28 September 2008


She accosts the shadow at the window. The shop downstairs is boarded up and there's not another person in sight all the way down the empty main street.
There is something simultaneously hopeful and cynical about her appearance—the way her jean skirt barely clears the curve of her ass, the platform shoes, the painted-on eyebrows. Tonight at the mirror, before all this started, she was becoming
something beautiful, something more than the sum of a closet full of clothes that make her look like a cheap
She demonstrates for the educational benefit of the recipient. Demands justice, now, from the street, as any thinking woman in her position would do; the judge sure as hell don't get it.
The shadow stares down guiltily but makes no plea nor contest to a late-night crime with a weak-willed man who, god love him, thought she was prettier.
Down on the street, below the painted eyebrows, the screamer's mascara is starting to run with a lifetime full of could'ves, would'ves, should'ves. She wraps her arms around her chest, making some effort to hide the plunging of her neckline. She rocks a little in the cooling night, beginning to fear she aint nothing but a spectacle shrinking smaller and smaller with each year that sags her breasts and wrinkles her eyes.

Some young compañeros roll by, honk twice at her ass, shake their heads sadly.
"Oh, these fucking women, why are they all such crazy whores?"

the eagles touch down

The saturday morning football game is a big deal for two schools bristling with generations of rivalry and racial suspicion: Here we have the Eagles from the rez vs. the Pirates from the farm town.

Our junior high boys filed out of a beat-up bluebird schoolbus opposite to the grandstand.
Their shoulder pads were reconditioned. No one had pants that were the right size, and several of the yellow Eagle jersies looked to have sustained moderate to serious dog attacks. Behind them their uncles and aunties were loud and laughing and smoking cigarettes in the early morning mist.

Across the field the rival fathers stood quiet in front of their parked pickup trucks, staring with styrofoam cups of acrid black coffee. Behind them, a John Deere tractor rumbled green behind the fence on down the highway back to all this land that is theirs now with all that fat corn yellowing in the haze.

By the time the sun burned through and the field started to heat up, the team was beading sweat and wild as colts: two touchdowns before them white boys could even blink. The Eagles bumped chests and galloped back to the starting line; the Pirates regrouped and shook their heads in disbelief.

Behind me, an uncle jumped to his feet. "hoka hey, what, you never seen colored boys, huh?"

To that, the blue-eyed sons of settlers didnt say nothing but a mutter about how them indians was probably 2 years older but couldnt pass 8th grade. The Pirate mothers in sweatshirts and sensible shoes standing behind the concession counter just averted their eyes to check the boiling hot dogs.

The boys lined back up eye to eye on the starting line. Behind me, the loud voice hollared, "hit em boys, hoo-EE, HIT EM TILL YOU SEE SNOT BUBBLES!"
And the polite silence of the other parents was punctuated with the wet smack of helmets against nylon and flesh.

Finally, with some three minutes to go, a skinny brown quarterback parted the sea of anglo-germans trying to hold him back. He was balancing the football like a delicate egg and twisting and spinning as they tried to grab him. The crowd errupted, "Look at him move!
Like the grass dancers!
you MOVE, boy!"
He paced his pursuers like he had feathers in his cleats and flew untouchable into the endzone. It was now a decisive 42-6.
Even his granny was on her feet now. He looked up at us, all grinning and grass stains,
and loped back to his team who stood shining and victorious in the center of the field for the photographs.

Without another word, the farmers turned and started to leave. Besides, there was work to be done: their hard-earned crops were ready for harvest.

22 September 2008

field trip

put on those old black jeans with the splitting seams, wipe your running nose, and take your hands out of them empty pockets. today it dont matter cause we are gonna ride past the smashed bottles and tarpaper roof that is peeling like an old blister.
we're gonna burn a trail out of these blue few miles all the way back to the wide open rolling plains. i dont care how hot it is, how the sun's heavy fire sits on our shoulders, we will go till this damned township disappears and you walk your tall self off the cracked pavement back
to some secret memory blowing with the sweetgrass in the windy afternoon.

18 September 2008

A mid-Sept. Cautionary Tale.

