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.

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.

Tenor

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.

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.

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.

Ekphrasis on the poet

The poet
Having performed her words
Settled into a chair
To be seen
Heard

To give her view on writing.
She reads manuscripts
Has been published in the New York Times.

O to bear witness to her gesticulations!

She was to teach us how to write
How to circle the unknowable and
battle the silence in white.

I learned that maybe I
misunderstood it all. How to
break a line or catch
a thought.

“I’m falling behind.”
You said as we walked to our vehicles
And we both agreed
We weren’t sure which race we were losing
Or had even begun.

But she made us feel that way.
She boasted about tossing out manuscripts
Entire dreams in
Trash bins for the misuse of a word
or ending a line in some way unacceptable.

She told a story of her mother
And we felt her vulnerability,
She is not without talent.
She told us of a marble statue, of a picture
And the poem she had written about it all.
Connections made in her Electric mind.
She talked about being
published in the New York Times
A poem about her mother,
in her own words
“acrostic”.