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For Adrian

April 7, 2014

051For Adrian

Yet one more petal from the rose has fallen,

Yet One more strand from the silver chord is cut,

We are leaves scattered as the tree is shaken,

Once through that gate, the way forever is shut….


We blew into Arlington, Texas on a cold November wind with not much more than the clothes we were wearing. I went down to the high school and registered myself in for classes. You were the 1st person to reach out and befriend me. I found your photo online in the yearbook I was a contributing photographer to, but, at that time, too angry to purchase myself. I may have taken this photo, I do not remember. If I did not take it, I took one like it. You were my friend in my deepest darkest time, and for that I am forever grateful. You were also one of the last of my friends I saw before leaving Arlington. A candle in a deep and dark place shines quite brightly, and so you were for me. I have wondered many times how life went for you: Did you find peace? Did you find love and happiness? Did it go well for you? I searched for you online, and instead, found a notice of your death four years past, so I wrote 4 short lines for you.

Eternity’s hands have grabbed you and taken you beyond my futile reach; eternity and eternity’s Divine Maker. I pray that all is well with you, that your spirit rests well, fair maiden, dark haired girl, who thought to reach out to a lost and lonely boy.

Did you find peace? Did you find love and happiness? Did it go well for you?

Your friend,

Leon Miler

From 3 Cranes Fine Art Gallery, M. Colleen Gino Photography

March 6, 2014

M. Colleen Gino Photography

Photo by M. Colleen Gino

Photo by M. Colleen Gino

Two thirds of the way out on one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way, on the vague edge of that arm, there exists an inconsequential yellow star. Around that star rotates a tiny blue speck located at just the right distance to create the perfect conditions for stellar skies, sunrises, and sunsets. No more spectacular skies can be found on that blue speck than in New Mexico on which to create magical sunrises and sunsets. M Colleen Gino does a masterful job catching that transient light, framing the image so that the sky and the earth form parallel planes receding to the horizon. Colleen has given us a unique perspective on New Mexico skies;- skies that are like no other when they choose to display their high drama, with the clouds on their own plane between the earth and the sky, with the sun showing through like a fire on the edge of the world, casting crepuscular rays, or frosting the clouds with red and orange. The mountains are just part of the set’s backdrop for the play’s last act to be performed, sometimes forming the vanishing point where all things converge, and we are the audience, inhabitants of that miraculous little blue speck.


Lemitar, NM Sunset, Photo by M. Colleen Gino

Photo by M. Colleen Gino

Photo by M. Colleen Gino,

Photo by M. Colleen Gino

Photo by M. Colleen Gino










Cats. Who owns them? Independent, winsome, curious, stalking, lazy, bemused, but always independent, and captured in well crafted, sympathetic studies, neither understated, nor overstated.




M. Colleen Gino’s work can be found at 3 Cranes Fine Art Gallery, at 715 N. California St., Socorro, NM 87801 ph 575-835-3000 Email: website:

Photo by M. Colleen Gino

Old School House, Socorro, NM,Photo by M. Colleen Gino

Photo by M. Colleen Gino

Ebbetts Cafe, Magdalena, NM, Photo by M. Colleen Gino




A Rio Grande Story

January 4, 2014
Rio Grande Sunset
Rio Grande Sunset
I hear the cranes are flying ahead of the storms. Winter’s coming. The moon is high in the sky, like a half eaten cookie, and the stars are strewn like crumbs showing faintly through the moon cast light.
Who remembers spring?
The Rio Grande was flowing high and the catfish were swimming upstream to spawn, but who remembers? Who remembers the spring flowers that have turned to straw and rattle in the wind? The cottonwoods have turned yellow where the springs break out of the mountain, and the rushes too are turning to straw and will soon rattle in the wind beneath the waxing and waning moon. Who remembers all the promises, the smiles, the sweet, sweet words spoken under a warmer and gentler breeze?
Button your coat. The wind is restless in the pines tonight.
Swimming Upstream

Swimming Upstream


That the cottonwoods still stand
Overshadowing the bank.
That the catfish still swim upstream
In the spring to procreate,
That the willows still
Grow on the sometimes
Islands in the stream.
There where the datura grows
On the canal banks with their
Perfect white trumpets denying
There deadliness,
There where the sunflowers form
Congregations that bend their heads
To follow the sun,
There where the snowy egrets gather to muck in the mud…
That the warm hand of spring will brush
Your cheek once again.
The Flood at High Tide watercolor by A. Leon Miler

