Posts Tagged 'desert'

Don’t take anything personally


Just because I didn’t return your phone calls, don’t take it personally. I know my call is important to you, so I will stay on the line and be served by the first available representative, and if I hang up before my important call is answered by you, dear first available, don’t take it personally.

Don’t take it personally. I’ve cancelled many appointments, returned many plates of pasta, rejected many offers of marriage, I’ve even discontinued my membership in more than one gym. Don’t take anything personally, it’s only natural that not all magazine subscriptions will be renewed in perpetuity. Like an eternal flame at a contract cemetery, there will come a time when eternity is cancelled, when the flame is snuffed, when remembrance fades in the gradual way of worn silk, disintegrating plastic, faded photos on cracked gray stone.

I know my call is important to you, and I will stay on the line until you answer; I will put you on redial for as long as it takes; I will renew my connection with you from here until the hereafter. Don’t take anything personally. It’s as natural as an invasive vine, creeping onto the headstones, the marble slabs, the infant’s crèche in the moss-bound north. It is the inevitability, the gradual erosion of stone, the reclamation of body and earth by heavy, wet green ferns.

Even here, don’t take anything personally. Even the high dry wind carries every ash away, in the four directions and more.



In a normal circumcision, there is a little bit of drama, of course. The significance is there, hanging heavy in the air like incense. Like incense, this is a sin or a virtue unspoken. A little drama in a piece of skin, establishing forever, viscerally, the concept of guilt, resentment, forgiveness, redemption.  The connection of regions and religions speak a shared vocabulary of hierarchy, a shaking of walls. All of life is suffering. Suffering, then death.  Then feast days, the feast days of corn and mutton and fry bread and birds flying high overhead, looking down on the land of the people, fields ripe and heavy, the heavy hanging bells of Castilian guilt, the wine, the blood, the suffering of our lady, the suffering of our lord, the dragging of the cross, the piercing of the breast, the blood, the snake, the butterfly, the dragon, the quickness of water, air, light, and wind all blowing together and apart. Dust devil is a saint in some religions, you know, delivering change, confusion, delight. If someone says church to you, what do you say back? Rebirth, renewal? Rejection, redemption?  Confession, repression? The four directions, the trinity, the one-ness, the nothingness, the void? The gods reaching out are feeling us, lost little shapes in a black velvet bag – they cannot see us, just feel, the feeling of each of us is unique as every marble, every stone, every leaf, every feather.  What can be seen without looking? What can be felt, heard, smelled, known with fingertips, with breath, with thirst, with longing? Knees are for kneeling, for praying, for seducing, for begging, for holding arms up, reaching toward an offered embrace.

Predators and prayers

Plucking up my nerve, I nuzzled the horse’s neck and his gallop was reward enough.

I’m not a clean girl, I’m not that type. I’m dry, dusty, grit flying off of me and only a horse could love me I think when I run across these wild sage lands. There’s a fly riding with me today and I’m so full of love I can even sing a song to that fly, although later I did smash him flat. Horseflies bite.

However, I don’t believe in poaching on the lives of other creatures, by and large. I’ve seen spiders tremble with fear, I’ve heard coyotes stutter in the night, shedding their shattered prey, rehearsing tomorrow night’s performance as the blue night fades into the bloody morning. There’s a smattering of mortality in this nightly dance, the gleeful cackle of the successful predator, I can see the coyotes wink and dance across the river valley until they come to their cool dark sleeping spots, spelunking into quiet, damp riverbank beds. The sun comes up and makes a slam-dunk over the watermelon mountain and in the quiet sunrise every small animal hears the crunching footsteps of the big kahuna, the biggest predator with his bikes and his wolves on leash. Every den, every hole, every river nest is alerted as he walks by and they frown, concentrating on the sound of his feet, the flattened sound of his bike shoes scrimping through the still damp leaves. Each animal is afraid of procrastination, worried that if they wait too long the long thin bike man may transform into a blast of gun or a sudden flare of arrow and so they do not trust, they do not waste their time on wonder.

 Wipe all thoughts of neighbor or brother away, expunge that thought. The fear is expansive, the little ones excoriate all things man, all things man inflate, conflate, desecrate and if bunnies were vicious they might eviscerate this frightening one, only all this does is cause them to argue, germinating wave after wave of discontent within the burrow. This fall the beavers have stripped away every leaf, every shoot from every plant that grows by the river’s edge; they’ve missed nothing, the riverbanks crumbling down into the red muddy water, no place for little claws to hold onto, no way to clamber away from the water and in their endeavor to defy gravity and water and time, some of them fall in, small sacrifices made to the river gods.

