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…

revision, revision and tying the threads

I’m going to begin this post by saying that I’m writing this in my apartment about ten feet from railroad tracks, which is just south of downtown Springfield Illinois. It’s afternoon, saturday. Every so often I can hear a train  wth coal cars slam past in a great cry. The roar of the train rises and it bursts over the trees. If it was after midnight it would’ve woke me. It’s almost thrilling to hear despite the annoyance and consistant unpredicatability.  I’m sitting here facing the window trying to revise what I’ve called Monte Stories. I’ve been trying for several days now, ever since thinking I have somewhat of a first draft. I expect as a writer of some sort to return to everything I’ve worked on though the energy isn’t always there. And I should be working on my syllabi.

Anyway Monte Stories is about Carlos Montoya who is and isn’t my grandfather. I mean the man in San Luis, Colorado whose face I’ve seen a million times in the Abuelita’s house just above her wall cabinets–well this man isn’t the Carlos I’m thinking about today. Carlos only exists in the drafts I’ve been working on and is my total creation. So as for revision it is less memory and more creation of moments I want to put him into. I gave birth to this guy and somehow I know he needs to die. I know he needs to go away and leave me alone so I can work on other things. But for now I know I have to go back line by line and section by section and start over again and again trying to create more moments to predicate his life and failures.

So my revising is under way and at a stop sign right now. More like the truckito has flipped and the tires are spinning. I just feel as if I need some time to think and get back to the drafted sections. Specifically sections between Carlos and his daughter Bruna. Specifically the sections of Felipa’s letters to her daughter Bruna. Specially more on the ending and the death of Carlos. And when I’ve been stuck in the past I’ve picked up the phone or driven over the Abuelita’s. I’d sit down at her kitchen table and try and steal the stories from her. I have so many notes from afternoons like that. But now she’s gone the way I know Carlos needs to go. She’s gone and I have to figure it on my own. The revision or the re-envisioning has to be done and today as I sit I am more consumed with the loss of the old woman than with the writing of a fictional Carlos.

Here’s Carlos as a young man. If you’re interested.

The old woman always used to say I looked like him though he wasn’t young when I met him. I feel as if I am sort of trying to look at life through him in these revisions. And with the old woman dead and gone I’m not sure who to ask the questions and I feel such a loss of the stories and also the connection I had to family. And I don’t think I have a lot of connection to family except through the writing. So before I go on to what I want to talk about I have to mention that yestrday while I was doing pretty much the same thing I’m doing today I recieved a phone call and a voice mail from a woman who obviously reached the wrong number. It was a woman who sounded like a black woman with a heavy southern accent and a very unique voice. Anyway she was asking for a party named Willie. It was a wrong number and I didn’t recognize the number so I didn’t pick up. I hate to talk on the phone. Anyway I went back to my desk and my work and then I couldn’t resist the temptation to listen to the voicemail over and over. The voice was so desperate and saddened that Willie hadn’t answered. SHe mentioned hse was at his house and had some lonsome desperation in finding his house without him. It was the afternoon and in the middle of a heat index warning and I wanted to call her and explain to her the situation though I didn’t. So I started to draft some notes–stealing the moment for fiction.

I wrote the sentence:

Bruna! This is Felipa and I’m here at your house waiting for you! Where are you! I’m here but I don’t see yous home!

Then I wrote this:

–and then I found that my character Felipa couldn’t have left a message for her daughter Bruna who is being raised by her stepdaughter and I couldn’t use this in my writing and I became very frustrated…but I also started thinkin I have to stop adding and start revising some time soon and became more and more stifled with my slow process of writing and revising. Anyway the process is confusing sometimes…Maybe Felipa should write letters, I thought.

Then I wrote this:

Felipa’s Letters

            It begins with letters. About a dozen or so handwritten and very cryptic looking since Felipa hadn’t written anything in years. She wasn’t much for store bought greeting cards because of her age and began writing to her only daughter, Bruna Montoya, in the summer of 1960.  

