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what are stars but question marks

left in grass dew-form hiatuses

in the longing the hand has searching

for its soul the distant and perfervid

traffic of nerve and sinew echoing

some archaic rock come to rest

on the western edge of water where

the likely sun will set its dizzy head

what is the cosmos but inches of sand

that form the left bank of the stream

eddying ever downwards past nymphs

transformations of shadow and air

in contact with the greater gods who

circle the unapproachable heat of time

and what are children taking naps

but embodiments of death and ink

small remnants of a memory whose

history has long gone lost in the night

we it is who are the amnesiacs blank

with an aphasia of plundered alphabets

myths bereft of a center ever dwindling

in stone and grief half-statues carved

from atmospheres of lunar serenity

not meant to speak right nor to see

and hear as marble sculptures can

in their infinite dream of light




the spine still hot from fever

yet already walking barefoot

in grasses wet with dew distilled

by the sun now an opaque orb

declining in the western hills

a myth of life and breath and

the great and fortuitous guesses

about light and the origins of time

and given the small space for the

soul to escape and the multiple

days of water left in the pool

with its obsidian reflections and

even the Aztecs who have taken

quarter on the south-side of legend

where the maize fields reach deep

into the prospect of another world

shadow figures of the many-gone

moving in shifts of pearl and

agate and the voices too high

above in a sky separated from

its own surface and the talking

going on beneath beds of leaf

and coral isn’t it a wonder

you declaim in an archaic rhetoric

strictly speaking to blackboards

and the chalks of pure imagination

erecting libraries of untold verse

anemones of ocean and spittle

yards where unconfirmed children

spill over the little abysses shouts

that bring twilight to its knees

and the overt speculation about

madness and the splendors of weed

justice of the spoon and the horse

noontimes in the bedlam of memory

lunching with angels long dead

the massive cliffs overnight and

trumpets of vowel and diphthong

splitting the verger into unequal

hemispheres of bucolic and reverie

you keep making noises and rust

and its train of thought circling

mirrors of heat and the abacus

that lacks hands to count and

all the higher mathematics grown

red in the corner of the mind

that begins to see backwards into

the zero formulated by dying

just at the hour when moon and

steam conspire to shape the inks

of whatever it is that can be read

even as layers of silence mount

and wall and spool threaten

the remains of dust beautiful

spirals climbing pedestals of flame

into the depths of the galactic sea

the mind its portents of lasting

a longing to aspire to a dream

of the only thing that ever meant

to be the hand become inert

in its immense digital map

syntax and index of the finger

pointing to the maze of azure

air and its vanishing suburbs

fleeing forever into the past

you continue to declaim and

nothing ever comes back of that

passage through the underworld

asphodel blooms gone blind in

the inextinguishable lamp

rose and counter-rose paling

in the forever of an afterthought

has not been and what else

evening the fade of all




what will the thermometer read tonight ?

will the new marble learn to speak by noon ?

why is there but one hour to this solemn day ?

why were we turned away at the entrance ?

why did the gatekeeper cryptically remark

that Wednesdays were no longer allowed ?

which was the path to the dead language

and which the bend in the road to oblivion ?

what was the task to finish before daybreak ?

why did angels scour the veins of the absent ?

who was the one chosen to live in solitude ?

are there anemones to be picked for the cure ?

do asphodels hold the answer to immortality ?

do women mourning the petrified god

understand that before and after death

there is a light that only sleep can explain ?

why are numbers missing from the count ?

why is three greater than eight in the fusion ?

who is to relay the secret to the missing page ?

what is the letter of the alphabet which is the clue ?

what is the multiplicand that informs the pyramid ?

why do we keep being turned away from the gate ?

are there immensities in space that revolve

after the last full moon has bled the sky ?

why is there a sobbing in the leaves ?

who has left his feet behind as a consolation ?

who will remember to call home before twilight ?

who will tread on the grasses of absence ?

who will be elected to shut all the windows ?

will the chill of the stars finally invade the mind ?

why do we mill around in small groups

unknown to one another and expect absolution ?

who is the stranger dressed in archaic myth ?

which of us by nightfall will be smitten by Apollo ?

why has the gate been removed from sight ?

who will hold the sacred branch trembling with fear ?

