Further! Adventures on the Mojave Trail – Disequilibrium

desert rain by ninheve




the rain
…comes down
in ripping sheets
splashing into gullies and culverts

an old jeep
inches at a snail’s pace
down the black
desert highway

smears the windshield
agonized wipers
in labored rhythm
mechanical torture

the driver
barely seeing
the road ahead
maneuvers the jeep
through a slalom
of mud
and rushing

wash from the canyons
and escarpments
of the Mojave
in a frenzied
flash flood
of disequilibrium

versus road
versus nature

Settled into my evening duties, I reflect on the life I’ve found working at the steam plant. I write in the journal and amuse myself through the doldrums of the night. –Ned Bean


Further! Adventures on the Mojave Trail – Faces and a Twisted Horn

wallpapervortex.com – space face


Faces and a Twisted Horn


floating in a galaxy of bright stars
Ortíz spins slowly
his eyes open

huge faces loom before him
he reaches through the celestial fabric to touch them
they fade away

like faces molded in wax
in mirrored hallways
I stand

I reach out
to touch them
I reach out
to hold them
only to see
new ones
in their place

up or down
sideways or backwards
I feel like
I’m floating
in space

and another
I grab hold
and feel
the tears
on each face

floods through me
I kiss it sweetly
only to see it

Ortíz wakes in a sweat
the warmth of the desert floor on his back

y ¿Que de esas caras? What were those faces?
what meaning could they hold? what riddle was he trying to solve?
he questions the dream
as if solving it could answer questions
that have troubled him all his life

in the distance
hoof-beats pound
¿A caballo? Ortíz awakes once more
this time with a crisp snap of clarity

aaarrrmmmh aarrrmmmh aarrrmmmh
the sound fills him, drumming from the valley below
he runs across the ridge to where he can get a better view

gone are the irrigated fields
replaced by a verdant slough
carpeted in lush salt cedar and wild grasses
that stretches to the river

a cavalry of soldiers on horseback, swords and rifles raised
descend on a band of desperately fearful Mohave
it is a massacre!
the savagery of the horsemen
is like nothing he has ever imagined; real to the point of delusion

women clutch at their children
warriors, their arrows like soda straws flung into the wind
are downed by gunfire

sickened by the sight
Ortíz collapses to the ground unconscious

a twisted horn floats
through the emptiness of space

a lonely sentinel, it wanders aimlessly

a body hangs by its neck from the mouthpiece
blood oozing from the base of its skull in large red tear drops
the face contorted; the hair mottled
it dangles lifeless in the weightlessness
of improbability

his breath a prolonged rattle
Ortíz sleeps a restless sleep

night creeps quietly
the nocturnal creatures of the desert scurry about
life continues on just as it always has; just as it always will
the moon rises and falls; the sun comes up

daylight—and all the little critters of the dusk dive into their digs for the day



Further! Adventures on the Mojave Trail – The Blackness of Space


spacedudeblues by karakchan


The Blackness of Space


after much sweat and toil
Ortíz reaches the top
the hawk is gone

the desert opens to a panorama
the river cuts through verdant fields
the Mesa rises to the mountains
scrub brush dot the alluvial plains in a carpet
of sparse and sun charred driftwood

the wind picks up
a darkening cloud forms from the moisture of the irrigated fields below
a gust stirs up from the Mesa blowing a grit of sand across his face

on the peak
Ortíz’ world transforms into darkness
without warning bluish streaks of lightning arch above his head

cra-ckkk! thunder splits the sky
the tip of the mountain rises in a sudden movement of earth and rock
and rips a gash in the sky like the one from the day before
a rushing shower of icy sparks stream from the rip in a frenzy

Ortíz hunches low to the ground in fear
a sudden wind funnels into a rising vortex
he feels the pull of vacuum
lifting him up up up
into the dense sky

the screech of the wind forces a blood-curdling scream from his lips
“Ahh-i-eeeyh!” an uncontrollable flood of panic takes over him
his arms flail furiously

the last thing Ortíz remembers is seeing stars
bright against the blackness of space

