Agua Negra


Leo Romero

Introduction By

Keith Wilson

Document Type


Publication Date



The poems of Leo Romero’s Agua Negra are set in a small Northern New Mexico village whose name means “black water”—or “dangerous water.” The site of a miracle (the image of Christ appearing on a wall), Agua Negra's people and customs, as Keith Wilson says in his introduction, are “as much 17th Century Spanish as they are anything resembling ‘American.’ ” The stories related in these poems have the ring of folktales and village gossip; after reading them one feels slowly returned to the present world, like the speaker in “End of the Columbus Day Weekend” driving home after his visit: “It began in the mountains/ coming down a winding/ canyon road, ten miles/ at a snail’s pace, elk hunters/ before me and behind me/ Everyone wanting to pass....” One leaves Romero’s poems only reluctantly. Published in 1981, Agua Negra was the first of Romero’s books from Ahsahta Press; his volume Going Home Away Indian appeared in 1990.