which of the heavens will open up unexpectedly

raining down a silence of many eternities ?

will the one smitten by Apollo learn to die ?

will the statues that have sprung up overnight

offer us the enigma and punctuation of their being ?

why are there so many signs written in dust ?

which is the urn and which is the pedestal ?

why is the city we left behind burning ?

why is the city we left behind reduced to smoke ?

is there a single memory we can share before

passing on to the world of the unbegotten ?

are the minutes remaining the same as the ones

we experienced this morning before setting out ?

is there dew in the tumult of the galaxies ?

is there anywhere we can go after this ?

will the one smitten by Apollo learn to die ?




in a wheelbarrow they brought us

the remains of memory a pair of sleeves

some shoes without soles and buttonholes

overhead light rolled in waves like glass

in the field crickets were sewing a song

out of heat monotony and oblivion

it was the year without a face the month

called eternity and days like small cups

cracked and waiting on shelves of dust

the women who emerged from a myth

of trees and stone were heavy with names

like Daphne Persephone and Echo mirages

beautiful as a reminiscence of water in the hills

winds stopped to repair the chasm of noon

the sun with its enormous whetstone

seemed to be charged like an open wound

slowly removing its shadow from the sky

and voices of rock and sand like elves

that populate the ear of something dead

found by the side of the road resounded

incoherent with distance and longing

girls too without age pretty as amaryllis

growing in the crevices of earth approached

hands full of dirt clods & insect skeletons

chanting the miasma of an archaic trope

listening carefully to their rounded vowels

we ascertained nothing of their history

only the enormous and blank spaces

left behind by the syntax of moonlight

grief and mourning grass and shade

was there anything else to the Hour ?