Further! Adventures on the Mojave Trail – Ascent



Ortíz climbs along a narrow trail
the path rounds jagged rocks and cactus

beneath the canopy of a Palo Verde
the sun’s rays crisscross in a mesh of bright coolness
he allows himself a brief rest under its shade

as he waits
a calmness fills him
he breathes deep the sage-scented air
a coyote crosses the trail

a hawk’s cry pierces the stillness
“Cree-awk-awk!” it is a lonesome song
it fills him with longing
he contemplates the bird’s flight
¡Que marvillas vos ojos han visto! What stories your eyes could tell!

the bird catches air pockets that rise and fall
mixing with currents of hot and cooler upper air

the hawk is circling something
that waits atop the mountain
Ortíz is just as determined as the hawk to see what it is

he steps out from the refuge of the Palo Verde’s willows

the climb at first is easy
he remains surefooted on the loose scree that litters the trail
dragging the spines of a large ocotillo branch across a sharp rock
he rubs the surface smooth
to use as a staff

“¡Si! Como el brujo que bajó la montana.
Yeah! Like the old sage come down from the mountain,” he muses aloud
“Pues ¡subo! Only I’m going up!”

he ascends

Further! Adventures on the Mojave Trail – The Sage


The Sage


it was a hot day in August, as I recall
the thermometer measured one-hundred and twenty-two degrees
a day this hot was not unusual for the Mojave; but the temperature is not the important thing
it is the events that occurred in this atmosphere of heat and dust that interests
for it was an atmosphere ripe with implication—
an atmosphere that lends a measure of truth
to the story I am about to tell

a hawk circles overhead

the hot breeze evaporates
the dampness of the red
bandanna cooling
the skin on Ortíz’ neck
—he conjures the image
of an old and wizened sage
on a quest

the shadow of the sun stretches
the silhouettes of cactus and mesquite
in an ancient dance across the desert floor

pushing back his straw hat Ortíz brushes
the sweat from his brow
Hoy,” he whispers under his breath, offering a silent prayer
“¡Ojala! llego al cima del cerro. 
Today, I will scale this mountain. I hope!”
he shrugs and begins the climb

Further! Adventures on the Mojave Trail – A Cosmic Flag


A Cosmic Flag

Ortíz  subconsciously tools the truck along the wash as it crawls
over rocks and boulders struggling to keep it from steering into the sand
“¿Que sea esto? What is this?” his thoughts ricochet off every test of logic
he can put to the phenomena

the mountain has ripped a deep gash into the sky
the blackness deepens with each passing moment
its tip sends a shower of white sparks streaming into space

the jeep’s front wheels dive into a gully; sinking to the hubs
Ortíz sails into the air and lands in a bramble of greasewood
the tires continue to spin slowly in the sand
—the engine groans

extracting himself from the thorns he scrambles to his feet
presses the binoculars against his face
his eyes widen once more
it is still there!

the dark bluish gape in the sky intensifies with each flap
it furls and unfurls like a flag fluttering in the wind
¡Es tremendo! This is too much.” he has to get to the top
he has to find out what this is

Further! Adventures on the Mojave Trail – ’49 Willys


’49 Willys


the ’49 Willys trailed a billow of dust
as it raced along the dirt road toward the cone
that rose from the alluvial plain
like the horn of a rhinoceros

with his eyes fixed in the distance
Ortíz clung to the Jeep’s canvas seat
and leaned into the oncoming wind
cornered the vehicle
into the dry wash
and sent sand flying

he reached for a pair of binoculars
in a brown leather case at his side
eyes focused on the tip of  Boundary Cone

¡Alla! There it is!”
his breath excited

the Jeep crawled
in low gear
crushed rocks
under its wheels
rising and falling
with the terrain

Ortíz’ eyes stayed fixed on the vision
at the top of Spirit Mountain

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