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.

Today I am tired, Genevieve

Today I am tired, Genevieve,
The dregs of the day have found me
Battered, broken and gasping for a word.

The prism of morning rose
To bloom, as it does, to
Languish its light and
Break the truce of night
Stain the peace of sleep and
It rose to rouse and
Lease a new life, to remind
of eager machinations
That teem with
the threat of our tendencies, but
Today I am tired, Genevieve.

I looked for you in the shadows, Genevieve.
I wanted to take your life.
I needed to take your energy, Genevieve,
I needed to steal your light.

I found you, Genevieve,
In the pages of our book.
In the creases of memory
and bright Ink,
I found you, Genevieve,
gasping for a place
And a chance at the word,
I found you speaking, Genevieve.

I saw your tongue, Genevieve,
Move itself, as it does,
And rise to a new stake,
held up in a new light,
the double symbol of fear and power,
I saw you moving your tongue, Genevieve,
Blooming like a bird out of
Your mouth, I felt your tongue
Move between my lips, between my fingers,
I looked for a word there, Genevieve,
But today I am tired.

All the times
You moved your tongue
To move mine, and hers, and his, and
Theirs, and all the times your tongue was cut out,
And made to rise, as it does,
To hang on to new stakes,
And grant us new tendencies,
has made me tired.

So, today, I am tired Genevieve,
but, I will look for the word
since your tongue seeks mine,
since your seek my tongue, too.

Earlier this year I mailed out a manuscript

Earlier this year I mailed out a manuscript.
Since then,
The days have lined up
Like criminals fronting
A fusillade of faces
And half thoughts,
rapid fire logic
And a monument of loneliness
who is god in the crushing blow
Of night
upon
crushing
night.

In the morning I remember your mouth
And the lines I can never capture
In nascent sketches,
Crumbled in fist
Or thought.

In the day I remember a laugh,
Behind palms.
Sometimes too slow
And so
I see it anyway The slight overbite You try to hide
(I remember mine too)

In the distance, we cast our plans
Onto pale mountains, And every hour a step, Every minute a breath, Tiny movements.

From the valley here,
I look toward further pastures
And always beyond
the mountains,
Pale blue and beyond

In my dreams you are the garden.
I come from behind,
A patter of dogs behind us both.
Around the shed
a soft earth grows green,
Certain as your hands.

Here the nights are large and I breathe in the void,
I remember every curve of your back
that twists,
Dips and falls
from your flanks into
frenzy.
The fervor of your
femininity has tamed me and I
fall to shake in your shadow.
I wait for words to reach me from pale mountains
from gardens that fledge from your fingers:

Here your hands do not
Move to cover
A damn thing.

Tonight

I can hear the moon
languish its light into every room.
It rustles the blinds
Shadows are alive in every doorway.

There are echoes here of words never uttered,
Syllables are hanging dead on doorframes.

The first word spoken never imagined
that in the infinite wake of its sound
there would be voids.
I lived in those voids.

I used them like armor.
You laid bare like the pit of a peach
And dug yourself into the voids.

Love,
These words now will always seek you
And if you’ll have them you’ll have me too.
I stare at spaces and in them I feel your air,
still.

Love,
I pulled eternity into me to fill these spaces.
But I can feel all the universe colliding in my heart tonight.
They say
time can
mend love
can mend love
time can mend love
But there is no more
time.

I hardly sleep anymore.
There is a space here
all the stars cannot fill
The sun cannot fill
There is a space next to me that
time will not fill.

When I close my eyes not even my mind can find peace.
When I dream not even my heart can find peace.
In these dreams I am alone and empty, like a shed or a tunnel.
In these dreams I see only the back of your head.
Through your hair I can hear only tears.
In these dreams there is always a tree out of reach
In these dreams I cannot taste a single peach
That hangs on branches bruised and sweet.
I cannot find their pits.

What strange nostalgia

What strange nostalgia
Has found me
Has gripped me here
licentious longing lingering
over state lines in deep Pennsylvania woods
Allegheny river crossing 3 angels golden
and a hot afternoon sun.
I’ve dreamt of open fields
Canonized in deep recesses of the mind
Fed through flickering frames
playing over and over
In the part of me
That has learned to love
Things that have never been mine.
I’ve dreamt of still lakes
Deep in a foyer of foliage
Disturbed by youth
Dashing through wet earth
Tearing through air
Creating ripples
That reach every edge
Of shores that swerve
The coastlines of consciousness.
I’ve dreamt of forests
Echoing the laughter of fireflies
A canopy of galaxies streaking
a fever of stars falling and
flaming just beyond fingertips.

It all comes so sudden now,
through the trees and the universe between us.
And though things don’t seem to change so much anymore,
I can’t seem to shake it off.

And if one day You are without me

And if one day
You are without me,
Meandering the dream of waking life-
An idle cloud blown by a breeze
On the cobalt palette of sky-
And you have left me behind
Because our love is dissipated,
Then
You should not look for me
In the prism of morning.
I will not be on the crest of any mountain,
Nor in the whispered weeps of the willow tree.
The latent waters of desire will not ripple with the stone of my memory.

But if the vines of uncertainty
Have gripped
And grounded you,
And you find yourself
Taking root,
And if I sit in the back of your mind-
Decomposing as leaves do and dark bark,
As the unhurried death of autumn does,
Then dig yourself into me,
Plant yourself in me.
And we will spring forth from the loam
Of our undying love.

You will not forget me so easily.

An Open Prayer

May I be pulled or chosen
from the clay, molded into
Something different.
I don’t remember
The last time I said his name.
Salt phantoms, air phantoms
Phantoms of the sun, of my
Father and the holy phantom.

My father’s ghosts wander my head
Stories of idyllic pastures
Of ditches brim, rifles slung
Endless walking into horizons.

Here my shadow leaves impressions
On the cushion, I never leave the
Comfort of my mind. I do battle
With head heroes
The heroes of my father,
All sun baked
Made mad with work
Maddening work
My father’s hands are cracked
And they bleed.
The chemicals too rough on the skin.

I inherited these legs from my mother
Ceaseless in rapport with the ground.
Her tales are never in open pastures
They retreat into bathroom stalls.

Here my shadow leaves no trace
Of belonging. I never leave the
Comfort of my mind. I do battle
With my mother’s head ghosts
Mother’s phantoms
All loving
Made mad with worry
Maddening mind
My mother chewed through her cuticles
And she bleeds
The stress is too rough on the mind.

I think of it now

I think of it now,
Before the revelation of you.
When I was thrown about
And floating away,
Like driftwood caught
in the push
and
pull of the sea.
I prayed
To the monument of loneliness
I thought was sanctuary,
I thought was truth and beauty.
I dragged myself further from shore,
Further from the lights and sound
Of the city,
Further from the hearth of home.

I think of it now,
Before the revelation of you.
When my heart knew, more than me,
That I would one day be buried
In the deep earth of your body,
In the profound night of your mouth
In the ineffable ocean of your breaking
eyes.

I think of it now,
Before the revelation of you.
How every line I wrote drew me,
Even then, closer
To the sanctuary of you.