Then I started to think about one of my favorite Raymond Carver books called Fires and how many times I’ve read his essays on adding charcter’s into stories or characters being influenced by wrong numbers he’s received. ANd I pulled the book out again and started rereading sections and again further away from revising. And as I was reading about his influences–a writer I admire very much–I started thikning about how my influences. And I have to say the biggest influence on my writing has to be my family and my misunderstanding of their relationships and how they missed connections with one another and then I thought of my family and how I missed connections with them.  And how these missed connections seem to match my missed connections in the fictive space or the trajectory of the story and how I need to make those connections or tie those threads as my writing teachers have told me… Anyway today I am sitting here and stil ltrying to tie those threads…

notes for free writing

I am sitting and trying to figure out my notes and what is left for the trajectory of Monte Stories. I still remember Tracy Daugherty telling me how the individual learns how to write a novel by doing and finding.

Here are the chapters I have left to free write:

Carlos tries to kill Pifanio after amputation of legs; or maybe before amputation of legs…

Jeri leaves and then returns after purchasing a house for Bruna and Lena and Lena fixing it up…

Jeri and Lena arguing over dogs Jeri purchases for Bruna…

Lucy Venudo watching Bruna after Lena no longer able to watch Bruna at Dundee cleaners…

Lena at Vicky’s checking up on Jeri; Lena worrying that he is cheating…

Bruna as young girl following Lena as she checks up on Jeri…

Jeri and Bruna visit Jeri’s brother and sister Milly and Charlie…

Bruna’s Hell when Bruna is 16…

Lena and Felipa fight over money for Carlos…

Carlos losing his teeth and Lena purchases his false teeth; he refuses to let his gums heal out of vanity…

Ending?: Carlos wheels himself over to bar…

free writing–monte stories

(Here is some very rough freewriting I wanted to get down while my poetry students took their midterms. I will have more to come as I want to follow this and see where it goes.)

Lena is standing in Felipa’s kitchen and her crock pot boils over and rattles every once in a while spilling hot water onto the burners and the crackling sound of steam fills the room up to the low ceiling. Her kitchen is the size of a small bathroom alongside a bathroom the size of a closet and alongside a closet which is the size of a cabinet. She keeps her coffee mugs underneath the table in old milk crates because she has no cabinets. When she pulls one mug from the crate and hands it over to Carlos sitting in his broken down and rusted looking wheelchair the old man immediately blows into the mug to free it of dust and imagined spider webs before filling it with the black liquid for his morning energy. He must have coffee and toast before he can hit the bathroom and he must bring the newspaper with him, this I find out later, so he can read the Star Journal over the amount of time in there. Because someone has to help him navigate from bed to chair and from chair to toilet he tends to stay in there awhile. Especially if Felipa is on the phone or making up the beds or fixing her own lunch for the day of work ahead. Poor old man, Lena remembers thinking. The poor, poor old man, she might’ve even whispered into the air after the coffee and after Lena watches Felipa manages the old man into the bathroom and as the door shuts behind.  Poor man, shit, Felipa says, pushing his chair into a corner and beginning her morning chores of dishes and then sweeping. She acts is Carlos’ daughter is not there. She pretends to be alone as she works. I’m the one who does all the work. You should say poor, poor Felipa. No one around here ever says that.

When Felipa has the man out and Lena helps the old man into a fresh t-shirt and into a clean pair of pants, the excess material cut down and unkempt but safety pinned free from his chair. When she has him settled Felipa can breathe and think of herself. She can head into the bathroom after ironing her own dress and fixing her hair. She can spend those stolen moments in the bathroom and put on her make-up, her red lipstick and rouge with her only gold necklace and hair pins. It is only then that Carlos can smoke and talk to his daughter about Bruna and Jeri. They speak in the largest room of their institutional housing—the projects as everyone calls them–the quiet of the back bedroom while Lena sits on the edge of their bed and talks to her father. He asks his daughter to open the back window so he can smoke his nasty smelling cigarillos and release the dark smoke from his nostrils.           