You had better wake up while you can or you just might end up wearing a ratty sweatsuit on the filthy floor of a truckstop bathroom in nowhere, Nebraska, with your insides being eaten alive by crystal meth and bits of your stringy hair stuck in the corner of your dry mouth screaming how god did it come to this o lord jesus just let me die with dignity not right here next to the toilet that someone didnt

16 September 2008

the manicure

she eases down into the cheap folding chair, and starts to unconsciously drum her fists on the table while we wait for the boss. her knuckles are tattooed
atop hands that hold a highway of lines and a lifetime of shifting horizons. their tectonic power is quite evident: these hands have long known a weary strength like the Mississippi slowly wearing down the rocks of its riverbed.
the boss is late. so we sit and shoot the shit and she presses her large palms together. she folds and unfolds these witnesses to war, misdeed, and other things done in desperation or maybe in bravery
some long gone winter night.

14 September 2008

wind madness

the air never really stops out on the plains. today it started whistling blue from the north in earnest, knotting my hair and making the kids ask for sweatshirts.
when the settlers first came in grim lines of white like hungry teeth stretched across the horizon, this same wind teased the pale sails of their covered wagons. all the bearded men in dirty buckskin were obliged to walk with heads down and one hand on their sweatstained hats while beneath the billowing canvas their women were going mad.
this was because the wind blew right through the tents and into their dreams; no one could get proper sleep while it was sticking cold hands in their quilts and moaning like some strange heathen ghost.
when they couldnt take it any more, they tore up the earth for sod houses but the wind still pressed in through the roots. so, still tossing and turning and fed up, they built heavy log cabins but the wind wound in through the inevitable cracks, the window panes, the chimney.
it battered the laundry, toppled new flag poles, wouldn't stop touching their faces.
folks say that finally the wind drove some of them settlers so crazy that those who could not swim walked into the lake, and those who never hunted finally knelt and squeezed the trigger.
so now the wind whips the long grass against their headstones.

13 September 2008

dream journal, sioux reservation, no. three: the swine

today I woke up laughing so hard.
I recognized an old boyfriend of mine—one who caused much grief last year, and who entered alcohol treatment at the end of the winter. We sat in a dark pub and I asked him why he was drinking. He said he was learning to limit his consumption to three beers only. Even in real life, I would have laughed. After the first beer, I realized he was slowly expanding until he looked 10 pounds heavier. After he downed the second one, he was so round his face was almost unrecognizable. When the third was through his voice started changing tones, and strange squeals kept erupting in place of vowels. I tried not to acknowledge it, and the conversation withered.
He finally turned, as usual, to check his reflection the mirror. When he turned back I saw that his shapely nose was now a snout and his hands were fusing into hooves that couldn't grasp the pint glass. Before I could react, an angry farmer cursed in the distance and dozens of filthy pink-skinned pigs came bursting in with their enormous stink, squealing
and breaking dishes. Without another word he fell into the herd, knowing his place with the new curly tail splitting his levis.

dream journal, sioux reservation, no. two: the horse

I woke up twisted in my blankets and full of anguish.
I was riding a fast white horse bareback with my long hair flowing wild behind me. as the plains were flying by, a teenage boy—the son of someone important—stepped out with an ax and struck the horse down.
we tumbled and I rolled to a stop and saw the horse's body disappear before my eyes, leaving long elegant bones but for the head whose flesh remained. The boy had gone. With tremendous grief I gathered up its bones—especially the broken shin—for the long walk alone to demand justice at the court house.

dream journal, sioux reservation, no. one: the lion

I woke up with the feeling of feline teeth pressing gently on my neck. I had been holding a large mountain lion by a piece of rope wrapped around its neck. It kept turning, snarling, jumping on me, trying to bring me to the ground. I was standing in a gully with the blue sky and rolling dry country silent all around me.
There was the achy feeling that everyone had moved on and that I was left behind.
Every time the lion would turn and lunge, I would grip the rope more tightly in my hands instead of fighting. I could feel its muscular body trying to push me down, and I stumbled and finally its hot breath was on my face and my ears were splitting from its fearsome roar but I would not let go of the rope.

05 September 2008

..into the desert

manaña slowly turns the san juan valley into a frying pan till the sun boils dead overhead and the hot air sucks the water right out of your skin like a lover greedy with the need.
out here the mountains overwhelm the steeples, so that believers bow instead among the cactus,yucca, and other razors of faith.
redtail hawks float spread-winged in the electric blue sky like archangels above this flock on their knees who still wait with their skin leathering in the heat and lungs that wheeze in the sage and dust.
they finally break and lay back, shirts soaked from their labor, and sit in the silver shade of the piñon. no one speaks but sometimes their chapped lips move vaguely, wondering when the sangre de christo gonna wet these arroyos again.