father fragments

Relles on horseA quick nonfiction excerpt from a project I’m working on:

The dark haired boy, bare footed and tired takes the reins of the mare and throws his leg over with a kick. He’s been waiting for hours to ride. His lips widen and then he nearly lets himself giggle as the mount kicks and strides away from the Jefe and the fieldwork. The Jefe told the boy the horse needed rest and grain and so the boy bit at his lip and clipped onions until twilight. And after a day’s work the boy’s energy rivals the horse’s and the boy lurches with each powerful jump nearly uncontrollably for hundreds of yards. After weeks of side jobs it is the first time the boy has ventured out. When the boy finally thinks to check back, the old man wipes at his forehead and at the back of his neck. The old man’s face is small and worrisome. And the boy’s face glows for the horse and the yards paced ahead.

felipa free writing

After a quick trip to Colorado Felipa has returned to me. In the form of some sad bits of free writing. Haven’t seen her in a while. She was the last one I thought would turn up again:

 

After Felipa and Carlos finally loaded their clothes into the truckito and the neighbors helped the old man Carlos ot of his wheeled chair and into the cab, Felipa burned every last family picture in her bedroom. The threats had been soft and never real until that moment out near the nearly-used-up wood pile.

I’m gonna burn these damn pictures up. Ain’t got no family I want to see them survive with, she would wail.

She had taken to drinking a few stray cans of beer stolen from Carlos’ nightly paper sack. No one took her quite as serious as she wanted.

And in the weeks and months following Carlos’ amputation she had gotten into the habit of taking the old man’s place at the back porch and hollering away at the neighbors. Especially in the months her sister moved home and away from their house on Franklin Street.

And this was her mindset during the sessions of organizing and planning before the big move away from San Luis. After the mortgage was lost and after the money had all dried up—after the pinche doctors from Alamosa sent out their bills.

Disgraced and tired Felipa felt she had nothing left and felt she wanted nothing left of her life and memories. It was almost a reckoning from what the old folks told me later on. She just pulled out the clothes and bedding that she was told there was no room for in the truckito and in the move and piled them onto the center of her bedroom. She watched as the men from the neighborhood broke down her brass bed and broke down her mirrors and dressing tables for the back of the truckito. She mentioned she would return to the piles of clothes and framed pictures but Felipa new better. She made believe that she would return after finding cardboard to pack them out.

Que Pasa, Felipa, the woman from across the way mentioned as she swept out the carpets and spotted the mess of clothes and photographs.

I’m finding places for all of them, she lied.

She found the kerosene in the back shed and remembered how the man cleaned his oil stains to his jeans. The matches were in Carlos’ coveralls and alongside his cigarillos and rolling papers. She had also taken to the habit of smoking and even chewing as she worked in the back garden. Drinking and smoking in the company of the neighbor’s was once a disgrace to the young Felipa but now became her defeat.

She pulled the matches from her purse and calmly struck them along the pack. She walked solemnly to the bedroom and dropped the fire on to her clothes and family photos. Carlos was in the truckito speaking to Ruben Archuleta from blocks over and discussing the best routes down the valley highway towards the interstate and the drive north to Huerfano County.

The woman will have to drive us out of here.

She have a license?

No license.

The men smoked their cigarillos and laughed. Carlos asked about his smokes and his matches.

Just yards away in the center of the house where the woman poured her kerosene and drenched her bedding and photographs the flame and sticks of wood slipped from her fingers. The spark and flame surprised her and in seconds the heat and smoke had nearly over taken her and as she fought the urge to throw her purse and then nearly her entire body into the flames.

It was the floor boards and abandoned rugs that went up first. Then the flames tickled the wood panels on the north wall. Felipa stood and watched mesmerized by it all. She giggled and stepped back as the heat rose.

When the men came running from the dusty yard out back Carlos was screaming, My wife! My sweet darling!

