terms of social justice and at the same time be seen only as a threat—ignoring your genius, intelligence, creativity or humanity.
I grew up in a working lower middle-class neighborhood on the edge of the ghetto in Brooklyn. I often helped my grandfather with his second job delivering telegrams, by walking up the many flights of stairs in tenement houses. Broken street lights, messy empty lots, rundown buildings, garbage strewn about, smelly hallways, dark and dingy apartments, bars on the windows and closed double locked doors. The school buildings we passed on our delivery route often looked the same. People there were definitely not starting on the same playing field that I was. Back then, I didn’t verbalize that reality as white privilege, but it was clear that I was witnessing a lot of poverty and human suffering.
My large extended Italian family was, in general, very accepting of everyone. I did have one uncle who angrily used the N word. He was a barber who was often robbed, one time a gunpoint when, despite his begging, his Black assailants roughly stole his wedding ring off his finger. His only contact with Black people was negative. When I started medical school at the young age of 19, I began to encounter many more people who were different than me. Not just many Blacks and Puerto Ricans but East Indians, folks from the Philippines and Middle East— many of them my instructors. My training was in a city hospital that covered most of Spanish Harlem and some of Harlem itself. As an intern, one of my best teachers was a Jamaican nurse who would roll her eyes whenever I was about to do something foolish. Eventually I became an attending physician in that same Pediatric emergency room.
All the ravages of poverty and lack of social justice showing up in my face every day: rat bites, chronic asthma, infants in withdrawal or malnourished, more than once attempting to resuscitate a dead baby that had been abused.
A Public Health job in New Mexico brought new levels of understanding. Because of widespread poverty, the levels of violence in our state were extreme. Poor people suffer more from any form of cancer or chronic disease, including the dis-eases of child abuse, homicide, suicide and domestic violence. And since more minorities – Hispanics, Blacks, Native Americans – are poor, they are the same communities experiencing adverse violent health outcomes. Although present at all socio-economic levels, poverty was the defining factor, not race or ethnicity.
I had become interested in “men’s work”, a route to expand what I term emotional fluency, since most of the time men perpetrate violent behaviors. With some Black, Hispanic and Native American friends, we started a men’s multicultural group, trying to understand what separated us as men. The many stories shared only reinforced the generational, early life trauma, and ongoing abuse your people have suffered. My awareness continued to grow, my first baby steps in learning to be your ally in the context of social justice.
We are all oppressed, just in different ways. The response of many white people to Black Lives Matter is a form of wanting their sense of subjugation to also be heard. The “all lives matter” refrain – of course they do – is not helpful because it shifts the focus away from the loss of Black young men to gun violence and police misconduct, which is what is front and center at the moment. I feel your pain whenever there is an incident of brutality or a Black church mass shooting. Not in the same way you do, but I do feel it because I have been sensitized and informed. And those incidents are not acceptable.
I have been blessed to have ongoing connections with people different than me—especially Black people who at their core held similar values and aspirations. And that exposure to each other is what will produce needed changes to benefit all of us. What I want you to know is that I will march with you, work shoulder to shoulder with you, that I have your back, that I see your beauty and your promise, and we need first and foremost to keep you safe so you can offer your gifts to all of us. Together, we can find ways to really see each other, and fertilize the ground of our joint deliverance.
by Gary Harkins
Tree limbs are the lips that whisper the wind’s secret song
Sung softly for me at dawn, blowing me along– away
Yet I stay, even though this harbor isn’t safe from sinking
Thinking, I must have lost my way, waiting for my say
Now I’ve said it in words and tears– fears I won’t let find me
Won’t let feel me, immune in this room with a clear view inside
Of nothing– with nothing to hide– behind, I’ve quit trying to lie
About leaving grieving for another time– deceiving myself
About retrieving, what’s never been mine–listening to pines
In the early morning light, the breeze and branches playing
Repeating, what I’ve been saying
by Juan Velasco
Prevalent everywhere in the world and thriving in the good old USA
Racism through color of skin, place of origin, income, language spoken, where you live, etc.
General meeting and committee meeting – bandages on top of bandages
It starts with the individual and nowhere else.
Look at yourself and find out where you fit.
What did you do yesterday or what are you doing today to address the issue
There is so much to do and you just watch and add another bandage.
Challenge me to a duel or should I challenge you.
Commit to spend 10% of your annual income and/or 10% of your time to assist others.
You must not be afraid and you must commit. Your life will be rich.
A crime is to commit and not do. As a friend said – talk and talk and more talk.
Churchill said ” you make a living with what you get and you make a life with what you give”.
The time to give to family and friends is over. We are headed home and time to give to others.
7 countries in 9 days, great meals and wine, famous people etc will not make your legacy or help racism.
You have a responsibility for your actions and those of your ancestors.
Start somewhere, anywhere = just do. Be responsible and tell your story = mostly to yourself.
Pick a native, Spanish, black, foreign, poor or uneducated. It could be a person, family or group.
You have 40 to 50 % of the population of New Mexico and great neighbors in Navajo and Mexico to choose from.
Ask what they want and need (bottom up). Do not tell them what is best for them (bottom down).
Then you figure it out.
You will learn languages, traditions and humbleness.
You will learn how to give and accept the Sr. Sra. and the Don or Doña.
I send you seeds which may be flowers or thorns but at least you planted them.
You will hear stories which will make your last days or years full.
