“EL BURRO VIEJO” (The Old Burro)


The Sun
My friend
The hill
To lift
The edge
Of night
So tattered by the embers’ flight

The Man
My Friend
His house
To stir
With song
So sadness in my ear is sown

My eye
Is filled
The Man
My Friend
Now tithes
My trough
Sweet grain
With hay
Melaza means we work today

A blanket woven by his Wife Who Died
Adorns my saddle where he dare
Bestride me slowly with his beaten heart
And turn, as if to cry good-bye

I trot along the Trail My Friend once more
To bear all sorrow down to town
Where we will trade it for a day or so
Of work together dust to dust

The bargain struck by hand to carry goods
Upon my back up there somewhere
Beyond the pass where pumas hide the moon
Machete smiles did slice the price

My hooves the hours mull with dust and salt
That smolder from the pounded ground
The strangers grow impatient with my pace
And tell the Man My Friend to tend
My inclination, weighing on my knees
My coffin bones are spears of tears
The Man My Friend with gentle songs beside
My toil he shares with yet regret

Yet steep between the jaws of canyon walls
The waves of rocks in frozen pose
A shadow dances on my bleary eyes
My legs I lose, so quit and sit
The angry strangers my existence curse
But flying words can bring no wing
So stones are cast that gouge away my fur
I bray to heaven, then cries arise

The Man My Friend between the stones and me
Does intercede and begs my legs
To help me wobble, like a foal again
But he is struck by stones and moans
Collapsing with me back into the dust
The strangers leave us there aware
They take our chances with their own and go
The goods upon their shoulders rolled.

The Man My Friend is moving not at all
But grave injustice I defy
To find myself arisen and I bray
I bellow and I scream extreme
Damnation on the wicked strangers’ path
When one returns despising eyes
And draws his gun and fires amiss at me
I kick at rocks that fly awry
To clatter up the narrow canyon walls
He ducks his head his fellows yell
The canyon is an echo cauldron now
I hear a rumble, then again
When boulders fall and crush the strangers dead
Manojos de su dinero (Bunches of your money) share
The Man My Friend and I
Viejos juntos (Old ones together)







I did not kill the boy. But I did eat him. As I stripped the pungent flesh from his arm I saw the rifle and I growled but I did not stop devouring. That night I slept on his bones and I had my first dream of you.

I dreamt that I was the boy. I was close to your face. I could smell your hot skin and your salty blood. I could not stand it any longer and I lunged at your lips. But I awoke whimpering. I clashed my teeth and I growled.

In the morning I was drawn by the scent of the boy’s tears down the mountain. I came to a stream and I smelled where the boy had sat. I smelled where the rifle had been laid and I growled. I too sat and I saw my reflection in the trembling water my face black and my eyes yellow. Beneath the reflection of my eyes was a gold ring lying on the pebbles.

The tops of the trees swayed and moaned in the wind. I laid myself down and I had my second dream of you. I was again the boy and I saw you through a cottage window being devoured by another boy. I saw my reflection and it was the face of a deer whose throat I had torn out. I awoke howling.

By nightfall I arrived at the stench of the village. I felt like I could not breathe so I dug furiously at the earth to release the fertile decay and I laid myself in the pit to rest. I had my third dream of you. I was the boy howling and shaking the rifle at the moon and I could smell you in the wind but you were not there.

I was awakened by twigs snapping and soil crunching. My hair turned electric and my lips fled my teeth. Then I smelled you. You called out.

“I know you are out there. I am sorry. I am sorry. Come back to me!”

I rose up glaring in front of you and you screamed in horror. But when you gazed into my eyes you suddenly stopped screaming. You knew. I was he.

As you are now me and we are all together.







fast, fast


Your heartbeat


On my




fast, fast


Your lips

Spread soft,

Your tongue tastes




fast, fast






All the way







fast, fast
Ah, ah,





fast, fast
Ah, ah,



Mask, hard





We both




fast, fast
Ah, ah,



faster, faster
Ah, ah, ah, ah

faster, faster
Ah, ah, ah, ah

faster, faster
Ah, ah, ah, ah

Now we







Gentle rain smeared lights into the pavement. Jack Hackman, the short-story fiction writer, walked across the parking lot toward the Faber Publishing building. Jack took a final breath of the fresh air that had descended from heaven and that had subdued the city.

In the lobby the music system played Central City Sketches from the jazz station.

“Hi, Barbarella,“ he said to Barbara the Receptionist. She smiled like the Cheshire Cat.

