These calamities are lingering in my blood like they are already regrets, and yet I am the one that is angry all of the time. My wife has become a professional wrestler so that nobody questions why she absolutely must hit me in the back with a folding chair from time to time. This is the new normal, which in the context of my history, appears to be the destruction of my calm and beautiful heart.
At this point it was very hot. On the way out the stretcher popped one of the balloons. If it weren’t startling no one would have noticed. Under the circumstances no one cared. Patricio’s mother, Sally, let out screaming sobs.
Just before that, in the backyard, the paramedics lifted the body of Patricio, age five, onto the stretcher after zipping up the bag. Planes flew overhead in and out of McCarran.
But first the paramedics attempted CPR. They tried the shock paddles. Both these and the paramedic’s hands made the child’s chest look even smaller. It was already too late…
Sleep where you can.
Our mothers’ voices sang from the wedding crystal in the cabinets above our heads. They were talking about the War of the Roses and the summer at The Hotel Flores, while thirty-two shades of blue filled the cracks in our window, snout-shaped patterns we filled with hot breath coronas collapsing on candlelight.
The nails in our shore-worn feet clicked in our sleep, hooked us together tectonically. We were always falling head over heels in and out of bed, disrupting continents, the shores of our appetites rushing forward before coming apart at the seams of our brackish garments. We held our conched fingers to each others’ ears as we fucked, because I wanted destination wedding sex on the beach. You swore we would hear the ocean. But we only heard a body fall to the floor in the apartment above us, and then, nothing.
Sleep when you can: never too much, just enough, only enough.
I kept track of the minutes until the clock fell in the waste bin by our heads. Perhaps the ticking rhythm reminded me of the heartbeat in my mother’s palm as she slapped me over and over across my small fresh face. There was never enough air in the room to cry, Sanctuary, just enough, only enough, to keep me terrified.
Sleep with whomever you can.
And I was no longer so damn depressed, evidently seduced by the brandy in your irises, or the way you helped me remember to breathe. How do we fix our broken chronicles? We never even bothered to fix that damned windowpane. But where does the light shine through? And where does the cold seep in?
You may not have been made aware
poets name you often in their musings
I wanted to inform you
in case you, like Ents, can speak
and therefore gossip about us
Let it be known I was not among those
attempting to give weight to my work
by citing how impressive you are
though I agree you are an inspiration
I must admit I am partial to the Baobab
who some call an upside-down tree
and who I suspect you may be acquainted with
given you are both clever about water
and live in places I have never been
A church next to a hotel
tells the story of my city
of my country
though I have long ago lost
belief in the steeple.
I can’t help but think
of the loneliness
that would make gods
themselves cry down
of their love.
When she noticed an absence where a presence had been, should be, a vacuous absence of intimacy, of contact, of contract, of thought, when she noticed that it grew larger, not smaller, as absences do, and vacuums, unchecked, she set out to do the only thing she could do: she set out to shrink the absence to a reasonable size, make it palpable, touchable, make it if not presence then the difference between nothingness and something, and that is splitting hairs. She set out to reach so deep into absence that absence must necessarily become existence and from there become pervasiveness and from there ubiquity. She set out to dance with absence, her partner, and ubiquity, her lover, and in so doing to spend ubiquity until he was spent and build up absence until he was grand as ubiquity had been. She set out to dance alone until she was spent and breathless, gasping on her knees like a wild thing just out from the woods from running, falling down upon absence, her partner, who was there all along like an emptiness, waiting for her, waiting for her to need him just once, just one more time, his hands and body gaunt and wasted from waiting. Just once, for her to need him. Just once, for her to feel his manliness, eviscerated as he felt it was and as it may have been. Just once, for her to know him. All his existence depended on her, as if, without her, he would waste to nothing, to utter absence, as if the sole prerequisite for his having any existence at all, any body, any presence, any form, was her obligatory need for him, of which she had none. No, she was the wild thing out from the woods from running; she ran and she ran and she danced and she ran and she needed no man, least of all a vacuous absence with sunken cheeks and cavernous eyes and knobby knuckles and knees. And if she chose a man, let her choose ubiquity with his wild hair, and use him up, wild thing from the woods that she was. Let her taste fire.
Ptolemy didn’t need
a telescope to ascertain
what most believed—
around their private ball of dust,
each mind a universe
focused on one and only,
a truth babies
know at birth
and few forget
as they grow older
though a Copernican
saint or two
claims it possible
to love beyond
and that the survival
of the individual
on the heresy
that not one of us
is the sole center
of all creation.
So you can at the same time know what I am thinking and what I am saying I am writing as extravagantly and as backwardly as possible on frosted glass and back to 1965 and last seen on TV and saying sorry and proposing at an altitude and from a distance to you only, promising I will renounce my one remaining hope that someday I will own a flying car and for some reason no one else will.
Regarding her work, the artist says:
I took this photo in Zakopane, a resort town in the Polish Tatra Mountains, one of my favorite places on Earth. Quite close to the town center I strayed down an unknown path. Among modernized structures I encountered remnants of old, waiting for repair.
In the village he read On the Genealogy of Morals and considered whether man truly was just an animal with a right to make promises. The Jagermeister bottle was more than half empty when the simple peasant girl joined him on the couch, so they finished the bottle together. Afterwards, she showed him the Alsatians and they took a dog sled ride back to the cabin.
