In a painted selfie, Georgia O’Keeffe poses as Whistler’s Mother. Outside her window, the bare desert is lush. On blue rocks, petroglyphs are fresh as goat’s milk. Cacti absorb every bit of sunlight. Shards of Hopi pottery litter the sand. Cultural exploitation has not yet begun. O’Keeffe is a pioneer of exploitation. She owes her life to Alfred Stieglitz.
Bret passes through New Mexico on his way to Mexico. He’s never heard of O’Keeffe or Stiglitz. His captain in the Merchant Marine never heard of them either. He never heard of anything. Captain had the face of a shark. Bret’s not sure if he’s still alive. If he is, he looks like a demented shark. Bret crosses the border.
On National Lighthouse Day, Bret is charmed by a gentle galactic tyrant, a fourteen year old dominatrix in a pink pouffy dress and a Darth Vader mask.
Yesterday I was a wrestler, she tells him. The Iron Shiek-ette. She raises a bottle of XX to her lips. Bret has XX on his eyes.
Are there any lighthouses around here, Bret asks, mindful of what day it is in America and nostalgic about his years in the Merchant Marine.
There’s a lighthouse in your pants, señor, she says. Let your light shine on me.
This is wrong in so many ways, Bret thinks, but she makes him feel all warm and fuzzy as he celebrates his retirement in a Juarez saloon.
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over nine hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and The Best of the Net for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.