Flagstaff blizzard.

And then the big winds camearound midnight, the radio station was tracking their arrival to the city. This just in to the West Side first.

Went walking beforehand, foot after foot, to the knee, deep snow. Deeper-than-dog snow. Dog bounding through snow and disappearing between bounds. I did a fall I call the inverse snow angel. (Video available upon request). falling thick.

And then the big winds did come, rearranging the powder as they saw fit. I saw it until the windows iced over. Then came the flashes of lighting unheard of in a blizzard, light bouncing between snow and low clouds, the whole world crackling purple white.

Woke up on the couch at dawn, the sun had come to breakfast. I was surprised and went back to sleep. The sun stayed anyway. Brilliant day. Sky without a trace of adjectives. I walked to Macy's. The coffee provisions had run out in our orange bunker.

Drank and thought about how the only way to live a desert is stories. Silko, Ortiz, first Australians, Bowden, Jews they all know this. Voices that shape the sand like big winds the snow. Stories that shape the ear. But how to explain that silence? The space after this stanza, the long horizon where words are born.

The stillness of staying home. Stillness rare like snow lightning. Stillness of cars stuck in the street.

And then the snow plow came and it didn't matter much, chaos is still chaos no matter who tries to own it. The City plows the rich neighborhoods first. Of course.

Resurrected my sister's car at sunset with a borrowed snow shovel. More is forecast, and what's here will freeze good tonight. Good to think we can leave when we want. But it's that silence we're after.

• • • L

for alison diciembre 2009

merry haunzakwanzamas & solstice, everybody

• •

Avie is surprised to see the sun come over without calling first.

Buen día.

Orange Bunker.

Snow turns the neighborhood back into forest.

Flag is very white, but tries to be colorful as well.

The space between things.

Always good to have arms for work. I spent an hour moving pounds of snow that won't exist if the sun sticks around. Like all work.

Names for This

You Lightning-Flasher, Shirt-Raiser,lack-of-control Power Blinker, toss the trees around like wet cotton candy, they’re drunk marionettes, Power Cutter, Bed Rumbler. The night is a black-eye disco, and you’re a violent drunk, Night Storm. Drenching dreams, nowhere to go but right on top of us, roof Slam-Dancer, Sky-Splitter Night Light, Gutter-Defier, Waterfall-Caller tumbling down window panes, Door-Groper, a puddle on the tile. The nosleepers are listening to you, Tomorrow-Maker, Midnight Rumbler. Sharp clouds and nosleep, yer no quitter, Kid, Mountain Bowler, cement puddles, and a mud romance.

The clock blinking 12:00 in fear of You.

Nombres para esto

Tú Destellarayos, Levantacamisas, Parpadeador neumático sincontrol, zarandea los árboles como algodón de azúcar húmedo, son títeres borrachos, Cortador de Poder, Retumbacamas. La noche es un disco ojinegro, Y tú eres un borracho violento, Tormenta Nocturna. Sueños empapantes, ningún lugar a dónde ir salvo encima de nosotros, Slambailador de techo, Luz Nocturna Cortacielos, Desafíalcantarilla, Llamacascadas Tumbando paneles de ventanas, Tientapuertas, un charco en la losa. Los nodurmientes te están escuchando, Hacedor de Mañanas, Retumbador de Mediasnoches. Nubes afiladas y nodormir, Tú nunca renuncias, chico, Lanzamontañas, Charcos de cemento, y un amorío de lodo.

El reloj parpadea las 12:00 temiéndote.

Trad. de Alfredo Villegas Montejo

What Burns Above My House

There is so much happening in the skyit's all we can do to keep ourselves distracted.

The monsoons roll in the late summer. We set the mowers against the grass, they graze like domesticated helicopters. Their growl fills up the neighborhood.

Hawks fly down from the foothills bending the wind with their wide arms. They watch for mice running from the mowers' whirling mouths.

The clear sky hemorrhages a beautiful white cancer, the sun becomes more beautiful in its gradual eclipse because we notice only transitions and invent things like boredom to camouflage our moments.

Everything smells of clean electric sex. The wind has distance on its breath. The afternoon begins to explode.

A season like this makes me wonder how we ever managed to shove time into clocks and watches, keeping time like a tiger on a leash, oblivious to its obvious rebellion.

