Let this be here along a creek, in a swamp, on such a dawn, or such a dawn, these hands we know, the folded, the dying, hands singed by fire, the certain blackness of his hair.
Across our lips—
the black and scarlet of his skin, the village mourns his hands remain. Let this be here his resting place, his hamlet church, the certain blackness of his hair.
Pretend to be without your grey, three-piece suit and become
raw and rough with no words to speak, with only
images racing as fast as your legs, a reminder that you are
mortal and decaying. Now, you are your
original, made stronger, but wild because you became
raw and rough. Glittering bold, with eyes of stone, you are now
dominant. Was this why you began believing
in immortality? I tell you, it is a futile dream. Instead you will
age and die, leaving behind your seed and your
legacy, but forgetting your primordial beast.
El abismo es nuestra casa.
Desde aquí vemos la noche,
oscura como ninguna noche.
Estábamos posados en la tierra, pero ahora
la tierra es nuestro cielo.
Allá arriba, la cruz de la Gran Tumba
la perorata de nuestra defenestración.
Pero estamos hundidos hasta
lo más bajo,
lo más pesado y hondo que se puede.
Aquí desde el fondo de la Tierra
Sin embargo los dioses
levantaron los dados
y la tortura de nuestro paso siguiente
es que tenemos el peso más absurdo
de toda libertad.
Translated into English by the author
The abyss is our home.
From here we observe the night,
and dark as no other.
We were detained on earth, but now
the soil is our sky.
Up above, the cross of the Great Tomb
the peroration of our defenestration.
But we are sunk up
to the lowest,
heaviest and deepest as we can.
Here from bottom of Earth
we can only
But the gods
picked the dice up
and the torture of our next step
is to carry the most absurd weight
of all freedom.
For the singers who had always lived there
rain over the corn fields signaled the expanses
of oncoming blue butterflies that hovered
over hand prints blown through outstretched
fingers onto rocks high on the cliff walls,
cool and dark in the soaking winter.
They gathered in long rooms to eat and trade
verses of song poems over the blossoming
beans, spilling green onto the red earth.
We bear witness to what we already have:
the streams that rush down the mesas
leaving patterns of wet sand with drops
on the leaves, the rivulets singing as they fall.
The singers were aware of their movements,
the wind that brushed the moon at sunrise
so pale that wetness became invisible.
They sat still, full of night’s echoes, the floor
damp from the fogs that rose from the valley.
The singers noted the first white rays slanting
into the canyon shadows, the silence, and how
it fell thick afterward, as they rose stiffly
and stumbled toward their stone cliff houses.
I loved you before there was a language
for love, before words. When the stars burn out
and the night sky turns black, I'll still love you.
There are things that perish and things that last.
Love lasts. Its first spark, born when the universe
was born, still burns. I see it in the moonlight,
in the flash of your eyes. Each morning,
you carry the sun on your back.
You bring it to me to light the day, to help me
see my way through from waking to sleep.
This is how strong love is: as hot as the sun.
And though the sun will one day be extinguished,
a lamp emptied of oil, love will not.
You'll see me in the eternal darkness.
You'll know I'm there.
The pattern of stones
within the scatter of gravel
flecks of one color
more precise than another
rattle in the current
settle where the sweep decelerates
eddies close to fallen trunks
spills along a sand embankment
reads as if written by a hand
in words not spoken yet by anyone
and rain replies in more voices
than a pair of ears can translate.
An infant is like a wonderful stone
being shaped by the tide. An infant knows
nothing of solitude and does not believe
in the built-up hardness of
kindred blood. An infant is
the night, is the day, never hiding
its hymn and colours. An infant arrives
from both the nadir of the earth and the
zenith of the sky. An infant has the laughter
to change the most dismal of days,
and the softness of tiny symmetry in its moon-like
face - and fingers, each a little bird,
bringing joy by just being, moving
like dancers' thighs over a flaming sea.
An infant is the eye of the whale,
the beginning and the potential all in one.
