By Abel Ashes (All rights reserved)
I was a home schooled truant most likely to fail.
My boom box sung “10, 9, 8…” and “Red Sails…”
Full Spectrum Dominance in strategic stages channeled tax dollars into step dad’s wages.
A horned toad lizard is sunning on the red dirt as clouds threaten to crush any would-be Chicken Little.
A cool breeze provides instant relief from the extreme dry heat.
A creek bed arroyo nearly run dry is trickling water and tadpoles past auto wrecks, rusted out refrigerators and old tires.
Mesquite, sagebrush, weeping willows, fruitless olives, and cottonwood drink the melted snow as hawks scan for rodents darting through the cactus and tumbleweed obstacle course.
Air Force jets streak the never-ending sky at high altitudes like a patriotic abstract expressionist painting composed of contrails.
Stray dogs scratch and sniff piles of partially burned garbage nestled against fences of termite eaten wood and rusted barbed wire surrounding strychnine laced alfalfa fields with sprinklers making rainbows in the sun.
Big rigs are moving west toward the Super Wal-Mart in Alamogordo with clothing made by poor and powerless Southeast Asian women incarcerated in the “Made in the U.S.A.” sweatshops of the island of Saipan.
Big rigs are not yet moving east with spent nuclear fuel rods en route to a proposed Monitored Retrievable Storage site at the Mescalero Apache Reservation.
There are churches, liquor stores, truck stop diners and kids crashing their bikes on gravel roads that leave red and black scabs for battle scars.There are chickens and dust devils for the children to chase.
The smell of dead skunk and road-kill fills the cool evening air as the burnt orange hues of a New Mexico sunset fill my sleepy evening eyes.
It’s quiet and peaceful with only the rumbling of trains and the chirping of crickets for entertainment.
By moonlight come headlights and the sound of speeding pickup trucks and minivans racing down the mountain toward the basin.
Wailing cats in heat and dogs barking at the shadows are silenced as the clouds burst open and the children run for shelter.
The lights go out on the dead-end street as I try to fall asleep to violent white flashes of lightning and deafening explosions of thunder as rain soaks the desert floor.
Sleep comes suddenly like a dreamless temporary death.
I wake up to a desert landscape bathed in a warm reddish-pink light as jet-black ravens circle overhead and a cold wind whips through the backyard.
The sun comes up like a warm radiant grapefruit.
It gets hot and dry.
I can feel boogers hardening in my nostrils as the dust collects on the piano and the TV screen.
Sierra Blanca’s snowcapped peak slowly melts and flows downstream to Tulie Creek and Three Rivers as tourists walk among ancient petroglyphs.
Down the drunk driver highway the Trinity Site offers atomic green glass globules of the A-bomb testing that led to the mass murder of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and The Cold War.
Al-O-Mar smells like smothered burritos, green chili hamburgers and chlorine saturated red plastic Coca-Cola glasses.
Manure caked cowboy boots keep time to Hotel California on freshly mopped linoleum.
The jukebox only plays the hits and on the radio it is the same.
Somewhere on the White Sands Missile Range, Lockheed Martin lasers cut the nose cones off of fighter jet drones.
Somewhere near Alamogordo, laboratory chimpanzees were infected with cancer and HIV.
Somewhere on Holloman Air Force Base, Raytheon successfully tested remote-controlled 727s.
Somewhere in La Luz, a cockroach infested house was bulldozed into a decrepit swimming pool.
Somewhere in Tularosa, pecan trees cast eerie shadows as luminarias light the way toward paper plates piled high with tamales and biscochitos and steaming bowls of pozole.
A strong wind blows a string quartet through a four strand barb wire fence as desert rain softly falls on barrels of burning garbage.