we looked again into the wheelbarrow

smaller than we recalled hands folded

over his breast fragile as a hummingbird

sleeves shoes and buttonholes the remains

of memory a face emphasized by silence

and the hair as ever wonderfully unkempt



para mi hermana Laurita

between Sanskrit and Greek and the homophones

of sun moon and pyramids the Mexico of a vast

nostalgia and indifference infancies of grammar

soundings of lyre and petroglyph in the memory

of parks too vast to enter the looming sword aflame

proscriptions in the history of ants and bees and

the trembling edifice of water forty two stories high

from which the feathered ancestors leap fearless

and the mound and heaven of garbage at the bottom

people in miniature talking the fast dialect of puppets

painted to resemble the totem god of crocodile and

fossil and eventually the big language of despair

surging down avenues of pure advance and intellect

the hieroglyphic novels of the conquistadores red

and ochre and yellow and basalt inches of carving

the nursemaid Chabela in her uniform of starch

and ivory crying because the rope doesn’t go far

enough nor the interior clothing of Baby Krishna

twelve sizes larger than the ink it takes to write

his hagiography and the imposing latitudes of

the tropics museum and nightclub alike where stoned

pianists rival the conga drummer for supremacy

Moctezuma and Cuauhtemoc in black face dancing

the irrigated walk of the illegal immigrants sent

north for imitating living versions of Europeans

claxon and fire-horn and Siren filling the ear

with a lasting impression of trumpet and syllable

bringing down the insurance industry and fraud

to a single violent vowel on Avenida Insurgentes

such was the infancy and childhood and recollection

of flowers and waters floating in mid-air haze

of late twentieth century Infierno of world coming

to its Berlitz lesson too late and the clamor and iron

at the gates and the Policía who forgot to dress

charging a riot of shadows and ampersands loudly

inflicting their empty suitcases on the swarming

at the head of an Antillean revolution and distance

created by megaphones and the phonograph records

that repeat Perfidia way past midnight in the woven

skyscraper of mental aberration sleepless and yearning

for a weather of silent catastrophes deep in the jungle

sylvan emotions lunations of circular heat enormous

with the fictions of Valum Votan space traveler twin

of an orient that cannot be translated and to come home

and simply regress to a small cosmos of maps imagined

or otherwise spread out on the living-room floor nowhere

outside the boundaries of stellar dialogue and loss

me and you, Joe




the last voices of the day faint echoes

on the failing stairway that goes nowhere

now the smoking edifice of recollection

lingering under the glazed stare of a god

whose immortality is circumscribed

in a distant childhood of petrified thunder

and horizontal rains the now vanished

summers of rock palaces and grass domes

the subterfuge of life and breath a distance

that consists of lost sunlight and hills

and when twilight with its umber curtains

begins to descend and the mind too starts

to shut down its effervescence and bright

the numinous entities of a vast and unknown

Night seem to ignite perilous lamps unspoken

markers of a voyage around the bend

from the familiar to the dusky entrails

of a labyrinth of no-return and yet

the lingering voices the faltering echoes

of a final day of an hour in a parking lot

waiting for the chandelier of salvation

to somehow turn its candles into beacons

that will light the way out of the impossibilities

the unavoidable truths the stagnation of hope

does nothing resolve the knot of existence ?

footsteps traces of passing spheres red and green

a pharmacopeia of illusion and glassware

mirrors that turn on their own axis slowly

revealing then hiding the shadows of reflection

how far does sound travel in the beyond ?

where will the body released of its tensions

find itself when the next day dawns unseen ?

in the transformation of shards and ash

the outlines of a missing spirit and logos

seem to beckon us towards canyons awesome

with geological attitudes massive and remote

impersonality of a final reckoning ricocheting

through stone and liquid alike the voices

the last ones heard in the province of memory

long unwinding sinuous disorientations

like footprints in the dissolving air

beneath a sky of everlasting heat and light



it wasn’t just the hand that lacked gravity

but the plenitude and aura and print information

about thought and gyrating icons losing shape

and color and the insects at the barrier wanting in

the walls no longer visible the seas at the window

with their gravel of nocturnal longing and

passing by the phantom automobiles with their

wet tires sleek against the concrete leaving

behind traces of possible worlds of mountains

beneath the poetry of air and light and why go on

the body remained in its ineffable posture

as if asking questions no one could ever answer

expecting oracular lamps to shine on the enigma

enveloping the husk of breath swiftly departing

and what was there to say and listening carefully

to the weeping among the flowers without name

in the corridors and doors opening and closing

of their own and always the distant drone of a soul

testing its wings in an aleatory attempt at flight

whatever there was of weight and consequence

was of no moment now only the cracks in space

widening to let childhood out to vanish somewhere

in the greater horizon before time and grass and ink

the last yearning traces of an unremembered dream

invoked the elusive dance of immobility




for Will Alexander

by what bullet of the imagination does it take

to comprehend these unforgettable pages

pronominal structures carved out of ozone

decibels of ego-free echo threading through

planet X just before sunrise a mass of rock

silhouetted against the third ear of tomorrow

and sub-molecular implosions waking the Self

to its hydrated energy of baroque syncopation

basso profundo mirror syntax and snaking

vertebral chakras up the solar panel outside

the first of five hundred verb systems meant

to obliterate pre-historic mythography a writ

in spoiled red staining the epidermis of Venus

with an indo-european tattoo horse cult and

magnet drawing from terrestrial ores a

configuration of metallic noun declensions

wild as nebulae out of control mentally speaking

the talk of the sub-continent the Dravidian iso-

lation of the dreamer in his stoned arm of tense

articulation bound to the air by satellites of water

vast and cycling lunations that halve the head

into thirds by dawn and the stellar speculation

about the origins of space the fecund and orbiting

adjective that gives birth to pyramids of sound

homophones of sphinx and delta the vast suns

that formulate chemical psychologies into round

formulae second only to the gassed outer horizons

that encapsulate pre-natal experiences nostalgic

with ritual deaths totem animals liberated from

a lore of deity and demon a whole savanna of winds

detritus of space travel in the ear of Dionysus

oozing from a Sicily of augury and divination

volcanic substance of memory at last cataloged

by eons of buried cities of seas that do not travel

of entire languages buried in sand and magma

the lava of time ! the lava of time ! the lava of time !

frozen yet circulating through Amazon liana

ivy and grass and weed growths in the ocular zone

just beneath the fever of temporal accidents

free-wheeling sapphire in its cluster of phonemes

becoming and not being undefined as existence

plural in its singularity like woman who has

risen from the empyrean of dew rock-crystal

and longing the outer firmament of thought

which concludes the lesson of oblivion skin

and song of dying unto the soul mineral verse

of the Phlegethon burning its centuries of liquid

the small trembling and vitreous thimble of jazz

Coletrane redivivus !




