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Poetry as Art and Healing

Poetify features a different Albuquerque poet the last week of every month. October’s feature and premiere Poetify poem is by Tani Arness. It is the perfect poem to “poetify” us in a time of pandemic because her poem is about healing and our community spirit. In a time when people need a sense of community, this poem offers a feeling of spirituality with nature. Tani reads this poem as a featured poet in the Ernie Pyle Library video for the Poets in the Libraries series. Poets in the Library is a virtual event series to be held at each Albuquerque Public Library. To view the schedule of Poets in the Library, visit the cabq.gov calendar of events.

With Gratitude to all the healers

By Tani Arness

We live in a city of 10,000 healers

we live in a city where the sky is a healer

the red mountain is a healer

and the moon rising over the mountain

and the stars moving around the moon

and the cottonwood trees and the sage

and the creosote, coyotes, and crows.

We are surrounded by healers

and still we need more healers

We live in a city of strangers

kind strangers and confused strangers,

we have memorized the difference

between fireworks and gunshots,

a city with stories on fire

and rain that needs to fall.

We walk out the door saying, Goodbye and Be safe.

Because This is a city of hurt people hurting people

and hurt people helping people.

We carry the earth in our bodies.

like we carry gallons of water to leave in the desert

because we know

because the rocks know

and the sun knows, and the wind knows

that hurt people hurt people

and that is no excuse.

We live in a city of 10,000 healers

and still we need more healers.

We light candles and say,

Blessed are we who have been wrong,

who have been shattered and put together again,

blessed are the angry and the meek

and those running down the hillsides

in search of the river,

for we shall know God.

Tani Arness is an Albuquerque poet, high school principal and poetry teacher whose poems explore the intersections of people, land and spirit. A collection of her poems can be found in Tzimtzum:  5 contemporary poets lend us their hearts by Mercury Heartlink Press and at tani-arness.com. 

Mary Oishi was named Albuquerque Poet Laureate on July 1 of this year. A familiar figure in New Mexico’s thriving poetry scene, Oishi is the author of Spirit Birds They Told Me (West End Press, 2011), and co-author with her daughter, Aja Oishi, of Rock Paper Scissors (Swimming with Elephants Publications, 2018), finalist for the New Mexico Arizona Book Award. She is one of 12 U.S. poets in translation in 12 Poetas: Antologia De Nuevos Poetas Estadounidenses (La Herrata Feliz and MarEsCierto, 2017), a project of the Mexican Ministry of Culture. 

To read your original poem as part of the Poets in the Libraries series, send an email with your zip code and the name of the Albuquerque public library closest to your residence to: abqpoetlaureateprogram@gmail.com.