Rising, Falling, Hovering.
Floods of feelings militarize our nights currents of solitude cordon off our days Oct 16 the famous Carousel Bar re-opened in the Crescent City customers resumed drinking revolving and sinking Providence continues to launch hurtle heave its leaves And as of Sat Nov 12 according to the Associated Press 2,066 of our members will remain Forever Young O when the saints go marching At the level of policy their kids don't exist never did will never reach the sun-drenched shore and now it's Monday again I have been to Pilates I found my old coat I took my will to the notary I found my good glasses I have filled my tank I am going to the market then I think I'll cut my hair off with a broken bottle As of three hours ago 2,311 of our members are to remain Forever Young We'll be in Mexico City in under five we're going back Our friend has started her treatment so we are going We still have pesos there's a Pullman from the airport Who was down last you or me Now you have to go upstairs No you go down He tells her to turn off the light though he has his own light And it is switched off Hers is cocked oddly It illumines the gutter of the book at the margins it fails He tunes into his iPod the black mask covers his eyes He has furled his body toward the window of the craft The shade is down all the way she prefers to see out If she could extend an arm through the portal and pull the clouds over them O Heavenly Comforter Let's get that light off You aren't really reading The monitor from the overhead begins its infotainment Not shown: white phosphorus falling on the city of minarets Not confirmed: the use of white phosphorus (for another year) NOW SHOWING: CATWOMAN If you cannot or do not wish to perform the function You must change seats now Was it only last summer they sent their son their suddenly-grown-tall son to Cuauhnahuac to finish the summer (otherwise would the summer's son withstand the son's mother or: the blood-stopping words they swapped) to study Spanish This was when the job helping the carpenter who didn't need much help dwindled to holding the ladder Picked up at the bus station by their friend who has finished her second treatment whose hair doesn't fall out until the day after their departure but this was before the bad diagnosis The boy wouldn't hear of staying with their friend of course It was too close to family too close to knowing his business He wanted to stay in the rojo district To save money he said He stayed in a private house renting out rooms part-way up the hill in the Pradera directly across the barranca from the donkey that never stopped hawing His wife di-et the proprietor talked through a mechanical larynx meaning the jenny was dead and the macho was all broken up Threw his duffel onto his bed stashed his checks in a drawer took a taxi to the language school (routinely taking taxis) registered met someone (name of Al) hopped on a second-class bus and rode through the howling Mexican night swerving around heifers on the sun-warmed asphalt the night permanently deep the stars permanently powered Changing buses in the pueblo where years ago (before the son existed as a thought in the body) his parents stopped they caught a band of young shirtless men breaking into their car siesta time and the men in full sun backed away from the vehicle hands up in front of them backing away when they realized as the couple walked slowly downhill in their direction they were the ones who belonged to the car with Arkansas plates Until he reached the Pacific Her fear as always was that he would make it to the bottommost level of the underworld where the smoke has no way out So the scared self assembles around the stiff self And the son's mother withstands the summer's son (and vice versa) (If you cannot or do not wish to perform this function you shouldn't be in this century) Anyway he and call-him-Al someone he had met fifteen minutes before they went to the station and bought tickets rode the bus to Zihuatanejo before the night was over his wallet was lost something he only discovered when they pulled over in that pueblo where his parents almost had an incident and so was his friend's dependent at least until he could get back to Cuauhnahuac a few hours before class They don't learn if the boys even had time for a swim in the shallow sharky water or some fried steak and cebollas at an open-air stand before they had to catch the return bus A town where they themselves had ordered flattened steaks and onions and stood in the rain in an open-air theater and watched a cast-of-eyes movie with Bedouins and who-knows-who-else The celluloid crackling The rain warm but hard falling But the son and call-him-Al actually did get back and make it to class on Monday Esta comiendo mi coco she phoned the friend who had picked him up at the station who had never heard the expression she was so pleased with herself for using from a dated phrase book This phrase is never used in Mexico her friend assured He is still eating my head If you give your fears a shape her friend suggested You break free of them this was before the bad diagnosis After she is assured he is back from the sea she concedes He is going to be OK He'll make his way recalls a woman she met at the women's prison the literacy teacher (not an inmate) who had several ex-husbands under her belt and had one son (not