The terrain is lean and mean. Steep canyons,
bleak arroyos, prickly shrubs of the high desert
and a thousand Westerns filmed nearby. Life
in New Mexico is divided between the junipers,
sagebrush, hawks and snakes in the beyond…
and Albquerque! That unreal, spicy city of adobe
cleaved by the Rio Grande, festooned with hot
air balloons, provisioned by Walmart, fed by
Tito’s Tacos, visited by Balzac-fat tourists hiking
the nuclear sites and the Breaking Bad trail.
Albuquerque. Siempre caliente, warmed by Navajo
blankets, tattooed with Turquoise-hued doors,
haunted by the calaveras of the Dia de los Muertos.
Cultures collide here. Nature, too. Scorpions sting.
Vultures wait with sinister patience; and coyotes
and bobcats duel over rabbit fluff. Here peacocks,
flamingos and toucans appear only as avian
fantasies in bird-glam trash magazines
drooled over by the lowly, lonely roadrunner.
Roadrunners – not the trickster hunted by that
wily cartoon coyote but that strangely magnetic
bird with feathers of grey and tan which blend
enticingly with the parched terrain. No beeping
sounds but a cocky, throaty holler. Roadrunners
enter the city just like the rest of us: to show off
their plumage, sow some wild oats, shake up their
dull meals of grasshopper and lizard, and grab a
piece of the action. Little putos, I see them cruise
the outdoor tables at the House of Thai slyly
offering their rugged brand of avian charisma
for table scraps. The acme of streetwalking bird
design, they strut like the macho hunters they
were born to be, no more comical than we and
no less famished for something – anything – to
fill them. Don’t believe what you see on t.v.
Roadrunners are sexy, feral, ready for an illicit
encounter. They cruise the alleyways and they
jones for drunken noodles from the House of Thai.
This I have seen with my own eyes.
Brian Yapko is a lawyer whose poems have appeared in Prometheus Dreaming, Tofu Ink, Sparks of Calliope, Wingless Dreamer, Gyroscope, Cagibi, Penumbra, the Society of Classical Poets, Grand Little Things, Chained Muse, Abstract Elephant, Poetica and a number of other publications. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his husband, Jerry, and their canine child, Bianca.