I’m looking for the gratitude but…

There’s a stupid ringing in my ears
My left one mostly
The drum I blew out listening to god knows what
Far louder than anyone should
That made it sound like everyone was talking through wax paper
On a comb
Mister Effin Roboto style
Now it rings
Sometimes loud
Sometimes not so loud
Today it is a raging storm
Like a siren
And just now
Like it wasn’t bothersome enough
It kicked up a notch
I suppose
For tones I no longer hear
And those I’ve temporarily lost
Due to sinus problems
That leave the world smelling like
Like something foul
And nasty
And gives me a headache behind my eye
My left eye of course
The same one I get styes on once in a while
The one with macular degeneration
Scar tissue
From damage caused by welding
And grinding
And all sorts of other jobs
I did to pay the bills
For things I no longer own
Jobs that left my hands susceptible to cold
Like my whole left arm
Which I can’t stick in a bucket of ice without wincing
Ever since I burned it so bad
I needed a skin graft
But that’s another story
Stupid ringing in my ears


It’s funny how just writing about it seemed to make it fade some. Probably endorphins released by laughing at myself sounding like an old codger in his rocking chair yelling at the newspaper boy missing the front door by a foot. “Dammit, kid! Develop your arm already! Try throwing a football once in a while or lifting some weights or some enthusiastic masturbation! Next time I’ll throw it back at you. Right between your eyes!”

Call it practice for old age.

As if all my years will ever make me old.

Now there’s something to be grateful for.

Diablo Canyon


The night is cool and the slight breeze carries the scent of dusty jasmine, it is a welcome relief from the hot days filled with sweat. It holds a promise and a secret.

The promise reveals itself in the mating flight of two eagles that call my name as if to give me cause to look towards the edge of the volcanic cliff they glide dangerously above.

As I glance upwards I see in the stone wall a carving I have become familiar with though it is something most people miss despite its size. It is Malice, Fear, it is the summoning of a guardian to keep those at a distance who have no business being close. This is Diablo Canyon. The carving is of el Diablo himself though I am certain the name it first carried is long lost.

When the railroad passed through here many years ago the Superintendent ordered the demolition of the carving. It frightened the workers. “A bad omen”, they would say, “We are not wanted here”.

They were right.

The railroad failed. The only remnants are the beds upon which the rails once lay and even those have nearly disappeared, swallowed by a landscape that has rejected civilization and its monuments.

This is a sacred place. A place shared by the Jacarilla and Mescalero Apache, and possibly the Anasazi, the “Evil Ones” who inhabited this area long before anyone else.

It is protected by skinwalkers, shape shifters who gave up their humanity in order to live as protectors and warriors, keepers of the secrets it hides.

I once managed to track a skinwalker to its den near here, a vile and dark place that reaked of carnage, purely by accident. Later I found the ring of stones on a butte close by where the rituals were performed to bring about the transformation.

His den was only two ravines away from my own makeshift den, a 1964 International Harvestor with a massive camper built on its extended frame.


I had the permission of the BLM officer, a kind and gracious man nearing retirement, to stay there in exchange for my useless efforts to return the area to a semblance of its natural state. More importantly, I had, I hoped dearly every night, struck the same bargain with the skinwalker.

Many times as I raked the broken glass and gathered the rusted metal, victims of gunfire and carelessnes, I felt his presence and once, while hiking the ravines, careful to steer clear of his den, I saw him in the thick brush beside me, a huge dark form like a wolf but the eyes that stared back at me were the eyes of a man. Or what used to be a man.

I stood still and repeated my vow with my arms out as I did every night, hoping to please or, at least, placate him. “I am here to help. If you do not want me here you need only tell me now and I will leave”.

His heavy breathing, rich with the smell of blood and age and warm on my skin he was so close, paused while I spoke. Then, in a blur of nearly soundless motion, he leapt off and in a second was gone.

I never saw him so clearly, or so surely, again, until this night.

The eagles again called my name as if to pull me from the trance I spent four days acquiring. I was on a vision quest and the vision had begun, but it was unlike any I’d ever experienced before.


Image: “Diablo Canyon” by Christopher Wieck