The Flood at High Tide watercolor by A. Leon Miler

When I was younger, I walked on the Oregon beach on a rainy, drizzling, chill, winter day. I found a dogfish all tangled up in seaweed just above where the waves were breaking on the sand. I don’t know what led to its demise. If the seagulls or the ravens did not get it, then the next tide did. The smell of the ocean and seaweed is quite a bit removed from the smell of cottonwoods on the banks of the Rio Grande, but I know the cold ocean waves still come in, still pull back, as certain as the fog horn blowing through the early morning mist like a warning in a dream, though it lies a thousand miles away. There are reefs lying under the rain and the waves, submerged beneath your closed eyes. Don’t run aground sleepwalking. Don’t let contrary currents undermine your footing and sweep you away before the gray morning arrives to sweep your dreams and slumber away.
A good, rational argument may tell you why, but it seldom wins your heart, while good art may, like a warm hug and embrace, win your heart, but leave you still wondering if the kisses were true. Don’t throw your shoe at the argument; no, make it prove that its love is true, let it artfully reach for your heart, while teasing the dust from the corners of your mind.
Lady of the Lake

Lady of the Lake

I’ve been told that the devil has said:
“I take men’s souls one at a time, I don’t need to do the apocalypse thing.”
You don’t dialog with the devil. There’s nothing, really, to talk about, there is no common ground, just a question of who’s getting title to your soul.
Arthur won his battles even at Mt. Badon, but in Mordred there was treachery and death. They say that a crane’s beak shrouded in mist resembles a sword being held up above the water by a white robed hand. Some throw their swords into the pool, some their spare change, but whether Lady Luck responds, or shows her hand, or merely waves you on to Avalon, or whether there is a mist shrouded crane daring you to be mystical about what you see is another matter. “But, let’s not go to Camelot, ’tis a silly place”, and beside all that, it’s not in New Mexico, so, no need, really, to go there.
Lady of the Lake

Lady of the Lake

 The Rio Grande runs through a rift valley, a torn piece of the continent caused by the east bank’s refusal to move at the same pace as the west side of the rift. This has done some violence to the surrounding geography. The mountain that shadows our house as the sun goes down, stands as the ruin of an ancient volcano, the eastern edge of a massive caldera. Above the far side of the valley lies the Quebradas, over which the morning sun rises, a sedimentary tilt of layered rock broken into ravines and arroyos, a sandstone paradise where ancient fossils live on in stone. The ocotillos grow there with their brilliant scarlet flowers, mesquite and yucca, various opuntia cacti and Apache plume, as do the junipers with liberal doses of desert grasses and desert flowers in season.
 The river begins its run in the mountains of Colorado, picking up snow water and red dirt as it goes south.  By the time it gets to us in Socorro, the rift valley is filled with several thousand feet of sediment. The river has done its job well, making a very good place for growing chiles and the things that make life worth living here. The river keeps on moving, a long, skinny avenue for the water heading south, eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. The river did not name itself, did not make a claim to the title of “the Grand River”. It’s not that pretentious. It’s just an avenue for things floating downstream and things swimming upstream, a place from which cottonwoods can drink, an avenue for fish and turtles, a resting place for the cranes in the winter, a refuge for deer and wild turkeys.
In the spring, we gather our jackets, our lanterns, our fishing poles, toss them in the back of the pickup and go on down to the river, turning where the blacktop ends onto the gravel and dirt canal road. There we pick our spot between the cottonwoods, light our lanterns, and cast out into the darkness and silence, into the sound of water moving, gurgling, sloshing, but, always moving. The bait hits the water with a plop, out beyond where the light reaches, swings with the current and drifts into the deep spot up against the bank downstream from where we sit and wait in silence.

Stories From Socorro: Elfego Baca

July 8, 2013
Elfego Baca (watercolor by a. leon miler)

Elfego Baca (watercolor by a. leon miler)

Socorro, in the 1880’s was a boom town.  The railroad came to town, there were silver mines in nearby Magdalena, and smelters in Socorro.  Likewise, there were a lot of ranches opening up in the surrounding areas.  Both professions brought in a lot of new comers seeking their fortunes.  Before this time, Socorro was a quiet farming community in the Rio Grande valley.  This is the environment that Elfego Baca came of age in.

At 19 years of age, Elfego Baca decided he wanted to be a sheriff. Legend and fact on this and many of the things that followed are sometimes difficult to untangle. Whether he was self appointed or legitimately deputized is unclear. He claims to have purchased his badge at a local store.  The Socorro area at the time saw the opening up of many new ranches along with the arrival of ranch hands; mostly cowboys from Texas & many of them not the most upstanding of citizens. It was the behavior of these cowboys towards the Hispanic citizens that caught Elfego’s attention.  Elfego is reported to have asked the sheriff why he didn’t stop the lawlessness, to which the sheriff responded that if Elfego wanted to do something, to go ahead. So, he did.

