You have to love life,
not merely love to live.
Then, even your darkest iterations
in direct relation to light.
That’s why true black
is so bright.
Thursday, February 18th, 2016
Friday, January 15th, 2016
Crowned pig on a talavera tile,
one solo puerco insignia
set in the stone church stairs…
on the steps where
two puppy bulldogs attract girls
to the boy sitting,
whose corn on a stick pops, bitten,
’til its honeycomb’s dry.
Church doors of slabbed wood,
long hanging slices of carne separating.
Four hundred years of drying
on iron pins…for someone’s carnality,
and still the church pigeons pass scat.
Look: an iron ring in a colossal stone,
fat as a fed snake,
it fastens some supreme possession…
but, I ask: who forged in the heat?
who hammered it-in to no applause, chingon,
and who ordered it placed?
Crowds step around it and,
on the street, the spindly trees,
when this racket:
someone set loose from loosely piled cages
what won’t be captured twice:
an outraged macaw
pursuing its native fruit.
Sunday, September 14th, 2014
The desert during monsoon is greener,
like wetback hope,
how it overcomes acacia thorns
and trails through nettle,
how migrant feet outrun flash floods
through mosquito canyons,
how their ankles roll on rocks
and jump back up…
like cool tears pour from blisters.
Monsoon green shades resident quail,
quail and timorous rabbit.
Its blooming calls through corridors
to orange butterflies, purple birds,
to people who follow on foot:
Mesoamerica in motion,
leaving to live.
When desert ocotillo forests yellow
and harvest moons ripen over orchards,
armies of ladders lean against trees,
waiting, chink-chinking change,
bells calling migrants again
Irritable autumn wasps graze
on the affordable harvest–
a larceny in every meal,
a theft of hidden labor,
around so many heavy Northern tables.
Friday, November 22nd, 2013
From a detention center,
courage fortified by maize
smuggled in by their daughters.
With loaded patrols all along the border,
daughters who run with babies
in their mothers.
The jailbroke hens
toe the countryside with care,
walk the gusty sand
and frozen mud.
Some then are led by seed
to the roosters’ cornrows,
or by pennies to Northern orchards.
When hens outfox loaded borders,
They piece together homes,
full to overflowing…
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
Land of Lincoln corn,
rows of cool and knee high in July,
rises between leaves,
their green palms
in uniform prayer.
Feed corn fattens eunuch beef.
Seed corn grows sterile.
Come August ripe
the corn rows grow obscene,
drinking and exhaling in a crowded haze.
Soon, farmlands settle,
lightened by harvest…
the export of corn
by truck and train
where Guadalupe tastes only memories
of elote, of her own maize.
the kernels of cream
became grains of sun
for winter meals.
Her milpa now is a field
of whisk brooms
She buys her meal,
uniformed corn that
shoulders through the markets–
from the Land of Lincoln.
imagining the daydreams
of a Zapatista.
Support small farms and food security in Mexico! http://sunnu.org/en/
Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
In memory of Micah True, aka. Caballo Blanco,
who lived some months of each year in Mexico’s Copper Canyon
Give him the reins
to the ghost horse
and the guide will remove the straps
from its face and neck.
Then, they will cross the border together.
They will begin forgetting,
when walking through the city
of commuters with inventive ways
to carry worry.
They will forget the dollar
and the peso,
and thirst, for anything.
When roads disappear,
they will forget news, words,
and especially the task of asking
who they were.
The ghost horse,
his ribs and flanks will forget,
his white hide will forget
every boot heel,
wrong or right.
Together, they will breathe nightfall
with the Chihuahuan desert,
where sage soothes the sunset
as it strives behind mesquite branches,
and where wood fires in the canyon
gather Rarámuri faces
They will forget
to celebrate or mourn.
All the love they’ve known is in the pollen
of purple jacarandas,
and in the maize pots, filled
for those who have been their kin.
With thanks for thoughts on border-crossings derived from the play, De Camino al Ahorita, by Raúl Dorantes.
Friday, June 3rd, 2011
For the Mexican poet, Javier Sicilia, on his March for Peace and Justice
following the assassination of his son. And for the healing of Casa Mexico.
The poet leads the demonstration,
silently, on his feet.
