Posts Tagged 'Root Story'



It is the stability that makes it all so bearable. Never having to decide. My sacrament runs on established lines. Trinities. Bells ringing at predictable intervals. The bowing. The smoke. The painted snake runs along the inside of our mudded holy place and then out and around the building into the golden rows. The snake becomes the labyrinth within which we seek meaning. What is in the center of god’s heart? How far do we walk to find the center of that maze? The maize that grows in the fields feeds the children who laugh without knowing god nor snake nor sorrow. The maize raises its head to the sun until it falls over dead and feeds the cranes while the children sit inside drinking atole, hot liquid corn sweetening short cold days. It is the stability that makes it all so bearable. The stability of the dance that raises the children and buries the elders, the stability of the harvest, the chanting and the secret smoke that talks to the great ones, the ten generations who came before and will come after. Snake does not ascend. Snake lives here, on earth, with us. Like snake, we feel the sun on our backs, and we are warmed from afar.

The name of this piece is Susy made me write about sex

 Today is the day we discuss dental floss, sex and volunteerism. Pay attention; your licensure depends on your correct response to the quiz which follows this three hour training.

In front of you, you will find a small bag. Pick the bag up and open its contents onto the table. Very good. Read, follow the instructions, then wait.

If you are having sex while thinking about your hair thinning, the hole in your underwear, or the box of chocolates that you stashed in the back of the laundry room to keep your partner from devouring it before you get even a single piece, this could be a sign of pending or actual sexual discontent. Try this simple exercise: stand in the middle of the room, alone, mostly naked and say to yourself loudly and firmly: “Sex. Sex and more sex. Sex and sex again. Different sex, changing sex, kinky sex, decorator sex,“  If, while standing there saying sex and so on, you suddenly think about cleaning products, lists, email, dental floss, licensure and volunteering, stop stop stop. Shake your head three times like a golden retriever coming out of a cold lake.  Now smile and stick your hands down your pants, if you are wearing any. Remember, you are completely alone. No one is going to see you or hear you. Shake your hips. Does your underwear fit? Are you easily distracted? Does anyone in your household leave the toilet seat up in spite of 30 years of reminders? Stop stop stop. Okay. Take the underwear off. They are too big anyway. Put on something more comfortable. A pair of socks, say, and nothing else. Stand in your living room wearing nothing but a pair of socks and say to yourself “Sex. Sex and more sex. Sex and kinky sex. Sex and deviant sex. Sex and law breaking. Sex and jaw breakers. Sex and sucking. Sex and red hots. Sex and sex and sex.” Okay. Now think about the lawnmower, the weed whacker, the rust stains in your bathtub, the continuously whining dog standing just outside the door. Stop stop stop.

Put your clothes back on and go scrub the bathroom, brush and floss your teeth and make some phone calls about volunteering and renewing your license. Leave the toilet seat up as a protest. See if anybody cares. Get some freezer burned pistachio ice cream out of the fridge and eat it in front of the whining dog standing at the window. Think about your budget. Think about your garden. Think about the roses, the rose hips leaning heavily against the window. Think about the grapes hanging full and ripe, think about the sweet pears and the sparrows rustling in their late afternoon dust bath. Think about the dark fertile earth, think about the warm smells of fruit, herb and flower rising and mingling in the afternoon breeze. Think about the sweet sleepy sounds of animals in the quiet heat of the day. Think about lying down, just for a minute. Think about listening. Listen. Smell. Look. Touch.


I put the lawnmower behind the porta-potty and covered it with a tarp. It was raining. Always raining, always raining in my life. That’s why the teardrop. Pagliacci, payaso, white of face, black of heart. I eat the hearts of children and give them animal balloons in exchange. I put the lawnmower behind the porta-potty and get out my shears. Trimming the hedge, even the tragic fool must have a second job these days. Mine is landscaping. Tito Topiari is my professional name, carver of hedges into giraffes and dachshunds, I have kept my second job as close to my life work as could be. With a blue balloon and a white one, I can make a dolphin that twists and spins in mid-air. With climbing roses in lavender and white I can make a butterfly. With black and white I can make a penguin or a man in a tuxedo with a carnation in his lapel. Early balloons were made of animal bladders. A white-face fool like me is serious and might be deadly. Children are often afraid even as the animals necks are being twisted and the carnation shoots water into the air. There’s a hankie in my pocket; get it out for me, won’t you? I need to go tidy up that hedgerow, where the children have gone to hide.