by the federal judge) (that husband didn't hunt) but by the one who sold indigenous rugs the son from that marriage A very fastidious boy always in the shower always changing from one white shirt into another she worried about him she came in the house one day and smelled squirrel He swerved he said but still hit it he thought it would be a pity to leave in the road so he brought it home skinned and rubbed its still soft body down with oil and rosemary stuck it in the broiler He'll be OK she thought this fastidious son He'll make his way During the time she knew he was on a bus without a wallet she knew this much because he left a message on her machine hurtling as Mexican buses tend to go she could say only say Esta comiendo mi coco He is eating my head He was gone Her breath clouds the pane of a second-story window she watches the silver Matrix with a bent fender key scratch along a diagonal the driver's side backing out of its cove Birds folding up a glimpse of the coyote that's been patrolling the perimeter as it cuts into the burial ground She sits in the cold staring at a cigarette coming apart in a glass of water At this writing he's finishing a year in college Also at this writing the smoking thing has been supplanted by the gym thing he has joined an underground fight club and she worries about him non-stop You see yourself wearing a championship belt Mister BLING holding up a fist of greenbacks I see myself being taught how to insert the feeding tube Don't you see how our visions do not correspond (Todavia esta comiendo mi coco) He mentions getting jumped in Zihuatanejo and cornered the year before in Oaxaca the Christmas before in Chicago and mugged once in Brooklyn and she is What What What Can't you just stay inside and read (turning pages) until you're thirty or something In Mexico she smoked Smoke Smoke her friend says If this is the fifth sun we're all going up The Pullman descends The helix of Cuauhnahuac Hurtling toward the station Oh look Media Naranja A new Walmex His face unfurls furls Poetry Doesn't Protect You Anymore The house dormant She feels her way to the toilet among the shadows wall of masks in shadow wall of books open hearth piano crouched under stairs in shadow Before the city is clogged with exhaust and the ravines streaming with orangey water and sewage before the dogs start barking She steps out into a fast-lifting cloud an earliness of light filtering through the eucalyptus leaves she sees what she knew to be there but seldom could be seen and she stumbles back through the dark forest of furniture to tell him What is He doing. Smoking. And Izta, what is She doing. Sleeping. As (so) was I. ?Mande? Nada. And when she rushes back to the stone porch, the volcano is gone. A minor fiesta blocks off one road Another way is found From their table on the mezzanine A view of the mosaic Diego did or did not draw Of Gaia in the floor of the pool In the once weekend house Of the beloved Cantinflas Gaia swirling underwater A curtain of bougainvillea Tumbling down the corner wall Of the open courtyard Their beautiful unruly friend Unusually subdued Her rebozo swaddling Her thin limbs Her intravenous access Her husband has returned From a fertility conference This very evening The faint whine of mosquitoes Brings a joven to light the citronella In Kyoto he is telling them In a department store A persistent sound Became intolerable to him He asked a clerk Could she make it stop (It was eating his head) A pitch said the astonished woman Only dogs are supposed to hear A chain of tiny explosions In the direction of the fiesta Reveals a moon under construction According to the Gaia Hypothesis, the earth is alive; According to Lt. Col. Venable white phosphorus is not a chemical weapon, it's an incendiary. It is an obscurant, it is for illumination nor are we a signatory of any treaty restricting its use. Not so many scientists subscribe to the Gaia hypothesis. Nor are so many rushing to refute the thousand and one levels of interdependence. Elsewhere a suicide car bomber struck a police station. Killing at least one and wounding seven. Gunmen also killed a teacher near his home. The bakeries become targets. The saints removed from the walls. For protection. One who was kidnapped and tortured. And dumped with thirteen dead bodies. And a barber shop was ambushed killing two including the owner. A tire repairman was shot dead. And one who refused to change the ring on his cellphone. They put four bullets in his head. Spoken anonymously. For fear of reprisals. And an analyst. For the Center. You get enclaves and fortresses. People become violent to the people outside. If a body makes 1 centavo per chile picked or five cents for fifty chiles can Walmex get it down to three cents. Pass the savings on to us. Will they open a Supercenter in Fallujah once it is pacified. Once the corpses in the garden have decomposed. Once the wild dogs have finished off the bones. Does the war never end. Is this the war of all against all. Who will build the great wall between us, the illegals, the vigilantes, the evangelicals or the ones who come back from Fallujah with four limbs and attached head. And the Supercenter in Teotihuacan. Is it not quietly being built at the skirt of the pyramids. Will the great job of the future be The Greeter. Thus did Montezuma open his arms to Cortes. In a gesture