Sooner doesn't always come before later. Now is never stuck in the middle, monsooner or later it will all come down.

The dirt roads will arrive eventually. Today they're running late.

Taxco, Something in the Sky

Early in the morning,
the sun still young,
the woman blows up balloons
on the steps of the church,

blowing three big breaths
then twisting them,
twisting them, twisting
them tight so that
their silver cellophane
bodies come taut,

and she ties them
on sticks, sticks them
with the rest and
does this again,

three breaths, three times
in, three times out,
building a blossoming
cheap tree of balloons
pulled together, all
tight, all taut
together on the stick
like cellophane silver fruit,
born of mechanical blooms
and breath in a bundle,
a bundle she'll carry, all the

balloons stuck, waiting
for a child to see them,
a child to want one,
and a parent to want
to see their child happy.

She'll walk, all day, through
tight plazas and steep streets, waiting,
longing to sell her lungfuls, waiting
for a child to buy her breath wrapped
in a silver balloon, the wrapped
gift of her lungs, the push
of her diaphragm, the flexing
of her fingers cherished

until a child lets go and her
breath blows away, stray
balloon blows higher—pops,
breath escapes into the white sky,
where it hangs like a lost prayer.

Her breath, loose,
looks down and watches her.
Her breaths are the tiny souls of her moments.
Her chest rising, her fingers aching,
still waiting.

Arizona Freeway Sunrise

The grasses are always dancing in the median,headbangers, seed sowers, dry spines twisting. Freeway flowers face early decapitation— guillotine tirewind, lit by skyfire:

here the sun is literally a star, made of beaten copper, sharp, imperfect. As the star pulls itself up again, the sky goes streaked, the improbable pattern of yellow-red, vivid.

The radio stations are just murmurs in the Spanglish static. The cities hide behind the horizons. The tires break grass necks. The flowers throw themselves like colorful, suicidal philanthropists into the eastbound, into the westbound.

Saguaro shadows are twirling sundials on the clock face of burning sand, they tick, they spin, they speak until they’re spoken to, torn down, paved over, left in piles, sold.

The rush, the hush, the hiss of wind and the immutable silence of light. The piston explosions, the cellphone syllables.

Two realities in the same moment. Two landscapes that never touch.

Arizona freeway sunrise. A breeze blowing through barbwire.

Amanecer en carretera de Arizona

Los pastos siempre bailan en el camellón, de atrás para adelante, esparcen la semilla, sus secas espigas se tuercen. Las flores de carretera enfrentan temprana decapitación; viento-guillotina de llantas, iluminadas por el fuego del cielo:

aquí el sol es literalmente una estrella hecha de cobre forjado, puntiaguda, imperfecta. Mientras la estrella se levanta de nuevo, bandas cruzan el cielo, el improbable patrón de amarillo-rojo, intenso.

Las estaciones de radio sólo son murmullos en la estática. Las ciudades se esconden detrás de los horizontes. Las llantas rompen cuellos del césped. Las flores se arrojan como coloridos y suicidas filántropos hacia el este, hacia el oeste.

Las sombras de los saguaros son manecillas que giran sobre el cuadrante de la arena hirviente, hacen tictac, giran, hablan hasta que se les habla, derribados, asfaltados, apilados, vendidos.

La prisa, la calma, el silbar del viento y el silencio inalterable de la luz. Las explosiones de pistones, las sílabas de celulares.

Dos realidades en un mismo instante. Dos paisajes que jamas se tocan.

Amanecer en carretera de Arizona Una brisa silbando entre alambre de púas.

Trad. de J. Emilio Rodríguez

la mezquita

Córdoba, Andalucia, España The doves & the sparrows dive, curve, sing over narrow puzzle streets.

To be born here is to understand the streets.

To have wings here is to make the streets your own.

españa venga

Madrid, España Spring Winders. Nick Fox. Logan Phillips. Between us, everything. Before us, even more. Spain spreads out as a twisting desert, yellow and orange after the green burning of Ireland and England. A twisting desert, a desert having a bad dream, tossing and turning all through the day, trying to sleep as the sun falls hard all over it.

