Nishi Ramen on San Antonio Street

I. An explosion of expansion has taken over these once dead streets.
Only they never died
Rather were pushed back
beaten with poverty and destitution
Beaten with regulation
70 hour work weeks
Standing in line for sustenance
I know those conversations well
I’ve stood in those lines.

There is a petition going around
To save their homes.
I didn’t sign it because I don’t always
See as clearly as this.

My brother understands
The pain of people
Better than I,
Objectivity has made me sterile.

II. I arrived about a half hour early
and parked, incorrectly
(I would later find out)
and decided to walk around Durango street
trying to understand a bit of the history
that would soon be lost.
Objectivity has made me sterile
And I sought to find within the buildings
A hint of the audacity
of a people
daring to hope.
(The hope of course being not to lose their home through no action of their own.)

Red stone buildings made to be dirty
Through their perseverance
Since 1881 reads the El Paso Times.
Red stone that runs from the ground to the sky
boils over to the next building
And the one after that.
(I didn’t need to leave my own city
to find brick roads.)

Union Plaza and all the night clubs
Empty on an early Friday night.
The buildings form a wide alley
Benches and street lights along the sides.
Here I Love You and I begin to think
Of how long I have been walking
My attention to the dull pulls of hunger
And the thought of you still not arriving.

I have to bring myself back, I’ve
Been trying to understand precisely
Where in this history I belong
Observer or agitator, worker or worked
Around the corner another bar
In front a man sits alone
His bag hanging open over the seat
Muttering to himself or me
To no one at all.
I don’t bring myself to walk past him
There is a bridge just beyond
Old dreams
Soot and the immeasurable silence of an underpass.

Above us a stadium
I haven’t been inside
it is not a history I want to inhabit.
A path alongside the bridge
colored with baseball lingo and ancestral figures.
I sit on the steps of the stadium.
In front of me
Two nations and a firmament strewn across the ground.
There is heaven in those homes
Gods inside every head
Keeping this city aflame.

I am between a mountain and a valley
On the banks of the Rio Grande
On the street below people shuffle
Carrying grocery bags
I can hear the train from union depot,
Machinations of the night.

Now I am observer
A thousand universes
And I am not more than the night between the stars.

III. As if I had been asking for a sign
or had hung my tongue out dry
looking to lap up new dew or old puddles
the city spoke to me,
a fountain of inspiration.

The fountain says
“we are truest in our repose”
Like water, it qualifies.
Only, the fountain was empty and I
An impostor.

I struggle to collect my tongue
Too big for my mouth
Too many tongues to count
I’ve forgotten what water looks like.
I turn to leave and step in dog shit
Luckily my soles have no depth
And cling to nothing
But the memory.

I am thirstier than ever now
And the city has misplaced my puddles.
The alley ways have brick roads.
In autumn or spring the leaves
never match the red of brick
or the green of the bay window
This is the street
Where the bulldozer tore down
A building
Prematurely
Shot its load too early
collapsed bricks
a chunk of history
tiny universes
scattered forever.
I rush past it all
I have so much to write.

On heartache and the loss of home

Just before the first freeze of the season
I stood outside the bleak building where I worked,
Where I had just resolved to leave my mother’s home.

It was not really her home and she would soon after leave too.

She would have to bring down the mirrors
that lined the hallways.
Mirrors that would,
with the movement of one’s body,
Stir shadows in the furthest
reaches of the home.
She would come to paint the walls white again.
Walls that had been green and then maroon and then green again.
The candleholders she would place in boxes and the picture frames in black trash bags.
My father would come to box and carry away the home he had created,
To move it only
a few miles north.
My mother would grow tired of the struggle against a great machine.
She would grow tired of the tyranny of bureaucracy,
Of being held against the will of a woman and her clipboard
And the long claws of the government

And so she too would come to leave her home.
But that night was not about
the oppressive nature of government tenements. And this is not about a burgeoning, a blossoming
Out through the cracks of some grey bureaucracy.

I stood dumb and felt the cold all around me.
I was not thinking of my mother or home.

In that moment I was deafened by music,
Pushed around by a rush of people,
They smiled at me.
I watched the day settle into itself.
It grew old and tired and dark grey.
Wrapped itself in clouds.
Prepared itself too
For the cold to come.
I did not move.

I remember you asked me to let it go when I felt it to be done.
(I asked the same of you)

At once,
The snow began to fall.
The cold reached bone,
my eyes were hot.

Oh moon-eyed one!
Brown like clay,
Made for my fingers,
It was then I needed you most.

It was then I needed to hold you
Like mud to mold you,
Wet as you get
Running down my own flesh,
I needed your scent,
then.

At once,
Everywhere white.
(How long did I stand there?)
White and no part of me moved,
White and everyone a stranger,
White and burning eyes,
White and nothing new.
I needed your scent,
then.

Oh you whose eyes are soft pearls!
Do you know how much I ached in that moment?
I felt you fleeing.

At once,
Everywhere white.
(What should I have done?)
The cold was in my bones.
The sky was dark, heavy
Closing in on my head.

At once,
The crushing realization.
I needed your scent,
then.
I needed your lips, soft as a
Fresh peach.
My mind was on fire.
The snow and the cold and the dark did nothing to extinguish it.
I needed your fire, then.
Always greater than my own.
Your fire I could fight,
Mine consumes me,
Love.
I needed you to wrap yourself around me like you do
Like a flame to strangle the doubt that plagues me.
Has always plagued me,
Love.

At once,
Everywhere white.
(What should I have done?)
White and I did not move,
White and you waiting alone in a parking lot,
White and my head aflame,
White and in my mind you are criminal-I do not know why-
White and shadows stir in the furthest reaches of my
mind.

In short,
I was afraid.

At once,
The crushing realization.
I needed your scent, then.

My chest was ice and my breath stilled in the air.
There were no more people walking by.

(I can’t remember if anything moved.)

In you I found the flora!
Tangles of greenery for my fingers
And I shuddered in the embrace
of your vine.
In you I found the bread!
Buried in the magic of your legs,
I ate of the bread,
Soft in my saliva.
In you I found the spring!
Drenched in you,
I drank deep,
I swallowed you whole.
In you I found the din!
Great sound flowed from you,
I listened to survive,
to escape myself.
I sustained myself in you.

It was cold.
The sky was night.
Nothing to fight the fire,
I followed it to the end,
everytime.
It consumes me,
Love.

Forsaken one, my clay,
I looked for you in that second,
In the endless white,
In the crystal of my breath,
In the darkness that hung above my head,
I looked for your tangles on my fingertips.

I needed you scent,
then.

What was I to know of love’s bittersweet embrace,
That it too can grow cold like a warm breath?

What were you thinking in that second,
Sitting alone in your car as I stood dumb, trembling
(I had begun to tremble).

Everything at once is how it happens-
The trembling and the snow,
The thought of you alone in a parking lot,
Waiting.
Burning eyes,
The sky crushing me beneath the weight of itself.
(It was closing in on my head)
At once,
I begin to move.
The trembling and the snow,
At once.
When I got into the car, you were silent.
(What did I do with my hands?)

Everything around us was empty except in the center where we sat.