 

colorado free writing

I want the writing to be dusty. Arid and windy as a southern colorado drive with the wash of dust littering the windshield of the old man’s truckito. I want the work as faded and easy as jeans worn well past sensibility–torn and ragged from alleys of work and hard travelling–frayed around the boots from that one time in the lanes when the rain and mud became too much for the afternoon. Pages filled with roasting green chiles and the flower smell of readied masa and greased wood stoves ready to fry. I want the work to smell wood smoked and leathery–welcoming as San Luis ristras hanging in windowsills and porches. I want the work with immense spoons of lard and diced pork–red chiles and pinto beans on metal plates. The word as men and pipes and sweet tobacco over sweatfilled hollaring and arguing poker across the alleys and side streets of their old lives. I want the pages filled with packs of stray dark haired children barefoot over gravel and unpaved streets with their great laughter and waves. Green hoses spraying and wetting down sidewalks and weeded yards–days from my grass-stained youth and early evening sunsets just behind the power mountain of the Utes turning notebook pages…

sunday free writing

             Santiago awoke to the still morning. He looked wearily out of his bedding and then the tent and thought about how far away from his familia in Colorado he was. Hundreds of miles, he thought. But what could you do about it? Your legs were filled with the wanderlust.

            He arose this particular morning at seven o’clock. He was a tall and lanky and as he tucked his flannel shirt into his Levis he noticed just how thin he was. Thinned by ‘the habit’ as the Abuelita always referred to it when she spoke of the Abuelito. It was a quiet morning and the snow covered ground seemed flat and silent around him—no wind on the air. The sun was clear and cool in the blue empty sky. He wiped at his face with his leathered hand and then his neck and then ate breakfast.

            After that he began to remember Two Bear’s words and then he very much wanted to be back in Colorado.

saturday free writing

I often wonder what the Abuelito would think. As I sit at my desk and try to be a writer, an artist. To him it would have been a joke. The Abuelito or Jefito as we all called him rushed to work with his lunch pail and his steelworker’s badge thinking only of work and his duty. His job to produce the mortgage payment every month. There were ball scores and newspaper articles on the union. That was enough. But for him there was no book or text more important than that idea of work. Of doing for your family. There was no ocean of creativity waiting for him within a school’s walls. He left school for work and then for the great war before any of that could affect. The Abuelita or Jefita—which is what he called her—focused on the house and the kitchen. That was her life. Her husband’s life brought from Huerfano to the city and to their home. The home of work and toil where no one sat at desks and typed or where no one worked on text as art. No text but stories always stories. Sometimes I forget. Breakfast nook at dawn with splashing coffee and cigarettes. Ashtrays filled with gray. The stories passed between us and communicated their lives to me.

more rough free writing

Very rough free writing but it felt good to get something down on Santiago and a possible second chapter to this:

The Open Llano

            The next night as Steadfast maneuvered farther through snow and ice the storm doubled in intensity. The mountains and the surrounding pines turned slowly into white blankets, pure and deep, forcing Santiago to slow. The Charro worried and emptied bottle after bottle and his mind began to slow. He wept and cursed his ridiculous life and fortune along the open llano. He considered turning round but the snow covered the ground and created ghostly dark shadows and leaving the man directionless and tired. It was as if someone had carefully arranged the land against the man and his gelding or so the Charro cursed under his breath. His mind ached with crudo thoughts. Then the poor gelding kicked up new blends of earth and whiteness and then Steadfast began to trip throwing Santiago down to rock and sand. The move was violent and shook the man nearly breaking his leg and ankle on rock growing from the mountain. The gelding as brave and true as he was spooked and ran as if the mountainside had wanted the two separated. He cracked his head to the ground and he cried out. He spilled his bottle. His vision whitened out and hour after hour as he struggled to crawl and then walk onto his knees calling out the gelding’s name. The white grew bigger and bigger around the man.

            A white horse stopped beside the Charro Santiago, and for a moment Santiago believed it to be more snow fallen from the great western sky. The horse grew larger and larger. The horse and the man studied one another until Santiago heard Two Bear’s great laugh and voice. Until the man felt Two Bear’s great arms around his waist and torso. The Abuelitos had taught the young man to be patient and days of war and hunger in North Africa had also taught the man patience but the drink and the freezing snow had softened his thoughts.

            What are you doing sleeping in the snow, my boy? Two Bears said. I’ve been stalking you. Waiting for you, my boy. It seems you’ve crossed over.

            The Charro said no words but only hung on Two Bear’s immense arms and strength.

The next morning Santiago found himself in Two Bear’s shelter—his tent and blankets enduring the snow through the night. Two Bears fed the man hot soup and scraps of White Bear’s tortallitas and bits of dried meat. Then he asked the weakened cowboy to explain why he would flee the village no matter the dreams and the advice given to him by the elders.

