Alisa Valdes

Writer. Producer. Human.

His Firm and Fickle Flesh


A sadder song
I don’t suppose I’ve ever sung
Than this
The Cougar’s Lament

I used to be the hot girl

You know the one…

And I got used to it. Hot girls? Listen up:
Never get used to it.
Because when it starts to be plucked away

one gray hair at a time

You will trip to find your footing you will

I used to be the hot girl. And it gave me
A certain tilt to my head
That is nothing but ridiculous now.


And now? And now, two orbits shy of 50
I can get him to my bed

Oh yes.

The most beautiful boy.
Thirty years old.
He is perfect.

My God.

And he will even say it is the Best
He’s ever had, he will
Ask to come over he will


Say he loves me.


But I’m not for you, babe.
That is what he told me.

He is not for me. And yet for me
He was everything.

Dumb old woman.

It won’t be more.

I should learn to stop playing with boys.

I should accept the dimming of the light the
Graying of the mane


It’s always a game.

A game I used to win.

But now?


Now I lose.

Every. Fucking. Round.

I’m a CPR dummy. I am practice
For the real crisis
For the skinner prettier smoother more fertile one
The one
he’ll actually


He Ain’t Nothing But a Shell Game



His shells they move back and forth fast and faster slight of hand quick of draw he smiles and confuses and knows that two of the three are empty two of the three are empty two of the three are the ones you will most likely point to and he will flip them up flip them up flip them upside down like drained half walnuts empty empty empty like his chalk outlined soul his mama beat it outta him you can’t blame you and you can’t blame him but this ain’t about blame it’s about get the fuck out before it kills you and the blank socket blind socket of the shell you picked will stare up into your face and you will drop down inside your sternum like a terrified and disappointed trapped woman on a roller coaster and aren’t you aren’t you isn’t that exactly fucking exactly what you are and he’s the captain of that crazy train he’s the motherfucking one who ups you downs you mostly down yes down down down and empty sockets drained walnuts the meat of them carved out and given away to his mama long ago she took his souflesh and left a pretty shell the shell the shell just that illusion baby there’s nothing to him but a game a pea you break yourself to find underneath those shifting magician’s hands you train your eye to follow his every move thinking this time this time this time you’ll figure out how to capture his heart but didn’t you notice didn’t anyone tell you didn’t you realize that a small hard bean of a heart is not a heart at all but a pebble so hard so dry so empty that it will never grow not even if you water it every day with the spout in your eyes just fucking let go

Bestselling Albuquerque Author Alisa Valdes at Bookworks with Jon Marcantoni Tonight!


Dude. I am so excited. This really good (and, okay, kinda hot) poet from Colorado, named Jon Marcantoni, is at Bookworks in Albuquerque tonight, reading from his new novel, KINGS OF SEVENTH AVENUE, and he invited three local authors to join him to read from their stuff. I am lucky enough to be one of the writers he requested. What kind of guy does THAT? And a writer, no less? Most guys and writers are insufferable egomaniacs. And guy writers are especially insufferable egomaniacs. Not Jon, though. He’s all about community and sharing. He’s a badass babyfaced Boricua brilliance brimming with benevolence. No, for realsy.

So, like, if you ain’t gots nothing better to do, please come down to Bookworks on Rio Grande Blvd. at 6:30 p.m. this evening to hear Jon, me, Ebony Isis Booth and Rowie Shebaulin doing whatever the hell it is we do. Jon is an actor who performs his novels with audience help. Isis is a brilliant poet and creator of Burque Noir. Rowie is a national slam poetry champ. And me? I was gonna read from PUTA but then my son decided to come and so, yeah, nah. I’ll be reading from my NM teen novel THE TEMPTATION OF DEMETRIO VIGIL, which looks like it’s headed to a big streaming network for series soon but I can’t say which one because I haven’t signed anything yet.

Pretty sure I will be the least charismatic and animated person there. And I’m a crazy Cuban. So, you know. That’s saying a lot. Love this town. Love these writers. Love you guys. Come see us!


If Topaz Could Talk


(My beloved dog Topaz is about four million years old. No one’s sure just how old, but probably around 18. This is how I imagine her morning monologue goes.)


I’m on the floor. Next to the wall. This is a bed, supposedly. But look at it. Thin and really, just not good. That’s a real bed, right there.

The queen is still asleep in it. How I love her.

James, though. He’s up there. On the bed. He should know dogs aren’t allowed on the bed. I hate him. He is very bad. Very bad. Bad, bad dog.

The queen tries to make me go up there sometimes. She says “Up! Topaz, Up!” I go but I hate it. I feel guilty. See, I learned a long time ago, from someone else. No dogs on the bed! Bad things happen, very bad things.

Dogs, no.

And that James. He is a terrible dog. Just terrible. His tail is too long and he only wags it when he’s mad. The noise he makes isn’t even a dog noise. It’s like he’s dying. Mrwreowr. Whatever!

And those birds he brings home. And mice.

No dog eats mice.

Look how he’s staring at me. Smug, stupid, tiny dog with triangle ears. I think I’ll kill him. Or maybe I’ll just yelp a little and start to whine.

Oh, that did it. The queen is up.

“Shut up, please,” she tells me. She puts the little dog bed over her head.

James stares at me. Contempt. It goes both ways. I hate him.

Maybe today is the day he will die.

3 Times the Adaptation Was (Way) Better Than the (Chick Lit) Book


If you’re an author with aspirations of seeing your work adapted for film or TV, people love to look at you like you’re a sad puppy. “Oh, but movies are never as good as the book,” they say. But is that really true? Happily, no. There are many cases of exactly the reverse, from Jaws to the entire James Bond assembly. I can think of at least three times in recent history that the screen adaptations of books in my own genre, “commercial women’s fiction,” were significantly better than the books they were derived from.


The 2003 novel, by Lauren Weisberger, was unreadable for me – bloated with passive voice, scarred on every page by cliches. The story beneath the awful writing, however, was good. This happens, sometimes. Good story, atrocious writing. Actually, it happens…a lot. The adaptation by screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna unraveled Weisberher’s threads, and stitched a great film. Add excellent performances by Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, and you get a movie exponentially better than its source material.




Though more readable than THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, the 1996 novel BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY by Helen Fielding is still a clumsy hunk of prose. The film adaptation, co-written by the author and screenwriters Andrew Davies and Richard Curtis, creates more tension and higher stakes than the book, and an agile performance by Renee Zellweger (it earned her an Oscar nomination) makes the movie soar miles above the book.


Even though NPR, the NY Times and most other guilty-white-liberal media loved the 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett, I found the “black” voices to be annoyingly stereotypical in that golly-gee-whiz-we-pity-the-coloreds white-privilegey way. All I saw in that book was Stockett, being “generous” to the poor, poor, unidimensional negrahs, who fit Spike Lee’s brilliant “magical negro” paradigm like a dainty white hand in a lacy lady’s glove. The film, however, transcended that claptrap almost entirely because of a defiantly human performance by Viola Davis, who won the Oscar for it. Davis elevated her character beyond the pitiable paper cutout Stockett created, and made her fully a person.