Various Works by Victor D. Sandiego

An Infamous Legacy

by Victor D. Sandiego

Freshly fallen from the mountain, Jedidiah in the thick garden
moonlight cautions us that death is an illusion. Some ease
their dark debt with blindness but Jedidiah steps forward, intact:

I rotted in the rock for a long lake of years
before uninvited, I inhaled my roses again.
Between sky and dust, death is the only fiction.
I looked suffering in the face, saw its cruel intention,
seized the history of ages by its forearm for a strong pulse.

My choice was the branch and this rope of my own hand
but that door closed on me. I am more alive now
than when my life was an egg in the womb of the world.
Oblivion took pity on me, freed my shackled breath,
declared my destiny. I am a tool of God
and his legions of descendants who spread like spilled
wine from this garden. They need my blood
to rinse their absolution.

This piece first appeared in Cerise Press, Spring 2013 under the title Incrimination.

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How I Arrived Here

by Victor D. Sandiego

When creation collapsed upon the cross, wind and rain capsized the village of my birth and wrapped it in fishes. The wrinkled sky wore an ashen winter cloak and we nibbled sodden leaves from the pinnacles of trees.

The animals inside us mated with distress and in breathtaking discord obstructed the humanity of our voices. My family retreated beneath the waves and the air imprisoned in their lungs was wholly liberated.

Exhausted, and pardoned by an impartial shore, I stripped myself somber and naked, then encouraged my dripping form and figure south.

I saw a streak of my rightful self across an enormous canyon but rodents on the long road had gnawed my strength to stubs.

An angel melted into my nose and throat to thaw my frozen blood. The heartbeat of my fear slowed to a waltz and my eyesight grew a pointed stick to puncture the mist.

Exhuming a fallow torchlight, I seeded it with oil and illuminated the corridors that run as reckless ponies through the raging night. All the impious gods came out to greet me with their fingers on their faces and their hair in bamboo shock! to find me still alive.

For I had arrived from across a sea of petrified nations, over the discarded bodies of the warm unborn, and through a furious gauntlet of  desperate dying worlds.

This piece first appeared in Generations Literary Journal, Fall 2013

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Invasion Of Ideas

by Victor D. Sandiego

In hard-packed craters, when water ran foul and my heart was still small in its progression from slave song to symphony, I watched for your seed in sand, saw spring limp into summer.

Truth and dust in my face, with my books and the entire bones of Joseph, I renounce my country (a hailstorm of welts) and search the complete evening of my life for a hillside of crops.

These things still nourish me: olive, peach, corn, cactus, orange — and a fragile sense of a god who has lost control of his bladder.

In my child mind, a furrow
cut with a stick
is food
on the harvest table
and my mother
a warm robe
to cover my shaking chest.

Yet: from concord, war slips beyond reconciliation. Brother surrenders to the flood. The hawk swoops down on the snake. God burns his image on my thigh.

These are my stories
that on a cool night crackle
in the knots of logs; these are my smells that mix
with smoke
from the curling edge of bark.

This piece first appeared in Stone Telling, January 2016.

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The Madmen Among Us

by Victor D. Sandiego

The morning is fragrant and urgent; you leap from the blankets, rattle bed posts, boil water, sip tea, walk the terraced gardens, and admire how the years and seeds have grown into your own private labyrinth.

You speak with the woman you love in a warm stream of words and stroke her cheek with your fingers, but she is not visible to us. The bench you share with her sinks slightly into the Earth at your end, and the Camilla tree has dropped a petal that sits between you and the other armrest.

You have not lost your way. It is we who cannot see into the distance, south across many rivers and borders to the lake where a thousand generations have bled into the birth sheet.

No one person seems to know how you escaped from the city. Some say you were helped by Muwadi who dragged you from the crater and stood you upright among the rubble. Others claim to have seen you pierced by lightning and drawn up into a cloud.

Sometimes truth is the exaggeration minus the lie. For the legend, the tales we tell our children before bed, we allow that you are the only offspring of God and disregard the impossible purity contained in such an account.

However, when the fire is coals and our descendants simmer in sleep, we place candor on our tongues and admit that you are more than that. You are the heart, the lungs, and the bladder of a strong-beating people and no single angel can contain you.

