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La Llorona y Los Algodones

When I was growing up in rural New Mexico, the carnival at my school, East Grand Plains Elementary, was  a huge community event. Along with parents and teachers, we spent hours creating ring toss booths, baking cakes for the cakewalk--everyone vying for my Auntie's famous German Chocolate Cake--and, of course, building a haunted house. We didn't always go trick-or-treating because houses were miles apart, so it involved a lot of driving. But on the Saturday closest to Halloween, someone always held a hayride that would haul us by tractored-pulled flatbed or cotton trailer down to the mesquite and cholla covered banks of the Pecos River. There we built a big bonfire and told ghost stories. It was at a hayride that I heard my first La Llorona story. She has haunted  my writing in one form or another since then. "La Llorona" is the first piece of writing I ever submitted for publication; it was published by Writer's Forum in 1975.  And I've added another ghost poem based on the story of Paula Angel, the first person executed in the territory of New Mexico (1861). She haunts the Acequia Madre near Algodones.



La Llorona strolls the banks

of the Rio Pecos

Crying for the child

lost to the red mud


Children play in the sunlight

pretend the remains of sheep

            and the skulls of dogs

            are the bones of the lost baby

They yell down the mud flats and tease

the song from her


At night

            they wait

            for the madness

            of a lonely mother


In Albuquerque

            every child knows

            you fed

on the bones of your children

            to quiet

            the starving

They listen for your cry in the street

            and wait for strong hands

            on the window pane

Charlito will not go out at night

                        La Llorona

He sees you

behind every garbage can

Our ugly faces at the window

watch you pass

into their rooms


We weep our children

into your arms


Writers Forum

University of Colorado

Colorado Springs, 1975





A hung woman looses the rope at her neck

    and sighs beneath the window

    of one adobe room


The coven rises in the nylon of its nightdress

     Lighting on the wires of the power plant

     their sleeves crackle in the haze

                                                of Algodones


A latino band wanders in the luminescence

    of an unearthly moon

                                                the dogs licking at the scent

                                                of their pale footprints


An old woman skirts

                                                the village

    where her memories sleep

    on the south side

    where the coven sways

    to a latino tune

    and the dogs sing in a language

                                                she understands

    Where a woman once sighed

    beneath the window

    of her adobe room


The evenings moan

                                                in Algodones

their fullness invades

the quiet of its houses


Settling in the dust

as the gates are closed

they rise later to banquet

with the darkness



Conceptions Southwest

University of New Mexico



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New Mexico: Amazing

This was spectacular. I just visited New Mexico and wrote my (first) blog all about Dia De Los Muertos in Las Cruces/Mesilla. I loved the culture of New Mexico and the beauty of old Mexican folktales like La Llorona. I think your poem really captured it ("In Albuquerque every child knows . . . " perfect!) and I will definitely read more of your work. I want to connect with the writers of New Mexico more; such a place of inspiration!

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Hello Jane,

I truly enjoyed hearing how you spent Halloween in your home town. Your hayride, bonfire, and ghost stories sounds like something out of the movie theaters - With a loving closeness of family and friends that will always be a true reflection of yourself.

And your poetry is DEEP and spectacular! I can understand why it was selected in the Writer's Forum in 1975.

I also loved reading your blog: "Perfectly Imperfect"..It's such an Amazing story!

Best Wishes in all that you do! I look forward to hearing more:-)


Catherine Nagle