The Red Hurricane on Jupiter first stirred before a man learned how
to strike flint in those caves where sweat tasted the dark sun of sacrifice and gristle.
The Red Hurricane began its churning before the hammering of bronze,
the usage of bitumen to pave streets lined with citadels of glazed brick, while a bald scribe stylus-tallied an inventory
of wheat, clay pots of mead, gold ingots, and slaves.
Mornings, dusks on Earth, tides pregnant with the moon, harvest of olives,
birth of stones, and honing of birds' song from noise to the grammar of a great thirst,
while the Red Hurricane gyre'd, ammonia shrapnel & Richters of methane.
The Red Hurricane: crimson gouged eyeball of Cyclopes, skinned
testis of a black bull pierced by a hundred banderillas while, here, on earth, tribe decimated tribe, and Baal
smoked on the plains of murder.
And later, when a priest officiated before a snake goddess clutching
serpents in her fists, breasts jutted, her dress frilled with jabots of combustion, the Red Hurricane began to spin
in an atmospheric pressure so dense a square inch would vaporize that faience idol.
And much later, when the farmer of Hellas recited hexameters of benched
ships and betrayal, the hurricane would rotate up into one hemisphere, then down again, sweeping distances, rotations
lasting hundreds of years.
Generation begot generation, fields were cleared, corpses were burned, and
galleons embarked, flotillas treasured with lice and smallpox, argosies oozing dysentery, ships circumnavigating the globe,
while mace'd fists bore wax-sealed papacies, distopias, new Zions, quetzal feathers, ash, and the Red Hurricane, all
thrust and compression, persisted.
Tenochtitlan fell, yet the Red Hurricane persisted.
Lisbon shook, Catholic marble bludgeoned rosaries, and the hurricane
Monsoons and drought, locust swarms, yet the Red Hurricane thrusted,
a bloody yolk waxing.
And when the 20th century opened, with the sky now harnessed, and New Mexico
sand was smelted into glass in the furnace of a split atom, the Red Hurricane spun, and swelled.
Weather on Jupiter remained—by terrestrial standards—, apocalyptic: gas
clouds bled electricity into radiation tsunamis, atoms sweated electrons, and the air hardened to a metal at its core.
Because that hurricane had not settled nor will it for hundreds of years,
when slowly, very slowly, at the velocity of tectonic plates ripping a continent in two, sprouting granite mountains,
the clouds will seal, and the storm will dilute, samite sheets of hydrogen, ripcurls of electricity,
while on earth,
entered above a strata of crustaceans and vanished fern, a strata of reptiles,
one of mammals with bones as delicate as violin strings, to the litter of arrowheads, re-bar and oil,
man and woman will be imprints in sandstone,--a species crusted in rock,
petrified and buried beneath a barren steppe of absence and heat.
ON WHY I STICK MY ARM INTO THE EARTH
Because the Ant Queen is my mother;
the Ant Queen is my wife;
I praise the Ant Queen
I loathe the Ant Queen
because I adore her the way I adore what bloats with putrefaction, what smells of milk, what sucks marrow from
boilt-bone, what blooms under the butcher’s fingernail, what pierces, what lays a brown egg onto the lapel
of delectation, what is buried, then dug up, and shaven with a black tongue, what gestates in the belly round with quivering
meat; because the Ant Queen is amniotic fluid I gargled, is yellowness oozing from a fork’d yolk, plasma erupting
from a deep burn, the Ant Queen is
ripped skin, the bleeding, and twilight of brain;
the Ant Queen is the basement stuffed with eyes,
& she waits, nests beneath dry Californian soil color of parched hickory chips, or corn-kernel-flecked turd;
the Ant Queen whose mandibles crunch open & shut, sounding like heavy scissors cutting a stack of matte-paper;
the Ant Queen, whose eggs eggs egg eggs dribble from her gaster,
larvae white as a callus after one has swam for an hour; She, whose legs can rip in two the exoskeleton of a beetle,
yet whose gait is as soft as the letter H in Castilian; She, whose eyes are a multitudinous rattle
of sparks that shake in the fist of the gambler; She, whose cardiovascular system is a tree of electricity, a torch
of hydrogen, a gravitational tug between such disparate nouns as parachute and shoe-polish;
the Ant Queen who is my whetting-nurse, and my purse & curse, my minstrel and mistress of my nemesis, she reigns from
her mud-roof tunnel, she reigns, cushioned atop her pyramidal hoard of eggs; the workers mill, antennae knitting into
antennae, like the hand-shaking of small business owners at a convention, of frat brothers at an all-nite kegger;
the workers mandible-haul the inch of pizza crust, a pill bug curled into
crescent, mute agony of centipede, legs scintillating pathetically, ketchup-smeared scrap
of napkin from Grease-Spoon, raisin, toothpick speckled with diced coleslaw, cornbread
crumbs, pencil shavings; the workers delighting in human debris, the backwash of what man squeezes dry, the discarded,
excreted, puckering black eye of ass, and pipes.