We sleep with no air conditioning. The old streets hold no reason only rhyme. Romans, jews and moors. We wander and tear vivid fotos from our eyes. Below the city, sitting in tunnels, the women flick open their fans, rocking their wrists back and forth, sending a breeze across their glistening faces. The wind in the subway, trapped, searching. The men talk quickly.

Picasso's Guernica looms huge in my face while I try to fall to sleep, until my face rearranges, my nose falling backwards, my eyes sliding downward, searching for the sky.

Tears held by long strings a windchime in minor key. We surround ourselves in it.

Walk and write, walk and write. Blink too much, squint. Everywhere graffiti, the good kind, the street poems, the molotov portrait stencils. Still nothing like London's Banksy, a hero, but still. Lay some ink down.

North African gypsy music on the streets, the smirking streets.

Madrid is La Habana without the neglect. La Habana is Madrid, hot. This, América Latina turned inside out. Or vice versa. Vice on the streets, the vivid streets.

The cop cars speeding through pedestrian zones. Children fleeing.

These notes while running. Reading more Galeano. Sitting at Garcia Lorca's bronze feet. My tongue remembering how it loves to move.

Old. World.

London, England Kicking and alive. Ireland was good. Words to come in the July NOISE. Spain coming. A lot more soon, check back.

London Gossip II They say if the ravens die in the fortress, the kingdom will fall. If they leave the tower, the same. So first, modern paranoia-- they clipped their black wings. Then, a postmodern twist-- birdflu spread across the world. So now, to protect a legend, the birds are kept inside.

The old man rides an old bicycle

The old man rides an old bicycle in slow rhythm along the bay, on his way home to his wife after watching the technicolor sunset on the old dock. "¿De qué año es su bicicleta?" I ask him as he peddles by me. "Tiene 50 años," he says, smiling as he stops the bike next to me.

"¿Es un tipo Schwinn?" I ask, being into this type of thing.

"No, se llama Super Rex," he tells me, and pulls out of the breast pocket of his half-open cotton shirt the ancient registration card, which is paperclipped to his carné de identidad. "El gobierno me dio este papel pero como no saben escribir bien pusieron 'suder res.'" We laugh.

He asks me where I'm from. "Oh!," his eyes flush with emotion as he folds up his thick glasses. "I lived for five years there! In New York! Nineteen Fifty Five until Nineteen Sixty. But I think, not because I'm Cuban, that here, Cienfuegos, has the most beautiful sunsets in the world."

"Looked pretty good to me," I tell him.

"How do you like Cuba?"

"Me facina," I say, smiling.

"The same for me in New York," he smiles too. "I love my country," he says the words slowly, as if describing an ache, "but this situation here... it's not good. I stay against my will because I love my country. But this system doesn't work."

"I agree with you," I tell him. I realize he only has the courage to say these things because we are speaking in broken English. By this time we've stopped walking and we're leaning close to each other. He starts laughing.

"I must go," he says, "my wife is waiting for me. It was a pleasure to talk to you and practice my broken English."

"For me too. Tell your wife I say hello and take care."

"Ok, goodbye."

The Cuban Writers' Union

I.Some writers working for the state have clandestine dreams of smuggling out a manuscript to the presses of the capitalist world.

Others just rearrange the same adjectives around the words revolución and Fidel because Customs has long forbidden the importation of new words into Cuba,

so the remaining writers are like everyone else in this country, making do, shuffling the same broken puzzle pieces, searching for new endings.

The writers here are just like the men who sit on the sidewalks behind dirty wooden stands, injecting new aerosol breath into old disposable lighters and the womens’ fine hands in the relojería, fixing old watches with skill, then searching for the hour to set the watches by, the hour that this country lost long ago.

II. On the edges of this living city there are piles upon piles of all the abandoned thoughts, dirty and wet, buzzing with flies, putrid in the tropical sun.

And there are coasts where the government allows no one to swim because there too they have dumped all the aborted ideas of the island, coasts where the waves mumble unintelligible promise and people stop on the seawalk to gaze at the hollow horizon. Sometimes the weight of their unintended sighs is enough to push the cool breeze back out to sea.

Here for every kilo of true creativity the streets are polluted with a hundred liters of tears. Maybe it’s no wonder that the bookshops read like the dictator’s personal library and all the true writers sit in buildings about to collapse, trying to inject new breath onto thin sheets of cheap paper, while others have stopped writing altogether, and spend their days folding their quota of paper into airplanes which they bring down to the shore and toss into the sea, hoping they’ll catch the warm propulsion of an entire nation sighing.