Bottom feeder

another giant squid

This is what it’s like to be a bottom feeder. First of all, we love ink. Ink is invisibility. Ink is darkness. Ink is what we write our history with. Look out there, out there into the vast whiteness. It has nothing to say until the ink drops into its wide open. No turning back once the ink has been spilled.

You want to tell your history, that’s fine, nobody’s stopping you. You want to tell someone else’s history, that’s different. There’s danger there, smells like sulfur, smells like burning cactus, smells like the brushfire or the war that can rush in and wipe out an entire clan.

Once I was playing cards in the back room of a little trailer house in Four Corners and I heard the wind pick up suddenly, and it was like I could see them even from inside, tumbleweeds rushing across the black night and suddenly igniting, igniting like monks in red robes, self immolating and taking down the fragile open country and everything that lives there with it.

I understand the meditative life of the tumbleweed, I understand the need to move, to feel the wind catch and carry us somewhere new. I knew about that even before I left Navajo country after the fire. I found my home on water, water green and blue and dark, almost black, where I fell in and never went back to dry land again, not for more than two, three days at a time. Long enough to find myself lurching when I came back to dry land, feeling the hitch and pull of gravity and rotation more strongly than I felt them on the water.

My family’s been landlocked for hundreds of years, most of them. My sea ways made me foreign, weird and unrecognizable as a giant squid, coming up from the deep only rarely, with gifts for my sister’s children, and then her grandchildren, until I am the only old salt on the Navajo nation, bringing seaweed ristras and monkey balls and painted tentacles. I stay a couple days, give them the salty sweet taste of my bottom feeder’s life, and then I leave again, leaving behind nothing but a trail of ink, and a history they can fabricate from the secrets hidden in the bright open sky and the black mesa reaching in the four directions around them.

For me, I add two more directions: straight up into the heavens, and straight down, into the cold, dark waters, where the wild shy ones live, where I feel most at home.

Clovis woman

cavewomanTeddy Roosevelt’s daughter studied archaeology and she wore trousers. This was very modern and expected of her as the daughter of a great adventurer and a seeker of primitive cultures. She had a mustache, a light downy mustache, very feminine, that she bleached in her youth but rather cultivated as she grew into her identity as more than an adventurer’s daughter.

I should say that this daughter of Teddy Roosevelt is entirely fictional, and that any resemblance between her and an actual daughter of Teddy Roosevelt is coincidental. Some of the places may be real, but all of the people are fictionalized representations of a moment in history. She is the great adventurous American female. Fearless. Flippant. Carries a whip, brushes the dust off of her heavy khaki trousers and goes looking for antiquities. There she is at Blackwater Draw, cheek to cheek with archaeologists male and female, digging in the dirt, scraping, brushing and uncovering great mounds of bones. Early man. Bison graveyards. Spear points.

The air is dry and water is unpredictable. A sudden rain turns the excavation site into a gullywash out of which a sudden chorus of frogs announces the tendency of water and water creatures to hide just below the surface. They drink gin in the starlight while frogs serenade them, cicadas making a counterpoint and diggers singing the juke joint songs of the day. They draw mammoths in the dirt with pointed sticks – here, we see a spear point that wounds but does not kill the beast. It wanders off and is found 16,000 years later, skeleton intact, spear still buried in the ancient scapula. This is tangible evidence that we were here.

Clovis man is a manly man, with rocks and spears and flints. He is worshipping life and water and the blood of animals long before Teddy Roosevelt puts on his pith helmet and carries the swaggering bravery of the American West to the White House. Clovis man eats whatever is there: roots, bugs, cuddly small mammals, frogs in the wet season. But he dreams of meat. Big meat. Meat on the hoof. Clovis man invented barbecue, Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter is sure.

Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, whose name is Clarissa, adores Clovis man. She imagines him rolling his own cigarettes, out of the locoweed that surfaces in these dig sites periodically. She smokes along with him and looks up at the stars, whirling now in the big universe just as they did in the night visions of Clovis man. When she pictures him, he is well dressed, in skins that cover his private parts but show the sinewy legs, and with shoes. She pictures him in rope sandals, and she pictures him drawing in the sand with a sharp stick, just as she is doing now.  The eminent archaeologist on the dig, Dr. Edgar Howard, makes an occasional effort to get close to Clarissa, but in her imagination she is having a joyous fling with the first real man in America. She imagines showing him the first locomotive, the first printing press, the first combustion engine. She looks at his spear design and she knows him for the first American, ingenious, an engineer even in his primitive state. She does not marry, and this is no surprise to her father, who til the end of his life shouted loud and jubilantly and clapped her on the back like an equal, like a brother. And indeed, they were very much brothers under the skin.

