Episode 22: Aaron Abeyta on small town life during the pandemic


Could a book really save a life? Poet Aaron Abeyta is living proof. In this episode of Emerging Form, part of our miniseries about creativity and COVID-19, we talk with him about how Truman Capote helped transform him from trying to get kicked out of school to being the MFA Poetry Director at Western Colorado University. We also talk about his work as mayor in Antonito, Colorado, and how the pandemic is affecting the small town. We talk about his goal to give voice to others who don’t have one, how Pablo Neruda inspired him to be both poetic and political, and how a story from the Bible has helped guide him in the most difficult times. 

Show notes:  

Aaron Abeyta

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Pablo Neruda

Antonito, Colorado

untitled or breathing in a time of covid

--aaron a. abeyta

dust veils the valley like dust in spring

every day wind

every day this place a personification

of ache aching that is a falling

from this horizon into another

poverty does not create character

this   the myth of some false

lying book whose mirrors do not

shine back at us nor for us

in a denver hospital Robert Limon cleaves

at life this breath then another

breath     his lonely isolation

the machine a dire metronome

perhaps one day   we will

all point back to this isolation

the aloneness that wrought this line

or that line into air   and by air

i mean human hearts   this is a prayer

for change for life and breath

for loved ones to recover   to breathe

without laboring or without thought

i am reading Auden   cross of the moment

he does not include in his collected the line

we must love one another or die the poem

absent altogether this wind

isn’t a lie   what seems broken   is

lies are less expensive

than anything we have saved  

here among our hats and buttons  

gathered then shelved toward what we

know will always come for us  

we survive   our ancestors have made it so

their voices   you hear them too

they ring of fidelity   live

endure be    persist return

breathe yes fill your lungs

let the wind breathe may dust

swing from cottonwoods to water

to meadow   may we be

lifted from our veils   all of them

let   too   the broken

those walking toward home

in their swollen and inebriated day

may they   too here in this isolation

serve as an aspect of truth

why did he write these lines

he wrote them in isolation

in the days where the dead multiplied

beyond the wars of books and story

the dead   the dying the swollen

the broken and the barely breathing

they are a form of truth   the living

ache of this place   yes

the wind too brief breaths

that fluttered then flew

as if being alone was a

breath which formed itself  

out of our requisite and stored faith

into song