Readings by Nichols and Trujillo

By: Bill Whaley
23 July, 2017

 

On Wednesday, July 26, John Nichols will be reading from his quiet elegy, My Heart Belongs to Nature (Albuquerque, UNM Press, 2017) at the Harwood. His memoir in photographs and prose depicts the soul and spirit of a man passionately at home in the natural environs of Taos. You will learn more about the names of critters, vegetation, and John himself than you thought possible. John has turned Taos, the mesas and mountains, into his own life-giving pleasure dome. This remarkable book illustrates a writer upon whom nothing is lost due to his patience and response while waiting for the “moment.” As he says, “the land itself heals us if we pay attention.” He has caught images of Bighorn Sheep that will touch your heart.

On Sunday, August 20, Richard Trujillo Day in Taos, friends will read prose and poetry at the Memorial for Richard from Tio Zuco and the Barbarian Dialects. The memorial for Canon’s Last Vato Loco begins on Sunday, at 10 am at 25005 Highway 64, West, a quarter mile west of the “old blinking light,” on the road to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Turn in the drive and park adjacent to the Red Caboose.

If you wish to participate or help with the Memorial, bring food and drink, contact Deb at 575-613-3766. In Richard’s memory she has planted a garden, decorated with artifacts from behind the walls at his house (fort) on Cosme Lane off Los Pandos. The flowers, thanks to the rain, are growing as we speak. The stories of this Vato Loco are endless and action-packed, humorous and terrifying.

The poet and storyteller is a cross-cultural figure who appeared occasionally at literary venues but more often at “the bar,” where he introduced barflies, bartenders and cocktail waitresses, as well as the occasional tourist to the language of the Taos demimonde (underworld).

Below Taos Friction posts two short lyrical poems and his most popular ballad, “Between Heaven and Hell” from the Barbarian Dialects.

Of Thieves, Wizards and Shards of Glass

Yes, thieves do bring to those who know
When Autumn buttons and children grow
The ring that slays the rhyme when fires dance slow
But you and I we shall always know
That everlasting nocturnal glow
And will approach with half drawn bow
And try to steal the common ring
That thieves do bring
While their temples burn
In healing snow.

Curtains on Abandoned House

Veil—ghostly drifting through a
Pale afternoon—in silence
Your movements stir memories
Of terror unknown and long gone
A reminder of life’s once proud
Beauty—now the wreckage of old age
Still the skeleton of yesterday clings
To the form of today—a silent
Monument to patience.

Between Heaven and Hell

Me and my friends were out
Drinking one day
When both God and the Devil
Told us to please go away
And said you don’t want to drink here
And risk our wrath
For you’ve chosen the laughter
And the doper path
But if you do show up
And you dare ring that bell
You might find a surprise
Between Heaven and Hell

Now the blues band is blaring
Your favorite song
About that crimson jaded lady
That done you so wrong
You dance in your tears
As you try hard to yell
That she could tread that fine line
Between Heaven and Hell

There are friends right beside you
But also enemies near
One gives encouragement
The other tries fear
But you can tell their jive is slipping
That’s why they live in a cell
And the Spirit in their séance is caught
Between Heaven and Hell

Screaming hangover shakers
That will stalk out your brain
Will turn all that cool laughter
Into bright colored pain
The smell and the smoke plume
From the joint in your fist
Is chased by a shot and a beer
Into that white dragon mist
Then a round for the house
And I bet no one can tell
That nightmare difference
Between Heaven and Hell

The bartender’s eyes are bleary
As he cries out “Last Call”
What a big drag this guy is
We just started this ball
Let’s go on to your place
We can drink up the well
And start again tomorrow
Oh shit, you just fell
Say, can you hear that roll call
Between Heaven and Hell?

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