It used tobe I went outside to smoke, hija, Carlos explains in a small and almost pathetic sounding voice. I used to go outside and she would lock my wheels and leave me for hours but the neighbors asked me what are you doing out here, Carlos? What are you doing? And I couldn’t answer them. I could just say the wife has me out here. And it got back to Felipa somehow.

And when he hears the bathroom door click he throws the vacha immediately out the window…

monte notes

I had an idea the other day to follow Carlos and Felipa downtown as they shop. Mostly I had some memories of stories–stories of how Carlos would drop the wife off for groceries while he went to a bar and would forget her as the time ran on. This always filled me with imaginings of how that day would happen. My own Grandmother told me stories of phone calls looking for the old man at the local bar. I want to explore this later tonight or when I have time. The brain of grading and responding to student essays has me but I want to follow Carlos in downtown Monte.

Monte Chapters

(Here is my attempt to make sense of the Monte Stories chapters I’ve been free writing/drafting lately. I think I might have them in some kind of order now.)

1. Carlos Stories-forward ahead to Bruna and Lena talking to Manito about Carlos

2. Intro/Background-Monte and San Luis Valley

3. Carlos and Pifanio Work in South Fork-intro to Carlo’s work

3.4 Stampede

3.5 Felipa

3.55 Felipa and Carlo on babies

3.6 Pifanio

4. Carlos and Felipa-back in time Felipa regrets marrying Carlos

5. Delores-relationships before meets Pifanio

6. Carlos-walks in sleep

6.5 Carlos sees UFO

7. Pifanio’s Wife-Delores leaves him again and again

8. Pifanio and Felipa-forward in time after Pifanio sleeps with Felipa

8.5. Carlos at Doctor

8.6 Felipa and Carlos and Pifanio Clash over Baby

9. Phone Call to Lena-Carlos calls Lena asking her to take Felipa’s baby

10. Lena’s Trip Home-Lena picks up baby and Felipa flips out

11. Felipa to Huerfano and Haunts Lena and Bruna

12. Felipa and Pifanio Get Together

Free Writing: Carlos Stories

(After working on the short “Lena’s Trip Home” I really enjoyed drafting the voice and the movement of Lena’s Jefe–Carlos. Thought he might lead to some longer stories because of his work in the lumberyards and as a carpenter. He’s based on my biological Grandfather and though I never spent much time with him I like to imagine his life in the San Luis Valley and how he would be able to give away a daughter after fathering something like 13 or 14 children through his life to the age of 50.)

Down in the valley, just outside of Monte Vista, Colorado, or ‘Monty’ as the daughter Lena used to call it, where the mountain views fill nearly the entire horizon outside of his windshield, Carlos Montoya drives and works nearly every day on the campsites of South Fork. He drives his truckito up and down the San Luis Valley, usually before the sun rises every morning, to make a living for him and his wife though in his mind he should have been retired years ago. Here in the valley has been his bread and his income since he stepped foot off the train downtown in Alamosa.   His brothers and some of his compadres from work camp days have moved on to Southern Colorado to work in the coal mines or steel mill of Huerfano County. He wear his cowboy hat cocked as most veterans wore them in those days and he wears his jeans faded as most working men of the valley, despite his young wife’s protests and attempts for him to change his ways.

Tio

Some days he parks alone near the old Spanish Trail just miles from the unpaved streets of his home on Franklin Street. He smokes his cigarillos and drains his cans of beer in peace while he listens to KATR and his country music out of Sterling. He parks because the wife doesn’t like the smell of cigarettes in her kitchen and she doesn’t allow beer in her home. He parks because he knows as soon as re arrives he must whack stove-sized wood for his dinner and for his breakfast and then clear the scrap from below the thinning maple trees behind the house. The truckito becomes his sanctuary and his savior from all that, home from his work in the remote lumberyards and sawyards, the roar of belt feeders cutting cedar and. He looks all around and finds peace after working through the days and he finds the valley green and the mountains warm in the afternoon sun and he fills his lungs through an open passenger and driver side windows. Spruce trees and meadow grass still green and rolling along the hills ahead of him. The Mason farm and the crown of woods behind it where the lettuce workers complete their field work.