dónde los jotos de las cabezas rotas

pasando entre humo y humo aun más

delicados que las abejas de nieve de

los inviernos piramidales sujetos a las

leyes lunares de las noches fuera del año

me encuentro también niño de pantalones

de sueño corto al llegar al umbral fantasmal

pidiendo limosna de miel y calaveras tontas

hermano sin hemisferio de todos los ahogados

en la pantalla oscura de la muerte repentina

quién me pregunta si soy ángel o colibrí ?

como puedo saber si el número preciso

de las hormigas que van entrando la nube

que llena mi alma es cien o cien mil ? abajo !

pongo el pie izquierdo en cima de una latitud

de mares solares sin espina dorsal sin ojos

nomás pescados eléctricos nadando en busca

de la oreja ciclópica que existe al otro lado

del planeta rayo-X y todavía estoy aquí en

el mero centro de Xochimilco abuelo de mi

abuelo hijo de hueso y colibrí volando

con hembras que no han visto la luz

entre los metales redondos de los cielos

neolíticos hablando con las letras indescifrables

de Micenas un dialecto enterrado por las hierbas

de las rodillas de los conquistadores turcos

en su marcha hacia la alucinación europea

pero nada puede ser hoy ! ni tampoco ayer !

porque nadie sabe hablar como las luciérnagas

perdidas entre los matorrales de las afueras

de la ciudad aún no descubierta de Moctezuma

trueno blanco ! relámpago ciego del norte mudo !

caminos revueltos en su lecho de cero y alfa

lumbre de azafrán que crece como el árbol

del olvido única oposición a las hojas sangrantes

esas cosas nimias derramadas por un dios

desconocido sobre las aguas infernales

que suben pie tras pie el polvo muerto

de la bruja Circe y yo atravesando su isla

yo ! colibrí loco del pasado de la piedra pelada

colibrí enamorado ! colibrí estúpido !

donde están tus alas ?




the year more than half gone since you went

back into the invisible mountain to flower

again to renew the direction of your compass

to turn in your arms for elastic wings

more than half gone since you subtracted yourself

from the x-ray and the multiple prescriptions

from the puzzle of remaking yourself daily

attached to machines that recorded vital signs

what need had you of those artifacts anymore ?

