New Mexico Junior College, in Hobbs, New Mexico, first opened its doors in 1966, and Dave was hired for the second year of 1967-68 and continued teaching into the spring of 1969.
Dave taught freshman English, literature, and a class of creative writing. He obtained the college's support for a student literary magazine, to which he gave the name Lengua Verde (Green Tongue).
In January 1968, María gave birth to their son, Darío Alejandro. The Hobbs newspaper announced that the couple had welcomed Darius the Great. This photo of Darío, Dave, and María was taken in Albuquerque during the summer of 1968 when Dave was studying toward the doctorate in American Studies at the University of New Mexico.
During the spring semester of 1969, Dave wrote a letter to the Hobbs newspaper critical of the State legislature. A Black English instructor at the University of New Mexico had been suspended for teaching "Love Lust," a poem by Lenore Kandel considered pornographic, and Dave's defense of the instructor led to his being suspended and then fired. The cover illustration of Lengua Verde alludes to the controversy and Dave's freedom of speech. For details of the episode, see his memoir, Harbingers of Books to Come.
Dave had chosen his student Charles Behlen to be the editor of the magazine, and he and art student Ron Sebring managed to gain the approval of the college administration to print the cover art, which surprised and delighted Dave. The magazine contents consisted of poems, short stories, and literary essays written in Dave's creative writing classes. Dave would later publish through his Prickly Pear Press the first book of poetry by Charles Behlen, his Perdition's Keepsake (1978). Charles would go on to publish half-a-dozen collections of poetry, including his Failing Heaven (2014) from Lamar University Press.
The chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in Albuquerque read about Dave's dismissal from his teaching position and offered to defend him in Federal court. Paul Phillips, a lawyer for the ACLU, had studied the Classics at Princeton University and edited the Columbia Law School's prestigious Law Review. During WWII he was parachuted behind Nazi lines in Greece and communicated with allied forces there in ancient Greek. He had established the New Mexico chapter of the ACLU and served without pay. His brilliant mind and his generosity and caring nature saved Dave's teaching career. María called him their diminutive hero.