This piece first appeared in Cerise Press, Summer 2013.

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La Historia De Los Ángeles

by Victor D. Sandiego

Translated from the Muwadi diaries by Ibrahim Raymond

It goes:

We are made of reeds and pull
the air into our lungs through them; we descend
from a long line of lamps with wicks and oil
that, from the alcoves,
illuminate the corridors between worlds.

Our habitat is filled: 

with rivers, meadows, mountains, horses, antelope, and trees.
Juniper child on his knees guards a beetle in the dust.
Grandmother plants flowers and mud
crawls over our days.

We recognize:

Morning brings a field to fruition;
the lunar eye peers through the harvest crack.
Infant bones become oak; twisted necks feed our concave
chicken plates and knives.

Yes. Our perfection grows from a tiny seed; a breeze pushes
into the eddy that connects the houses and pueblos, carries us
swirling, glinting, minutely reverberant into evanescence. 

Then we begin to flourish:

We spit our naked spirit into the well and drink.
You are invited to join the meal, to taste the callus
of our corn and continue your story.

This is the moment when we shake the leaves
and loam from our ear.

This piece first appeared in Cerise Press, Spring 2011.

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The Price Of Obsession Is Madness

by Victor D. Sandiego

For years, Adam counted the beans. Each morning, at eight o’clock sharp, he took the pot from the cupboard, placed it on the countertop, withdrew exactly eleven raw beans, and placed them in his hand. The beans were smooth and variegated, like small eggs of a beautiful bird. It pleased Adam to look at them for a moment before putting the eleven in one of the plastic bottles that he always found in the alley next to his house. Eleven, he liked to say, because it is the only number that resembles the betrothed as they approach the priest. Some said that this number was the number of times that Adam had been in the hospital, but they were simple people who had never aroused a divine experience of their own.

When I have counted all beans, I will be happy, Adam would say. But it seemed doubtful that he could continue his mission. The house was full of bottles: all of the shelves, each nook, and each corner exhibited a grand assortment of labels and colors that reflected the pitiful light into bizarre figures that seemed to dance on the celling. I have the bathroom, Adam said one day when the authorities at last knocked on the door. I still have my sock drawer.

The ambulance made the sound of knives when they fall on the floor. A dog sadly barked. A long way to go, said Adam from the back window. We still have a long way to go.

This piece first appeared in The Tishman Review, 2016

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The Invisible Connections Of Space And Time

by Victor D. Sandiego

Walking in the desert, he arrived at a rope. It was thick, woven of coarse fibers – and hung from the sky as by an invisible hook. The air was clear, not a single cloud, and although he raised his head as if he was preparing his throat for the sacrifice, he could see nothing except the rope that shrank and disappeared into the heights of the sky. I wonder, he said to his hands, if it is possible to climb. But his hands did not answer him. Nor the desert, which had quarantined its opinion, as if its opinion could contaminate the pure certainty of the phenomenon.

Hesitantly he touched what seemed a miracle and the rope changed its position a little, perhaps the width of an ant. It seemed to shimmer, as if it contained a single silver thread. He touched it again, this time with more confidence, with both hands, and circled it with his fingers. I think I’ll give it a tug, he said to himself.

Despite her few years, the girl in the city knew that her brother was dying. The doctors had shaken their heads and backed out of the room. The world was not so old and one more death would not fill its ample cave of bones. Meanwhile, a drop of prayer fell into the barrel of prayers and you could hear the girl’s voice in the splash. At the same time, a bell shook the air and the brother sat up in the bed. I was a man, he said. A man with thirst in a land devoid of sky, of salvation. Through my fingers, I saw that the world is a wheel with so many spokes – and someday I will grow to roll it.

This piece first appeared in The Tishman Review, 2016

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The Curious House Of My Lament

by Victor D. Sandiego

I wonder if you would miss me if I toppled from the tower where I have stood so long, if I donated my body to the rocks. For months, they have promised to cure all the sick birds in my throat if only I would have the decency and velocity to receive them. 

But I wonder if you would wonder where I had gone, or if you would go on your way to the baker or candle maker without a shout of surprise or a gasp of grief.