I tracked you through the snow, Two Bears said as he ate. I must admit I thought your ways with a horse would have left you in better condition. I forget how young you are, Charro. I forget how much you haven’t seen or experienced.

For Christ’s sake, Santiago said. The storm came in on me too damned fast—

I’m not talking of the storm. You ave to make you mind larger than that. It’s been coming for years. It simply caught up with you.

What the hell does that mean?

Sit up, Two Bears said. Let me have a look at you.

Two Bears began to examine the cowboy. Eyes, throat and the top of his head. His solar plexus and then the top of his head.

You are not pure, Cowboy, Two Bears repeated. You are not happy. That’s what brought you to me. Your problem is from the outside.

The large Two Bears pulled a crystal and held it in a make-shift manner to the morning light coming from the tent’s small opening. The hearts, he repeated. You have left this world in order to find the hearts that have been lost to you.

I lost my horse and took a fall, Santiago returned. What the hell are you talking about, Indian.

Santiago. Cowboy, Two Bears said. His immense hands took the man’s collar and shoulder. Then he said: Think of these days as a doorway out of the painful life you find yourself in. A world where nothing is hidden from you. The dead walk amongst us and where we must face our most fearsome outcomes. A spirit world that supports this world—holds this world. You don’t really believe you have nothing to hide from this world do you? You are not a foolish man. This I trust.

What the hell—

You will find what is lost to you in this world, Charro.

Dead people?

Living people. Ones lost to you. Family Friends. Those that are just dead meat and buried to you. Here they are not buried. They live and breathe. They tell secrets and know nothing of your world lost to them. They are at peace and travelling—always travelling on our thoughts and whispers. The see lies and truths. Truths forgotten and dead.

Victims?

At times. My people say they are rebuilding what was lost to them. Searching for you. To them you are the lost one. That is why they came to you in the dream. Your sister and wife. They need you to find something lost from them. Some pain they are carrying brings them to you. It is hard for me to explain. They have all the answers.

This is crazy—

I believe. The way you believe in La Virgen. I believe in this world. And so will you. You will see. They;’ve chosen you. That much is certain. This world wouldn’t be the way it is without them.

My world. You mean my horse and my work. This world is harsh and cold—diseased and filled with struggle. Winters that out last wood piles. My sister’s lives were cut short from disease—

It would be worse without them supporting, Cowboy. Trust me. They hold this world support her. They hold the mountain up. The seasons blow in on their voices and breathe and work. The horses muscle comes from their muscle—the muscle of all dead mustangs and geldings your people have worked into the ground. Thoughtlessly worked or hurt during your Charro ceremonies. The children of this world laugh and sing their games and songs because of lost children. It all builds off one another. They are the hidden hands of this world.

I don’t know what you say—

Think of it this way. Winter kills for others to be reborn in the spring. You see that don’t you? The balance of season’s changing. It is like that to us. They pull it all into being The Otherworlds make it all so.

How many worlds are there Two Bears?

There are four that belong to my people. But there is one for each of us. This is your Otherworld. I am just a visitor.

What about your wife? You’re leaving her behind to follow me.

She lives for me. And I live for her. But she believes as I believe and she will wait. As I have waited for her. She knows it is important to convince those who do not believe. You could not do this alone.

Why me?

You have the build. The holy men said so. Don’t you remember? They see and now so must you.

I am not your kind.

That doesn’t matter. You’ve seen so much as it is. You cannot deny. And we are all each other’s kind, Charro. Those constructions of differences are ours to give from this world. We can take them back if we decide. Do not look at where the world stops off. But where the next begins. You will see.

thurs free writing

I’ve been wanting to type out some free writing I’ve had down in my notebook for a while. I started with some dialogue relating to this ‘House of Two Bears” story I wrote years back. I’ve been wanting so badly to get back to this story and break it open into a wider story. And recently an idea came late at night—some notes I wrote down while half asleep into an email on my Blackberry.

This is what I wrote: It’s a way out of whatever awful life you’ve come to find yourself in.