Watermelon man

Watermelon man grew from a seed in his mother’s belly; she’d been eating watermelon in Pecos and playing miniature golf with the one man in her life and it was so good so sweet so juicy that she ate the melon seeds and all and then she got Jesus and her beautiful son all on one fine summer morning the usual months later. The baby was pink and raw, the melon was pink and raw, she saw Jesus in the rind and she named her son Peter and said to him Peter you will never deny the Lord and you will never walk away from the watermelon which gave you life. Well Peter grew up faster than he might have and he had his dark time, same as we all do, during which he drank vodka and sold musk melons to Siberian refugees in the sub-saharan desert. Musk melons and camels and vodka mixed up all wrong for Peter and he had to walk away from the musky temptations, the long hair and the horns, and he returned to the fields where melons grow green and blessedly hairless. Peter then grew to be a righteous man who grew melons for righteous men and each melon was blessed, each melon was washed in pink sweetness and each melon was taut and full of juice and seeds. Peter said thump them, that’s right, thump them here –  here, have a piece and he offered melon to stranger after stranger and his hands were stained the pink of Jesus melons. He sold melons on the side of the road in Pecos, he sold melons on the side of the road in San Antonio. He sold melons on the side of the road in Lubbock. He sold melons on the side of the road in Santa Rosa. He loved the pink sweetness of Santa Rosa’s name, but he never got settled, got settled and home until he sold melons, beautiful black diamond melons, in the shadows of the watermelon mountains. Each melon was blessed by Jesus, each melon was righteous and ripe, and he was so full of the life of the melon that when he spit out the seeds, watermelon man could hit the pink-stained moon rising over the Sandias every blessed time.

Chupacabra scat

At exactly 7:28 p.m., the chupacabra wakes up. Dinner time. His scabrous coat is mottled, small scars crossing large ones. His right front canine is missing. He scratches, lifts and pees on the cowhide near the thorn bush that covers his den. That’s all that’s left of that cow, the large white spots stained now and comfortable as worn slippers. The chupacabra has one torn ear. His name is Earlio. He is the earliest chupacabra in the bosque this summer.  He has a yen for squidbird, which are rare and small but good in the plentiful months of summer. The biologist who watches him, who takes samples of his scat, cannot identify the squidbird feathers. They are, like the chupacabra himself, not in the books. And yet Earlio lives on a diet of mulberries, mice, crickets and squidbirds, as the biologist knows. His notes read “species unknown” whenever he describes the squidbird remains that he sees in Earlios leavings. The biologist, whose name is Dun, believes that Earlio is a coyote, and that there is no such thing as a squidbird or a chupacabra. The biologist perhaps suffers from a lack of information and a lack of faith. The evidence of his eyes argues with the evidence of his training and leaves only a question mark and a notebook and a small plastic bag of chupacabra poop labeled May 30, 2012.

Praise be

Tired of trying to doze in this run-down crack house. Not crack house. Not really. Tired of trying to doze in this shabby section 8 housing. Complex. The idiocy and mischief of these goblin kids, urban zombies, well, you wouldn’t believe it. You wouldn’t believe it and neither would I, but I see the boxes the boxes the stacks the wand lighters the foil. No. I said not crack. This is not a run-down crack house, this is not a bad HBO series, this is not your stupid father/son/nephew/ uncle/ brother /neighbor’s sad and stupid fucking story, it is not.  It’s more like an imitation of itself. Bragging, guns, larceny, asthma and emergency rooms, and nebulizers and God. Don’t forget God. God goes with crack like cheese goes with crackers. I guess it was just his time, that’s what we said, that’s what I said and I couldn’t get any sleep at all in this run-down section 8 housing. I got some jasmine tea from the ABC Chinese Restaurant up the street on Lomas, and some rice and sweet and sour something, I can’t remember if it was chicken or pork. My kids got lice, did I tell you that? I’m praying like a motherfucker and my fucking kids got lice. God made crack just like God made cheese, like God made my kids so that’s all pure and good. Did you see that show they’re filming here in Albuquerque? My kid was in it, he’s like an actor and all now.  He was like an actor and all, but not right now, he was in the emergency room, somebody shot him and now he’s in ICU. Skinny kid, always been skinny. He looks like a starving puppy, God must love him a lot to keep him lying there, breathing, heart dancing like a lightning storm. Always been lucky, we’ve always been lucky here, praise be.

The cookie trees

In March the winds blow cinnamon dust and coconut swirls. Little girls and big girls stand at automatic doors, holding out boxes, holding out order sheets. But the real cookies of spring are not Samoas, not Chinese fortunes, not the lucky sure-fire-can’t-lose fruit bars of your youth. The cookie that wins, the cookie that scores, the cookie that lives to tell the tale is the cookie that grows in trees. Organic, dusted with pinon, cinnamon and nutmeg, the cookie that grows in trees is aromatic and yet elusive. Children and the elderly alike want these cookies, pushing on parents’ legs pulling on trousers, saying you know you know the ones, they are like cooookies, like cookies and they have that stuff, you know that stuff, like grandpa used to make, that stuff it makes mom sneeze and they shake it out of a big shaker, only it grows in trees, take us to the cookie trees, the cookie trees in the desert where the bananas and the dates shake the desert floor, take us to where the cookie trees grow. And the parents shake their parent heads and scratch their parent chins and say what cookie trees are those and the children and the grandmas all sit up tall in bed and say you know the ones, the ones you always got, the ones with cinnamon, the ones that grow in trees, and eventually the parents put the pillows in the back seats and the fishy crackers in little bags and the dyed sugar water in coolers and they drive and drive out there into the middle of dry crack nowhere and suddenly out among the dust devils, the tumbleweeds and nothing much else the cookie trees arise, sweetly aromatic, unexpected, reaching out toward the children, reaching out toward the grandmas, sweet and dusty and waiting to be picked.