Yet know: there in the presence of stone and sand with waves slowly rinsing the red rocks clean, before the last sack of my beliefs and judgments shredded in the pulpy morning tide, I swear: I would think of you my friend and how we stretched our jaws wide to hold the world like a glorious apple between our teeth.

This piece first appeared in Ayris, September 2013.

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The Dark Side Of Devotion

by Victor D. Sandiego

We are a peaceful garden people
under an eggshell moon – ancestral sins
mostly scraped from our skin.

Our terrible fathers
buried in shadow – their crimes
covered in salt.

We do not fault
they carved their pride with iron
bars into stone.

A child in the sand of the garden waits
for a rose drop of dew
to free his sad lips from an innocent bondage.

Recall: towers of our history
still stand
in an unclean corner of our land. 

But these relics of our devotion
must someday yield to rubble
and we’ll have a dance

of blood red bursts – of spangled verse and song
when judgment drops the final grave
over our ravings.

This piece first appeared in Off The Coast, Summer 2013.

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Looking for Muwadi

by Victor D. Sandiego

The old savior has lost his flavor.
Somewhere, he drags his life alone along a lakeshore.

Daybreak coughs on the red rim of the mountain; ash
is cool in the fire pits. 

Stumble:
through the gates, my vision on you (by the Elephant tree)
but my footsteps

are driven underground by a slab of sky;
my shoulder is dark bruise
blue.

My skeleton book:
in your fingers, you tear pages from my throat, the sound
rips the morning in two.

When Pilate washed his hands, you ran like rivers into lakes
and your rebirth came too late to seize me.

My stomach hosts a mob of slaves, my creeds
are lashed around my chest.

My principles are captive birds, jumpy
colorful, restless, noisy

and from their cage believe that they too
are ready to be free.

This piece first appeared in Prime Number Magazine, June 2011.

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Must Climb His Neck

by Victor D. Sandiego

My death rolled over in bed with a sorrowful face.

“Why do you not embrace my torso?” it asked
and for a moment
I became frozen between worlds.

The babbling street crawled in one ear through the window
and heaven descended from the bovada bricks
into the other. Street and heaven clashed behind my eyes
and severed my vision.

But I recovered and to my death replied:

“It is your neck I love, the rough dusty feel on my fingers
when I caress the crypt.” –

and my death merely stared at me,
as if I had ordered a coffee in a foreign tongue.

This piece first appeared in Labletter, November 2012

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The Hollow Portion Of His Petition

by Victor D. Sandiego

Priest opens a desert fist a red fish, regards with one eye heavens as sun crackles tattoos on his face. “I beg you destroy my affection,” he says in blood and sand flows from his morning feet. The ceremony that devoured his son casts a rut to the far edge of the earth. The crease that canyons his life into two pieces swarms with abuse. But he cannot consume the knife, for habit of existence. He cannot swallow his own cruel stake.

This piece first appeared in Ditch Poetry, January 2014.

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To Climb The Neck Of Muwadi

by Victor D. Sandiego

It is Grandfather’s idea: take the low road along the water
that encircles the mountain. This enrages me and I smash

his mouth with the back of my head. His teeth in his hands,
he sits on the edge of the bed to comfort me but I want

only to recall what happened last night: my mind is a blank
on how I arrived here in the company of sisters and men.

A blanket covers my modest groin but my wild eyes march back
and forth on a chain. I see the pinnacle through the trees

to the south of the cave at the same time my family abandons
me in their headlong push along the rivers.

Go. I must climb his neck. Like a sharp rock, he pierces the corneal sky
and compels it to downpour a tempest of tears.

Rodents burrow under roots, their crumbs and their thimble hearts dry.
When my candle sinks in a molten pool, I too cry for what I have missed:

the touch of a child hand, the death of a wife. But today, I put one foot
above the other on rock, test my weight against a mountain. From the top,

I see pointy scalps of the forest – and in a misting distance, the expanse
of my birth water that once lapped my feet as I gasped on the white

sea sand. Yes, I may slip and fall. If so, there will be an absolute
free moment of weightlessness when I will count my blessings, curses,

setbacks and triumphs in the pin-wheeling sky, earth and trees
before my breath is slapped from my lungs by the boulder I greet.

And I believe: I will bounce at least once or twice before blue
turns black, and black migrates back up to morning

as an inexpert emerald day in a brand new realm
opens.

This piece first appeared in Prime Number Magazine, June 2011.

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Keepers

by Victor D. Sandiego

We

(brother and brother)

from the same slotted womb, fallen
apples into the world
must lever the door of the old, old home

(childhood playthings)

splintered back and enter
to smash with heavy panting sticks all
but for the lynching meat there.

I never trust a road that encircles a town:
it’s a death knot
and halts the evolution of blood
for the slow, slow resurrection of madness.

We cannot live
together, now that scales have turned
into shattered clocks, and the old, old house escapes

across the threshold. It’s a another era:
words run wild in the street
and only stumpy guttural sounds
take flight from the open vowels of their mouths.

So tempting to leave the hooks in the wall
display the portraits
of Grandfather and Grandmother
who wedded by the neck and gurgled a progeny

of uteral excuses into the dirt –
to breed, and flap newborn wings
higher and higher
until we

(brother and brother)

from the same miscast fishnet, gasp on a flopping shore
outside the old home

struggle to breathe outside the old home
now gone to splinters and chips

struggle to expand our repertoire of gills
into lungs.

This piece first appeared in Prime Number Magazine, June 2011.

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Signposts

by Victor D. Sandiego

Listen

to the brown account of children Grandfather raised
from earthworms:

At first, no life

mark shivers among bits of them
that (sliced into slivers) unite into a blind shadow.

But peel

your gloom from a hillside, flip it on its black writhing back;
wipe the crusted dirt with sunlight.

This is bread

for thin thoughts. This is the unwashed goliath
that slaps a tombstone from your foot.

As membrane

we create life with grunts and thrusts; as skin
we embrace our symbiotic bones.

Read them
as bleached sticks in the loam:

Here points the fibula of Daniel to the lion; here the radius
and tarsals of Alexander

drip
the tubercular milk.

This piece first appeared in Ditch Poetry, January 2014.

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At The Gate Of Muwadi

by Victor D. Sandiego

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.

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For Love Of These Creeds

by Victor D. Sandiego

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.

II. Arrival

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.

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I Could Run Antelope Down

by Victor D. Sandiego

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

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We All Perfectly Robust

by Victor D. Sandiego

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.

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Carried Away By Noon

by Victor D. Sandiego

She hauls her face around
in a truck;
she answers the phone with her eyebrows:
up.

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
and soda.

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
and now:

she has but a snapping sound
of his neck to recall.

39 times
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.

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For The Love of Milk

by Victor D. Sandiego

No, Billy is not goat. Just regular guy with apartment, two cats, couple half dead plants and job calling people up in middle of day to see if they need car insurance.

Only everyone’s got that shit already or (if not) they’re in jail for blowing smoke at rental cop, or passing VP of United States a venereal disease.

Makes you wonder: who’s running country? who’s looking out for kids? who’s checking our milk supply?

True story by way: Most CEO types (like VP) only love parade when they’re out front shouting: HUP Two Three Four! (Funny they always shout HUP 234! instead of something  more interesting like HUP TWO POINT SIX NINE or: “Go for the throat men!  Our sackcloth is at the cleaners.”)

Anyway, when Billy in charge of car insurance scandal, he goes straight to cameras and falls on his sword. No, not real sword like King Arthur hauled around back before indoor plumbing, just simple 6 inch blue ballpoint pen for signing papers but goddamn hurts like hell when you fall on it.

So now Billy’s got hole in his breast pocket near his broken heart with blue ink stains and his lungs [wheeze wheeze] in middle of night when he wakes up alone gasping for air like salmon in shallow creek bed spawn, all drenched with creek-sweat.

No, Billy is not fish and doesn’t lay eggs. Once though he tried prove he wasn’t chicken when girl said he didn’t have what it takes to charge machine gun nest armed with 6 inch blue sword and yet up green hill he flew, screaming and scaring roosters.

Billy hero. His mother watches sad TV from kitchen doorway and waves small flag; his father sings throat lips hoarse with old anthems. Patriotic fever goes up.

But Billy still alive on back of bunker! He signs his name on concrete with blood that runs through downspouts, fills lakes with red moonlight.

That’s when CEO telegram with book deals and movie offers but problems don’t stop. Nobody minding country. VP still get free pass. Kids still don’t have milk. And in ironic, all of goats (who might make help if Billy ask nicely) gone. Absolute nowhere to be found.

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The Old Country

by Victor D. Sandiego

Think

of a large wooden barrel
rolling to you
down a STEEP hill
on a narrow street
your mother inside

(screaming)

your name, her mouth full of pudding
and nails.

That

is how I see you
when the morning BARKS me awake
and I, from solitude

bare face, sun baked
streaming with tears

(of joy)

climb from the mask.

 

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After The Flags Fall Down

by Victor D. Sandiego

They come out of sun stone buildings
their black cake on the ground before us.

Our children have rags for friends
& mossy shoes
to travel to the broken eyed factory.

By my own admission
I squint at their shiny as they pass.

I too want to kill for old men to die surrounded by lap dogs
& richly woven blankets.

Yet: when the horizon takes them
takes them & puts them in a crack of the Earth
crushes them to red sand...

my very last leg is still;
I place only a paper pebble in the widow basket.

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grow up to be a sand man

by Victor D. Sandiego

door crack
knob high eye watch
black boot sand man
long gun, gray green steel hat

sun rise stone street
crack crack small noise far
crisp crunch walk walk on by
long gun high

sleep mama Papa gone
bad man Abdul take bread loaf
long gun man stand
head high wheel truck
up up to big gun roof man
kick kick gray tree school yard stick

big noise trouble boom
scream scream Papa gone
car smoke fire black
glass break break brick fall

big roller car small window slit
long long big long gun point
blood man brown face red
barefoot sand shoe fall
bump bump fall on brown ground

door peek quiet speak Fahad brother
mad mad Papa gone with long gun man
sad sad mama sleep with thread blanket

long gun man
wave wave stop go
smoke spit bell sound high
air hand up up Papa gone cry

door crack
knob high eye watch
long gun sand man
walk walk on corner walk by
black eye glass see Papa gone mama cry

black talk tongue lip
dog run run
big dry sand man
long gun stand

point point long gun bad man
stand still long gun run man
shirt break red wet hole shovel sand pit

cry mama papa gone
cry mama papa gone

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After The Mouse War

by Victor D. Sandiego

After the war, Mouse returns to his palace by the ocean. In a fit of rage over his humiliation and defeat, he has several of his advisors lashed  with thorny branches.

His wrath spent and quivering, Mouse enters a lower portion of the palace where a servant girl lives. At first, the girl cowers but Mouse commands her to stand. He orders her to take Mouse’s closest manservant and flee south. As customary, this must be done without question. Mouse gives the girl a few moments to gather some of her things while the manservant is summoned.

“Jacob,” he says when the manservant arrives, “begin your journey at once. Take this girl and go south before the war follows us here. You have served me well and are free to start your lives anew.”

As he bids them farewell, Mouse leaps forward and bites the girl in the hand. The girl rears back more in surprise than pain but says nothing. In later years, after several retellings of this incident, the legend of the Mongoose is born.

Jacob and the girl leave the palace quickly and take the southern road. Along the way they meet others who are also fleeing south. The smoky smell of unrest is in the air. They band together and the group grows larger.

Before long, bad tidings catch up with them from the north. Fickle Mouse is now hurrying south to catch and punish those who had deserted him. Mouse’s forces are small but well trained and equipped. Although a larger group, the band of refugees has no weapons or training.

They quicken their pace and go only a few more miles before they come to a banana grove. Jacob takes charge and urges everyone to take a stand against Mouse.

Everybody arms themselves with as many bananas as they can carry. When the forces of Mouse appear, they surge forward and use the bananas as clubs and spears. There are no injuries or casualties among Mouse’s forces but the vigor, surprise, and oddity of the attack drives them back. Dispirited, they return to the north. In later history, this conflict is referred to as The Battle of The Bananas.

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