Aaron Abeyta – Poet, Author, Teacher, Coach, Mayor and San Luis Valley Native

Where were you born?

I was born in La Jara, Colorado (at the hospital there). Put another way, I am a San Luis Valley native from the jump.

At what point in your life did you decide to pursue poetry and writing?

Consciously, I made the call during my junior year of college. I was at Colorado State University to become an English teacher, and for whatever reason I just decided one day that I was going to drop the Education degree and pursue creative writing. It tacked on another year to the whole college experience as I made up a few classes, but it all worked out in the end; I ended up teaching and writing, best of both worlds.

Did you come from a creative family?

Depends on what you call creative. I am the only one that pursued “artistic” things, but if you count the creativity of living on a ranch, making things work as if by magic (i.e. duct tape, baling wire and twine), finding ways to make money stretch beyond its supposed limits, and the day to day life of living in a vibrant oral tradition, then by those standards we were all pretty creative. I really credit my grandpa for being one of my early influences; he told wonderful stories, and I strive, to this day, to create some of his storytelling “form” in all my work, whether it be poetry, letters or fiction.

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Mine Spills Not That Rare

By Christopher Kolomitz

When the Gold King Mine blew out in southwestern Colorado above Silverton in early August, it sent millions of gallons of toxic sludge into the Animas River, turning the popular river orange and prompting closure of the waterway. 

The blowout reminded Central Colorado residents of two eerily similar incidents that fouled the Arkansas River in 1983 and 1985. The toxic discharges on the local river occurred in a period of time when the Environmental Protection Agency was beginning Superfund clean-up of old mines around Leadville. The culprit of both discharges was the Yak Tunnel, which was one of three constructed to drain mines in the district.

Leading up to Superfund designation, the years of inaction were becoming a public health emergency. Drainage ditches in Leadville neighborhoods were turned orange or red because of the heavy metals coming from the historical mines. Annual discharge from the Yak Tunnel was pumping 210 tons of heavy metals into California Gulch, which was then reaching the river, according to the EPA. 

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 By Jennifer Welch – The Crowded Acre

“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.” – Paul Cezanne

How many times has a single head of lettuce changed your life?

I received a call saying that my tank was ready for pickup – the one that I take to the local goat dairy every week to collect over 150 gallons of whey to feed to my pigs. But this time, they also wanted to know if I was interested in some lettuce that a local greenhouse was giving away as animal fodder. Given that pigs will eat nearly anything I said yes, I would take it. And before long I received another call, this time from the owner of the greenhouse, about picking up the lettuce for the pigs. Score. Free food for my little herd of garbage disposals. 

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The Danger in the Fun

By Hal Walter

I was running third place in the last couple miles of the Buena Vista Gold Rush Pack-Burro Race and had just regained much of the ground I’d lost to the leaders. In fact, I’d just seen them turn off the Midland Railroad Grade and onto the steep and rocky trail that leads down to town and the finish.

I followed in their footsteps, anxious to catch back up to them before a final push to the finish line. I was already visualizing catching and passing them on the street.

That’s when I tripped on a rock and went careening toward a big piñon tree.

I could see the trunk approaching at high speed. Since I had a lead rope in my left hand, I instinctively raised my right arm in football stiff-arm fashion to absorb the impact. I bounced off the tree sideways, bloody from some scrapes with smaller branches, and somehow regained my balance while stumbling downhill and not losing my grip on the rope as the burro continued on with a half-ton of momentum.

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Poetry – Dry Creek

Dry Creek By Cole N. Foster, Alamosa, CO Tic, tic, tic, tic, tic – the mouse trundles his tiny trail Just inches back of my head, on the edge of the crusty canvas wall Of the tent Carroll bargained for at the San Diego Goodwill And the pinpoint raindrops murmur on and on, so gentle …

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News from the San Luis Valley

by Gena Dellett Playground Gets Facelift La Puente and the City of Alamosa are partnering with KaBOOM, a Washington. D.C.-based grantmaker, to replace all the play equipment in Zapata Park, located on the southside of Alamosa. The park is three blocks away from La Puente’s homeless shelter. The new play equipment will be valued at …

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Poetry – EEEEEk!

