Talking to Dogs

When I was 19 years old, I bought a pit bull from two shamans on 4th Avenue in Tucson.

“What’s a shaman?” I asked the women, who sat cross-legged on the corner, wearing patchwork strips of buckskins, suede, and varying leather textures, selling rare gems and puppies, as if they were in the same product line. Their skin also blended into shades of leather, the exchange of absorbing decades of desert sun.

“It’s like a spiritual guru. We understand the alignments of the stars, we see things, we engage a transcendence of the material world and use ritual to access a spiritual world…we understand animals and their connection to the earth…”

The taller woman had piercing green eyes, the kind you don’t trust, as if they were stolen, like rare gems, too glaring, too bright, for someone with such tanned skin. She puffed from a rolled cigarette and pushed the puppies towards me, starting to haggle, like we were at a street market in a third-world country. Continue reading “Talking to Dogs”


For two years, there was a homeless woman living in the alley next door to my first floor duplex. She had erected a massive fort out of plywood, tarps and shrap metal; an intricate, multiple-tiered fort with a ladder, a closet, and a bed made of blankets and garbage. The police never made her dissemble it or move, probably because she was mostly peaceable and any zoning violations were constructively irrelevant in Tucson.

Continue reading “Fixtures”