Two Poems: The Faith & Across the River

The Faith

Vexed by the machine         

          the same faggot who lost                  

                                                    the game

                                           landed in the chaparral

                                   runs out raging — the injustice of the foul

                                      meant everything has come to nothing

Sixteen years old and a Benedictine

        he came to País M

                  in dark lounge suit          soft collar and tie          a bright cardigan

              a freshly scraped tongue

Most wear their country with a kind of uneasiness

                                                                                    but he was a good actor

He needed to be

                There’s no parade here                                            Aquí no hay desfile

                       This tongue spliced in slivers                      the available anti-fatherland

                                                                  drowses under epidermis

                                             in arenaceous entrails

               Lengua que evita la pelea                                    Tongue that shirks battle

                                             though the future

                                                                           certainly         impossible

                                                           to forget

to leave home

                         deny the influence of the father

                                                                               embrace motherhood


Tongue             imagine a place you could travel to

                                                                               just words of course

Tongue              you are not mine        just an inheritance

You are a blustering pester

Within two months                you enact the fiercest persecution


Tongue              you detain in half-built houses in darkness

                            squawk and cry

                                             you are not free

They will catch up to you

of course

at last

This time make no mistake or else the biggest mistake of all

Somebody had thrown a bomb at automatic writing

           at meaning-making por las avenidas tradicionales

                                                           but the bomb malfunctioned

and burst into clouds of fifth-grade vocabularies


My tongue desperately searches

            but trips in the middle of the alleyway

Tongue           you were photographed by the official photographer

                 praying for your enemies by the pitted wall

                                                                                receiving the coup de grace


Tongue           you inhabit the body    you are el blanco

                                                                                            polysemic and erect

    you emerge from a gaping, blistered mouth

                                                                  a diseased unease

   The picture of your killing

   had an unforeseen effect

Me callo y me caigo

                                  I bite my tongue and fall



Across the river

The border means more than a customs house, a passport officer,
a man with a gun. I won’t write about your excess, frontera, I’ll just copy it all down
and improvise. Mockingbird screams, potent confessions,

over you, everything is going to be different,
life is never going to be quite the same.

Either the pen lies or the juggler could never keep all the oranges in the air,
poised as you are before sin and sin.

Río, río, porque me miro         I laugh, river, because I spy
en el espejo de tu cuerpo        myself in the mirror of your body
y me doy rísa.                          and I give myself laughter.

On this side rabid crows dive-bomb mechanic shops
brown streaks cross crepescule fly low through canyons          comida china tortillería
dusk-lit bodies and a man on the sidewalk sweats

First Baptist Church Cook-Off t-shirt        bats pine for a bite radar leftovers
in the condom-littered stands          garbage cans           unquiet doves alight from rooftop
shadows are not sinister or exotic       come to nothing       everywhere

accordions squeal     trumpets sound        a dull back beats out the pain
or the tiniest pink skirted kid slips down from a dusty minivan’s gaping port
that grand archway            entrance to the bridge,

she waves to the driver; Hello Kitty lunges forward into the angled rays of sunlight
brown and convex plains spread out on either side
and oil flares on the horizon                  all the gifts that crossing bestows,

those gifts will slip from hands

fall to the rain-soaked earth                                                thud like oranges.

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