Archive for July 25th, 2011

She rose up

All night long, the outside world bellowed. Bellowed, honked, shrieked, krilled, ululated and yowled. She tossed restlessly, nearly sleeping but disturbed by the concatenation of sounds rising in hysterical crescendo and then falling into brief staccato silences. She woke, and slept, and woke, and slept, until 3 a.m., when the full moon was hot and the orchestra was tuning up for another movement.

“I am afraid I never will do that,” she told herself as she considered sleeping in the basement, with the spiders and the goblins still hiding in the shadows of her childhood. She rose up in her blue nightgown and went outside, where she sat on the porch swing. The silver lace vine shone in the moonlight, the honeysuckle twitched as if its dreams were restless.

At 3:20, he went past the house where he used to live. It was now even more worn by time and weather than it had been. He stopped, to see it better, and turned off his car engine. The house seemed smaller, and ghostly in the flat white light of the high summer moon. Sitting on a porch swing sat a girl, swinging gently, in a blue nightgown and bare feet. She was singing a song, a ballad of danger and gypsy love that sounded so familiar he spontaneously got out of the car and walked toward her in the moonlight.

The girl looked up and their eyes met. She stopped swinging. The birds and the beasts in the barnyard started up again and within seconds they were wrapped in cacophonous, ratcheting, chaotic sound. 

 “Good gracious!” she said, getting off the swing and stepping onto the cool grass. She started toward the house, the house with the silent windows, that seemed to him to be empty.

“No!” he said. “Stop!” But she didn’t, she didn’t stop and the house swallowed her up and the sounds were swallowed with her and he stood on the front porch in the moonlight, saying “Mom? Mom?” to the empty rooms and gaping windows and the moon slid behind the clouds in the sudden silence.








I told my brother I was going running with my friends.

He said, “Ese, you don’t have any friends.”

“Shut up,” I said. I went running with my friends, from Isleta to Bernalillo to Santa Fe.

My brother’s a pendejo. I’m thinking about calling our cousin Iselda, the curandera who lives in El Rito and asking her to put a spell on him. Last time I asked her, she said be careful what you wish for and she was right, that brother went to prison and then something or other happened and now he’s dead. I don’t think it’s my fault, but I will think twice before I text Iselda again.

Since I got laid off last year, riding the Rail Runner’s the thing I do best. Only job I can get anymore is standing on a corner with a sign that says help please and god bless. In Los Lunas, that was not working out too well, with all my brothers and half my cousins stopping at the light and giving me shit. Then I thought about the Rail Runner; I got a monthly pass and I go up and down the line all day all week, alternating stops and corners and now I’m making enough to help my mom out with the rent. Twenty-eight years old, I’m a corner bum, but I’m better than my brother, the only one left who’s not in jail or dead. He lives at home too, but he just eats her food and smokes in her living room even though that makes her asthma worse. Doesn’t contribute a thing. I still think I might call Iselda.

Having a spell put on someone is touchy, like you got to have a clear picture in your head of what you want to happen or it can go crazy wrong, like that story with the monkey’s paw and the wishes. I wished for something like that once, for a monkey’s paw so I could have three wishes and Iselda smacked me in the head and said come back when you’re grown up, primo.

I’ve been thinking about the right spell. Maybe it wouldn’t be against my brother, maybe it would be for something really great for me. Like I get a job in an office at the Railrunner headquarters in Santa Fe, and every day I ride the Rail Runner in a suit and tie. I could give money to the brothers on the street corners in all of the stops, like Jesus feeding the poor with his fish and wine and stuff. I could learn how to run 20 miles a day in running shoes like those guys from Africa, the tall skinny ones you see all over Santa Fe, training training training; having the strength to run is the only thing that matters in the world to them, you can see it. Skin shining like rain on asphalt, those guys can really run.  Like someone put a spell on them and they just can’t stop.

Elephant ride

Elephant leans against Andy, warm,
grey as felt and his big heart

Pounding, says leave the gypsies,
the fire rings, the bearded lady

With me, outward bound on this train;
geese fly overhead, say yes yes yes

To the Yukon, where skies are slate
as elephant’s eyes and his big heart

Contracting, pulls blood long distance,
sled dogs times three carrying more than more.

Elephant leans against Susan, rough
hair, wide ears, trunk groping, deaf

To the clattering of train tracks, blind
to the criss-crossing, criss cross criss cross

Contracting miles, Alberta to Atlanta,
Albuquerque to Albany.

Elephant leans against Molly,
nuzzle snuffling, suede coat, bound

For Glory, this train, this train
is bound for glory, this train.

Elephant leans against Susy,
peanuts in deep pockets,

Treats for a searching elephant,
expected, unpredictable;

Pyramids rising out of sand dunes
where subdivisions are platted.



Metaphor is the name of a wish that kept on starting and reaching the end of the line. The line started with a mistake, and the stations were marked with uncertainty. There was a train station in Metaphor and the wind howled. The howling wind and the rage of a girl named Meredith were married, carrying a wedding bouquet, a sob, a moan, and a wail that broke both down. Throw the bouquet, choke on the rice. Run.

When Meredith and the wind left town together there were hot sand and thrashing palm trees. The tracks ran from town to town, fast then slow, and the wind crossed the tracks, scar tissue holding the wounded together, pa-chunk, pa-chunk, through the long white nights. The music at the station was carried by dry sand, wind snaking through the open door of the El Dorado, 11 p.m. on a Saturday night in a small town in Nowhere, Arizona, where people came to run away and stayed until the next morning or until their teeth fell out and the keys to the jail dropped from their senseless fingers. Nowhere served a lot of breakfast, hope in the a.m. over easy with English muffin and a tiny glass of orange juice. Morning is different than night, Meredith found. Meredith learned more than she’d expected in Nowhere.

Trains run from Metaphor to Nowhere to Hope to Sweetwater to Euphoria to Paradise. Meredith rode them all, getting off finally in Future, California, where the trees bore coconuts and the lemon grass was bright and the smell of salt water was sweet. She bought pineapple with her first paycheck. She never looked back, not at the howling wind or the mistaken station, only forward at the trees waving on the boulevard near the ocean that promised salty sweet salty sweet, warm sand on damp toes, stars in the sky.

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July 2011
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