the cosmos in a blink offered you the thrill

of flight interminable wonders of starry light

in all the hues imaginable and time itself

wound itself around the shape of your hand

and aloft you went cruising like a hummingbird

collecting the pollens of ecstasy and memory

inevitabilities of oblivion and space travel

such as you once imagined on Montague street

on a bicycle as if floating through clouds

over the demesne of the roiling bay waters

of the metropolis where you earned your life

as a pilot of plastic space-craft legitimacy

pivoting higher and higher over skyscrapers

and libraries the kite of your own fabrication

unraveling labyrinthine threads as you soared

master of the azure keeper of secret thunders

your eye on the fast winds that govern air

and the moon in its many phases where you

can land and observe distant earth revolving

far from the confusion it had once created when

your mind took a turn around the unexpected


more than six months now since you decided

yes the body is only weight and shadows can

be left behind to determine their own fates

you had learned and taught what you learned

to those too inept to figure it all out

you have become sleek a streaking flash

in the night heavens which we scour looking

for the brilliant dust of your swift passage

into eternity a micronaut at last




was it a cloud we fought for an empty blouse

lineaments of blue air and the big hair

that belongs to the goddess of distance come

all undone combs pins ribbons and all

the battlements on which we saw her walking

the ditch and trophy and randy dogs sniffing

phantom footsteps the very din of battle

dusting the noon of eternity in her dark eyes

we never looked deep enough into the pockets

where she hid her valuables nor spoke once

with her in the dressing room nor touched

the illusion of her powdered skin as she

flitted by in organdy and tulle and a wisp

of swan wings the door that shut on memory

the fluid device at the center of the poem

that could turn either way moon-rise or

toward the sun setting in the ochre Tuscan hill

a mass of versions of beauty at its prime

girls who turn mirrors into antiseptic weapons

the mature woman at the top of the marble steps

the mad priestess raving in her honeyed cups

mistress of bees the divergent shadow in

search of its body the spool and increment

of rumor spooking the dry wells and baths

how many the rushing waters of a sleep

engendered by a vanishing desire to hold just

once with arms of substance the ghost woven

from the thin threads of myth the primordial

lesson of stone learning to move and talk

a statue and nothing more borne on a ship

bound for Asia Minor and the wheeling birds

above fog and surf and dim mirage of land

sighted by the primitive eye for the first time cliffs

promontories of white clay absences of grammar

shipwreck and victory of ants on the shoreline

darkening like an evening looking for stars

what a lack of trust in the fleeting bodice

the sweep of the unfurling dress skimming

the threshing floors of Phrygia the eye-liner

blacker than the Nile’s deposits and lip-gloss

disappearing in the glass of irreversible thought

minds blown up ! the spear aimed at the stag

leaping mountain peaks of pure longing

sign and delusion tooth set on the fine hide

hands from nowhere taking ink from its shape

shuddering because she has been nowhere

if not in the disappearing lines recited by the bard

silences without echo margins without space

what is in between the gods ? typography

and punctuation of the hieroglyphs of time

reductions of sand and flame lies of the pyramids

let her bed alone in the vast abyss leave her

to the imaginary lions of chalk and brush

a painted ivy a sequence of embroidered leaf

platinum and aura detritus and ebbing tide

flimsy breeze and vowel ricocheting in rock

the named and the unnamed bride amnesia !




if it’s not the shadow it’s the mirror

that defines the soul’s miscomprehension

about the body and all that lies beyond

the hand extended toward its shape

somewhere in the infinite azure of sleep

the possibilities of a chance encounter

with the other in this labyrinth remain

as minimal as the deciphering of hieroglyphs

buried in the sands of pharaonic oblivion

be we as midges or fireflies lost in this

nocturnal maelstrom where is the hole

though which we may though wounded

flutter away into the abyss of the heavens ?




     “tutti li termini de la beatitudine”


we are waiting for the echo of the sun

for the great bipartite wound of the hand

unable to recognize its day has come and

clouds as ancient as the first star motionless

in the molecular distance of the late sky

come down to earth ! fossil angels spanning

the vast and remote literatures of water

and time and pure mountains erupting

in the silent violence of their own rebirth

can dust and the opaque bruised and ochre

hills and the dense occidental shadows ?

it is dawn in the heart’s upper chamber

fleeting counsels of love and nostalgia

moments when mortals fixed in a trance

spend their breath masquerading as owls

or bees hovering in the accident of air

from afar tremors announce an end

vacuities of thought perils of language

unholy oaths trembling on the stoned lip

we are on Columbus Avenue looking

for glassware and hoodoo of the zodiac

minstrels singing in 13th century Italian

arrest us searching our pockets for signs

of the earthquake the Big One the lesson

the forest of vitreous skyscrapers begins to

shake prepared to take the sun from its orbit

everyone knows the heavens are quantum physics

in reverse and stars archaic Neolithic letters

set to burn in the unresolved orient of a Buddha

convicted for distributing alms on pier 19

inevitable quaking of the elements ! RED !

storefronts collide in confession of capitalism

neon and anthracite and silicon ! when is it ?

the hours mount within their stop-watch

planet Mercury addresses the virgin Beatrice

at the nexus of Broadway and the Sacred

minutes defenestrate the weeks it takes

for the second light year to collapse !

Beatitudes ! heliotrope and infinity

in every window the selfsame Devotion

quivering minutely irrepressibly beautiful

her hands lifted to the origins of Space

Annunziata ! temblor and echo-chamber

the sun divided into its five thousand parts

explodes in ecstasy of the Cyclops’ eye





Oh great the bright and happy the , poetry

for we only live this once this one , day

and spring has flowered and sung its green

and to summer much did heat in cycles grieve

‘til now finds us at autumn’s pastel hearth

a burning leaf a loss of every kind , the Oh

famous poetry of license and fervent nerve

was love at once , a time ago and now forlorn

echo of the past it sings a chaos a splendid

music a radio-wave a blue fountain a , for

a day a king and crossed in verse a thousand

years and dared to wage and fling an arm

high into the empyrean and sing ! the still

and hush the marmoreal silence stolen

kisses from the bier and hair a tousle and

wings forged from grass to fly ! sing ! die !

