Selected Poetry

Love letters from along the US-Mexico border

The West of El Paso

To the Man with Canyon Eyes,

Thank you for loving me.

 

I would scale the Chisos mountains a thousand times,

Let my cheap shoes wear out, let my feet bleed,

Leave traces of myself everywhere—red Rorschach images left to you in the sands,

A messy map of menses and bruises,

So that you could meet me there, brave girl waving a white flag,

The peak is the end of an abandoned road that always leads the way towards

 

You

 

Are somewhere that I could hold onto without an audience,

So, look out into that final vestige of desiccated free space,

This massive plot of land where rainbows dance and the chapel doors are always open,

Ourselves wild; rattled with determination, all chattering teeth at an unseen altar,

But more than anything: young and double-knotted with yearning,

What a blessing it is to have known you,

To have willingly sauntered off the edge of your smile and into your dreaming eyes,

Inside of you without a map,

 

To the man with canyon eyes

 

 

                                                T

                                                   h

                                                      a

                                                         n

                                                            k

 

                                                                Y

                                                                   o

                                                                     u

                                                                         

                                                                                   

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                            (For loving me.)

Orozco, with Ciudad de Mexico in His Hands

To the brown-eyed boy with the clay heart 
And papel-maché bitterness, 
Why was I such a bitch? 
Took the baton to your bonbon belly 
No blindfold necessary 

Sweets wrapped in fools-gold spilled 
I filled my pockets to the brink 
And ate until my teeth would ache 
I swallowed up those sweet, shining agonies 
And tried to grow them in my stomach 
Like a Child 
Like the Lottería 

Gas-station scratch-offs buying lubricant but not forgiveness

In the yard were still more candies we’d forgot
They melted in the grass, 
To a dark syrup muck, 
Molten molé to slip on or sink in 
Staining our feet to blackness 


The flies came, I guess, for the fudge 
Buzzing in the heat 
They entered the house after I left the lights on

Balmy night with the doors wide open 
Sage burning on the altar 


Burning like your text messages beyond the screen 
Six page paragraphs sent for me to decode 
Like some ancient Aztec scroll

 

We patched up that first break-up with plaster,

Papel-maché lover,

Plus, you bought me a plane ticket

 

On the way to Ciudad de México,

You promised you would teach me how to play  
Devil’s advocate.
Wait, that’s not what it’s called!

I mean that funny grandparent’s game

No, no, not small-town chapel weddings, but

 –Bingo! 

Oh, look where my beans landed,

All on the Diablita, woman in the low cut dress,

With her red horns and sugar-scull smiles

 

The same one from the many pictures we took in the Zocalo

Me with my corpse painted face

All dressed up for our first Día de Los Muertos

The great murals of Orozco, Rivera, Posada descending

Bold colors, broad strokes, depicting brown hands and corn husks,

A reminiscence of both our Mexican Madres

Interrupted only by the occasional graffiti, an anarchists scribble:

Desobedece

 

Six months passed before the my Diablita began whispering to me again

Angry and hopeful sexpot on my shoulder, 

She won

And I left him for the living boat, but I called him in a dream
Dial d-i-s-g-u-s-t after the beep, 
or leave a message at the tone

I said: Darling stay a while, stay, stay

My voice was far away to him

Who was sitting in a bucolic field 
Needle and thread between his fingertips, 
Cell-phone at his pristine toes 

He was stitching himself back together, 
Wet mud-heart still beating, somehow, still 

His response: Do not grovel, Woman 
En la boca cerrada no entran moscas 
His words a stake to the heart.

"My hands are my heart." 


Bones of my desire in the backyard 
Beneath the fig tree 
Like some artifact 
Left for the excavation of Future Self 
She will find I've cleared the mess, 
Beneath the branches she will see it, 
Surely we did not etch our initials 
With a pocket knife 


She will dig up the bones 
Study them beyond the lens of a microscope 
And recover, reclassify, reassemble 
For a big, dead-dinosaur-type display, 
The kind I loved as a kid,
Let the skeleton float overhead, 
Let it swim beneath the urbanity, 
Between the towering stacks of glass and metal, 
of sky-scrapers and big-city book-shelves 

Not so unlike that massive, post-modernist sculpture

The one at the Biblioteca Vasconcelos, the rare whale who had washed up from the sea

Who was conserved by an artist’s hands

But these bones are their own political statement, their own idea, their own agony, their own love
Something to scare the children, or at least, the single-minded, 
Something smiling under the bed and between the sheets 
Calaveras Queen, hung from the rafters for her brujería

Immortalized, never extinct