Rafael Garcia Meets the Devil

Published in anthology here:  6-9-2011

The Spanish horse patrol was on route to Bodega on the Pacific. Rumors, then reports, had come to the fort beside St. Rafael near San Francisco Bay that other Europeans had been seen in the headlands around the mountain called Tamalpais.

The five leather-coated soldiers, their priest companion and the native servant stopped awhile to stretch their legs and barter food at a poor village.  The missionary, mildly drunk, was still able to talk with the village elder in Bay area pidgin.  The man had apparently seen nothing.

Private Rodrigo played with the kids.  They got him into line with them in the field and passed a rawhide ball from one to the next, then faster, then two lines formed and raced to see who was fastest.  They laughed; he laughed; no one used words, but cheered and yelled and slapped each other’s back.

It turned into tag and racing through the woods.  The Miwok kids were quick as deer and knew the paths, but Rodrigo’s heart made up the gap. Continue reading

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A Hint of Wind

Published here:  Microstory-a Week, 11-30-2011

The young priest cut the outboard engine half a mile from Horseshoe Bay off the Marin Headlands. He had no fishing pole, no crab pots.  He spent most Mondays off from his stagnant ministry in this rowboat.

He tipped the engine up and back, put the oars in their locks, let the blades hang in the water.  He waited, bow pointed across open water toward old San Francisco.  Outside the mouth of the Bay, the barren Farallons called and the immense Pacific offered to take him.  The boat drifted dully.

He closed his eyes.  His seminary enthusiasm had met polite tolerance.  He just couldn’t engage these natives with roots as old as the Bible.  Power-Points were useless.

Small waves licked the side of the boat; the hungrier ones slapped it. Continue reading

Drum School

ezine Blog here in three installments:  firstsecondthird, 2011

The drum gives me Now; and its silence Then.

Keep the beat and my soul will mend.

My father was a smith. We lived in tiny Dodona in a house behind the forge. We lived with the beat of hammer and anvil, and the longer pulse of heating and cooling. Poor, we embraced the rhythms of starving awhile until we were no longer as hungry, of collapsing exhausted until we were merely tired. My mother foraged meals from thin air and I worked at the fire from a tender age.

Father made a living selling pins, hasps and latches for a few lepta each. He taught me how to repair broken tools. Craning past his massive arm, I watched him steadily beat the ripple pattern of circles on a copper sheet until it became a shapely pot, worthy of Hephaestus, whose hammer icon hung in the forge.

His master was a Guild smith, who died before father could be Journeyed. Father’s craft sprang from glimpses of techniques he was never taught, leveraged into what he needed to know. Continue reading

Myth or Mom?

Honorable Mention:  Fall, 2011

Mom was perfect from day start till shut eye. I can’t mourn her:  her myth remains, clogging my mind like milfoil. The woman, not my mother, died.

She willed good things to happen, healed wounds with a kiss, never lost her cool.  She exuded control, and I believed it of her, even after I saw her face without her teeth or commanding smile.

At twenty-three, sans my wisdom teeth, I passed a doorway in a huge medical center, a woman’s face spotlighted in the operating chair, visible because the dentist leaned away.

“Mom?!”

Her hand flashed up to hide the unmade bed of her mouth, the unguarded pink walls of her gums, stretched between two or three isolated teeth.

She was instantly in tears.

It was my fault.  I felt that terrible comfortable nausea of knowing I’d screwed up, just not how.

So I resorted to mythic beauty.

Until today.

Fresh Start

first pubbed ezine and podcast:  10-2011

He dumped you; hard.  You decorated his smell out of the apartment.

Later, as you chased a rag up and down the new heron-leg stools and along the front of the Uba Tooba counter; as you polished the rubber plant; gave the prayer rug a shake; combed the sand on the end table with a tiny rake;  artfully managed not to disturb the bonsai or knock the crystals from advantageous points in the high corners while you dusted;

the edge of the golden gong silently sliced your index finger.  A smile of blood slowly formed.  Impulsively, you wiped it on the flat brass face.  Your missing peace settled on the apartment like warm rain.  You struck the gong and your ears echoed the thin roar, shedding voices, dislodging hurtful jibes.  You struck again.

Again.

Again.

You clean weekly, since then, but gong daily.  A drop of blood keeps it real.  The gong is the color of rich oxblood shoe leather.  You see the good place you are in reflected in its face.

Hands and Knees

first published as podcast:   Nov. 12, 2011

The priest woke up knowing how they should dig the channel to the garden. Under his tireless direction, dream natives from both sides of San Francisco Bay had already appeared to contour the site and bring water to the precious vegetables near their new healing Mission, recently christened San Rafael. He could taste the earth and smell the new onions, peas, garlic, beets, carrots, corn and greens.

Father Corazo threw back the cowhide and pushed himself to calloused knees on the compacted dirt of his room.

He recited the morning prayer of thanks to the Father.  This green, fertile land of fog was so different from the heat and dust of Baja. God’s humor had replaced the harsh sun of treeless Loreto, in Baja California, with these towering redwoods that obscured the sun all day. Continue reading

Southern Writer Legitimacy Statement for the Dead Mule School

    pubbed with School of Dadhere

I’m Southern by adventurous inoculation. I left college in Chicago the first week of January as a White Seattleite with Mardi Gras on the brain. My friend and I got a lift from Farrell Haney in a rumbling Camaro convertible with Texas plates, and spent the first night away in a hotel in Kentucky. Pool was closed and covered with a thatch of brown leaves that stuck to us like fish scales: baptized as we swam a celebrating-being-free lap.
When Farrell disappeared with all our stuff in New Orleans, we tracked him to Homa, Not the Other Homer, where we got to look into the flashlights and down the barrels of the Sheriffs’ guns, in the process of getting our gear back. Continue reading