All for the Ant Queen, who is my wife and left me for a free union with Andre the Giant, who is my left toe when I break
Matzoh, who is my molar crumbling communion’s cookie of panic attack, who is my skin when shattered against the
hammer of hyperbole, who simply is the logos at 5 o’clock when all the bulls have stained the sand crimson, when
man doesn’t hunger the Chinoiserie of spiral jellyfish but the pulmonations of stud, leaf-storm, ant swarm at the
zenith of summer, while She pisses her runny rice-ooze of eggs eggs egg eggs while
she hisses, aroused & incubating her load, bubble bursting in the rupture of every egg, with the paroxysm of hot
blade into labium, lightning slicing a tree, with the word, with the lips that are slit open to burp a wider decibel and
resound in their meaty walls the needles of the moon, the bloodbath of syncretism, the scream cauterized.
Yet nothing happens, no, only this extravagant dream.
Jose Gorostiza, Death Without End, (trans: Laura Villasenor).
Love has terrible purple hounds, but also its harvests, also
Jose Gorostiza, (Trans: Laura Villasenor)
MOTORO IS A UNIT OF MEASUREMENT vaster than the distance encompassed
in a light-year. Motoro turns brown in the banana peel left on the counter, and its glucose fattens bacteria. Motoro,
the thud of a liver into a coroner’s stainless steel pail. Motoro, the continent I hold in my right palm, and
the constellation in my left. Motoro, the stock market quotations. Motoro, the river running between two clouds the
color of a peach. Motoro, the seismic waves Celeste elongates when wearing a skirt. All hail Motoro, arbiter of
how many needles it takes to find a haystack, and the speed necessary to re- wind Zeno’s arrow.
AH, MOTORO, THE HANGOVER! When after the vomit is squeezed like
milk from breasts pendant, when the dried orange is thrown in trash bin, and the peels have sizzled though the
digestive system of a possum, when two buckets of nausea are meted out for every third beer, Motoro takes up residence in
your stomach acids. Never again you say, never again the moon hanging on a thread, the bridge rising between spit
& cockroach, wet bread coughing vinegar, and the train rattling, its boxcars hauling Faith & Hygiene. Because
Motoro is hunger for every syllable fermented, for the swamp-miles of cholera and the rust tang of blood. Motoro
is a leap from a skyscraper into a shot of tequila, lime still burns your lips, salt scrapes your final breath, and
the room is spinning, and when you ask which way is up, I clutch my stomach and say
BUT MOTORO IS ALSO A TODDLER boy who has found a blue crayon beneath
the kitchen table, and he runs with it in hand to the vast whiteness of his bedroom where at first slowly and
then with inspiritus crackling cobalt blue he whorls & glazes his sigil on the walls.