The world has gotten so small that now there’s no more room in the oceans for so many bottles containing the words of so many trapped peoples. The few boats that do manage to leave set sail to the deafening sound of shattering glass and sinking letters. No more messages, no bottles. Here in Cuba all the writers know better than to trust the sea, they study the sky, trying to guess the hour and the best flight plans for paper airplanes.


San Pedro la Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala

I wear striped pants Numero cuarentasiete La milpa ama a la orilla Numero diecinueve they all shout and clap fill the afternoon hammock on the cieling los sonidos del pueblo llora llora la bebe el grupo empieza a tocar los chavos a bailar numero cincuenta sies the bus's pistons run like disjointed reggaton "a dios sea la gloria" el grupo sigue sigue las guapas a coquetear numero diecirubio El milagüero, super heroe capaz de todo como comer chilaquiles sin parrar. De aviones no hay la hormigüita se encuentra por el techo del cuarto piso suena el autobus llora el gallo read the horizon like a bar of music scream the mountains para el milagüero no hay pedo.

Thunderclouds made from the bus's tailpipe the laudry is calm as it hangs the elotes are calm as they bounce in the bag hanging from the old man's neck. The horizon is occasionally out of tune. Every line must bend sometime. Sometimes, rap is like talking with mechanical lungs. Ink blot snow drop. The viejitos sit in their boats on the edges of the fishing nets dancing in the glass water. Their hands make prayers with invisible lines. They also bend. You understand, I have to write small to make it all fit. For instance, men here park busses like well-lubricated jigsaw puzzles, one after another. I promise that the birds are not talking shit about you, even though they are talking spanish. Most of them, anyway. The blue bus is named Windy. It waits for the alley. The woman who rents the boats is named Jesus. She told me so.

The fish sigh in the bottom of the boat. Some words are more popular than other words. This is how we communicate. The mechanic sighs as the last bus rolls into the alley. The driver yells "¡sale!" into his rearview mirror. Hands of the mechanic are black, from throwing ink blot snow balls and cursing, banging. All the dogs ever talk about is barking. Black heads walk down the street, blonde heads up, mouths usually open. I feel like there should be more lighthouses in life. The busses have each been cut down the middle of the chest, sparks flying from the welding. "¡Sale!" is a very popular word. It is how we survive. By agreement. Saludos a todos. The king wants to put a sheet over the clouds to hide their nakedness. Haven't you seen the vulgar sky? It's hard to say no. Sometimes our rulers look like constipated stuffed animals, filled with twenty dollar bills. Sometimes the dictionaries are stuffed with pesos. Mosttimes not. But it's worth looking into, like cocaine in the bible. We are each smeared in the ash we burn. I once met a man with a mouth full of carbon. It stumbled out black when he smiled. It's usually a song we already feel like we know. Familiar like él que amanece.

The Beach Life


I was on the bus for hours and hours from D.F. to la costa de Oaxaca, where the beach faces south and the sun dances a long dance of tag with the ocean and always ends up winning. On the last bus I met a very lost Australian who didn't speak hardly a lick of spanish... she was headed to Zipolite too and ended up following me, which was a good idea because I have no idea what would have happened to her otherwise. I stumbled onto the beach to find, right in front of me, the scraggly group of my American friends, on holiday in Zipo. Bisquito, Craigasaurus, su Rachel, Miguel y Daniel... they were good medicine for my first night alone out in the world.

So it's been la vida en la playita for the past five (?) days, I'm writing from a slow connection in Mazunte, a little beach up the way. The Scragglies left today towards Puerto Escondido, on their way to various airports and lives. That means the sweet prelude to the adventure is over, and me encuentro solito...

I just wrote this on the beach:

Se fueron mis amigos. I went back to the hostel and watched dolphins . The dolphins made me feel better. Craigcito querido amigo mio me presto su guitarra, that made me feel even better, la guitarra es buena amiga mia.

Los italianos nos permitieron salier sin tratar de chingarnos.

I bought my ticket to San Cristobal for tomorrow night at a quarter to eight. Me costo 309 pesos, a 12-hour all-night feat.

En Mazunte sueñan los hippies. No le conozco a nadie aqui.

