Monday, December 28, 2009

Horse Trainer

I pictured Suzanne Norton Jones
as a tall, stern, ranching woman
in her 50s – imagining someone like
Barbara Stanwyk of the Big Valley.

Our eyes met in the hallway
before a recent 4-H Hall of Fame ceremony.
"You look like you are looking
for mischief," she said.
Older and shorter than I thought,
her kind smile beamed
above her long, sunken chin,
a gleam in her eyes, soft-spoken words.
She compared people with horses.
She knew what a horse was thinking
by reading its eyes.

I said to her, "A horse laughed at me once."
A long time ago, a stable worker
set me up with a horse, fit
me in a saddle, and disappeared.
I wiggled the reins three times,
tap, tap, tap with my heels on the horse's flanks.
I said, "Come on! Come on!"
No response.
I yanked on the reins.
The horse swung his head around,
looked at me, twisted his lips
as a laughing chimp with bared teeth.
I deserved to feel like a fool.

Suzanne's body shook with laughter.
I knew she would love my story.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Recent Move

oh, the back aches, stressed neck
tensed shoulders....dry, cracked fingers
from handling newsprint, many boxes
rolls of packing tape, beat up knuckles
bled from sores, lost weight
aching feet, and all the hours spent
packing, moving and cleaning

xxxxx a quiet place,
xxxxx free from trashy, low-life neighbors
xxxxx drug dealers and worthless whores

xxxxx free from broken windows, neighbors
xxxxx yelling, hitting, screaming, cussing...
xxxxx watching police arrive to settle disputes
xxxxx and other noises that kept me awake
xxxxx at night, like loud hip-hop rap flap

more than a new page, a whole new book
new scene, different chapters
tomorrow I will look back, laugh
at the insanity of living there

I love having my own carport, picket fence
and gate to help me feel more secure
two yards, two porches, a storage/shop/laundry room
and all the other things I've been wishing for

my own house

First Days

Rejoice! Rejoice!
first night
first shower
first breakfast
first loads of laundry
first time to take out the trash
first snow
first time to close the gate
first meal on the gas stove

meet my next door neighbor
deal with a barking dog in my yard
use the bathroom, wash some dishes
drive to a new grocery store
throw frozen food into my new fridge
welcome first visitors

I miss the first trash pickup

spot a white cat scampering through the yard
who trips the sensor lights outside

pick up the phone and hear a dial tone
hook up my computer and the internet works

Hallelujah! I celebrate!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Desert Song

The desert knows no silence;
wind whispers a million legends.
It hears the wails and happiness
of those in the wild, breathing in
the same air, same spaces.
All meet the sky, moon,
rolling hills. Paws leave
impressions in fine soil,
at times scorching from sun,
cooling after rain and cloud cover.

Nature knows no boundaries except
where rain chooses to fall,
forming puddles so plants,
insects, and animals can drink
from the land. So that minerals
sleeping deep in the earth
can grow crystalline structures.
So that cactus leaves can maintain storage
for use during droughts. So life
can see the desert's succulence.
Sand dunes roll into a majestic mountain,
sitting stronger than a fortress,
slowly shifting over hundreds of years.

Every step or crawl on dirt
creates a sound, as wind whips
into a howl, as rain drizzles or pelts,
as a warming touch from the sun's light
kisses shade. Every bark and roar
from friend or foe, every flapping whir
from bee or hummingbird, even
a quiet landing of moth or butterfly –
a desert will never be silent,
though it seems so from a distance.


"Try the sushi," he said.
Trusted his gleeful

Waiter brought me
an artful plate – a half
dozen or more. Perfect
spacing of well-formed
pieces, rice and raw fish
rolled in seaweed. A thin
luster coating each.
Steam wiggled upward
from their centers,
wafted into my nostrils.
Their smell, non-appetizing.
Stink pursed my lips,
wrinkled my nose, put bile
on defense – at the pit.

Do I cut with a fork?
Eat with my fingers?
Gouge with chopsticks?
I remember the gleam
in his eyes, smile on
his face, saying, "I know
you're going to love this."

