Manzano Mountain Review is an online New Mexico literary journal affiliated with UNM-Valencia.

Little Wolf #9
September 2018 

Drifter Apart
by Waymon Coho

Love is contagious,
Get caught in it,
Suddenly, your heart glows brighter than Vegas,
Next minute, your broken,
Feeling opposite of courageous
The moments we had,
Got torn to pieces,
Now, looking like rags,
Dear Jesus, bless me with somebody,
Who will never think of making me sad.

Dear Diary
by Stephanie Skansgaard

If only my human companions could understand what I’ve been trying to tell them. My barking only seems to annoy them and make things worse for me. I’ve been trying to warn them of their impending doom. If only they understood that my instincts are spot on and usually very consuming. Is that a squirrel I smell? Anyway, my humans. I’ve been trying to get their attention. Any attention is good attention, I like to say. In this case I needed them to grasp that I meant business.

It was a weird morning. I felt weird. My breakfast was weird. The smell of the air was weird. The pressure of the air was weird—whatever that means. All I know what that I felt weird. I knew something wasn’t right. My barks even sounded weird. They sounded so high-pitched and hurt my ears a little when I let loose. We’ve always had a bit of a communication gap because their Japanese dialects are from a different region than me, but we try our best.

I adopted my humans on a whim. I was making my rounds trying to find something to eat. The nice older man came around from the back of the house and gave me a handful of vegetables to eat. I’m not the biggest veggie eater, but it was more than I had had in a few days. Without any hesitation, he bent over and scratched behind my left ear. How did he know that I’ve always needed a scratch there? My back legs are a little too short and I’m not as nimble as I used to be, so I’ve never been able to reach the spot. He chuckled a little bit when I lost my balance because it felt so good. From that moment on, I kept hanging around. He had to convince the other lady that lived there to keep me. Not after too long they allowed me inside. I had heard kids playing from inside the windows and I’ll never forget the first time I saw them. Two small ones. Both little boys, I assumed. I’m color blind and their clothing doesn’t make a difference to me. They loved on me and I slept in bed with them for late afternoon naps. I loved the way the afternoon sun would spill on to the blankets. The lady of the house handmade a twine collar for me. Again, I’m not sure what color it was but she sure did spend a lot of time working on dyeing it for me. I knew that this would be my forever home.

I had such a strong urge to warn and protect my family that morning. Not only were our dialects keeping us apart, my incessant attempts to warn them became a nuisance so they kept me outside. I barked and barked and barked until my throat was hoarse, and I couldn’t make any sound. Was there any point? I began to second guess myself. Maybe I was going crazy. Maybe I had rabies like Jack from down the road. My body and my canine urge hurried myself into the deepest part of the Earth I could find. I burrowed into a pit that had been dug out for our compost. We had an enormous garden with a few orange trees. The nice older man had reinforced our compost pit with cinder blocks from a fallen building on the other side of the village. He brought me with him for three days straight of trips to and from the fallen building carrying blocks in a wheel barrow. There I hid. It felt like forever. It felt like I couldn’t get my muzzle deeper into the moist soil in the corner where the cinder block walls met. Every now and then, I would try my best to muster up a small bark. Hoping that they would know where to hide. I drifted off to sleep.

Zoom. ZOom. ZOOm. ZOOM! The planes flew so close to the ground. I didn’t raise my head because I was so frightened. The sun was still shining, and the shadows weren’t too long so I knew that I hadn’t been asleep for very long. The planes rattled the ground that I had become one with. I couldn’t tell if it was me shaking or if the ground was shaking. What to come proved that it was both. What was that? Am I deaf? I can’t hear anything. But it’s so loud. The air above me scorched my back. I felt the base of my tail sizzle. It was the highest part of my body. I couldn’t get any lower. This must be it. The “zooms” turned into “booms.” I couldn’t get away from the deafening sounds. I pressed my nose hard into the corner. It felt raw where I had been rubbing up against the blocks. The ground shook and bounced me around. The hot waves of air kept rushing over me. My hearing came back briefly, and I could hear screams from the humans. Everything was so muffled. I waited and waited. The screams got louder, and I realized that they were coming from my house. 

I attempted to dart up and out of my instinctual hiding place when I realized that my right back paw had been badly burned by a piece of debris that wiggled itself into my corner of retreat. I limped up the single step and into my family home. The lady was lying on the floor in the hallway. The hallway had been stripped of its paint, and she had been stripped of her clothes. The hot air blasts blew every bit of clothing from her body. Her sizzling skin was left exposed. Her long dark hair was in a wind-blown braid that covered her face. I gingerly tiptoed around her and licked her fingers on my way into the back of the house. I heard the boys screaming. It had been naptime and they were underneath the layers of blankets when the planes flew above us. Their wings and their cargo, forever scarring my land. One of the boys, my favorite one, the kinder of the two, had burns on his face and his hands. The rest of his body seemed to have been protected by the blankets that were now in a smoking heap. The second boy loved to snuggle, and I can only guess that he was buried deep beneath the blankets because his skin was only black from touching the burnt exterior of their cocoon. They were looking for comfort. More than I could ever offer so I kept moving to look for the nice older man. 

He wasn’t too far away from the boys, but he was alongside the lady figuratively speaking. His body lay motionless on the floor of his bedroom, a place I never got to explore. The shredded pictures of my family were scattered across the bedroom floor. His upper body was seared from the hot wind that rushed in through the window. His right side was worse off than his left. He had a piece of metal wedged into his ribcage. He smiled when he looked up and saw me. His body propped on the wall in between the dresser and an extra chair. He slumped down to greet me and took his hand away from his wound. He looked down and knew that it wasn’t good. I got closer and bowed my head. I was gentle and so was he. He reached out and scratched me behind my left ear. The spot. A few breaths and a terminal gurgle passed. His hand fell limp. I licked his fingers and said good bye to my dear friend. The boys were still crying as I passed their doorway. I still had the urge to protect my family. I found myself in the remnants of our front porch barking and calling for help. Hopefully someone will hear me.
by Tina Lucero

the sun in the sky
the moon in the night
the oceans-their breeze
the land & the seas
the hurricanes
& earthquakes
the calm of night
& calm of day
the affection will remain
time changes
through different stages
days pass
leaving memories in the past
Good and Bad
Happy and sad
the affection will remain
the sunshine in the sky
the moon in the night
the oceans-their breeze