AND WHEN YOU CAN’T FIND a parking spot, or your navel, and
hate & money-gripes belch from their smokestacks, fuck off the waiter who spat in your soup, fuck off your boss
who according to Catullus has teeth so white he must have brushed them with mule piss, and scream from the open
window, fuck off night trembling beneath the bed sheets, bash the skull of silence and press in his eyes with your
thumbs, fuck whichever shade your piss curdles, for only then the roses, the bloody roses, will not stain our
I GROW WITH THE CORN I bend wrist-thin bough and spring off it
before splashing into a pool of tar. I snore between stratum of mud & dung, feldspar & fossil, I fall
into the pit reaching the sky, and am sucked up with magistrate & wizard via the vulva of clouds gloaming violet. And
I find a way to fit all the squares & bolts into the humming engine of a lifetime.
I SAW YOU between columns of smoke I saw you among bubbles in abeyance I
saw you mounted on a motorcycle with a tattoo on your breath which mapped the freeway exits of a metaphor I saw you Celeste
of two waters for each salt grain Celeste with a constellation in each eye and a talent for stitching puppets of meat Celeste
who awakens into thirst with a trout peering from out her mouth Celeste with fingers the shape of bougainvillea fingers
that dip into a bucket of black paint to chart the canals of fallopian tubes on canvas Celeste who dredges a maize of
syllables through a canopy of quetzal feathers Celeste who stands up like a river and offers to lick me yet leaves
my skin as burning Celeste who is a dream that doesn’t dissolve in light but is she who draws in the net proffers
the largest fish and guides me through the forest of illegible stars
BLESS ME, SUPERHERO, who, in cape & yellow tights, digests
bullets, leaps canyons, and digs tunnels in the air. And bless me Motoro more fabulous than the woman with
eyes the color of egg yolk, more noble than the boy with a tin cup full of leaves. All the flowers have withered, and
old women are dying from the heat. The ice caps are melting, and the rivers stink of turpentine; everyone’s
irritable, and no one believes in eating meat. Come Motoro, we need you to bang our brains back into working
order, to show which key fits into lock, to pave a smaller interstate, (one with more cacti and fewer motels). We
don’t need a fire-eater or weightlifter; just you, a man with two hands, and eleven fingers.
I’D LIKE TO TELL YOU MORE ABOUT MYSELF: I am a man with no ambitions other
than tasting the mezcal that once sizzled in the spit of a Zapotec boy losing his virginity to a muxe with a silver
tooth. She wiped her ass with a dish rag while the boy looked away and pulled up his briefs. I walk toward another
village dazed in summer when the children come out at evening to eat chips on the porches or pelt iguanas and salamanders
with stones. Always a ball rolling down a further alley, always a hammock rocking in a blue room. I want papaya from
a bay where I never sat beneath whirring ceiling fans. You might know the joke about the toad fucking the skeleton,
but I will only listen when you have stepped out the front door into oncoming traffic so that curtains will shape
breasts surfacing in the milky dreams of that boy; so,
thank you, thank you so much for leaving this window open.
BY TAPPING INTO MOTORO I excel in the purest necromancy...putrefaction: smelling
dull teeth of larvae chewing sludge inside out from an onion blossoming into blue-emerald of mold. When commuting
on bus or sipping coffee a crow who picks and pecks at possums sheeted on asphalt pours into my ears the vinegar of
carrion eaters, and informs me there no reins short enough to control rot, that verbs masticate action into bolus,
then spit gristle, while all Imagination wishes to offer is her dress let fall from tattooed shoulders, and two
pips popping inside the intolerable weight of a Great-Dane’s testicles.
USING MOTORO AS LUBRICANT FOR CELESTE IS QUITE SIMPLE: retrieve the
apricot from her palm; she was lost in an ash-heap, searching for the orchid of red seasons, tropical jackhammers
and the Venus-singed sea. Harvest the bees in her hair, and monopolize summer; bake loaves of black bread, mash stars
& garlic with mortar & pestle, moisten crumbs with your spit and feed them to the chirping beaks of her nipples, then
slide between her thighs the color of August. Somehow, despite corrosive cleaning agents and money, the sex
of Celeste will soften; once constricted as canned heat, it will now explode.