Three days they walked together
in a solitude of hundreds,
who gave words between shudders
– ni uno mas-of grief.
From the high green mountains
to the valley of volcanoes
hundreds became millions walking,
walking as pilgrims in a labyrinth
through Mexico’s streets.
There, in the great plaza,
the poet opened his voice to Casa Mexico
as a father at bedtime prayers
with his only child.
His rosary dangled on his chest.
So much weight, so much on a string of beads.
A heart placed in its crux hears and holds,
with room for our crimes, our petty altruisms
and our interims of beauty.
The poet walks.
Several million are walking,
and with our footsteps, words sway,
as our pendulum over the earth:
– paz y justica con dignidad,
Peace and Justice with Dignity.
[Translations: ni uno mas: not one more.
paz, justica y dignidad: peace, justice and dignity.]
Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
The barrio radio
pitches hilarity at our windows,
with clumps of baritone, the news.
We try to untwist
from our sheets of sleep.
The day, already binding.
Outside, the bougainvillea
are magenta fountains,
bolder than we in daylight
and bolder at scaling walls.
Our kitchen table stands
still warm from our breakfast bowls,
and Mama’s on the long ride
to a factory on the outskirts.
Until night, when the lightbulb
shivers on its wire
over the shhhh…tunk of Mama’s ironing
on tomorrow’s school uniforms.
But we want what her factory makes.
And we do not want to die trying.
Javier died not trying anything.
Without and empty, only walking
where came sudden guns.
Hear? Until he died trying,
Jaime got cash for meth
by the arroyo that disappeared Maria,
and you didn’t hear.
Sundays, the church pews slump,
old backs of prayer horses,
and we taste bitter copal
with body and blood.
The supper table stands
on loose legs, with cold places
at vacant chairs.
Don’t let it be.
Don’t let the bougainvillea drop
to piles of sepia,
fragile and faded…
like we are already gone.
Saturday, May 8th, 2010
I thought my North Side streets too quiet,
that seeds freed from branches by a night rain
would be swept and discarded first thing,
the scents of weekend breakfasts, bacon especially,
cleared from apartment corridors by ten a.m.
Hiding in our alley, a franchise
of illicit pain and its transient remedies.
We make order, shielding our eyes,
as if we could live behind border fences
where righteous dogs sniff-out the drugs and the desperate
but not the trail of money.
So I thought my own streets too quiet,
the buildings too anchored on their grids of sidewalk hours.
And me, with my heart skipping rules,
I got up, took a drive to the other side of town,
to the barrio where sidewalks are uneven.
To where roasting chiles release their smoke
over us, like the wings of angels.
Ashes are lighter
than Colombian drugs and
the captives in trafficking…
that weigh on Juarez
the viscosity of blood and
the volume of tears…
that weigh on Juarez
Ashes are lighter
than Chicago’s shadow commerce
the gangs on fifty-first floors working…
the exquisite sacrifice of Juarez
Only ashes are lighter
than the conscience of a boss
the sleep of his women too…
who hears the grinding of teeth in Juarez?
Ashes fly after
the children of campesinos
their eyes the night in hidden lakes…
that see the immolation of Juarez
and these we cannot afford
for our smoke at leisure tonight…
not in New York, nor Dallas nor Chicago
Heavy, the ashes on our hands.
Campesino: subsistence farmer
Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
So you aim a foregone conclusion,
the extinction of our species,
right between our eyes.
Maybe the last mammoth died
with uptown flowers in its belly,
blinking at the the glass towers of Polanco,
Even now, the people of this city
scramble through traffic
fleeing chain link curtains of lightning.
The obedient and faithful,
do they have it better,
with all their hope aimed at heaven?
Their eyes on the Lord’s table,
they let this world drip
from their dumb and delicate fingertips.
We know– there is not enough water
to wash us away again.
We toss pail after pail
across the crumpled pavement each morning,
but not one street will be clean by noon.
All night work abrades rest
from the bodies of scrubbers
while the polished world of uptown glints
and a world of trade agreements are inked
in the tincture of peasant bruises.
I’m leaving Mexico at night,
unbelieving, charged with love and fright
for a country, for a city
sparkling below, for now,
like a fine beaded bag in the lamplight.