USA Mexico Border Fence

The boundary extends 300 feet
into the Pacific, our gaze
submerged, the pillars march
along the ocean floor
it seeks a mate
the wall of china

The distance between
the bars are penetrable
the journey across
vast as the Mariana Trench

Used to be families picnicked
there, held hands, kissed
pulled a loved one to the fence
embraced the barrier, between a son, a mother
barely in their grasp

The music free, the water free
they’d pass grandma’s tortillas through
the gap, consuming history
they ate the prints
of her palms, her fingertips

I am embarrassed to write of them
I suffer only knowledge
I bare no grand scars

I know  I reside
in the belly
of the beast, but
which belly?
which beast?
Where is my compass?


Chicago Il. April 8th 2013 Napowrimo day 8

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer


Huevon is my favorite Mexican slang. Felipe’s interprets it as lazy, slow, or dull; picture a burro with balls so big he can barely move from the weight of them.

This is the state I was in when I moved to Mexico, though at the time I didn’t realize it. I was a hard working person; waiting tables is physically demanding and stressful. I was hardy, I didn’t have an air conditioner, I went camping for fun.

Still, I was huevona, and I don’t think I was an exception. I became irritated if I got my feet wet when watering the garden, carrying three bags of groceries from a grocery store 6 blocks away warranted a trip in the car, an overlong wait in line was a pitifully short period of time; I think you get my drift.

I see it now as a sort of dis-ease; an inability to adjust to discomfort from too many years of climate controlled, sound tracked, luxury laden life. Desire for things I did not need, and unlimited choices made me weak in body and mind. I lacked fortitude. I believe this is a prevalent ailment in the developed world.

What cured me of the malady? Cold Showers.I was introduced to the wonders of agua frio(cold water) when we moved to Mexico.

We lived briefly with Felipe’s sister Chucha when we arrived, she did not and still doesn’t have hot water. No one in La Tigra had hot water … but us. When we built our house it was without question that we’d install a hot water heater. But when we went broke and the gas ran out for the stove we moved the tank from the heater to the stove and it remained there.

Cold showers are a gift. They strengthen your nervous system, they’re a perfect way to jumpstart your day if you haven’t had enough sleep, and they give you instant courage and resolve. Try taking a cold shower before a job interview, or a giving a speech, you’ll be amazed at how much confidence it gives you.

When I visit the U.S. I luxuriate in the hot water– for a while. Then I realize I feel sluggish, and I re-acclimate my body to cold water. It brings me back to my senses. Literally, I feel my senses sharpen, my appetite curbed, my ability to endure the television wanes.

Fortitude is defined as determination in a difficult or painful situation. What I have found is that the more I practice fortitude, the less often a situation feels difficult or painful. A cold shower is the perfect way to flex your fortitude every day.

This is my method.

Do not think about how cold it will be. Turn on the tap and put your head under the water, fully wet your head and turn off the tap. As you stand up the water will run down your body, and begin making you accustom to the cold. I then shampoo my hair, turn the water back on and step into the flow to rinse my head, turn off the water, soap up, rinse, repeat…

Let me know if you give cold showers a try, or you already practice this method of body/mind building.

Please listen to your body; some health conditions and cold water do not mix.

Cold showers are defiantly very simple, very easy(well, maybe not the first time, but trust me, it gets easier), and very good.

Ain’t Got No Rainbarrel

When I was a child, I spent a lot of time in Storm Lake, Iowa with my grandparents Floyd and Alice Klinzman. They lived in a grand old house, with loads of oak woodwork, two big porches, and a white picket porch swing.

In the spring, the sticky purple scent of my grandfather’s iris blanketed the backyard, which was also host to a full-to-the-brim wooden rain barrel for splashing in and a cellar door worn so smooth it could be used as a slide. As I played in the yard among the grapefruit-sized heads of Grandpa’s iris, I often sang this song.

I’m sorry playmate, I cannot play with you

My dollys got the flu, boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoohoo

Ain’t got no rain barrel, ain’t got no cellar door

But we’ll be jolly friends forevermore.

For some reason, it delighted me to sing this song because I did indeed, HAVE a rain barrel and a cellar door. But it did not please me more than the rain barrel I now possess.

Felipe made our rainwater collection system by sawing a pvc pipe in half horizontally, which he wired to the roof and downspouted into a 55-gallon barrel. When the rains come I ask expectantly after the first big downpour, “Do you think it’s clean enough yet.”

He generally makes me wait for 3 big rains, and then…

The morning of the fourth deluge, we go outside and plunge our mouths into the velvety cool waters of heaven. There is no water more satisfying. Continue reading

Joy of Being

Entry four of four: I would like to introduce you to my husband…

When the rains came the well filled with mud from the torrent of the swollen creek. We hadn’t built a sufficient retaining wall around it. It would have to be cleaned, Felipe would need help and I was it. We pumped as much of the water from the top as we could without filling the pump with mud. There was a meter and a half of sludge in the bottom, Felipe lowered himself in and started the process of removing the sludge, one bucket at a time.

He attached the bucket to a rope and pulley; I heaved it out and filled the wheel barrel. While Felipe refilled I walked the mud over to the shore. It was the worst and most difficult work I have ever done. It took two days, five hours a day. The mud in the well smelled like rotten fish and was black, gritty and slimy. I stood barefoot in the creek for hours; I couldn’t wear shoes because they were immediately sucked of by the mud. The wheel barrel was so heavy I could barely move it, I repeatedly slipped and stepped on sharp rocks, and thorns. I was covered in stinky, slimy mud that the bugs were crazy about, and was stung by wasps that got stuck in my gross coating. If I tried to shoo one from my face I got disgusting filth on my head. I became so waterlogged chunks of skin fell off my feet. Continue reading