An infant is of flesh and perfect trust,
needing nothing from tomorrow.
What I want is to bind you, steady you
into sand, listen to your whispers, petal-tongued,
pale buds dropping, your fingers opening
and closing at the ground. See the stake and gauze
I carry, how I moisten the earth before I probe
deep between river stones and roots—
this is who I am, though I don’t live here anymore.
Trim the overwrought branches and new growth,
lift the canopy, the weight of you,
struggling too slim arms from the dirt.
That if I leave a year, two, I can come back,
sneak into this yard I no longer own, find
the house, rake the brittle debris around you
and balm this arid space. Tremble as I close the gate,
start the rental car, the weed choked alley brushing
the ticking under belly, where I once was.
Your old life was a frantic running from silence. — Jelalludin Rumi
You remember the tale,
that made the wine cup clatter
to the stone and before
anyone could protest both
a thousand obligations
and the shattered pieces
of their royal reputations
strewn like November leaves
down the windswept corridors
of their former, sensible selves.
Irresponsible, whirred the rumors
Irrational, hummed the mills
Unseemly! sputtered the sawdust
Un…kingly, huffed the council.
But nothing could be done.
They were gone.
And secretly each among the throng
longed to be
the whispered-to one
and wondered whether
what was in them was enough
to do what those whispered-to
knew suddenly they had to do.
Mexico, balanced on the backbone of miracles, survives anyway.
The mundane, steeped in magia and milagros, happens
a mile a minute, flourishes side by side with the maguey.
To live in such a place and not believe? Imposible!
Remember, roses grew on Tepayac Hill where nothing took root.
A carving of the virgin sheds real tears. They taste like blood.
And Rio Nautla water runs uphill after the rains arrive.
On Día de los Muertos the dead dance among tombstones,
eat mole Oaxaqueño. If you bury the afterbirth close to home,
your daughters will not stray. Hang sage in the threshold
to keep the evil out. A potion of cinnamon, egg white and laurel
cures heartbreak, heartburn too. Keep a lock of lover’s hair
tied in red ribbon beneath your bed. It will keep him honest.
Plant at midnight beneath the crescent moon. Your crop will flourish.
This is the place I come from. Here magia is worth a handstand
and a song. Minor miracles come cheap: A curandera will reverse
your luck for fifty pesos and an egg. An egg in her hand absorbs
the mala vibra. Crack it open. The yolk is curdled, the white goes black.
Do I believe? I do not know, but just in case, por si las moscas,
I wear milagro charms around my neck to keep the evil eye at bay:
a coin for wealth, a heart for health, a leg to keep me grounded.
I walked the steps
where priests, Zapotec kings,
left footprints rituals performed
to invisible gods
rulers of the underworld
and all living things.
Their energy emanating
through temple stones carved,
shaped vestiges of reverence to nature,
culture found two centuries before
the Spanish arrived
these standing monuments
proof of our undefeated spirit
and struggle Zapotec, Toltec, Olmec,
Mayan, Aztec cultures proof to the world
that our ancestors were intelligent people
knowledgeable, cultured, devout
beings in harmony
with the universe,
life and death.
The sun shines its light upon us
as we follow the moon path
to rivers where we will survive,
we will never perish.
You are older than you ever imagined—
there is no song to sing you to sleep.
All day long, I have circled the cemetery,
have caressed the granite walls,
and drowned in her memory.
There was an ocean and a wave,
and then nothing.
Finally, I saw the sky
for the first time,
and knew I was home.
In the red of red,
in the blue of blue,
you will not find God here.
There is so little to dying,
it's a wonder we bother at all.
I have seen stone and fish
fall from the sky,
when the night was quiet
as moth wings.
Nothing can frighten us more
than chancing to see our face
in the mirror by moonlight.
Think of nothing
but the large birds
feeding on the shore.
Regarding his painting, the artist says:
Regarding his painting, the artist says:
Regarding his painting, the artist says: