Naked my ritual life I reach the metropolis of crooked tracks
and tombstone walls. A door plate thwacks and I see your eyes at last,
Muwadi. Give me a bone to ease my leg; these streets are wider than my stride.
And a blanket please to soothe my raw and reddened skin.
Baptismal we sprinkled our freedom when I pulled sacrifice from your chest
and dropped its steel dripping on the thirsty earth
to plunge a child into this world, an offspring of my confession
to settle where my heart could scale the skies again.
These unhappy realms I carry in my sack: they’re tired of tears and inscriptions
of scarlet claws. Give me a cask of wine and I will sweeten their rivers.
Remember when we were boys, how we left our primitive toys
discounted on the ground, abandoned our primitive town of small ships
for a chance to wager on the larger Earth we prized and how we devoured
a continent of strangers?
And though we held the same love close, we parted on the western coast
when the south threw golden trumpet notes in my ears.
If not for our history of sharing, or the illumination of our faces in the pregnant
morning, then for those seeds we once spit upon the ground,
Muwadi. To think: many have sprouted berries, and to this day flourish –
in the beautifully wild throats of resplendent birds.
This piece first appeared in Dirty Chai, Winter 2014.
I. Train Ride
Rough train wall splinters my back countless km of cross ties clack feed my spine with punches cannot sit with breath beard stench crushed crowd as narrow slit slat noon strong sun pushes its curse through cracks and not one spoon of water from these eye clouds my witness cries of carrion crow.
Long list of days and fouled floor nights in straw jackets and pajama bundles ill dressed to journey breadth of our Deutschland for union with secret pits and smokestack guards pass our families stinky thin cabbage sheets and a taste of serious gas as we pick lice from our clothes and lay our wrinkled uncles down.
Hear me I am Jew from my ancestry climbs Isaac girded and David smacks giants with stones in my book mother has no face only black hair in her bewilderment as scavengers pick my eardrum for bread crumbs leave me deaf and angered at my brethren who say it’s good for the homeland quit your belly ache our dear children slumber midnight dead over steel rumble wheels of this transport box.
Hear me hear me hear me brother hear me hear me papa and all polite aunties who come to the funerals full of accordion good life dance fun to paint our worries bright sky blue and enjoy sweet shrill whistles from the tea kettle that we can rise up to our fear and riot.
III. Crossing The Desert
On a camel I am tied dried trails of vomit on his side as I lurch over dunes to a sea only fluted in our legends of a woman on a rock reefed ship who persists in delirium my crime was blasphemy I am told before clubs and ropes and money changed hands leave me gasp and ask my captors why I should suffer so for lending a leper hope I merely spoke of cool juice and modest letters on a page to draw an illiterate picture of praise for an iron pot of watery soup is feast in fire light of elephant tracks and African stars.
Hear me I am Moroccan and claim Mohammed as my own for the ultimate prize of ages shall leaven my courage to the size of bags and shrink my apprehension to an olive pit as when I was deadly young a holy caravan suckled my desire scrawling sand with long staffs the inverted name of their god for to worship only headfirst disfigures his anger into bleats of foolish petty peace.
IV. Spread of Civilization
Hear me I am envoy from the Roman pope given to my man-christ as keeper of pearls to protect heathen souls from carnal cheer as daybreak draws crispy shadows on heaps of quenched naked boys and street cobbles heat I bring proof that my mission is grander than a dusty book of skewed truth announce it superior sublime even to perish with your whip thorns and blood on my cross than gargle your pagan lust into a drunken gutter.
V. A Time Before Ships
Teach me to serve our sacred ways and swing from my solitude my people howled their demands and I bowed to eating embers to seal my loyalty to my buffalo mother and oppose creatures who defile her I ride forth and issue arrows at these foes of the Earth who rape her rivers and leave her stricken pull forests from her mountainous breasts and leave her stumps spit poison into her skies and leave her moonlight eyes to weep infection.
VI. Voices In Trees
Hear me I am custodian of no compass point and even though I am not invited to speak of eccentric miracles from where I rest on tombstones I continue to follow my own map a hundred days into the flood or enduring in barren cities now rest my case and place my dreams into my rucksack that odd council of swamp gods can urge conversion of another carcass don’t want my freedom fraught with torture or spicy with the passion of persecution cannot get behind those nails they pound into your choices or the harshly hammered melody of their deliverance.
This piece first appeared in Dirty Chai, Winter 2014.
I rise on my leg stumps far from my village, eye level with goats.
If I had goats.
The war stole them – when I could run antelope down.
My shoe size is gone.
If I had shoes.
I only need short pants and I have pants (thankfully) so I can beg with my legless clothes on for a wooden bowl of rice to go with my entrée.
If I had an entrée.
The rebels took them all away using my legs as stilts, leaving me stumps and 9 inch thigh bones. My former fast feet fastened to a tree. My alms? Rusty slugs of electrical conduit.
If I had a long time to make me rich, I swear I would build a new house with low windows.
From 39 Boys on Ground
Nick gets off the metro at Hidalgo to switch to the university line and as usual can’t get a god damn dat signal to fb his position to all his amigos. City this size got no excuse. Shit, world got no excuse. You think we living in the fucking last year.
Some bum flashes his tin-cup app at Nick, but Nick flattens his thumb, scrolls his fuck-off app into view and keeps walking. Still no dat. At this rate, he’s gonna be the last hombre into the GPS pool and all the girls be laughing.
He’s about to take the stairs up to the U platform when this old guy with a fucking antique iphone3 bumps into Nick. Old guy probably running OS-IronHorse7 or some damn dung. Those kernels make you spill shit like zoo monkeys or a yokel that fall from the dat cloud into a dead-end IP addy.
Nick starts to flash his sarco app when the old guy puts his hand on Nick’s shoulder. Fuck, indecent animation. And to make it worse, the guy opens his real mouth and says something actually verbal, some god damn dictionary words. 404 losers, get a life. Nick pushes by.
On the U line, Nick eases up. The dat is back and although he’s about 7000 updates behind, he’s got some twenty flesh-clock mins before the train sleeks into the south end of the city to catch up. Not for nothing he majors in predictive s&r.
Done and getting thirsty, he pongs his beer app and takes a quaff. He shouldn’t drink before a test, but what the hell. Nobody gonna know. He’ll grab a breath mint app at the terminal.
Whoa, he makes it in time. Only two other amigos in the time share tunnel. And besides, the prof always shows up late. Prof man is old school.
As usual, the dat shield is up. Prof man thinks we ought to swallow our dat with rocks. More old school shit and Nick figures it’s all part of the test. But oh, so easy, easy! Nick can cross three or four app boundaries with one hand while keeping his gf virtually blissy.
Prof man calls time and all the flesh clocks play a quick hard-rock drum fill. Chips on the static mats and step away from the message apps, prof tweets. Then prof man launches his boring lecture app.
Christ, another dose of bullshit history. Nick heard it all before. Yappity yap: nobody used to see which side of the bed you was sleeping on and govmint anal-probe an intrusion. Oh, ten big thumbs down! You couldn’t sync up to your amigo’s dat in those days! You couldn’t even stream your lunch menu! People sat around with no sw!
Fucking unsupported personality drivers. Nick knows from his psyc app how people always looking back at the good old days. Not him! He healthy, adjusted, not the least bit prone to dl a murderous rampage.
And all his amigos agree. When we meet in the dat tavern, icon face to face, we all perfectly robust. Never no error screen come between us.
This piece first appeared in LQQK Magazine, 2012.
She hauls her face around
in a truck;
she answers the phone with her eyebrows:
Only last night
the wine left her mouth to water – and today
she is covered in hives.
This woman doesn’t joke, keeps
her cups full of snake juice
Carries a color picture
of her son.
He went to an infested place
gave away his flesh.
She left her day job to caress him
with flashes and film
she has but a snapping sound
of his neck to recall.
she puts her hands on the ground
before her lunch comes up.
Embraces a pole
where he was once tethered.
In the rain
her teeth chew the cold fat.
In the end
when dogs stop licking her thighs
she pushes a yelp out.