Incantation

Early morning sun

Early morning sun lights up the California smoke across the valley

This morning after visiting the bathroom, my wife crawled back into bed around 5:30 a.m., pulled the covers up to her chin, and said, “This is the end.” (Driving by those houses yesterday had something to do with this, the way it always does.) I put my arm around her, held her close, and felt no fear for once. This is the end, I thought, although of what, I wasn’t sure.

Going to Santa Fe on my birthday to haul my Twin Reverb in to be repaired was like that. It was fun to drive the truck, for one thing, and I wanted to. With plenty of power, the Dakota squirts ahead whenever I stab the gas. The ride is smooth and stable, the speedometer dead on. Down the road, the guy at the guitar store treated me like a mensch. We had fish and chips for lunch outdoors and felt a breath of normal in the air. I wasn’t worried about money, finding a place to live, or cataloging my old sins, as if the act of doing something that was so important to me personally and artistically after all these years had let the goodness flow again.

One for the Money

adobe compound

Just do it

This year my birthday adds up to one. (How appropriate, especially if you know the lyrics.*) It was a stressful birthday eve but I am straightened out. Be that as it may, my original plan for today was to drive north to Costilla, Amalia, and the Valle Vidal in my snorting V-8 Dodge. But on a trip to town I noticed how smoky and sad the mountains were. There’s also the immediate case of possible abduction, murder, and bad hygiene in a “compound” full of crazies near Amalia itself, and there must be troopers everywhere. I saw five black-and-whites heading north in a pack, and that was just us in the moment. The valle isn’t going anywhere. So.

My Fender Twin Reverb amp has sat under my desk gathering dust for several years. I will not add them up for shame. It’s a classic, very loud, and weighs ten thousand pounds. After the sound went wonky and the tubes glowed strangely and the thing just quit, I stopped playing, too, and put the electric 12-string in the case. This was already well into the Great Deprivation and seemed to fit. No one feasts until I kill the dragon, etc. I already needed hearing aids and now a dental implant and of course a home. However. There’s just one way to have these things if you’re an artist, and it’s not the way I thought my whole damn life. That’s why I’m driving the amp to Santa Fe today to drop it off to be repaired. A new power supply, I think.

Everybody behave. Back soon!

* Blue Suede Shoes

Been a While

cat in dirt

Callie the Wonder Cat awaiting nothing

What can you do. I used to think it mattered, until I realized the biggest thing I ever did was marry my wife. It’s simply a miracle, it really is, that I found someone who loves me like that and she’s still here. Given the zombie caravan I brought to this fandango, it doesn’t make sense. Why should anything else?

The biggest thing we did last month was take a trip to Minneapolis. Family-related, on my wife’s side. Worthwhile for all concerned, though not without some underlying stress. We drove, of course. I won’t say that was a mistake, but if we ever do it all again I’m taking twice the time, staying at the priciest motels, and never putting one tire in Nebraska. It feels like the end of an era, though. We must have driven past three million cornfields in our time, talk about the living dead. I don’t mean this to sound depressing but it kind of is. The main thing now is finding us a home, and I’m not running any more. God damn, New Mexico is beautiful, and we found it on our own.

Therein lies a clue. My late mother, who sowed depression like the weeds of Hell, thought there was this empirical reality of doom that you could minimize but not deny. I learned my lesson well, but now I’m old and have decided to forget. I also did not know the Buddha taught to drop bad thoughts like rotten garbage. All those years of psycho-analysis without a simple tool, ye gods! Knowledge waits until you’re ready.

Sometimes we hold on to things that hurt because of fear there’s nothing there if we let go. Nothing except love, that is, and how was one to know?

One Evening in the Wind

Kathy at the top of the driveway

“She lives (in a time of her own)”… – 13th Floor Elevators

Some days my only exercise is a walk to the top of the driveway to smell the air and scan the horizon. Today, this Saturday morning, is different. I will change the spark plugs on the car, buy tequila and lotto tickets, and maybe visit the storage unit—a ritual push against the tourist traffic, that, which brings me to, we need to move…it’s like one really needs another world, but we shall have another house instead, somewhere…as soon, as soon as…evermore as soon as…as soon as I relax, they say…and let the good things in…

A Great Hurt

Llano Quemado

Wrecked bird feeder w/abandoned house

America was building prison camps. “The people in this country have no heart,” the young brown-skinned mother wept as the blackshirts finally released her daughter. Reunited but not safe, they both faced deportation back to violence and death unless they joined the thousands in the desert or in wire cages inside concrete caves, where the lights were on all night and frightened children weren’t allowed a hug, not even by their parents. It was like being kidnapped by the very gangs they’d fled.

Imagine, if you can, being beaten and raped on your way home one day. Bloody and sobbing, you stagger to the doorway of a stranger’s house. But instead of taking care of you, the occupants arrest you and lock you up. You don’t even speak their language. You have no idea why you’re handcuffed or how long you’ll be there. If you have a child or spouse, they may be taken from you and you won’t know where they are…

When I was fourteen years ago in Texas, I fell asleep delivering papers early in the morning and crashed into another car at the curb. My face was cut and bleeding. There was blood all over. I got out, walked up to the closest house, and pounded on the door. “Help!” I yelled, completely out of it and raving. The porch light soon came on. A woman in her nightgown stuck her head outside and screamed. “Please call the police,” I said, “and call my father, too.” (My worst shame was, I’d wrecked the car—a ’58 VW—and the old man would be mad. He wasn’t, though.) I might have given her the number. I guess she called him or the cops did, but either way, I ended up at the base hospital where an Air Force doctor stitched my eyelid back together and sent me home. I missed a couple days of school and wore a bandage on my eye for days.

No one refused to help me. No one locked me up.

I’m old now and I’ve seen a lot. We live in a wreck of an old adobe on a dirt road in a neighborhood where young brown children waiting for the school bus look just like the others at the border. They wear the cleanest clothes and no one’s scared or crying. Every day I read about the goddamned fascists treating refugees like vermin and I lose it. In my country, my America. If these people showed up at my door, I’d give them food and water, let them use the bathroom, call an agency or church to help them, drive them to their relatives, anything I could. I’d be proud and grateful if my government would handle this, but I would do it anyway because the pain is killing me.

On this very different Fourth of July, I feel only anger at the lies and cruelty that know no bounds.

We may be better than this.

I honestly don’t know.

(Peace)

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