MOTORO to put it bluntly, is a twist of trope, a twirl of cane,
a torque, a code, the never deciphered Minoan script, everything suffocating inside a zero. And Motoro is also five
minutes spent in a freezing gas station bathroom, falling asleep at the ballet; or a handsome transvestite and his trick
at the Pink Motel, window’s view framing smoke stacks and railroad tracks, and Motoro drives by in the wind
and long cloud.
AND WHEN AS A CHILD seated in the back of the station wagon, you’d
ask Mom is the moon following me? As it jumped above trees, above hills and was always there where- ever
your father turned... Ah, Motoro, how could you have known that it was following you and never straying?
WHEN THE FIRES REACH ME
(San Fernando Valley, during the summer brush fires of 2008)
I will breathe the black wind pummeling this planet;
I will be a kosmos revolving in a kosmos whose center is my chest, whose spiral
arms are mine, whose radiation is the spray of my breath, foam of my sperm, the scent of a faded rose
whose center is the combustion of helium.
I will be the clacking wood, the blackening stucco; a suction-gust will funnel the sheets
fluttering like kerchiefs from a departing ocean liner; the ceiling will burst like a lung inhaling water;
the television, the walls will rupture,
yet I will remain floating, supine, in abeyance,--
pouring against the flight of sparks & fumes
a dark fire will churn and crackle into the room, a fire
casting no light, yet scalding, combusting
my bones, rills of liquid fire, despite
the consumed timber and
zero gravity, despite
NIGHTMARE OF BAR LAS PLAYAS
I sit at the counter, a crushed High Life before me, and a piss-warm can
in my fist.I look to my left: the aging bar-maid is dressed in a black mini-skirt.Her ungainly hips hump forward, as she pushes the mop.A stench of ammonia sours the air.Outside, a big-rig roars past, and
its breaks squeal, puncturing the silence that resumes so that I hear my breathing, the occasional splash of the mop dipped
into a bucket, and then the slap of the mop against the tiles. Sunlight squeaks through the iron screen-door, casting brown
light against posters of 1980’s beer models.Two workers, hunkered in a
shadow, sit by the entrance.They whisper, heads nearly touching, and erupt in
laughter, before taking swigs from their bottles.When I look to my right, I
notice that the Bone Lord is seated on the neighboring stool.Rather, when I
look to my right I remember that he has been seated next to me, stiff and silent.Before him, the dark bottle that he hasn’t touched.His tinted sunglasses are reflected in the mirror above the racks cluttered with chips, peanuts and pork
cracklings.I noticed the vein on his temple that throbs slowly; it is a faint,
jade color, and it extends from above his eye brow to where a hairline would start if he were not bald.I stare at that vein and his profile, yet he doesn’t acknowledge me; the only movement made apart
from the pulsing vein is a constant slow grinding of his jaw. It’s been days since I have spoken, and my voice cracks
like an adolescent’s when I slur about the rusted steel in the junkyard behind the motel, the boy locked outside his
mother’s room, the boy whom others ignore when they play soccer in the parking-lot; the shape of certain words, like
that of chaparral, when I scrawl in my notebook; the pointed breasts and brooding demeanor of the waitress at the pupusería, and the men who badger her for her name, her day off; the pungency of ash in the air and the brushfires
on the foothills. I pause… his ear has started to secrete a thread of blood.Viscous
and pinky-thick, it slowly winds out of his ear until it reaches the black leather of his jacket.I look over my shoulder; the barmaid is nowhere to be seen, and the two men who were drinking have left,
leaving several bottles on their corner table.The Bone Lord continues grinding
his jaw, saying nothing; I pull once on the thread, and it leaves a gelatinous and rosy stain on my thumb and forefinger.I tug again until there is a slight resistance, and then the thread comes out along
with its root: a walnut-sized bolus of gristle and fat. I bolt to my feet and it plops on the floor, a coil of blood and pulp.When I look up, I see the Bone Lord’s jaw has opened.A thick, slug-like appendage oozes from his open mouth.Crimson
and vein-webbed, it inches into the brown light of the bar.As in some zombie
slasher flick, I back away with my eye-balls peeled to their edges.The appendage
continues to throb its way out his mouth.By the time I feel the door behind
me, five, six inches have excreted from his slack jaw, yet the Bone Lord doesn’t move; the silence is excruciating.
