Ken Hartke

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I'm retired and living solo "out west" in the New Mexico desert. I've been an observer and blogger for years and usually have four or five blogs going but wrote for myself or for friends. A lot of it was travel stories or daily random postings -- but it was a good experience. Red Room allowed me to share things on a wider scale and with its demise, I (maybe) found a more public voice.

Sofia's Bakery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The village sleeps while a few coyotes
prowl and scuff through the alley
that passes for a dusty street.

They own the night. We are
only tenants here at the edge
of the desert; close by the river.

A light is on at the bakery,
as it is every morning in the
long hours before the first glow.

The coyotes are used to it. They
watch her quietly pass by each
morning as regular as the dawn.

Sofia is immersed in the day's
work. Everything is in its place
and ready from the day before.

The old oven heats; the chill fades;
flour in her hair; her morning routine.
Lumps become loaves or anise biscochitos.

The first oven smells are drifting
down the street before sunrise.
She stops for a drink of her coffee.

She likes her coffee strong and sweet;
flavored with cinnamon or cardamom.
She indulges herself at this hour.

Working alone, she enjoys this time of day.
She has a place here in this little village;
like the mortar between the stones.

She recalls her mother, with flour
in her hair, greeting the men on their
way to the fields with fresh bread.

She is ready for the day as she hears
the first sounds from the street.
She smiles and steps out the door.

*     *     *

2018 - The Home Place

 

 

Recent Comments
Jane Phillipson Wilson
This was the first thing I read this morning and it will stay with me all day. Thank you.
Friday, 18 May 2018 14:30
Ken Hartke
Thanks...I hope it stayed in a good way.
Saturday, 19 May 2018 17:04
Rosy Cole
I just love this, Ken. As appealing to the senses as a painting. Thanks :-)
Sunday, 20 May 2018 13:44
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4 Comments

I am Anchored in the River

 

I was born only a few short miles from the Father of Waters. The Mississippi River is a constant presence in my psyche and my memories; always changing, always flowing, never exactly the same. It scoured and flooded our history. It was a demarcation line – so wide that there was us and there was them. You could barely make out a figure on the opposite shore. Were they really there? There were so many stories.

 

   

It could be beautiful, or it could be fearsome. I remember joyful summer days on the deck of the huge excursion boat watching the shoreline and the city glide past. The big ship’s engines vibrated as it made its way through the strong current. The river's cliffs were made of red brick. Tow boats pushed barges up the river. There once were old warehouses that held cotton and furs – and a licorice factory. The old bridge made of granite and iron was built to last 1,000 years and it just might.

   

I lived as a boy near the confluence – where two great rivers flowed together. This is where Lewis and Clark, and a dog named Seaman, began the trip of discovery. This is where we ventured out, across the winter ice, to explore an island in the river. The island was big and wild, positioned where the Missouri River made a long, last bend toward its destiny. I remember the trees…massive trunks soaring skyward with piles of driftwood from ancient floods braced against their feet. There were Snakes.

   

Still later I lived in sight of the Missouri River, named after a local tribe… the People of the Big Canoes. This was near the farthest reach of French settlement in the old colonial days. The river stretched clear to the Rocky Mountains. Some of the river’s water comes from John Colter's Yellowstone and the old pathfinder was buried near here, on the south bank, not far from the edge of civilization in 1813. The sand glitters with promises of Colter's mountains: grains of Granite, Jasper, and Rosy Quartz.

   

Now I live on a hill sloping to the Rio Grande del Norte, called so by the early Spanish. The same river is called Rio Bravo in Mexico. My Keresan Pueblo Indian neighbors say “mets’ichi chena”, maybe the oldest name, meaning Big River – Rio Grande in  Spanish. The Rio Grande is a trickle by comparison to the rivers of my youth, but it is the lifeblood of the desert. Looking across the valley there is a broad forest of ancient cottonwoods following the river south toward the sea. We would not be here without the river.

   

The Navajo call the river “Tó Baʼáadi”, meaning Female River; the southward direction is given a female distinction among the Navajo. So, I have lived alongside the Female River as well as the Father of Waters. The current flows in my veins and I am anchored in the river.

   

 

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
I really enjoyed your piece. Rivers have had a big impact on my psyche and imagination, too. I love rivers. First, I had the Ti... Read More
Sunday, 21 January 2018 18:35
Ken Hartke
The constancy is reassuring.
Monday, 22 January 2018 16:05
Rosy Cole
The way we respond to landscape is enlightening and tells as much about ourselves as the objective world. I like the immersive app... Read More
Saturday, 27 January 2018 17:37
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4 Comments

Slip Over the Edge

 

Quietly slip over the edge;

disappear without a trace.

Follow the old trails.

 

The canyon trails are worn smooth

by bare feet or reed sandals.

Centuries old hand-holds are still there.

 

Trails wind down to hidden pools.

Deep shade is cool below the canyon rim.

Hot sunlight is a stranger down here.

 

The breeze builds toward the afternoon,

channeled up the narrow canyon.

It’s cool among the willows.

 

A dove bathes in the shallow stream.

A hummingbird hovers for an instant

- just checking you out.

 

Time passes slowly down here but

centuries could skip by unobserved;

quietly slipping over the edge.

 

 Enchanted, More or Less – 2017

https://malpaisweb.wordpress.com/

 

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
A glimpse of the timeless, the outside echoing deep in the psyche. How inspiring to be in part of such a landscape, in touch with ... Read More
Saturday, 02 December 2017 00:05
Ken Hartke
I’m glad you liked it. You often see a Moran view heading off toward the horizon.
Saturday, 02 December 2017 00:44
Stephen Evans
Engaging, Ken. The words descend along with the photos..
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 01:08
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6 Comments

The Fading Season

                            

                            The fading season —
                            when all the trees have darkened
                            but before the snow —
                            I build a fire in the grate
                            and find that unfinished book.

 

                                    The new morning chill
                                    draws me to the coffee pot.
                                    The fire still has warmth.
                                    Today’s sky is bright and clear,
                                    best spent walking the canyon.

 

                                            A fresh breeze picks up.
                                            Fallen leaves drift in the current
                                            like fishing boats
                                            heading out to fill their nets.
                                            They sail past the green heron.

 

                                                    The November night
                                                    dark and calm — not yet freezing.
                                                    The Leonids pass
                                                    flashing and fading in streaks
                                                    of yellow among the stars.

 

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Latest Comments

Ken Hartke Sofia's Bakery
20 May 2018
Thanks, Rosy, -- glad you liked it.
Ken Hartke I Promise
20 May 2018
I am so looking forward to your return -- I love your writing and wish you well. From my youth I've...
Stephen Evans I Promise
20 May 2018
Sometimes when I am dealing with deep anxiety I find that work (by which I mean writing), and the f...
Rosy Cole Sofia's Bakery
20 May 2018
I just love this, Ken. As appealing to the senses as a painting. Thanks :-)
Rosy Cole I Promise
20 May 2018
Prayers for you, as ever, Rina. So nice to see you here and good that you're feeling positive. God b...

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