Just one teeny, tiny nibble.
Forced myself to swallow.
Eeuw! Coughed it up.
Spit it out. Is he trying
to kill me? What is this –
dead fish that soaked for days
in a cesspool, rolled in dirt,
plopped on my plate?
How could he eat his?
I wanted American food!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Black and White

Just because black is not a color
it doesn't mean you have to hit me
with it. It's not about blackness really,
it's about occupying white space, visible
like tints and shades mixed together.
Some colors, when muddied, make black.
It is who I have become -- a blue-eyed
soul addicted to color, respectful of black,
a multifaceted black, a good strong black,
like the black ink on printing plates,
toners at work, pens used to write.
Black is beautiful and bold, as the polish
that shines my black S.A.S. brand shoes.
I never thought of black as depressing
except, maybe, at someone's funeral
when everyone wears black.
How can I be negative when so many
positives play around in black spaces?

Just because white is bare as if nothing there
you don't have to stare at me so blankly.
Lots of white space is good. It helps me breathe,
think, imagine...imagine black pieces here,
white places in between, a graphic image
I took pains to design on a white sheet,
white text transposed over a black box,
a plain white sheet used to scribble on,
write poetry, plan schedules, make lists.
White makes me feel pure, though I know I am not.
White is clean and cut. White is carved marble.
It is the color of my skin, wishful as the whim
of my thinking, as the waddle in my walk.
Though white lacks color, it is
the color of snow, reflecting light,
white on my walls and shelves,
white on my shirt that hangs in the closet,
the whites of my eyes, a square on a board game,
a ring on a target, lines on the flag,
the whiteness I see when I pass out.

Drool Pool

After all, Chester was curious –
assuming I had a loud snore
with my mouth dropped wide open,
like it always does when my schnoz
is stopped up while I am sleeping.
Perhaps the cat thought
I was choking or dying
and thought he'd better sit
on my chest to see what's wrong.

Wrapped tight in a blanket as if
in a straight jacket, I couldn't move.
Maybe he did the right thing,
playing Dr. Chet. He woke me up
staring down at me with one green eye
and one blue eye. His upper respiratory
was no bill of health either, purring
until his nose dripped and drooled.
"What are you doing Chet?
Get off my chest! Get off of me!"

The more I struggled, the more he
sat there purring, drooling, until
drops filled the indented
area at the pit of my neck,
becoming a drool pool.

Dating Myself

Actors and actresses long forgotten.
Classic TV shows refresh my mind –
much loved shows after 35 years,
thanks to DTV and Retro TV.
"Oh yeah, there's what's his name!"

Analog and rabbit ears now the past.
New box on top of my TV.
New flat antenna on a top shelf.
DTV not fun to watch during storms,
images staggering, a pixel dance,
worse than zoomed images in Photoshop.

These shows equal the good days--
messages with fine morals.
I miss the old favorites – Emergency,
Rockford Files, Dragnet, Magnum P.I.,
Ironside, Night Gallery, Alfred Hitchcock –
when subdued colors flicker to outrageous reds,
as if characters all have high blood pressure.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Doves amuse me. No wonder
cats stay entertained when watching
a dove walk. The faster they go,
the faster their heads slide forward
and backward like on a train track,
speeding along until I laugh.

Cooo coo cooooooooooo!
Wo-o-o-o Wo-o-o-o-o-o-o!
I want to make train noises
when a dove runs. Draw a dove
with a horizontal pulley
and speed lines at the neck
to illustrate how fast
the dove-train head moves.

Last Breakfast in Des Moines

A shy servant in her 60s smiled as I spooned
breakfast buffet food onto my plate.
I wondered if she was a Bosnian refugee.
Her shoulder-length hair, bleached, dry, wiry--
looked shampooed but unconditioned. She weighed
more than I weigh, a head taller, grayish-blue eyes.
Her English sufficient. She understood enough.
While I waited for plain, scrambled eggs,
she asked, "Are you coming back again next year?"

"No, Ma'am. I'm going to Florida. This Conference
meets in a different state each year. Do you travel much?"
"Vunce (once) a year I go to Yōō'dup (Europe) to see my father."
Soon, she implied that her mother passed away,
had been gone since '94. Tears and sadness welled
on the whites of her eyes. The more she spoke,
the more she gulped her words. A lump formed
in my throat, tears rolled into my eyes.

"God bless you, Ma'am." I extended my arms,
wrapped them around her neck, pressing
my right cheek against hers, offered a hug.
"I must sit down now to eat my breakfast."
We nodded our heads at each other. "Goodbye."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

ACE Conference in Des Moines, Iowa

I just got back late last Wednesday from an ACE Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. I was gone for six days. ACE stands for Association for Communication Excellence (in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences). I stayed at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown--a very nice hotel. My room was on the 15th floor and yes, I slept on a big, plump, king-sized bed.