This goes on until he thinks to slap at his back pocket and then pulls his leather bill fold to find the few bills among the dust and lint. He thinks of skipping home and driving out to Home’s Café or out of Rio Grande County towards Alamosa and State Street out to Jack’s Market for the simple pleasure of dinner in his truck without the voice of the wife or her constant questions: Where are you taking me this weekend, Carlos? Or Why don’t we have a home like your kids, Carlos? Why does the dog get more attention from you, Carlos?

Freewriting: More of the Unreliable Lolo Ortiz

(Here is another freewriting improvisation I put together. It adds a bit more to Vy and Manito’s coversation after they meet.)

While Lolo slept Vy and the sister got to talking while I listened and drank their RC Cola. That’s when the old stories came in to the conversations. Like old memories on breezes through tired old New Mexico neighborhoods—down Vy’s unpaved street and driveway—over the lost dogs and the smoke from a hundred smoked cigarillos. I remember the windows were open wide and my belly was full and I saw what Lolo meant when he had called Vy’s place a home.

That Uncles of mines, Vy told me, reminds me of your Tio, Manito.

Who? The sister questioned, Manual.

No. Ignacio.

Oh, yeah. Ignacio, the sister repeated.

That old man was loaded with dollar bills and used to bury his money in the backyard.

My Lolo’s pockets are always empty, I said.

Yeah, well, that’s not what reminds me of him. What reminds me of him is this one time he was out working.

He was always working, the sister added.

Yeah, Manito. He was out working out in the campo plowing. He was a farmer in those days.           

Farming what? the sister asked.           

No say, Vy said. Maybe lettuce. I don’t know. That’s not the story. The story is he was plowing and he dropped the wallet. Dropped the bank roll while he was working.           

Why did he keep it on him while he was working? I asked.           

So the wife wouldn’t get into it, Manito. Didn’t want her getting the cash and getting out to town to buy groceries.           

Why wouldn’t he want his wife to buy groceries? I asked.

You got a lot to learn about marriages, Manito. Anyway, so he’s out working hard and so he pulls his handkerchief, right. He pulls it and out drops the wallet and then he plowed right over it. So half the night he’s out digging up the money and looking for the bank roll. And the shit of it is he lost the the whole family’s roll because he didn’t trust, you know.           

What does this have to do with Lolo?           

Yeah, the sister added.           

Your Tio has never been that way is what I’m trying to say. Never hid money from nobody. Whatever he’s got is yours. If Lolo has money, then everyone has money.           

The problem is, the sister said, he never haves no money. And that suits him just fine, no.

 

(the Latest Failure:

Dear John,

Thank you so much for your submission and interest in Sakura Review. Your work was carefully read by the editors, but unfortunately, we do not have a place for it in the journal at this time. Our next issue will be released later this summer; we hope you order a copy, and we sincerely encourage you to submit again in the future.

The Editors

Sakura Review)

Ideas for Piñon Stories

Went out and bought some piñon from a guy by the side of the road. Old truckito and dusty clothes–had a real Lolo feel to him. Told us about where to find the piñon. Told me about San Luis and Alamosa crop drying up but the best luck he’s had was driving out to Catron County in New Mexico. Takes some time driving, you know, he told me. But the crop was worth it. No fences to jump or nothing, is what he also told me.

This became an idea for some sort of a new improvisation. I am stealing that word from William Maxwell. I picked up a copy of his collected short stories and instead of notes or free writing he calls them improvisations. Well, this latest improvisation I will be drafting out shortly. I’ve got a few pages of notes in my notebooks and hopefully the full draft will come soon.

This is also what the guy told me: The crop is unreliable, he said. You know. Good thing I don’t have a regular job, you know.

http://www.pinonnuts.org/forecast2008.htm