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
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.

A passing through

Even now
a passing is stressed.
To be moved unto certainty is not
as they say, warranted, but
a passing is stressed.

And so
we move like we can,
to where we are able,
to figure our own fetters,
test our own limits,
draw ourselves out over
time and place and narrative,
into systems that
Fashion us of
recycled forms
and then, even then,
the passing is stressed.

Having been formed,
we move through meanings,
pass through moments.

To move from a place to another
is to make meaning:
displacement gives perspective
and perspective is romantic, makes
a shadow to romance
distance to nostalgia,
space to reflection.

We rise through all history
when we rise, but we
move through our own
frictions when we move,
and in this, the
passing is stressed.


A tenor struck is
made to toll, brought
to tendency and is driven,
taut and tense, it tends.
Unobstructed, it looms,
Resolves itself into atmosphere.

A tenor
holds its toll,
holds its tendency
to be driven
out and made to tense
before resolving to atmosphere if
it is left to loom,
undulate in its own language.

A tenor that moves
to toll is struck and
is left to loom. A
tenor to be taught
is struck and is left
to linger, undulate
in its own failures,
resolve in its own toll.

Given the dust

And the droughts, the flames
and the failures of vortex,
Given the dust and the floods,
and the blasphemies of hunger,
Given the dust and the poverty,
and the failures of economic titration,
Given the dust and the violence,
and the oppression of humanity
all ground down to dust,
And given this dust,
we will mote and mound, and
be reclaimed.

Let us

Let us end the
sudden urge, the sudden
travesty of hopelessness,
to be beat down in tedium,
to once be dust, once part now parcel, now urgent
now beat down in tedium
Let us be bent
and able, broke and able
Let us be nothing
more than dust, to drown
in our parts, to be down
and able, all part, all
broken and made up and able
and let us form
from our own fragments.
Let us be built
from our own foundations
Let us find our own fictions
Let us grow from our own
frames and frame our own
forms, and Let us function
with our own faculties.
Let us be built
from each other, Let us
be built in each other,
Let us build ourselves
without tearing down
an other.

A bell breaks

A bell, and
the break, and a bell, and
the break. A bell and the
straight at it, rect and able
stand and deliver, why don’t you
and the break, a toll first felt,
then out, in breaks,
a break and a bell,
the toll breaks out
in rooms, all along like pavement
breaks, and is broken.
A bell, and the break
and the toll that breaks is broken,
like pavement, all along, the bell
brings us along, the toll
breaks us out.

Dear professor

I am writing to let you know

I am no longer moved to write for you.
Though you hold symbols with such precision
(How you do this, I will never know)
The cold calculus of your theory has sterilized them.
In your effort to legitimize yourself
You have delegitimized art itself,
Pushed us further away from its center.

I learned too late there was no ivory tower,
there were no steps to climb,
No secret magic formula to your inculcations.
No, I learned too late that your eruditions are tautologies
That your tautologies are totems
That your totems are stakes
And that your stakes are entrenched in white supremacy
(This is true of most things)

Dear professor,
I am writing to let you know
That your Kingdom of Knowledge is Konsidered an affront to us.
That your theory is teeming with bigotry
That your laurels are dying
That your skin is showing
That your novels don’t hold up
That despite all the history you can muster
You’re forced to confront that above all:
You are guilty of the most primal sin.

Your kingdom rests on the primitive accumulation of knowledge.
Your kingdom forms the greatest real estate of curriculum.
Your kingdom shakes on a foundation of exclusivity.
Your kingdom teeters in its veracity to maintain itself.
Your kingdom creates the very scholars that will come for you.
Your erudition has shown me something you did not intend:
The fragility of your kingdom is in its figure,
It’s fettered by its own form.