The pre-conference writing workshop was excellent. The writing, publishing, and photography breakout sessions were great and interesting. I even sat in on a two-part session where we made baby sock monkeys. I didn't get to finish mine though. I guess sock monkeys are a big thing in Iowa. Not many people showed up at the Graphic Design Special Interest Group meeting. I took lots and lots of notes and had more stuff to haul back in my big suitcase (which was almost too heavy to make it back on the plane).

The Publishing Powerhouses Tour was excellent. On that tour, I saw the Des Moines Register (the local newspaper that's been around since 1849), the Meridith Corporation (a humongous company responsible for anything and everything that has to do with Better Homes and Gardens), and August Home Publishing Company (who publish "how-to" information magazines like Woodsmith, Workbench, ShopNotes, Garden Gate and Cuisine at Home). I was disappointed with the tour through the Des Moines Register. We get there, we're led to the fourth floor and into a conference room to hear some guy talk mostly about the newspaper's Web site. No tour through the facility (because the workers were on deadline). No tour to see their huge presses because apparently their presses are in another building somewhere else. At the Meridith Corporation, I got to see displays, the testing kitchens, the prop rooms and photo shoot rooms where photos are taken for all the magazines they do. The Meridith Corporation is one amazing operation. I was thoroughly impressed. The August Home Publishing Company was interesting. We toured through three buildings to see the wood working shops, wood finishing shops and some beautiful, finished furniture. The three tour guys were so down home.

As usual when I travel somewhere, I had issues with the food served at the guest speaker luncheons and dinners (because of my milk product food allergies; and boy-oh-boy, there were milk products in just about everything). Other than that, I think the ACE Conference was better than the one last year (in Traverse City, Michigan).

Lots of stuff happened at the Conference. On Monday night, we were under a tornado warning which touched down 16 miles away from where we were. So that was close. I didn't catch which town was hit by that tornado, nor did I hear how much damage it caused. My necklace I made sold at the live auction for $150. I tried to sell some other handmade choker necklaces, but no one bought any. I did sell one of my poetry chapbooks though. I attended the ACE Banquet, a reception honoring Dr. Jim Evans, and entertainment by the eXtension Chords. Yes, I had fun shaking my booties. I buddied around with two other people from New Mexico State University and three people from North Dakota State University. At least I wasn't lonely. I went to the State Historical Building for our "night out" with food, dancing, and to see the exhibits. I hope you enjoy some of the photos I took. See below.

Buildings in Des Moines, Iowa

© 2009 Photos by Sue Miller

State Historical Building Exhibits - Des Moines, Iowa

© 2009 Photos by Sue Miller

Monday, May 11, 2009

Miss Roxy Roo

I miss my favorite cat, Miss Roxey Roo.
I remember those early mornings,
her body draped across my shoulder.
The way she wagged her fluffy tail
that wrapped around my neck
and fanned my nose until those
super fine hairs sucked into my mouth
and into my nose with every inhale, buffed
my face 'til I spewed, scratched and sneezed.

She loved to prop her smooth, velvety,
Persian head on my comfortable pillow,
lifted and gleamed her lime-green eyes
then smacked her lips for her silent meow
to catch my smile through sleepy blue eyes.

I miss petting her long-black fur
wiggling my fingertip in the hole space between
her soft-padded paws, touching her pug nose,
wet like dew, marveling at her idling purr
which hummed a tune of contentment.

She pranced and held her tail up high,
that powder puff, my little Zsa Zsa.
She answered to her silly nicknames,
like "Putty McDutty" and "Little Spudnutty."
She came to my high whistle sounds.

My in/out girl who picked her food,
guarded the yard and scared large dogs.
Made acrobat stunts, grand somersaults,
like a moonstruck cat on a full-moon night.
She pounced my fingers between the cushions,
poked 'til I bled if I moved too slow.
Chased long strings I dragged through the house,
'til she got tired and plopped on the carpet.
Sat by windows and chattered at birds,
swung her head as they swooped from trees.

I remember one day...
she scampered, shameless into the kitchen,
brought in a bird covered in snow.
Yes, it flew behind the fridge, riled
the humans which excited her,
and made us late fixing dinner.