archaic always rock beneath and footsteps

and velvet the crosiers and flaming flutters

a banner flagged in frozen air and Memory

the chaos of the brain a song to sing a lyre

to bend a wire to snap in the ungodly hour ,

an air , wind soughing through branches wild

a tangle of insomniac measures and aphasia

the diphthongs unstrung and the class photo !

live only once and we do so this is a day a single

one to joy and sorrow both aligned a steep

wall to climb some stones to hurl and water

too a passage into the darkened rivulet and

face down call out to , the , O mighty it is

poetry the vacuum and the stars a fringe

of little spangles asterisks commas a deluge

when chaos to articulate this black hole the

unwinding of the reverie the dream I dreamt

and did you, O pronoun of the second person ,

come high this very time this instant reversed

and once only we live you and I this day is

only and never again embraced like moss

to bark and swoon come evening and the hills

come rolling from their bed and the child

who in his blanket of never will again and

so much else with alpha and zed the unread

page the lost chapter the amazing chaos rent

in two the very syllable of once upon a , the

endings are in the head the dice like eyes

tossed on the ivory shield and come ! late

is the sky full blown and dazzled the daisies

in their small yellow heaven and finally the

and the again which never a place to find

this day of once lived , you and the first

person pronoun , I , chaos to navigate and

poetry erased by its own desire to sing

the song of the , chaos the broken light

the distance and the endless swarming




when does it stop making sense ?

light in a wide swath over mountains

and distances devouring the all visible

to make of a year this dark plaint

that spreads its Mexico over the past

glyph and lip and protruding tongue

when does it cease to matter ?

each single day but a moment erased

by an Aztec hand fingering dead texts

why circle again this non-existent now

this wild red dot full of the bright ones

dwelling in their thought of eternity

yet crash the skies in their thimble

full of ruin rust and waste to burn

and pyramids by some divinity built

erected to pierce the language-heaven

but illusion and mockery of feathers

what need to plant again the lyric seed

the root that grapples with earth below

summoning crazed shades of Coatlicue

lament and lachrymose her sad vowels

threnody that visits all before day is done

crepitation of wheel spoke and axle

clouds done up in blazing raiment

to remind that behind unruly space

nothing but nothing exists to contemplate

why proceed into the future dense

with shadows disconsolate and confused

to none offered the syllable of grace

the weeping shoulder the unfixed planet

gyrating in the consonant of sleep

the endless series of calendar events

it never happened it never was the stone

the spool of things the names and suns

histories of uncarved stone and sand

routines of myth the glamorous

speaking parts and statues of the Half

it is but once and once is forever gone

tick and tock the whirling universe

manifest troubling galaxies of the eye

song that poured into the restless ear

a tone a dim bell ringing echo of dust

what else to give to the vacant heart

but hieorglyphs of eternal silence

when does it stop making sense ?




                         “vas a morir como 1 ganglio de luz”

                               Mario Santiago Papasquiaro

on the alert , alive , to fix , to die , alight

in Teotihuacan the old , dust engravings ,

peacock feathers , Aztec stone hatchets ,

the lake in which submerged the light

will turn to rock , erase the etchings ,

fill the veins with paroxysms , Greek

annotations in the sewers of DF , to rise

to the bucolic and skewer the air , sing !

at no other time in this history , boulevards

that only go the other way , symptoms

of cardiac arrest , allegations of child mole-

station , of the cross and the flower , the

dead garden , fuchsias of pure bone , com

-munism , murals that cover a volcano ,

myth of beards and paraplegia , hospitals

without beds , beds without deaths , the whole

in atavistic corruption , claxons , outhouses ,

the junkie on the corner of Hate and Derision ,

pouring anthracite into his veins , president

of the Roman empire shouting in Toltec ,

slogans of painted winds , asbestos storms ,

Mercury ! , patina of red and cuprous , a

solution for water , a debacle in the sardine ,

here will we stop to memorize , here will we

cease to function , living matter in excess ,

on the left Calle Tula , sardonic apses , lists

of alphanumeric planets , disregard for art ,

singled out for its hair-piece , the ice-pick and

the police button , on their knees the shoulders ,

how do we find refuge in poetry ? shibboleth ,

anarchosyndicalism on the rise , 110 storey

structures wobbling like tin , furious to know ,

the next visit to the Intensive Care Unit , will

be the last , paragraphs of medical lies , cell

counts disturbed , mourning and misery ,

sad and tender , this was the hand that held ,

these the feet , couldn’t stay put , couldn’t

find direction , and so it goes



your voice tender and tragic addressed

each of the ambulances parked in front

asking if they had your soft Achilles

wounded an ankle at a time on the shore

where were the traveling bed and sheets

wrapped around the phantom figure ?