In October, 1884 Elfego took his new badge and gun to San Francisco, New Mexico (now Reserve) where he arrested a drunken cowboy at the request of the saloon keeper. It did not take long for his friends to come to his aid and demand his release. Elfego refused. This resulted in the Frisco shootout which lasted over 36 hours. 4000 shots were fired by 80 cowboys against the single Elfego Baca. When it was over, there were 4 dead and 8 wounded.

Elfego agreed to “surrender” to the local justice of the peace. He kept his guns, rode in the back of the wagon, and no one was allowed to get closer than 30 feet, while the “guards” were forced to stay 25 feet in front of the wagon..

Elfego was tried for murder and acquitted after the door to the adobe house he had taken refuge in was entered as evidence, showing 400 bullet holes in it.

Elfago Baca later became the legitimate Sheriff of Socorro County, U. S. Marshal, mayor, lawyer, and prosecuting attorney. He died peacefully at the age of 80 in 1945.

There are many differing elements to this story, some of them fostered by Elfego himself. He was a man of his times. He studied law on his own and passed the bar exam to become a lawyer.

The following link goes to a Library of Congress document of an interview of Elfego Baca done as part of a WPA project in the 1930’s.

Next up:  A Catfish story…

Elfego Baca photo restored by a. leon miler for City of Socorro

Elfego Baca photo restored by a. leon miler for City of Socorro

Elfego Baca Memorial in Reserve, NM

Elfego Baca Memorial in Reserve, New Mexico

Stories from Socorro: an Introduction

July 4, 2013

viva yaViva Ya! (oil painting by a. leon miler)

In my town people dance on the plaza. In the afternoon, old men sell watermelons and chillies from the back of old pickups. Travelers stop to take pictures of San Miguel Church started 400 years ago by the Spanish for the local pueblo ( Someone is selling tamales outside the grocery store on California St., visitors to the college go shopping for souveniers, and tonight a band is playing on the plaza.

Socorro is not Santa Fe. It isn’t even Santa Fe lite. It is Socorro, and tonight the band is playing; people will be there dancing on the plaza.

A town is more than buildings, and history is not made by chance events, but rather people build things and do things, and people have lived in Socorro for a very long time indeed. They 1st arrived here a thousand years ago, more or less. I suspect, they too, danced in the plaza as many of their descendants, the Piros of the the Piro-Manso-Tiwa Tribe of Guadalupe Pueblo, in Las Cruces still dance on Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta day*.

We have been to weddings on the plaza, memorials on the plaza, luminarias on the plaza, farmer’s market on the plaza, but at night, at closing time, when nothing is happening, the plaza gets exceptionally quiet.

It is my intent to write several Socorro themed pieces, for Socorro is one of the most curious places I have lived.

*Many of the Piro people of the Socorro pueblos retreated south with the Spanish during the pueblo revolt. See also

 See also:

closing timeClosing Time  (oil painting by a. leon miler)

All for a Dream

June 9, 2013

raven spiral 1-8-2012

There’s restlessness in the breeze,

Warm and easy though it is,

Like the smell of springtime, she’s

Already got her mind made.

The pleasure is, while it lasts,

Where sun cast shadows are laid.

Softly, the sun’s love kisses

Tightly in a warm hug.

You know, truly, one misses

These things on a rainy day.

“O, but my love has promised

She will never go away…”

Like an old worn love song,

I don’t know about life, I’ve

Been living asleep too long,-

All for a dream.

There’s restlessness in the breeze,

Without thought the pine trees talk,

Branch on branch, whispers to tease

You with melancholy strains,

Lullabies that will promise

All things in countless refrains,-

All for a dream.

There’s restlessness in the breeze

That prompts me to wander far

Away, though my feet don’t seize

The moment. Gather your strength,

The sun’s glow hobbled, obscured,

Dark shadows, they grow in length,

At world’s edge, to make one grand

Blazing exit, fading sparks….

There’s restlessness in the land,

The owl’s hunting, a dog barks,

All for a dream.

You smile searching for a dream,-

There was a comet passing

Crossing through a starry stream

Just over the horizon.

I never saw its passage,

I’m told fortunes will anon

Change, that the mighty soon shall

Fall. It moves with a sliver

Of moon sliding cold and fell,-

There’s restlessness in the breeze,-

All for a dream.

ravens calligraphic 1-8-2012


May 29, 2013


Freedom is a blackbird

living on the road,

eats what he eats for free,

and the rest he steals.

Freedom is a blackbird,

takes at any moment

only what can be taken,

and does not pursue the rest.

Passive in the face of what

cannot be won,

he sheds no tears for me

engaged in active futility.

What does freedom bring for gifts?

Freedom is perched up high

looking to take.

Freedom shall give nothing

but a wasted & wanton feather.

When freedom flies away

and I remain on the road,

and what remains

washes away in a winter rain

leaving me stranded

like yesterday’s news in a thornbush,

when freedom flies away

what will I say?

Is Freedom a bandit?


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