In the German doorknob factory there was a tradition of taking a break every morning at 10:15 for grapefruit. At 8:45, Ilsa would take 12 grapefruits out of a wooden crate that smelled of a foreign country and slice each fruit in half. Each morning she would notice the insertion point of the knife, the thick pale yellow skin, the juice oozing and the smell. The smell of grapefruit at 8:45 every morning made Ilsa’s head feel light and funny, like she’d been transported to a country where everything was sharp and bright. She cut the grapefruit into enough segments for 24 working people who saw no sun for months in their foggy island nation. Saving them from scurvy, she told herself as she pierced, cut, and sectioned. 24 people, 8 months without sun, 12 months of making doorknobs, a half day off every quarterly Wednesday. Ale. People who get a half day off every 3 months go first to see their mother and then to the pub for ale. Ale and strong cheese. Grapefuit might prevent scurvy, but mum, cheese and ale prevents despair. And so the doorknob manufacturers, who got to see their mum, drink their beer, eat their cheese, and were in addition protected from the scourge of vitamin c deprivation so common at that point of time; well, so, they thrived, relative to the other scrawny gorse eaters of their time and place. When a reasonably well grown doorknob maker and his family have bones that will carry them and minds that will think their thoughts, revolution might be said to be not necessarily predictable but more likely than in less fortuitous circumstances. And so it was.

In the summer of 1747, a year that must live in someone’s history, a pink-cheeked and robust young man and his various cousins, brothers, sisters and a few stringy grandmas set forth to tell their masters what for. What for and henceforth they spoke their minds, not elegantly but the point was made that workers must indeed have united. People were talking about their wages, in spite of restrictions. Men and women, boys and girls, even a few children and the infirm, could hear their voices risen up to the sky. More than grapefruit, this was juice shooting up into glands they’d forgotten they had. More than cheese, more than ale, more than mum. What was it, what shiny, forbidden fruit pulled them forward, out of their moors, away from their undergrowth and out into the open?

Thank you for your letter

 Dear Cholmondeley Crenshaw,

Thank you so much for your letter regarding regulating cab drivers in the Abiquiu area. As you know, there are many opposing views on this issue, which has been discussed repeatedly in village council meetings. It appears that the lunch lady at Abiquiu Elementary has been moonlighting as a cab driver for some four months now, and doing this without a cab driver’s license. This has greatly upset Juan Bob Lucero Ortega C de Baca y Pino, who has driven Abiqui’s only cab since 1981, when he first took Georgia O’Keeffe from Ghost Ranch to the Saints n Sinners bar just outside of Española. Of course, it is true that Juan Bob also doesn’t have a license, but it is his position that he is grandfathered in, and that Cleofila Zamora Gallegos Aragón is just butting in to take business away from the family of her daughter-in-law’s ex-husband, since they have taken the chile roasting business away from Severo and Chupo Herrera.

We appreciate your input and will consider all opinions at next Tuesday’s council meeting. A vote is expected on the issue by the end of the evening, after all input is taken into consideration. Council members Gallegos, Zamora, Aragón and C de Baca are expected to attend.

Again, thank you for your input. The council works for you.


Maria Josefa Perea Chavez Mondragon y Garcia





It was just about time. I came apart like a toy watch when it hit. I’d pictured myself with both feet planted firmly, standing up to the tsunami, standing up to the raging fire, standing up to the oil spill, standing up to the pandemic, standing up to the last wisp of smoke at the end of all of everything.

When it came, though, I crumbled like cornmeal. Outside of my window I saw that things were going wrong, but when I looked for my backbone, I found it hidden in the warm, smoggy day. The smell of burning oil, the smell of old cooking grease, the grey spongy matter washing up against the shore – these sat just outside of my small sanctuary, and I sat looking at the calendar. When will I go home, when will I go home, when will I go home?  rolled through the circle cage in my brain. I thought this was the Peace Corps; this is not the Peace Corps, this is the Piece Corpse, hunks of former bodies, bayonets, screams of animals and people. Next thing is a series of flashing lights and darkness, and hunching under a blanket in an open truck that smokes, and staying silent as a sack of potatoes. The day approaches and shortly before it arrives another man comes, short and soft spoken, to take us to the airport. Already I am picturing myself sending postcards, buying stamps, writing letters, soaking in the long deep tub at the quiet old hotel. I picture the postcards when I sleep, placing the stamp, opening the mail box, the little worried thrill that I’ve dropped the wrong letter, the one I never meant to send, the one you should only open if you hear that I died in that jungle.

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July 2020