We breakfast together on grapes and figs while lying on wild grass, take a walk around our island, fill our eyes with sea, fill our ears with bird song. I drive her to the Loose Wolf where she lunches with the women who tend to the island gardens. I sit six feet away and watch her out of the corner …
I wake from my afternoon nap in my office, rise from my fold-out chair and push the button to trip the electric switch that will lift the roll-down blinds that cover the sliding glass doors that face the sea. Nothing. I turn on the lights. Nothing. I can see a crack of sunlight where the blinds don’t quite meet the …
On the bay, unlucky day, or so they say,
But not today, today is Thursday,
Not Tuesday or Friday.
Or is it Wednesday? It’s so hard to keep
Track during these times.
All the days and dates run together.
This morning, Amigo’s left front ankle is swollen,
And he is limping on three legs.
We call three veterinarian offices
We find through an Ogle search.
No answers. We call Marcelo the Dentist,
To ask him for advice, and he calls
A friend, a vet, but the office
Is not open till noon.
He asks us to send a photo
Of the dog’s leg.
Fifteen minutes later, Marcelo
Calls and says the vet says
The leg is not broken,
To just let the leg heal itself,
To let him rest in a comfortable place.
When I explain this to Amigo,
He looks at me with understanding eyes
And I invite him to hop into our apartment.
He lies on our brightly threaded, intricately weaved
Dining room rug, and the rank
Of street dog fills our apartment.
Teresa and I try to ignore it
While we marathon watch
A mafia series on Interflix.
Three or four hours later,
He rises and hops over to me,
And places his snout upon my thigh.
I, thinking he has to pee,
Lead him out of our apartment
Toward the front glass door of the building,
But he does not follow me.
Instead, he hops toward the middle passage
That leads to the service elevator
And the caretakers’ apartment.
Today the caretakers’ sister/sister-in-law
Is working in place of them,
As it is their day off.
Olga works less than the caretaker couple
And hides a lot in the apartment
Always arriving just when you are finished
With needing help unloading groceries
From your car, or loading your car
With suitcases. Amigo limps to the mat
In front of the caretakers’ apartment door
And lies down. I ring the bell.
I ring it again. “Coming!”
She opens the door with a frown,
Sees it is me, puts on a forced
Smile, and then her surgical mask.
She is wearing pajamas
And a sleeping mask is pulled up
To her forehead. “Yes?” she attempts
To gleefully ask. I explain Amigo’s
Leg problem. She looks down at him
With disgustful eyes. I continue, “He came to lie here.
I guess he is accustomed to sleeping
Here as your brother-in-law and sister
Let him inside every night
To escape the cold.
I hear he has a small doggie bed.”
She feigns, “Aww. Poor Amigo.
I will take care of him. I will go get
His bed.” Amigo looks up at me
With ‘It’s OK’ eyes. I pet him
Then return to my apartment.
Inside I wash my hands with liquid detergent,
Spray the apartment with Truthsol,
And sit in my plush chair,
To watch more TV.
Taking care to find a caretaker who’s not you. – mh clay
Last night you slept with your head on my chest
My nose in your hair.
While I dozed the violet ribbon upon my wrist
Broke and fell off. This morning I searched for it
But could not find it, anywhere. I tied a new one
To my ankle. Hid another in my journal cover.
Did you have the same dream I did last night?
You with your head on your husband’s chest,
My wife with hers on mine.
A ribbon of deception; identities mistaken, lovers mismatched. So hard to awaken… – mh clay
Damien is at the main tranquerawith a dozen armed black-suited people behind him,Goneril is standing beside himholding a newspaper above her headto block the sun from her face.Three grey-suited men with legal pads in their handsstand to her right. Damien is Teresa and Obligation’s son. Goneril is his wife. Obligation bought this ranch. Obligation died of a heart attack while …
I was standing on a grassy hill
overlooking The Salty River
that winds and flows
along Santa Ana’s North-Western border.
The sun was about to set
and the star was turning orange.
The Ponies and The Calves were leaping about
as if celebrating the survival of another day.
The corn was knee high, and the wheat fields
were shorn to short stalks that looked
like the three-day blond stubble of a recently shaped beard.
Birds were chirping and singing
like they too were reveling in the End.
The Cultivators were nowhere to be seen,
their noxious machinery fumes and pesticides
not clouding the air or poisoning the Earth.
The Gauchos were all in their homes
with their families, eating, or drinking mate.
Just as the sun disappeared over the horizon,
The Pink Flamingoes in the river hued red.
To look upon a scene; to be the scene; the scene in you; belonging… – mh clay
When Jonathan turns off the highway the mud
in the road is a foot deep. He clicks his vehicle
into 4-wheel drive and creeps forward in first gear
so not to slide into one of the ditches. The white gates
of his ranch are open, El Misionero standing next
to them. He rolls his window down and sighs. The air
smells green. Green. Green.