how did the deities transport him from

the lonesome strand to solitary con-

finement in the illusory Phrygian uplands ?

your syllables riveted with anguish and

foreboding while the invisible wheel of fate

blotted out the sun in its slow gyration

that afternoon ! how many times would

it remain engraved in monumental silence

granite and marmoreal forever distant

who was to pick up the trail outward

to the planet where the Sisters weave

mortal limits on the plangent loom

beyond boundaries of ink and sand

that define what memory is to the gods

a mere reflection in running mercury

puerperal fever and syntax of loss

catastrophic ruin nerve of black tears

yet there they stood the impassive vehicles

that transport the mortally wounded

to an Elysium of benediction and grief

and the unseen fists of your anguish

pounding on the irreversible metal

come back ! don’t go ! be visible !

your cries sea-swept in the tumult that

bears away echoes of heat and sorrow

you stood on the threshold of infinity

not comprehending yet knowing always

there are waters mountains and mysteries

and deep within these the seed of light

the immemorial child the brevity




                   for Cassandra, the pre-Raphaelite

the three and the nine and all they multiply

threshold of the stars or a blank paper

void of eternity divided by zero !

Cocytus and Lethe wailing and oblivion

and even further down to the south of the dead

where waste and detritus of mind pile up

shines in raiment manifold hues of bright

in every shade misty the distant Beatrice

who has seen and held forth in verse and file

triptych of the heavenly and untouchable

painted face of neo-platonic reverie a lily

blooming in the upheld hand to the clouds

and their seed and flux all shaking a vast

summer of elements unnamed and never

to be ascertained the finger that sketches

fog and dew of the afterlife and the lip

trembling that aspires to the blessings

accorded to the innocent and undefiled

the artist unconscious of his sentient skin

deep at work in unfathomable night brings

to life the absent one the profile and outline

of light the numerology of the ancient poet

adding dividing multiplying subtracting

mystical apparatus of the number of words

it takes to define the emptiness of space

the grounded rule of time left in her eyes

quivering sensibilities of flowers ablaze

sensuous at the root and ready to be devoured

by the Sun in his constant turning flame

how doth the animal in the brain Sleep ?

in the temple of stone and incense prayers

radiate their somnolence to the unspoken

rustle of silks and waters somewhere a music

wrapped in Damascus cloths and porphyry

mosaics she leaves beneath her waking feet

ciphers hieroglyphs of incumbent Beauty

at one with the nothing that comes before

birth and the divining grace of invisibility

aloft can she be lifted by soft atmospheres

legends of the heart and resin of intellect

given over to devotion and contemplation

her one body no body at all adolescence

of angels descending on the endless Thread

to take in her very absence the Whole

setting above it the Rose and dissolving

it over and over in adamantine silence




which was the hieroglyph that interpreted you ?

was it the leaf learning to read the light

and what it has to say descending on its ladder

of invisible floral patterns and moon thoughts ?

you reached out for a handful of air

to define your true being the essential inner you

great internal blossoming of sand and rock

imprinted with the hearsay of the archaic

enormous unfolding waves of letters

missives from secret gods hidden in liquid gold

what their mouths were telling you in a language

of fever and ancient fingerprints HOIL

which you wrote in your mysterious passage

to the underworld riding the enigmatic thunder

deep into the recesses far beyond the cathode ray

where lightning bugs and fairy princes toiled

to remove the blister from the mind

intelligence of a higher order spatial careening

within the thumb and its aureole you held aloft

staring at times for an eon into the miasma

and corolla of the bedside plant emerging

from the souls of the Philipino or Nigerian nurses

who helped you turn from one hemisphere to the other

blazing ingots of midnight spheres swirling

in the forever of your crabbed Egyptian handwriting

Child-of-my-Heart ! how could I know that to

pick you up and address your frail weight

was an error a millimeter of breath and truth

misunderstanding of the hundred thousand isotopes

that converged to remove your body from its

burning and naked shadow the one and the two

that summed you up between the galaxies

that were either coming to a sublime end

or that were just being born again




     “Vaya noche antiBuñuel / antiDalí”