Jack passed the elevator and walked up the stairs, thinking in cadence “prose, poetry, prose poetry; the two legs of literary ascension.” At the third floor he entered the hallway that led to the West Conference Room. He could smell that someone had already made coffee and that it was strong.

“Marie?” he smiled as he passed the little kitchen. “You? Early?”

Marie Lovall, the novelist, watched Jack swagger past wearing his open leather bomber jacket, V-shirt, and jeans and Marie muttered. “Full costume tonight, I see,” just loudly enough so that Jack could hear her as he was entering the conference room

On the huge wooden table in the middle of the room was a big cardboard box. Jack moved aside one of the plush blue-felt chairs and leaned over to peer into the box.

“Kittens?” he asked. In the corner of the box huddled six tiny balls of fur, each one trying to get under the other in fear of Jack. He couldn’t resist touching them but as he reached into the box two of the kittens turned to face him and raised their little paws in defiance. “Giving me the toe, eh?”

As he touched one, the kitten spat and rolled backwards.

“Hey! Don’t scare those poor little guys,” scolded Marie as she entered the room.

“They stink,” Jack retorted, hardening-up after nearly melting.

“They don’t have a mother and they need a bath.”

“They are yours, of course?”

“The janitor found them between some barrels of chemicals out in the storage shed. He told Barbara and she gathered them up.”

“What’s wrong with their eyes?” Jack grimaced.

“I don’t know,” said Marie as she picked up one of the kittens. “They must have leaned against a leaky barrel. I was helping Barbara cut some plastic-like stuff out of their fur.”

“Barbie should have been a vet.”

Marie smiled a little in appreciation. “Yes. She should also be a mother. She’s already given the little guys their names. This is Coquette. That’s Baby, there’s Boots, Tiger, Frisky Piglet. I think that one is Arnold, poor little guy. His eyes are really bad. And, good God, no wonder he looks so weak. Look at those fleas!”

Jack picked up the box of kittens.

“Hey! What are you doing?”

“Bath time,” he said as he carried the box into the little kitchen. Marie followed.


Jack took off his jacket and began adjusting the faucets to give warm water. “This is a deep sink. I’ve done this before. It is the only way to slow down the fleas or to even see them.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Don’t worry. I’m going to hold them under the running water with one hand and pick fleas with the other. The water stuns the fleas and the water mats the kitty’s fur so you can see them.”

Marie protested, “They won’t like that.”

Jack was unmoved. “Look, just get a clean box and some towels. They’ll hate it, but the water is warm, and if we don’t do it these damn fleas will suck all their blood. How would you like that?”

Marie saw that she couldn’t prevent the rude baths. “I hate fleas. They have no purpose on earth.”

And thus, as the other writer’s were heading to the conference room they were one-by-one recruited to help dry the kittens. Marie then placed the dry little fuzz-balls into a clean box and closed the lid flaps. She pushed the box to a corner of the counter.

The writers were all back at the conference room table when Mr. Faber of Faber Publishing entered.

Jack thought “Keep hammerin’ those keys, Jack”, and he intercepted Mr. Faber, thrusting his hand to shake.

“Jack Hackman, genre-ist. Not ‘artist’. Entertainer!”

“I’m not sure that I am pleased to meet you”, smiled Mr. Faber wryly.

Mr. Faber then nodded pleasantly to Marie, “Miss Lovall.”

Jack didn’t let up and he said past Mr. Faber, to Marie, “All the women I know love your stuff!”

Marie smiled sweetly and nodded, “And all the dick-heads I know love your stuff.”




Danny awoke angry.

In the weekly-motel he had not slept well and he did not have the rent. It was Sunday morning but today his favorite preacher would not be on TV.

The smiling talking news head had said, “The Reverend O. L. Duck bumped his head on the limousine door and later collapsed inside the exclusive restaurant. His condition is listed as guarded.”

Tomorrow Danny’s boss was cutting Danny’s salary by fifty cents an hour. “To prevent layoffs,” reasoned his boss just before his boss departed with the family for a trip to Las Vegas.

Danny had not shaved or showered yesterday. He now faced the mirror and brushed his snarled hair. He smeared cold water on his forehead with a facecloth. He glared at his reflection. It glared back with angry bewildered eyes from a pale puffy face.

“Fuck, I’m dying. I fucking hate this life.”

Claudette was still asleep.

“It’s fucking eleven o’clock!” snarled Danny.

Claudette remained undisturbed. She remained undisturbed about almost everything that made Danny smolder.