He drives to his office and talks with his capataz,
then they climb in the ranch pickup to go see a calf
cadaver. It was born early that morning with a curled-
neck deformity, and unable to reach its mother’s tit
or the water trough, it just stumbled around awhile and fell
on its side. The gauchos had skinned it and the vultures picked
it mostly clean, the eyes plucked out, the tongue sliced in half,
bits of intestine lying next to the spine, the heart and lungs mush
under the gristly ribs.
They drive to the Yellow House casco to see a pony cadaver.
Apparently, last night it leaped the fence around the
swimming pool and fell in the water. It lay on its side
on the grass where the yardkeeper placed it, its legs
stiff in the curled positions of swimming, yellow froth
tubed out of its nostrils. It was only three-weeks old.
Jonathan goes for a long walk, alone — he admires
the greening grass, the knee-high wheat, the sprouting corn,
the blooming chamomile, the calves and ponies leaping about
pastures spotted white with egrets.
He hears bees buzzing, mockingbirds singing —
and he keeps walking, walking; walking
past the pastures, past the Wood,
until he enters a fallow field.
As he approaches a small marsh
a flock of black ibis lift
and cloud away.
Like any week, we walk through cadavers to stand free. – mh clay
The weight of grass is heavy
Upon my shoulders; lift it,
Scythe is, mow it, let the cattle
Feed that I may walk again.
I sit upon a log in the shade
Of Wood. I sip mate.
I visit Buenos Aires and lie
In bed all day and watch cartoons.
I just want to sleep in
One Saturday, One Monday.
I want the Field Crossers
To stop trampling the grass,
To stop walking across my back
When they think I am napping:
Don’t they know the padlock turns
Are all numbered and recorded?
Editor, Advisor, stop planting corn
When I want my fields clovered.
I want again my daily strolls
In the quiet of Wood,
To watch for hours the bumblebees work
And lock eyes with the mockingbird.
Clover over corn? Yes! (This poem is a fine one of the mad many included in Stephen’s new collection, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River, published by Finishing Line Press. Get it here.) – mh clay
The tree frogs called the rain last night,
but the rain did not answer.
The intermittent croaking, about
every hour or so, was followed by
a gust of wind and the scent
of water, but no sprinkle, no pour.
The new gaucho, an angelic Moral
who rides our horse to sores,
has dried the soy beans not yet
planted. He horns the sun and peels
paint from his home.
Twenty millemeters of rain is not
forty nine, even with the north
wind. Two plastic gauges announce
the Tattler’s arrival in the park.
The newer gaucho, taller, broader
shouldered than the Angel
shunned away, suffers the sun
of unshaded twenty-one with
a smile and shovel-blistered hands
(but later became the Excuse Maker).
Just one day of the computer-
promised rain should soften the earth
and shoot the canal
full of internet cable, that is,
if the flexible orange pipe is found
With each truck that passes lot
three, earth crumbles and narrows
the road. We hope that the Three
barricade that which blackened
and thinned the cows.
I will the odometer to quit
increasing exponentially, and the bushes
Teresa planted not to yellow near
Atmospheric conditions unaffected angelically. (Congrats to Stephen on the imminent release of his new book, “A Ranch Bordering the Salty River.” Learn more about it and reserve your order here.) – mh clay
Friday, September 7th, 1 a.m.:
It begins to rain heavily,
the sound like barrels of water
being poured on the corrugated roof.
Jonathan locks his office door
and settles into his reading chair
to read a bit and sleep.
Just audible above of the sound of water
he hears something else,
like someone rattling
the door handle.
He looks up but the handle is not moving.
Then . . . Bang!
the door caves convexly in,
shakes on its hinges . . .
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Jonathan is on his feet
in the middle of the room,
an antique branding iron
held in his hand
like a club.
(You see, Jonathan has read often
in the local papers
of similar incidents:
“In the middle of the night
a rancher robbed and beaten for cash
in his office.”
“A rancher and his family
robbed at gunpoint in their home
by three ex-convicts hopped up
Not that Jonathan couldn’t take care of himself, but)
The door bangs and shakes two more times.
Jonathan thinks that his shotgun
might be a better weapon,
and just as he turns to retrieve it,
lightning flashes through the skylights,
blueing the entire office,
his ridiculous shadow twice
on the floor,
and almost simultaneously,
thunder cracks and rumbles away.
Jonathan drops the branding iron,
unlocks and opens the door,
and in leaps
and muddy and panting,
shaking water everywhere.
Dominic never liked thunder.
Dog from desperado, transformed in a flash. – mh clay
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