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by Brian Yapko

The high desert looms just beyond the freeway overpass,
near the Pueblo-revival sentinel of the tribal casino. Its dry
thirst creeps into the city, near the studios shooting Westerns,
past the tortillerias, past the laughing women who wear halter
tops as they flirt with mustached men in tight muscle shirts.
It stops just short of the Rio Grande. Albuquerque thinks of
itself as any-town but it’s anything but. It has more edge,
more spice than some visitors can handle. A city of ancient
adobe where piñatas come from Walmart and nuclear-hot
tamales from Tia Astra’s. Tourists, exhausted by the elevation
and lack of humidity, seek escape in an exaltation of balloons.
Then they hunt Breaking Bad film locations and traces of the
Manhattan Project. Albuquerque is muy caliente, a hundred
shades of brown dressed in Navajo blankets, peppered with
turquoise doors, haunted by the couture skeletons of the
Dia de los Muertos. Cultures collide here. Nature, too.
Scorpions sting. Vultures wait with sinister patience; coyotes
and roadrunners race and African lions, Bengal tigers and
Amazonian jaguars appear only as centerfolds in the
carnivore-lust porn magazines of the New Mexican bobcat.


Bobcats – not the mealy creature you see in old reruns of
Davy Crockett or Bonanza but that strangely magnetic
cat of tawny and tan which blends enticingly with the
parched terrain. No roar per se but a throaty snarl. Bobcats
enter the city just like the rest of us: to show off their fur,
sow their wild oats, shake up their monotonous meals of
rabbit and lizard, and grab a piece of the action. I see them
prowl the trash bins behind Burrito King, sensual,
stretching their lean muscles, ducking into shadows with
the sound of traffic, fleet of foot, offering their rugged
brand of feline charisma in exchange for table scraps left
exposed in the dumpsters. They strut and slink like the
macho hunters they were born to be, no more
stereotypical than we and no less famished for something –
anything – to fill them. Don’t believe what National
Geographic tells you on TV. Bobcats are sexy, feral, ready
for an illicit encounter. They cruise the alleyways and they
crave guacamole, salsa, frijoles from fine purveyors of
Mexican fast food. Let them be. They fend for themselves
and they’re fierce. Rub their bellies at your peril.


Brian Yapko is a lawyer whose poems have appeared in multiple publications, including Gyroscope, Apricity, Tofu Ink, Dreaming, Cagibi, Grand Little Things, Hive Avenue, the Society of Classical Poets, Chained Muse, Tempered Runes, Garfield Lake Review, Sparks of Calliope, Abstract Elephant and others. His debut science fiction novel, El Nuevo Mundo, was recently published by Rebel Satori Press. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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