“I guess I get to go tell the fucking manager that I don’t have all of the rent. Shit. Fuck this. Thanks, God. Why do I fucking give a shit?”

Claudette suddenly arose from the bed, silently, and shuffled to the window. She peeked through the draperies.

“It’s an overcast day,” she observed softly.

Danny did not look her in the eye. He was glad that he had not lost his temper again. He was glad that he had waited that extra five minutes. If he could always wait five more minutes, not “count to ten”, but wait five minutes more, things could work-out; he wouldn’t always have to fight.

Claudette poured milk for the cats. She brushed her teeth. To Danny she moved like an angel within her own time. Claudette had a world all her own.

Claudette could charm the manager into taking a partial rent payment.

Danny was scared. The less he cared, the less he did, the better things seemed to be. It made him think about God again.

“God, what fucking good am I?”

Claudette made coffee and counted the money.

“Did you hide away any money?” asked Claudette.

“I have two dollars,” grumbled Danny.

“Hey, the sun’s coming out,” said Claudette, as the cats parted the draperies to peer outside.

Coins clinked, clinked, jingled, and jangled like tiny bells as Claudette sorted a palm full of change.

“Do you want a sandwich in a minute?” asked Claudette.

Danny answered “Yeah,” as he tried to remember what was left to eat in the food drawer.

The cats looked out into the world beyond the parted draperies and calmly contemplated the motion and noise. They watched a thin gnarly man who could have been young (who could have been old) stiffly pushing a shopping cart toward the trash dumpster.

“How do I look?” asked Claudette as she stood before the door. She had brushed her long blonde hair and she had pulled on her lavender sweater with the embroidered heart.

“Good”, answered Danny. “Your face even has a good color.”

Claudette went outside to the manager’s office. Danny re-lit a dwindling Avanti cigar butt.

Danny thought to himself, “That’s one good thing about these Italian cheroots: they last and they still taste OK.”

Claudette returned after only a few minutes, smiling.

“No problem?” asked Danny as he held the door open.

“No”, she said. And she added with a whisper, “He said that rates were going down next week. Back to winter rates.”

“Hal-a-fucking-loo-yah!” cried Danny, rolling his head back and giving praise to the ceiling. Danny blew a big fart; a fanny-fare of trumpeting release.

“Why do you always ‘say’ the same thing?” said Claudette with disgust.

“This is different”, laughed Danny. “Something, one fucking thing, is finally going our way.”

Claudette went to the top dresser drawer and withdrew a half loaf of Health Nut bread, four slices of cheese-substitute individually wrapped in clear plastic squares, a bag of Eagle potato chips half empty and folded, a small Roma tomato, and half a green chili pepper.

“The mayo is in the ice bucket,” said Claudette as she handed Danny a paper plate, half a paper towel, and a blue-handled bread knife.

They sat together on the bed and made their brunch.

On TV was a news story about young adults going to a summer camp in Oregon where they learn Chinese social customs.

“Fucking bullshit!” spluttered Danny.

The TV interviewer asked a boy why he was at this summer camp, why he was learning Chinese culture, and the boy replied, “If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.”


“See?” squeals Danny. “Instead of going to a camp to learn math or geography or design, these fucking millennial brats are learning how to kiss butt!”

“No so loud,” hisses Claudette, looking toward the draperies.

Danny thinks to himself, “I must be waking up. I’ve switched to present tense.”




The train’s whistle trumpets. We are rounding the bend into Montejo.

In the private compartment her head is thrown back. Her long blonde hair shudders over her shoulders.

I am callous as I pinch warm dough. Gently bite the filling. Smell the ferment. Sip the liqueur.

She bows forward and sucks my neck. “The curtain is open,” she reminds me.

Time is short but it has been too long. I will let her have all of me. Lapping around the thicket is slippery when wet and I plunge down the well.

Blast after blast the train’s whistle blows.

The next thing I know, she is exhaling sharply, “That, is, the, Por,ter, knock,ing! We, are, al,most, there!”

My ears buzz. My lips hum. Suddenly I am a kite, beginning to twirl, and she holds me in tight. Gravity is overcome, in all directions. Her voice is thrown clear in a spear of song, and it splinters on the ceiling into laughter.

We are rent apart, hot uncaring husks on the hooks of a grin, deliciously depleted. Memory alone is enough to cause trembles and aftershocks.

The Porter is knocking again. I wobble to my feet.

“Come on, Suizette. I already put a $20 tip under the champagne bottle. You don’t have to straighten up anything….. Else.” I grin at my own joke.

I think the Porter is laughing.