I went to stay at the Posada Arquetecto but I didn't have a lock for the locker, so I went across the street and hung my hammock outside a wierd gringo's RV. I told him I'd pay him 30 pesos for the night. He told me he has candles. He also has an improbable girlfriend.

I went for a walk. They say all you need is love. I thought to myself what good is a beautiful place without love? Somehow places can't make up for people.

I should go play some beach volleyball. I should go record some birds.

Gadsden in Sestina

During full moons on the border, the helicoptersare violent in the midnight air, fighting to fly and spy the footsteps that are called illegal in moonlight. My house seems to shudder and move and I'm expected not to notice,

no one is ever expected to notice. The border is a breath caged in steel, created with the movement of a pen, drunk, violent across parchment, never mind that it was almost illegal, this line drawn across footprints.

They say the American, Gadsden, his footsteps crooked, didn't notice how much tequila he drank while debating the particulars. He signed the 1853 treaty for half of what he had been told to: the border was to be pushed halfway to Mexico City without a violent shot fired, but Gadsden, a woman on each knee, was moved to compromise.

If he had been too drunk to move that pen at all, I would have taken my first baby steps in Mexico instead of the U.S. The subtle violence of coincidence almost doesn't exist until you notice it, like the border almost didn't exist until a law was passed to raise a twelve-foot steel wall,

a law was passed to begin patrols with helicopters, to regulate the air moving between two countries, to electrify the border fence, to put landmines under footsteps, to take down bilingual notices, to institutionalize the violence

instead of find the cause of the violence. It shouldn't be legal, this game of noticing effects instead of causes. An American moves into a gated community, a Mexican puts one foot in front of the other, both thinking of the border.

Gadsden, father of border helicopters and my baby steps, father of illegal violence that no one cares to notice: we're all waiting to see how your wild night will end.

La Venta de la Mesilla

En la frontera, durante las lunas llenas, los helicópteros son violentos en el aire de medianoche, luchando para volar y espiar las pisadas llamadas ilegales debajo de la luna. Mi casa parece estremecerse y moverse, y esperan que yo no lo note, esperan que nadie lo note. La frontera es un respiro enjaulado en acero, creado con el movimiento de una pluma borracha, violenta tras el tratado, no importa que fuera casi ilegal esta línea dibujada sobre las huellas de las pisadas. Dicen que el gringo Gadsden torció sus pisadas, no midió cuanto tequila tomó mientras debatía los pormenores. Firmó el tratado de 1853 por la mitad de lo que a él le ordenaron: la frontera se extendería casi hasta la ciudad de México, sin un sólo tiro disparado, pero Gadsden, con una fichera en cada rodilla, fue motivado a cambiar de idea.

Si hubiera estado demasiado borracho para mover aquella pluma, yo hubiera dado mis primeros pasos en México en vez de los Estados Unidos. La sutil coincidencia de la violencia casi no existe hasta que la ves, como la frontera que casi no existió hasta que una ley levantó una muralla acerada de cuatro metros,

una ley que aprobó el patrullaje con helicópteros, reguló el movimiento del aire entre dos países, electrificó el alambrado, colocó minas anti-personales bajo las pisadas, quitó letreros bilingües, institucionalizó la violencia en vez de hallar la causa de la violencia.

No debería ser legal este juego de notar los efectos en vez de las causas. Un gringo se muda a una comunidad cerrada, un mexicano va paso a paso, ambos van pensando en la frontera.

Gadsden, padre de los helicópteros fronterizos y de mis primeros pasos, padre de la violencia ilegal a la que nadie le presta atención: ahora nosotros estamos esperando para ver como aquella borrachera tuya terminará.

Michael’s Fever

20s-era rental built of bent boards,bad carpet and brick. A falling value, south of downtown and neglect by landlords. But at night, through the windows pass drafts and views,

I find him standing when I get up to piss. His shoulders defeated, his open mouth holds a yellow tongue in bubbling bliss, his eyes unkempt. I ask if he's ok.

There’s a sun in the south,

he replies, standing dead asleep. The windchime is the breeze's punching bag, the curtains are canvas sails burning and they leap to catch us, doors slamming, our clothes in red rags.

Forensics will find us tomorrow, but still none can explain the smoldering window sill.