We played fun games like hide and seek.
Imagine me shuffling down the hall
on all fours as if I'm a cat –scuffed
my knees and hurt my wrists, turned
the corner to hide in my room.
I think she laughed along with me.

She followed me like a loyal shadow,
in the yard and around the house,
trailed behind me to the street corner.
I carried her back to the house,
cradled her lovingly in my arms
as if she were a sweet, little child.

I still miss my sweet little Roxy.
She's been gone over 20 years.

Neighborhood Walk #3

I walked to the park again
and to a place down the street –
for exercise, photos,
Vitamin D from the sun,
inspiration, nature –
hoping to see something minuscule,
bugs, dandelions, objects windblown.

To capture new images
with my camera –
textures in tree bark and
bus stop grill work,
ruggedness in rocks,
frailness or strength in twigs,
even tire tracks on the dirt made
by two yellow Caterpillar trucks
sitting by a large hole
that workmen have dug there.

Like my hair blown by the wind,
I saw the resiliency of life
in grass, leaves, wildflowers.
I would think the wind
would rip all of it out by the roots.

Ground cover with yellow flowers
the size of a freckle on my arm,
and purple flowers half the size
of my palm, met the roundness
of my camera lens, and eager clicks
of my finger on the shutter.
I wish I knew their names.

For the first time I saw beauty
in weeds, even those dried up,
droopy and wrinkled, stuck
by the ditch on El Paseo and Farney,
a ditch half full of murky water,
stippled by white and yellow streaks
made by the sun, trickling
between large trees
in neighbor's back yards.

The wind forced water ripples
in the same direction as my path.
On that path, supple plants soaking
what's needed from the water,
green in contrast to whitish dry weeds
next to tall, reddish-stemmed
growth that looked like Amaranth.
White flowers - pollinated
by a zipping hummingbird
moving too fast for me to
stare at its colors or take a picture –
its fluttering wings cutting air.

That alone was worth the trip,
realizing that nature takes care of itself
without worrying about life,
death and all stages in between.


A relic, old school, traditionalist,
a dinosaur. I must be ancient when...
xxxxxxxxxxmy preference is oldies –
like classic soul power,
early rock and roll, doo-wap,
post second-war blues, gospel, jazz.
Four and five-part harmonies –
horn-driven, guitars, funky saxophones,
walking bass shuffles, call and response,
turnarounds, improvisations.
xxxxxxxxxxDigs deep into my veins.
Carves itself into my brain. Mesmerized.
Wanting more. A habit.
Like a feisty old fish caught
on a hook but I can't get away.
I'm dancing on reeled-in line,
satisfying the pits of my everything
xxxxxxxxxxand loving it.


Loud gray pigeons, cooing,
surround one brown one.

Some peck between gravel,
search for wind-blown seeds
from yellow-flowered shrubs.

A sated fat pigeon
hobbles along the curb,
performs a dance,

part clumsy curtsy, some wobble,
a little trip and fall, prancing,
part "Madam, look at me."

She, a center of attention,
stands firm, dignified,
perhaps amused
by the entertainer, Mr Fatso –
white-chested, ash-bellied.

I picture him wearing a white
round hat, white jacket,
tapping a baton, a grand fanfare.

Oh the competition, abundance
and what a pronouncement
out of 10 or 20 cooing males
to one reserved, silent female.

She ignores the others
who wait and stare at her.
They hope she chooses
one of them who cares,
won't bring fake promises
as would the showman,
the quick overnighter –
Mr. Extraordinaire.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dragonflies and Tadpoles

Poem and Collage by Sue Miller

Except where otherwise noted, these works
are licensed under
Tadpoles (May 7, 2008) by Pingu1963 / Marjon Kruik
Caught (August 11, 2007) by D'Arcy Norman
Dragonfly (July 15, 2008) by Krikit

a young teen
exploring my neighborhood
other side of the dam
east end of Madrid Street

during summer monsoons
muddy pools
rainwater sat for days
stench from heat, humidity,
sun-baked growths
water life co-habitating
screaming frogs, blue
and red-wing dragonflies,
sun-drenched butterflies,
ugly tadpoles, biting mosquitos,
curious birds

I thought nothing of it
hopped on my bicycle
carried jars and butterfly nets
peddled to the dam
to the stinky pond

pretended to be a biologist
spent hours catching, scooping,
observing tadpoles and dragonflies
sometimes alone, sometimes
with brother Bill and his friends

Hills and Heavens

Once I sat on smooth boulders by a waterfall –
Watched a bat dive-bomb to catch
gnats and flies, fearing rabies if the bat bit me.
Stared at a pencil-thick water snake wiggle
in a small pool of runoff. Gazed at a lizard
and skink as they dashed across rocks, disappeared
into sage brush, buried themselves in sand.