Outside, I pause, my left hand shaking.It is now twilight; the Santa Ana winds have whiskered the air with ash, and I feel strangely vivid.
I fall asleep around dawn, and wake up past .Dryness in my mouth, and a taste of dirt and carrion whiffed in a sluggish breeze.I unpeel my lips and inhale dry heat.It is only when
I look in the mirror that I realize I have slept for days; my face has tightened over my skull, and my eyes are sunken, like
the deep-set stare of an addict.In the kitchenette, the bananas are brown, their
sweet stink excessive and nauseating.When I open the fridge, I wretch from the
carton of leftover Chow-mein, the opened tin of malt liquor.A hungering gnaws
at my stomach, and I step outside, pass the burning parking-lot, and walk into the vacant lot behind the motel.Stillness among the bushes; then, a dry rustle of lizard or mouse from sage-brush.On my knees, I start scooping the dust, and shove a handful past my teeth, chewing the stray kernel
or pip, savoring my filth.
A pothole, flooded. The water trembles as delivery trucks lumber past; it splashes and is refilled with backwash from
the gutter.In the evening, a streetlight is mirrored in its jagged circle; the
desert night-gusts are scalding.When a man stares into it, after the train has
thundered by, after the police-helicopter flickers overhead, and the streetlight has clicked, he tastes the ash in the Santa
Ana winds, and hears the black flames crackling, the voice of an insomniac from behind his locked red door.
A MURDER OF
I’m fed up with being a man.We’re boxed in at the corner pupusería
where no one eats the fried cassava or tortillas stuffed with pork rinds; instead, we drink beer, our paunches pregnant with
ulcers, cirrhosis, and unpaid debts.I look at them as they enter dressed in
their work uniforms, eyes bleared from the previous night, hands blackened, callused from changing tires, setting cinder-blocks,
washing dishes spotted with grease of steak dinners.Besides the ten or twelve
hours of eating shit, no one rinses his mouth with water.The one waitress doesn’t
look me in the eye, and she walks from table to table, setting down bottles, retrieving empty ones.Brooding and dark, her breasts have swelled these past weeks; she seems disgusted with the whole
affair.The men laugh, offer to trim her bush, give her a lube-job, they praise
her asset, so she retreats to the kitchen where the chat with her mother-in-law is an escape from the clicking billiard balls,
the men bragging and gesticulating at the soccer match on the television.I get
up to piss and, teetering above the urinal, I stare at my prick as it spurts a warm gush; it’s nothing formidable, and
I wonder what it would be like to have an aperture into the heat of me, to bleed or weigh the heaviness inside, while the
men careen on their commute to minimum wages.What would it be like to
stuff the notepad into my apron and walk back into the kitchen? What would it be like to look another woman in the eye, far
from the men drinking and discussing important trifles?
Thundercloud crackles above the motel.Crimson smoke roils.We, the tenants of these asbestos cages,
stand in the parking lot and stare at the apparition.We cover our mouths, while
children hop up and down shrieking, and a truck on the boulevard re-ends a police cruiser that has screeched to a stop.Then a lull, as the portent dissipates; in such moments I’m kindest to myself,
and forget my debts, insomnia, tedium of thinning hair.Some tenants lose interest
and walk back to televisions or beer; I’m last to realize it’s a mere cloud dissolving, salt into water. Yet an
afterimage remains, like my fingerprints when I study the crabs crowded in the fish-tank at the Mariscos, see the claws which I presume are beckoning me, though I wouldn’t reach in, for fear of being
The Jivin' Ladybug- A Skewered Journal of the Arts
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