Photo: Melinda Palacio

Greetings from New Orleans. Poetry takes me to places beyond Santa Barbara. This time, I am embarking on a working vacation. I have a few events in the Big Easy and I plan to work on two book projects. I’ve also had a chance to catch up on your poetry. Keep your submissions coming to I would love to see your road trip or summertime poems. 

The theme of cruel summer also seems appropriate given the heat wave we are experiencing. I left Santa Barbara shortly after attending a funeral for a dear friend, and I arrived in Louisiana with news that a different friend had a fatal stroke. I sat down to write some words inspired by my friend. The emotions are too raw for me to share at this moment. I may not make sense of the words, but the act of writing is healing.

This week, we are featuring the poetry of Alma Boutin-Martinez, the daughter of Colombian immigrants and the Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Continuous Improvement at Fielding Graduate University. I had the pleasure of meeting Alma at the Goleta Valley Library’s Live Poetry Series, featuring Enid Osborn, Linda Saccoccio, and Skylar Ngai.

Photo: Melinda Palacio

Abuelito Argemiro

by Alma Boutin-Martinez

The life that dances in your veins

expands beyond your body

beyond your 100 years

flourishing outward

and flowing around the world

In the bodies of your descendants

are imprints of your code

your fingerprint on their souls

The roots you sprouted

are the roots your children held onto

We climbed up your branches

in our formative years 

to explore and reach our potential 

the reflections of our hearts and minds 

Our gifts to the world stem from you

With prayer and faith as nourishment

we’ve absorbed your values—

educational discipline and wisdom—

and we carry these practices within us as seeds 

With deepest gratitude, 

we celebrate you for lifting us.

Photo: Melinda Palacio

Abuelito Argemiro

by Alma Boutin-Martinez

La vida que baila en tus venas

se expande mas allá de tu cuerpo,

mas allá de tus 100 años,

floreciendo hacia afuera

y fluyendo alrededor del mundo.

En los cuerpos de tus descendientes

están impreso tus códigos,

sus huellas en nuestras almas.

Las raíces que sembraste

son las raíces que a tus higos sostienen.

En nuestros años formativos

subimos por sus tallos

para explorar y alcanzar nuestro potencial,

las reflexiones de nuestros corazón y mente.

Nuestro regalos para el mundo florecieron de ti.

Con oraciones y fe como sustento,

Absorbimos tus valores—

educativos del disciplina y sabiduría—

y llevamos en nuestro interior como semillas.

Con la mas profunda gratitud,

Celebramos como nos levantaste.

On the Balcony in Envigado

by Alma Boutin-Martinez

It’s on the balcony where my senses

align with the heartbeat of Envigado.

The spot where I stand in solitude

below the solstice sun that spreads its warmth

into my spirit and sparks a sincere smile.

My soul awakens to the city’s natural beauty,

To the oval green leaves that unfold

and release their shine as they

sunbathe after a brief morning shower,

The emerald green trees-tops contrast

beautifully against the radiant red rooftops.

The sounds waves of the vendedor de fruitas

echo around the block and intertwine with

the warm waves of heat that rise up off the

pavement to greet me.

I catch an inviting cool breeze

that carries the smell of fresh pandebono

and the sweet aroma of Colombian café,

A reminder of the panaderia only a block away

and the friendly locals who I’ll see along my way.

Along Hwy 154

by Alma Boutin-Martinez

When clouds drop

over the rolling hills of Santa Ynez,

a living moisture moves and feeds.

Organic veil in flight.

Fog: the love particles in Mother Earth’s tears.

Soil soaks in life

before the sun exhales the veil away.

Green carpet of grass

stretches toward the sun,

bends and fills this land.

Sprout bright blooms of new,

spill sweetness into the air,

cast your pure rainbow of green:

So I can celebrate spring!

She Always Surrounds You

by Alma Boutin-Martinez

May nature’s beauty captivate your spirit.

May you rediscover the majestic

rise and fall of the sun, 

how its rays tints all they touches with love,

springing life upon its fertile soil.

May this simple realization 

trigger joy in the rise and fall of your chest. 

Follow her lead, grow from her,

She always surrounds you.

As she travels through the wind

she cradles in her arms the sweet aromas of trees, grass, and brush,

rejoicing in the moisture that fills the fragrant air. 

May the crisp air inspire the unopened buds

in your mind and heart to open, soulfully.

Follow her lead, breathe deeply,

She always surrounds you.

During the evening storm 

she dances with water and light.

Bleeding abstractions mark the wet ground

and move into the shadows of the night. 

Find your calm in the gentle rain,

Follow her lead with a simple gaze.

She always surrounds you. 

She brightens the evening with a living fire,

Releasing the dormant light trapped in wood,.

The embers uproot themselves

and journey up towards their point of origin, 

The stars.

May the smell of burning cedar and

the crackling fire inspire you to release your light,

Rejuvenate your spirit with laugher and reflection.

Follow her lead and feel her warmth, 

She always surrounds you.

Mi Cielo, Mama

by Alma Boutin-Martinez

The light of your soul rises

with the gentle morning sun.

Your long and vibrant red hair

with shades of light brown, mahogany, orange, and white

paint the sky.

I feel the fullness of your curls

and wavy hair flowing

in the cool dawn breeze.

The curves of your silky soft hands

rest upon the surface of the smooth clouds,

There lay the memories of your healing touch

that could wash away pain with

the power of your loving embrace.

The warm sparkle of your eyes

illuminates us from within,

It’s reflected in our eyes,

Fueled by the courage and compassion

you have extended to us.

All we need to do is to gaze up at

the glowing sky,

Mi Cielo,

Your beautiful presence is with us eternally,

Living in our eyes, hearts, and souls. 

Alma Boutin-Martinez has been writing poetry and short stories since an early age. She serves as Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Continuous Improvement at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara. Boutin-Martinez has an MA in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and a PhD in Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She enjoys painting, gardening, and spending time with her family. 


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