Another time I fell into a large bed of big black ants,
sprained my left ankle. The sound of ripping tendons.
Piercing pain, hot flushes, white flashes, cold sweat.
Nearly passed out. Could not get up. In the midst
of stickers and weeds, ants and a bee,
my ankle swelled to twice its size.

When I camped at Faywood Hot Springs –
it took forever to set up a green tent in the dark.
Tried making sandwiches but one fell on nasty dirt.
Sat naked in the hot spring. Watched a million stars until...
one coyote started, then another, and another, and another,
until I heard frightful yaps of hysterical laughter
ricochet off the hills in surround sound.
That night I could not sleep, felt a slithering snake
slide under the tent at the small curvature of my back.
Scared, wondered why I take chances for my thrills.
I am holding the hills and heavens in my heart.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Classic Car Show (Las Cruces, NM)

© 2009 Photos by Sue Miller

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Resting Place

© 2009 – Collage and poem by Sue Miller
Tranquility – just what I needed,
relaxation, my get-away,
a new sanctuary for part of a day
near picnic tables, a creek, pines
in the Black Range Mountains.
Peaceful water rippled, trickled
as I listened for little bubble pops
by fish kissing water surfaces.
Red and yellow wildflowers
danced in the breeze
as a prudent bee pollinated,
a stink bug raised its hind end
under my close inspection,
patches of healthy clovers half covered
a pathway around boulders,
a cool gentle wind made goose bumps
on bare arms. The sun tapped my shoulders
in the blue gaps of sky and tall pines.
May the hands of God rise from the water,
release a white dove into the air
to bless this hidden place.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Antique Shop on Picacho (Las Cruces, NM)

© 2009 Photo by Sue Miller

Shop on Picacho (Las Cruces, NM) - The Gen

© 2009 Photo by Sue Miller

© 2009 Photo by Sue Miller

The Gen is a costume rental place.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nature on NMSU Campus

© 2009 Photo by Sue Miller

© 2009 Photo by Sue Miller

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Old Adobe Building

© 2009 Photo by Sue Miller

I think I stepped
through this door once
over thirty years ago;
a friend's parents owned
this Old Mesilla building
catty corner across
from the old Post Office.

How silent it stands
leaning and weathered,
huge cracks between
each mud brick,
large rough gaps
around the small window
secured by bars and grate,
and rat holes
by this shabby wooden door.

I wonder if spirits
of locals and tourists
from those bygone days
still wander inside
shopping for trendy items;
and what about
years before,
what they wore
in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Mesilla Tree #1

© 2009 Photo by Sue Miller
worn and hungry

like the cracked,
aged, sandy
mud-brick building
behind you

as the yard
around you,
I see
a wise old wizard
with electrified hair
under that stiff,
pleated, tattered robe
parched bark,
as wiggling snakes,
or welded twigs
that climb like weeds

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

© 2009 Photo by Sue Miller

Friday, January 30, 2009

By the Rio Grande River

© 2009 Photo by Sue Miller

By the Rio Grande River

© 2009 Photo by Sue Miller

Organ Mountains

© 2009 Photo by Sue Miller

Monday, January 26, 2009


Strands of beads.
Need three hands
holding this thing
plus three more hands
holding that thing,
slide my thumbnail
under a split ring
to hold it open
long enough to force
a loop through it,
but my thumbnail slips.
I scream.
Strands "recoil" here,
strands "twap" there,
some "twuang,"
some "toing"
Need two more hands
to hold beads,
strands, clips,
loops, rings,
wire, pliers,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunset in Park Across the Street

© 2009 Sue Miller

Potted Flowers

© 2009 Sue Miller


© 2009 Sue Miller

Acorns on the Ground

© 2009 Sue Miller

Leaves and Grass

© 2009 Sue Miller

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Things Under/Around My Christmas Tree

(c) 2008 Photos by Sue Miller

Cute Christmas Card

A 3-D card I received. The chair swings.