EEEEEk! By Maria Weber, Buena Vista, CO One group of mice underwent bile duct litigation (BDL), where the bile duct was obstructed to cause an accumulation of bile in order to trigger liver fibrosis. The other group was given carbon tetrachloride, a potent toxin which damaged the liver. Both groups were fed capsaicin (the component …

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Poetry – Dearly Beloved

Dearly Beloved Direct observation along the Arkansas Riverwalk By Doris Dembosky, Westcliffe, CO An old man pushes an elderly woman in a wheelchair. He leans into his task as if into a headwind. His age-spotted hands grip the handles of the chair. He lifts his head to judge the distance along the hard-pack, riverside path. …

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Poetry – Ideas…Matter

Ideas….Matter By David J. Rothman – for Wendy Videlock They scatter and sing their truths, their liberty, and invisibly change everything. Meanwhile, the dust, mostly space, remains a squatter and does nothing except face what it must. David J. Rothman serves as the Director of WSCU’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing, and directs the Poetry …

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Poetry – the calculus of you

the calculus of you By Aaron Abeyta, Antonito, CO a balloon is rising at the rate of 5ft/s a boy is cycling along a straight road at a speed of 15ft/s when he passes under the balloon it is 45 ft above him how fast is the distance between the balloon and the boy increasing …

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Regional News Roundup

Mine Spills Not That Rare by Christopher Kolomitz When the Gold King Mine blew out in southwestern Colorado above Silverton in early August, it sent millions of gallons of toxic sludge into the Animas River, turning the popular river orange and prompting closure of the waterway. The blowout reminded Central Colorado residents of two eerily …

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Poetry – Whose Shoes

Whose Shoes By Art Goodtimes – for Michael I walk a mile out the Orvis front door before I realize whose shoes are whose Shortly after your unclosed eyes watched, half-dressed as I laced up the wrong boots & chatted you up about everything except the obvious if inadvertent theft

Nomadic Poetry – You Don’t Have to Suffer

You Don’t Have to Suffer By Craig Nielson You don’t have to suffer like the hungry finches who arrive like Penitentes when the irises first glean themselves into cerulean skies. You don’t have to save the drowning in Bangladesh or stop the soybean plantations from creeping over the volcanic hills. You don’t even have to …

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Chaffee County Poet Margery Dorfmeister Uplifts the Spirit

by Nancy Best Warm, welcoming, peaceful, calming – Margery Dorfmeister’s well-appointed home is all these things. It invites you to come in and stop awhile. Leave your cares by the road. Your worries won’t even make it through the front door. When you step in, your eye is captivated by large windows joined to make …

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Nomadic Poetry – Querencia

Querencia By Peter Anderson Is the space where we are most at home The sound of the word takes me to water, to the river maybe, the nose of a kayak in the heart of a wave, as it spills over a ledge curls back upstream, crests and falls again crests and falls again and …

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Nomadic Love

by Eduardo Rey Brummel Back in 2003, when Craig Nielson was hosting monthly “P3” (Poetry Prose Performance) evenings at the former Bongo Billy’s Café in Salida, he would occasionally witness ensemble performances, which he had also seen during a local poetry festival named Sparrows. Liking the idea of working with other poets, he conceived of …

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Poetry – Revenant

Revenant By Joseph Hutchison Colorado Poet Laureate Thin fire flickers in the nest of old news and skeletal sticks in the grate’s cradle, wrestling its own torpor as it strains to lift the flue’s load of year-end cold. You ponder how it dozed in the starter’s flint, then sparked out, unfurling a plume on the …

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From the Editor

by Mike Rosso Let me begin by declaring that I am not a poet. My attempts at poetry were limited to bawdy limericks penned in grade school. My college journalism teachers did not cover poetry along with the Five Ws. But I do enjoy the medium. Langston Hughes and Charles Bukowski are among my favorites, …

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Quillen’s Corner

by Martha Quillen Do We Still Hold These Truths to Be Self Evident? Remember that declaration about all men being equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? And that concept of government of, by and for the people? Sometimes I wonder whether Americans still believe in …

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Places – The Turner Farm

by Ericka Kastner History buffs and Central Colorado day-trippers need to look no further than Buena Vista’s Turner Farm and Apple Orchard for the perfect way to spend an afternoon. In addition to the 50 apple trees and substantial vegetable and flower gardens on the property, there is also a two-story 1910 farmhouse, a mother-in-law …

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About the Cover Photographer – Jeff Michalek

Photography is the first true mode of time travel. In my process, I search for dimension in blurring the lines between the decades and allowing a story to emerge as reflected in the mindset of the viewer. I employ the earliest methods of photography, because they themselves are a trip back in time and require …

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The Real Deal Music Review– Be.Man, The Mountain Rapper Terraforming Traditions

Terraforming Traditions is a 2015 release by Be.Man, The Mountain Rapper. Appearing as an impressively constructed hip-hop portfolio with a serious slant toward the supernatural, rounded bottom bass beats boom along with every groove; highlighting the supremely juxtaposed radiotelegraphic frequencies extracted from the ionosphere by two innovative DJ robots. These denizens of futurity were gifts …

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Book Reviews

Transient Landscapes: Insights on a Changing Planet By Ellen Wohl University Press of Colorado, 2015, 248 pp, $34.95 ISBN: 978-1-60732-368-6 (cloth) ISBN: 978-1-60732-369-3 (ebook) Reviewed by Virginia McConnell Simmons Whether you are a student just beginning to learn about geomorphology or fluvial systems, a traveler seeking destinations far from the beaten track, or a senior …

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