(25 minutes. Prompts: multiple words and phrases, collectively generated.)

Sky caves

Clouds, Albuquerque

Clouds, Albuquerque - from Albuquerque Daily Photo

Sky caves collect where ice and air interact with heat and wind. I collect sky caves. I collect sky caves and gather them high where the clouds are piled. The clouds are piled and at the top the ice crystals form. I wait.

The winds blow, the grasses lay flat, storm crashes against the sky bottom all at once, and then there is fire. I gather the fire and pour it into the river and it boils up again into the sky, where it hits the sky caves with a great crash and then there is rain.

There is rain, sent down by the air gods, not me; they gather the ice and shake it hard with fire. When it comes down to earth the trees hold their hands up and shake their wild heads and laugh and cry all at once. The tree people cry for water, joy and sex soaking into the roots, and for pain as their arms are broken and thrown down in the wind, and the branches lay on the ground, which is clay mud and runs red like blood to the river. The ground is a river running red with mud, my collection has shattered, glass in shards have scattered and broken against the bosque floor. The sun warms, the water runs fast, the morning birds wake. They sing the air gods to sleep, high in the sky caves that rest, now, silent and still in the thin air.


20 minutes, writing group. Topic: Ice. Thank you, Mike!

To see a storm in central New Mexico, see the link below from You Tube. My neighborhood has more cottonwoods, wild giant trees, being in the bosque itself, but this is beautiful viewing also.

** The embedding feature for this video is disabled, but you can still watch it by clicking on the You Tube logo. My understanding of protocol in You Tube is limited, for now.

Sudden spring wind


The pragmatic asthmatic relaxed into the dance, the shimmy shammy prance, the collective breath. The pragmatic asthmatic learned to meditate, to breathe into his third eye, his fourth eye, his belly button and his nebulizer. The pragmatic asthmatic is nebulous in his desires, his tendencies tender, blenderized, repressed and released from their straight jacket cover. He lives in a puddle of hope, the asthmatic pragmatic, the empresario, the unlikely lothario, the man whose breath is short but whose shadow is long. There are times when the difference between calm and comatose is muddy; he looks into the murky waters and they are shallow, shallow and guarded, a familiar habit whose resolution could jeopardize the expectations of the masses, and this is how graves are dug.

Get out a shovel, get out a pick, get out a set of orders, a tuxedo stored in lavendar sachet. Splash, I am an aqua velva man, says Sugar, sweet and barbed and brown. Sugar lives in a disco universe, percolator blurping, mirror ball twisting in dance halls, rectories, refracting, reacting, acting, profilacting. We have doubts, hesitations, regrets, returns, we have return addresses that are no longer there. Did you know that? You will send the cavalry out to rescue the distressed players of your past, and they will no longer be at that venue.

Stand on the avenue and hand out flyers; rewritten play holding auditions in fingers splayed open, dance running like sand and covering your fingers, your belly, the soles of your feet. Nancy Drew auditions for a role; so does James Bond, the Nancy Boys, the Clancy Brothers, and the Oliver Twister Sisters. There is room for all of them; you know this to be true and so you make a pot of beans and collard greens and invite them in to write, rehearse and sing. They have fencing battles with potstickers and potliquor, and announcements are posted on telephone poles and coffee shops and oxygen bars where asthmatics wheeze and elephants sneeze and this is a turbulent time.

It’s time for gravity and antimatter and Auntie Maggie and Auntie Macassar, and the two make chai for the masses, the clams and the teachers – the geoducks challenge the continental divide, and the continent does then divide and conquer. The croquet set reaches out, goosenecks grab a sweet meat, so tender, so tenderized, held and cradled and memorized. There’s a place in this world for deliberate nonsense, for accidental sense, for labels and for white out late at night.

White out, night out; a full moon only illuminates what it shines upon. I saw a cow and a spoon and dish, I saw a moon and a spoon of raspberry preserves. The crumpet dreams buttery hot dreams of jam and cream and wakes up blushing. The rushing wind calls upon us; the silenced wind sits suddenly still and we sitting in its wake are shaken, light blankets in March, hanging on a clothesline, April calling from across the field. Fool, no nebulizer needed here, no gasping shortness, no empty field. Fielded, flooded fields full, watered, impregnated, saturated, sated with spring.

(quick write – 20 minutes. needs an image. more later.)

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