Five Poems, Mostly About Places and Pasts

Auguries: Dias De Los Muertos

The patina of brown feathers scatter
across the old lienzo charro, replacing
horses which cars have rendered

long irrelevant. I throw the sugared
bread of the dead for them to pick
apart. The altars and their marigolds

are heaped into trash. The old world
tampering away. I can’t hold but find
the sugar skulls funny, and brings

a giggle. A lover once, between
frustrated kisses and a bad film
about demonology wryly said:

You are the kind of man who
finds decapitation by a power
line humorous. At least from

a distance. Something has
to feed the crows. Breaking a bough,
a toddler climbs at a tree,

in my broken Spanish, I offer
her some of bread as she watches
me break down the day

into bits for the birds. She bends
down to my hand and takes some.
As I walk home, I think of catrinas

kissing as the paint fossilizes
into the rigid morrow,
passion becomes rattling love.

The dust in my hair, desert dry
skin. Memory. Black-brown
feathers. What happened to her?


Upon All Things, Rock

-for Robinson Jeffers

Fiat iustitia, ruat caelum.

The desert chafes into the scars
of a ranchero, baked into the bricks
and cactus, with agave and joshua
trees brimming along the edges
of the highway. Here, stitched

into wishes and half-dreams,
the road – it gashes into the sand,
and hawk flits down into the ash,
wing-broken and heat-drenched.
Plenty of men die here, so hard

to mourn a hawk, and in this
war or next, there will be bleached
bones. I have no gun for the hawk,
although it would be blessing. The
Federales drive past, no bullet for
the bird. I take a stone, let my hand

burn for the penitence of mercy,
and drop as the hawk hunts the last
minutes. We get into the pick-up,
vinyl seat heated to magma point:
stones are justice in the desert,
bleak words akin to prayers.

Two Above Originally Published at Australian Latino Press

Nightmare (Re)Canto #1

’We do NOT know the past in chronological sequence. It maybe convenient to lay it out anesthetized on the table with dates pasted on here and there, but what we know we know by ripples and spirals eddying out from us and from our own time.’’ – Ezra Pound, Guide to Kulchur

“Amor, che a nullo amato amar perdona,
Mi prese del costui piacer sì forte,
Che, come vedi, ancor non m’abbandona…”- Dante Aligheri, Inferno

The dreams that come are not our own;

since most hymns are murder ballads,
reminding us the cost of sacrifices: Resistenza
leave the bodies of Germans for flies
in the Via Triumphale, Garibaldi brigades

breaking themselves against the cobble
stones in the return machine gun rattle,
from the blood springs the ladder
for descend into the forests of limbo, twisted
by proxy to hell and history. All this history

has no past.The sky opens like a split,
bloated belly. Changeling, the circles have
collapsed in on themselves, Clara Petacci
hangs in the trees as decoration. Virgil has no

commentary. We should cast away these memories
ephemerally imposing themselves in half-reflected
radiance. Confusion in tense. The gnashing
of teeth. We can walk on the skulls of bishops
and poets who scribbled in cages in Pisan, awaiting
trial for treason. The hallow light is on the film
charred by burning stones, but images remain
and the world of man paralyzed from the visions

to explain the past: Obviously, an unknown country.

So is the present, Changeling. We both know.
This. Stars racings. Breaking down as the forest
grows ever higher. Tangled in the light of a past
dreams, ambivalent men flee into the valley

of broken and dead. This animal life. Pulses.
No place in dreams. The partisans march pass
the noble pagans. Riffles rusting near the river
Styx. No boatman coming. No boat calls. Nothing.

Coheres. Flags are made red. With the bleeding.

Changeling, let us avoid the Via Roma. The fire.
Decomposes even the language. To speak of what.
We see. We must forfeit our tongues. Only fire
can speak our nightmare. No chant to recant or redeem.

Originally Published at The Thing in Itself Journal


According to the Hebrews
all men are named from mud,
gargled forth in painful sculpting
formed of under-kilned clay.
Half-made, flesh slumping
like a toothpaste tube squeezed
in the center. Dirt to dust,
all things considered, isn’t
too bad in the end: the body
breaks, beloved, and in the
breaking scatters out
in headwinds until the name
stains not only the crafting
aprons but also the fire
of the forger.


Moving my books out of baggage
a brown hair from my wife
brushes my hand. Fissure
and erasure. Trace of small
moment, even the hair
without the scent, dialectic
pull of the memory. Loss.
Once there was a love
story. Once a beginning,
middle, end. Here absence
stalls and sputters. Trace
of keratin, cutting of crown,
moving her here, a bleak
scar across a page and palm.
Everything apart pulls back
together. Gently tucking
the hair into my pocket,
I become ellipses
as if I can reconstruct
specters from loss.

The Above Two Originally Published in Ann Arbor Review

Limitations: Tone to Tone

Much has been said on thunderous silence:
the gradual unmooring of the voice you hear,
long half-drowned in the inky past, and if the
scream you have choked back, kicked open
your lips and drank the greenish air. There

is more to say on nothing than can be said:
someone is feeding sparrows, someone is
becoming the small world, and sparrows
fly to become nations, and nations become
noise, and noise, the parataxis. Like a

hawk, voice wants to ride a mechanical
horse into the heaven, break the harmony
of the planets, and place the notes in new
order, place the notes into a chorus only
silence hears. The silence knows how

to rumble the bones, how to cut to the
quick, how to feed sparrows, to end
the end chirping, how to unsing
the national anthems, how to take
away the hymn of a land that was
never ours in the first place.

Originally published at Union Station Magazine.

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