Odd sentence but I imagine Two Bears is leading Santiago into another world—a world of dreams and of the unconscious. The Hopi religious view of four sustained worlds their people have emigrated out of into this world. Something like that. And I forgot about it until I was going over some student emails on my phone. I’ve wanted to get back into the fictive space of Santiago and Two Bears but I’ve had some problems. I’ve been reading Bradbury and Frank Waters and have wanted to bring these two sources together for a while but just the other day the characters started talking to me again. No idea what this little exercise means but it felt good to get down some dialogue:

Santiago. Cowboy. Think of it as a doorway out of the painful life you find yourself in. A world where nothing is hidden from you. The dead walk amongst us and where we must face our most fearsome outcomes. A spirit world that supports this world—holds this world. You don’t really believe you have nothing to hide from this world do you? You are not a foolish man. This I trust.

What else will I find your people’s world? Santiago asks.

What is lost to you in this world, Charro.

Dead people?

Living people. Ones lost to you. Family Friends. Those that are just dead meat and buried to you. Here they are not buried. They live and breathe. They tell secrets and know nothing of your world lost to them. They are at peace and travelling—always travelling on our thoughts and whispers. The see lies and truths. Truths forgotten and dead.

Victims?

At times. My people say they are rebuilding what was lost to them. Searching for you. To them you are the lost one. That is why they came to you in the dream. Your sister and wife. They need you to find something lost from them. Some pain they are carrying brings them to you. It is hard for me to explain. They have all the answers.

This is crazy—

I believe. The way you believe in La Virgen. I believe in this world. And so will you. You will see. They;’ve chosen you. That much is certain. This world wouldn’t be the way it is without them.

My world. You mean my horse and my work. This world is harsh and cold—diseased and filled with struggle. Winters that out last wood piles. My sister’s lives were cut short from disease—

It would be worse without them supporting, Cowboy. Trust me. They hold this world support her. They hold the mountain up. The seasons blow in on their voices and breathe and work. The horses muscle comes from their muscle—the muscle of all dead mustangs and geldings your people have worked into the ground. Thoughtlessly worked or hurt during your Charro ceremonies. The children of this world laugh and sing their games and songs because of lost children. It all builds off one another. They are the hidden hands of this world.

I don’t know what you say—

Think of it this way. Winter kills for others to be reborn in the spring. You see that don’t you? The balance of season’s changing. It is like that to us. They pull it all into being The Otherworlds make it all so.

How many worlds are there Two Bears?

There are four that belong to my people. But there is one for each of us. This is your Otherworld. I am just a visitor.

What about your wife? You’re leaving her behind to follow me.

She lives for me. And I live for her. But she believes as I believe and she will wait. As I have waited for her. She knows it is important to convince those who do not believe. You could not do this alone.

Why me?

You have the build. The holy men said so. Don’t you remember? They see and now so must you.

I am not your kind.

That doesn’t matter. You’ve seen so much as it is. You cannot deny. And we are all each other’s kind, Charro. Those constructions of differences are ours to give from this world. We can take them back if we decide. Do not look at where the world stops off. But where the next begins and you will see.

(Note: I still need to have some anxiety element from Santiago so that Two Bears will follow him/chase after him closer to four corners area while Santiago struggles with this idea. Perhaps Two Bears follows him and then Santiago drinks himself into a horse riding accident and Two Bears saves him. What would Two Bears and Santiago find in another world of the Hopi? Utes still living in Colorado in peace instead of kicked out. Santiago’s wife and sister alive to answer questions. Grandfathers and Fathers and all types of family to answer questions. Perhaps something dark concerning the death of his sister. Something like that.)

free writing–abuelito’s pistola

(Less free writing than just getting a thought down.)

For nearly twenty years the Abuelito’s pistola rested in a worn leather sheath in the Jefita’s dresser. Old fashioned wheel style weapon from his days in the hills of New Mexico and days as a charro riding his gelding and bringing home dollar boys from the state of New Mexico. The piece left to the Jefe that was so desired by the boys as they played and ran their hands through the Jeffe and Jefita’s private things. They avoided the warnings.

Stay out of my things, the Jefe would bark as he drained his nightly mix of rum chased with Coors. Who in the hell gives you the right to get into my things. I’ll eat your hands alive if you touch my things. Remember what I say.

Years later the middle boy Lolo will take a hatchet to the drawer and the lock for that pistola. He will chop at the wood and the handle with drunken cuts and slams…