Love note to New Mexico
I met you at a New Year’s Eve Party in Taos.
I fell in love with the desert texture of your skin.
I came back for a wedding in Santa Fe, held
rose quartz and silinite to open my heart, burned
every break up letter in the Valley of Fires.
I believe in aliens and whiskey, so it makes sense
that I came back for him. I am easy
as a bottomless lake. I dreamed
of moving to Truth or Consequences once.
I still might, if only for the mineral water.
If only to trade skyscrapers for horizon.
I forget how gorgeous an O’Keefe is
once you leave the museum. Remember
how sunset is mystery, how lava
is thirsty. How I could find a red lotus
in a minefield of cattle bones. And now
Albuquerque, full of the rattle of poems.
I am coming for your borderline,
for the taste of ink and dust,
to talk into your arid,
and come up full.
Activist, poet and federal employee Natalie E. Illum is a founding board member of Mothertongue, a spoken word and creative writing non-profit for women and young girls for since 1998. She has an MFA in creative writing from American University and teaches poetry workshops in a variety of academic and community venues.
Her writing is included in Growing Up Girl (GirlChild Press) and Word
Warriors: 35 Women Leaders of the Spoken Word Revolution, an anthology
edited by Alix Olson (Seal Press) as well as other publications. Her
poems were featured in in Feminist Studies, a scholarly journal edited
by Minnie Bruce Pratt, Natalie has collaborated with LAVA, an
acrobatic troupe in Brooklyn, perfecting her skills at performing
poetry upside down during the show Tides (www.lavalove.org). She has
self-published 2 chapbooks: Ground Lover and On Writers Block and
Natalie has represented DC at the Women of the Worlds and Individual
World Poetry Slam competitions since 2008. She is the Executive
Producer of Capturing Fire, the first-ever National Queer Slam, which
premiered in Washington DC in March 2010. Her memoir, Spastic, is
being adapted into a solo show by Spoken Word legend Regie Cabico. An
excerpt of the show will be featured on NPR’s Snap Judgment.
She was a featured poet in the 2010 Split This Rock Poetry Festival of
Provocation and Witness (www.splitthisrock.org), and is honored to be
one of the poets included in the Full Moon On K Street, an anthology
that features poems about Washington DC from 1950 to the present
(Manic D. Press).
Natalie has performed with many nationally-recognized performers,
including Bitch, Michelle Tea, Alix Olson, Eileen Myles, Buddy
Wakefield and Andrea Gibson. For more information, visit
You can hear Natalie (along with Denise Leto of San Francisco, Kenny Fries of Toronto, Mary McGinnis of Santa Fe, Lisa Gill of Albuquerque, and Aaron Ambrose of Santa Fe on Friday, May 11 at 7:30 pm @ the Outpost Performance Space $15/10 members and students