               Mario Santiago Papasquiaro

conduct of the black sun rising

more ephemeral than the mountains

he destroys and the shocking white steeds

that draw his cart shaking their atrocious heads

earth drenched in the infernal dream of air

turns ever so slowly on its illusory equator

Brazilians in epic of drowning manatee/nymphs

Peruvians stoned on antediluvian heights

and mostly Toltecs wardens of holy Peyotl

day bright lyric of all the dead troubadours

aroused from their Provenzal tombstone dialect

sing the thousand and ten Muses of dereliction

ominous bird springs of Etruscan augurs

lesser still the ocean lifting his hoary head

above archipelagos of petrified byzantine saints

waking to insane ululation of an unseen muezzin

all of the Libyan sands that still mourn Dido

moaning in the crystallized ear of the Nile

we are borne on frigates of moon-rock across

Scylla and Charybdis reciting pentameters

of the Mort d’Arthur to the hallowed winds

that govern gods of Dawn and deathless time

to be cast on the spent mutilation of statues

waiting for dread Phrygian taxis to haul

them back to the monumental quarries of Pluto

Alba ! sounds of wet traffic and trolley cars

through the labyrinthine Medina of the soul

held captive to beds of irreconcilable nostalgia

our ghost bodies permeated with alcohol

and sandalwood struggle to remember exactly

what–names and identities remain locked

behind vast panes of vibrating refulgent glass

flimsy partitions between infinite tidal waves

junk of the fading stars falling like confetti

Pegasus narcotic spoon-fed delivery to the brain

suffused animus of infernal to be the once and

only blues bringing its funereal saxophone loud

to this world of ours which has lost its center

the child replica of the holiest sacrifice the mind

bifurcations of infra-red and tumult of breath

alone and away on surges of oneiric miasma

waters of burning errata and oblivion

of a demonic morning text

buenos dias , compañeros !








3 comments so far ↓

  • 1 Andrew Joron // Oct 8, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Ivan Argüelles is one of the great visionary poets of our time. Alternactive deserves credit for featuring his work.

  • 2 Jack Foley // Oct 8, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    A wonderful selection. Thank you. Ivan Argüelles has produced a body of work rooted in his Mexican-American heritage, but this body of work is unlike anything anyone in any ethnic group has ever produced. Though it is indeed Chicano poetry and is sometimes produced in Spanish, it does not limit itself to purely ethnic themes but ranges widely over a vast array of subjects and cultures, including the Classical world of Greece and Rome. It is in fact an immense trumpet call for new modes, new possibilities of “Chicanismo.” Initially grounded in the Spanish variety of Surrealism, Argüelles’ poetry swiftly began to transform itself into an instrument that communicates before it is fully—or sometimes even partially—understood. It is simultaneously “difficult”—restless, full of “references”—but also immediate, visceral. It cannot be “explicated.” Moving beyond Catholic Mexico/Catholic Spain into the even darker roots of Catholicism, Argüelles’ imagination explores the deeply pagan, deeply anarchic ground of an “other” tradition. Urban, sophisticated, learned in many languages (“tongues”), the poet creates a profane, stunningly transcendent, enormously erotic body of work that would probably have had him burned at the stake in the Middle Ages. Poet John M. Bennett insists that Argüelles’ work “is not really ‘literature’ as the term is commonly understood”: we must read it “with a new mind-set”; “one has to allow oneself to be ‘drowned’ in the ocean of this stunning and protean work and be receptive to all the ambiguities and contradictions it contains.” Argüelles’ own word for his work is “Enigma”; another way to describe it is to insist that it is a mystical consciousness which has removed itself from any known religion: San Juan de la Nada, poetry as that old black magic. Our critical categories fall by the wayside as we attempt to tell people what it is about this work that so moves us, that so “charms” us with its impossible, totally “inconsiderate” power and darkness.

  • 3 Nina Serrano // Oct 11, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Leaves the reader with much to contemplate while swimming in this warm ocean of WONDEROUS words.

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