On the sled the girl’s hair had been fantastically black, longer than his arms. He peered over the edge of that dark mountain and wondered how the Alsatians were not getting hopelessly lost. Then Nietzsche’s words came back to him: animals cannot acquire the depth to become truly evil, so could they can never be above other beasts. But certainly tonight it seemed that these vigorous dogs were high above everything else in this dark and swirling night.
Now, back in the cabin, the dogs were howling, far away, and the girl was suddenly gone. The night grew even darker.
All that remained of that peasant girl was a memory of a forgotten surname and a vague telephone number and strands of straight dark hair, found eloquently between the pages of Nietzsche. He played Louis Armstrong, poured a Jack Daniels, and opened the dog-eared copy of the book. He settled near the fire and read over each page again, deliberately, as if studying for a test. The ice cracked from time to time in the empty glass. Louis was scat singing as he considered good and evil and rose for another drink.
I was three or four years old, spending whole afternoons by the water pipe. Just an open groove of concrete—meant for irrigation—it spread throughout the orchards, branching off in intricate nets. To me it was a labyrinth, a freeway leading everywhere, a tool of discovery.
I sat there... for how long? Time didn’t make sense. I sat there enchanted, my hand brushing the green, muddy stream—as majestic as a Mississippi or a Nile, which I didn’t know existed…
I am dreaming of Gabriela Mistral again and her children,
those orphaned poems that became people who loved her
and left her happy. Emergency was what saved her.
On any day, the tree spreads its wings to cover the sky,
and a clutter of crows wakes to her song of loneliness.
But the vast canopy becomes a kind of family.
In the morning, she is gone, but the laughing and light
screams of children linger over the ocean here. A word
can be a grain of sand, or a small hand.
Protest signs never scared her.
hid the intentions of hands and faces
hid the places she'd seen them before.
Over-ripened scowls always
besides wives and pastors as young women wept to hospital beds.
Mary couldn't help but search the crowds
Johns who knew their money was being spent there.
standing next to
unknowing wives crying
too loud to hear whimpers of familiarity
of the pillars besides them.
Mary didn't need to hear tales
the stain of blood, the
figuring out which was worse
And you become
a sheen on your smooth head.
from the blue of your eyes.
The darkness—all those years—
as air. Your hands
Regarding his work, the artist says:
This work is one of a series I created by taking original paintings and layering them digitally. Sometimes, as in this work, I included collage elements. This was often done to heighten a resemblance to street art, or even an effect of looking at a city wall.
God will say
that you are
just for you
only you know
is not too
great a price
for you that
for you that
is paid to your
every need want
gesture lash on
your eye beat
of your heart that
lost tribes settled
new worlds for you
and comets will sail
your soul that
all you need to
receive is to ask
name it name
is a desperate
Rye-grass, meadow, saltmarsh. It abrades her ankles, leaves them raw and weary as she walks from a home that smelled of warm bread and lavender and the shrinking of space, the calamity of living. Now, as she goes to the village to work and marry, her home is the travel, the field, the way her feet hurt as she urges them, horse-like, on.
Before the village (where she will perhaps meet a rich boy and have babies and a garden of rampion and mint) is a forest, the kind that is heavy to look at, with a stream slipping through. She enters, hearing the whisper of water weathering the ground, splashing where she steps and soaking her skirts. She stops.
And there is a man.
She didn’t see him before but he is so pale, his veins are blue rivers running through his arms.
“Where are you going,” he says, and she doesn’t tell him
but he nods anyway, nods
on a branch.
“If you follow me,” he says, “you will have fabric like
stars and a bed of moss, and a
laugh to soothe your sleep into
velvet dreams. Follow, but
do not step from the water.”
As he reaches to her, she follows forward through the stream, touching the fog of his fingers,
a pinprick of
And as she walks, the stream follows like a wedding train,
working through her,
a heartbeat, a brush of
It is sweet and,
stepping, she is full and
filled, and ahead is something like the
sun behind an
effervescent veil, a land of
honey, of amber.
Slow and fogged, and with the paradise ahead,
its treasures and hopes, she turns her face away
from the brightness
and stumbles from the stream
to finds herself on a bank, dirt smeared bloody on her skin. It was a dream, she tells herself, and thinks of her dreams before of going to the village to find a husband, a job as a servant. She sets forward through the forest to find the reality of its merchant shops and bright gardens, cobblers and candymakers
but what is there when she emerges isn’t a village.
There are buildings, but instead of thatched shops, they are metal and reach to the sky.
There are gardens and homes but, in the midst of them, are great chrome beasts made of wheels and loud rumblings.
And as she turns back to the forest she sees, from a distance, and with a metallic roar, the top of a tree shudder and fall
by a great force
By happenstance we reach
County Trunk MM, locate Clayton,
next Lalor where Murphy Road T-bones,
homesteads unfolding under coverlets
of green, the tresses of willows a caress
upon the ground.
We nearly miss the acreage of farmland
we called home, for what was a bald barnyard
is now shrouded with trees, their evergreen shadows
cooling the afternoon in mimicry of that May
when we unbuckled overalls, slept on linoleum,
awakened to runners on a marathon
to Stoughton. I ask the spruces is this marriage
what I imagined when I curled in sleep
upon their land – as if they knew me then,
and what exactly I wanted; as if I could distinguish
between expectation and acceptance; knew how
to rate the width of contentment; measure against loss,
the stretch of need.
Regarding his work, the artist says:
Celebrating man with an edge in line and spontaneous brushstrokes to capture a moment and a mood.