You will share yourself like never before. You will cry and cry again like I do most days.
El tiempo se nos va
abrazo a todos
I Grow Old
by Jonathan Driscoll
fishing the canyons and forests
of New Mexico
that simplest and best
of ancient Daoist pleasures
in the deep space of one man
natural free and flowing
are all mountains and rivers
for Joseph Woods
by Kieke Norianegra
Fine, red caliche
perhaps to be discovered
in twenty centuries.
faint sounds from ancients.
toward mesa feet,
waiting to be read.
What Stirs Me?
by David Kuenzli
What stirs me? What is it makes me wonder,
Is that distant thunder…is it meant for me?
What signs along the way say, ‘Not that, but this way’?
What pulls me in and whispers, “This is who you are!”?
What stirs me? What is it makes me wake up,
Glad I have another day to find what I love to do?
What are the clues that tell me ‘Not that, but this is you!’
What whispers “This is what you’re here to do!”?
Who am I meant to be? What am I meant to do?
What smiles at me and says, “This is you!”
What stirs you? What is it makes you stand out,
Glad to put a hand out
So you can share your special gifts?
What are the clues that tell you
‘Not that, but this is you’?
What whispers “This is what you’re here to do”?
Who are we meant to be? What are we meant to do?
What smiles at us and says, “This is you!”?
by Kieke Norianegra
with mossy emeralds
searched her bank
for unobtrusive treasures
polished by her
through earth’s topography,
past gabled roof,
fashioned by grandfathers.
or wing of gull.
Wisdom of names
for all things.
,She calls through
her own mist,
toward open sea.
STAFF OF REMEMBRANCE
This is a new section for Man, Alive! Mark Ayers established this as a part of the annual New Mexico Fall Men’s Conference. This is a place where we can remember those men that have died and been most influential in our lives and in the lives of others. We have several contributions to lead the way. Our hope is that this might become a permanent part of our quarterly publication.
Hello, gorgeous! That was most always Mike’s lovely way of greeting me. Yet another powerful gift from New Mexico Men’s Wellness, I met Mike at a fall conference about thirty-five years ago. Mike embraced me, as he did so very many of us, and soon, we were walking river banks, sharing meals and world views.
An academician and philosopher, Mike embraced life and all its’ offerings with gratitude and grace. Mike and his lovely wife, Annie, moved to New Zealand over twenty years ago, as it offered beauty, friendliness and a political system more suited to their
Generous and participative lifestyle.
Mike was a teacher; academics, living, aging, loving. He even taught me the rules of rugby! This gentle soul died recently. Fortunately, he is still teaching me, as will he always…
This section is intended to hold a place for announcements of relevant events and happenings, as well as invitations for participation, support, in the fashion of pulling your neighbors and loved ones together for an old-fashioned barn-raising. Here are a few such items to prime the pump for the next edition:
LEGACY GIVING TO NMMW
Fed up with your nagging spouse, worthless children, and bratty grandchildren? Then why leave them all your money when you croak? Any NMMW man worth his salt would of course take full responsibility for anything not completely positive in his relationships!
Seriously, most of us would enjoy a lasting legacy to show that we have contributed to a cause that will benefit the lives of others for generations to come. A planned gift brings your thoughtful planning, vision and extraordinary generosity together in the form of a bequest, beneficiary designation on life insurance or a gift of art, stock, real estate or IRA charitable rollover to New Mexico Men’s Wellness. You can die knowing that your money will be well spent carrying on the good work done by the men you love.
You remain in control of your assets during your lifetime, it costs nothing and can reduce estate tax burdens. Bequests can be a specified dollar amount, a percentage of an estate, or tangible property. If you are considering this, it is important to notify our Board to ensure your intentions are understood and can be realized.
NMMW is a 501©3 organization and any gifts and bequests are tax deductible.
Our tax ID is 56-2503074
Thanks so much for considering!
Due to Covid restrictions, the NMMW Board of Directors
Voted to cancel the Spring Conference at Hummingbird Music Camp.
BRING A BUDDY
The Santa Fe and Albuquerque Bring A Buddy gatherings are still being held via Zoom. If you’d like to attend, please send me an email; I will send you the link to join us. Robert B. Younger (505) 250-1895 email@example.com.
Please remember that we are offering these events on the first Tuesday of every month and that we are open to having new presenters host a topic they have some passion around sharing with other men.
One of our goals is to reach out to our male friends and invite them to share an experience of spending a few hours connecting with other men in a nurturing environment.
Next Santa Fe meeting Tuesday, April 6th at 6:45 p.m. presented by Vittorio La Cerva.
Topic for Discussion: What do I really want?
These five words become no less important as we age. We’ll explore how we invite clarity about our deepest desires, examine where the daily rhythms of our life honor our core values, and elucidate the importance of healthy boundaries in manifesting what we would like.
NMMW NEW WEBSITE
The Tech Committee is still seeking volunteers. Duties include website management, social media, and Eventbrite. If you have a hankering for any of these things and want to hang out with other tech savvy guys, please email Mark Pugsley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 505.715.2011.
Couples Retreat updated info – The NMMW Board will be meeting next on April 3rd and will have information about the Couples Retreat at that time.
BOD – The NMMW Board of Directors will meet next via zoom on April 3rd from 10 to noon. Let Marc know if you would like to attend the meeting at email@example.com.