The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Dick Altman

The Visitor


I wake each morning to spokes of light flaring across
the Rio Grande Valley. Another post-modern day in Indian country.

Casinos, as if steel mills, run a third shift, to meet sunrise,
while hardscrabble farms pray for water and electricity,
and Los Alamos leaches onto rez land artifacts of early atomic wonder.

Except at powwow.

I am the sole white, the outsider, dodging beach chairs and coolers.
I orbit the dance circle, eavesdrop on ancient tongues, witness embers of ritual and myth reignite.

My otherness loses itself in the leather-throated chorus of elders,
the animal-like, drum-driven gestures of the young. As though
for one shamanistic moment, I am brother to all.

But in the Native high desert, the sun holds a blade to my face.
I tighten the Stetson over my eyes, to avoid the accusing edge.
No longer one of the crowd…no magic to make it so.




DICK ALTMAN ran a New York marketing agency before moving to New Mexico in 2007, when, he says, he crossed the street from prose to poetry. His work has run in the Santa Fe Literary Review and elsewhere, and won first prize for poetry in the Santa Fe New Mexican’s 2015 writing competition. Studying for an MA in English at the University of Chicago, he says, “put me in poetry’s grip, and it never let go”.



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