Prescott referred to as Montezuma's nonresistance to evil. Thus did one terrible story begin to unfold. De costumbre. (This would have been during Operation hold the line Operation don't drink French wine Operation embed the press and let them wear the sexy new gear Operation burn the boots with the sand niggers' feet inside Operation product endorsement Operation permanent party Operation it depends upon how you define the word torture [acts must be of an extreme nature to rise to the level of torture ... organ failure impairment of bodily function, even death] Operation phantom fury Operation white phosphorus [in our hands] is not a chemical weapon but an incendiary an obscurant an illumination and an important psychological weapon Operation wedding party massacre Operation liar liar pants on fire and [the culturally sensitive] Operation enduring freedom) The next day they are heading al otro lado A centipede is killed with a book The santo of Peregrine has been moved El Popo is smoking Behind a brown scrim of exhaust When everyone drops their reserve Everyone is thinking about the end of things The next day the treatments resume Her skin she would tell her later on the phone Feels as if it had been in a kiln Our lot bounded By a busy road at the foot Of the hill Here and here By burial ground #34 When a veteran Bagpipes and guns The dog throws up On the Oaxacan rug If at the window I watch The flag being folded and Gently tendered To the woman in the front Lately they were younger These women Children standing about In dark clothes It could happen like this To someone you know I am not saying it will I am saying it could Just as I overheard Someone ask Less than a month ago How is your son A woman mumble He is in a better place In which case there's nothing More to say is there Is rage your issue Well is it Is it As the earth heats up People are moving north Fragmentary partial contradictory Unconstrained by facts Phrases cycling through us as routine as prison meals: Politics are an aspect Business is good We are rushing about to meet the demands of our lives How do you want your chicken Philosophy isn't transcendent Who told you that The imagination has been tamed Friendship is irrelevant Fragile is life Everyone is alone here History disappears Quality cannot be controlled All bets are off As of Wednesday morning 2,845 of our members completed the Circle of Life Epidemiologists from here and there estimate 600,000 civilian dead About 15,000 a month, a number swiftly dismissed by the White House Just once I'd like to watch a movie up here that contains violence graphic language torture simulated sex cruelty to animals rape library- burning white-phosphorus shelling illegal military recruiting wanton profiteering artifact-looting and more What I want is a closed-captioned-surround-sound-uv-protected Armageddon Rage could be my issue And so I have come to want them-- them being, those people, the current occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania, I can't even bear to say their [expletive] monosyllabic surnames for dread of it calling up their bland [expletive] faces; yet I have come to want them, almost obsessively come to want them, to exist in this dread: for the nondescript car to pull up and disgorge the uniformed men with their generic words tapped out of their well-drilled heads; for the blunted bodies of this couple to be riveted to this dread, for their blunted minds to stick on this expectation as if driven into their bones of the natural order upended--that their twins are dead. No, that their twins are blessed to give of themselves so selflessly in this struggle for our way of life as it is so correctly, so vulgarly called; though I do not want them to actually receive this news to actually have the twins be dead, nor for their eyes to be blacked out, nor their earthly functions be stopped, nor their blood to quit flowing to their temporal lobes, but I sincerely do want this couple this very couple, the current occupants, to exist solely, wholly in this dread. Because we do. Before the landscape asserts its unexaggerated loveliness box buildings and a pipe fitters union hall its diode streaming patriotic messages the billboard announcing an unclaimed jackpot oil trucks barreling toward the company security gate he is the one driving she is absently counting storage tanks on her right and noting the cars pulled over at the homosexual trysting point the bird sanctuary void of birdsong before Hundred Acre Cove swerves into sight the stark silhouette of the osprey nest on its platform his hand relaxing over the wheel saying he is glad they went glad to be back that he loved living in the old school not in but near the city with the wormy fruit trees the burial ground next door and that he thinks about our son constantly Later (de costumbre) a moon would appear
William H. Prescott's page-turner, History of the Conquest of Mexico, was published in 1843.
Cuauhnahuac ("near the forest") is the Nahuatl name for the city the Spanish renamed Cuernavaca ("cow's horn").
"Poetry/Doesn't/Protect/You/Anymore" references (by substitution) a phrase in a diode from the Survivor Series by Jenny Holzer installed at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art at Washington University in St. Louis.
The volcanoes overlooking Cuauhnahuac and rimming the Valle de Mexico are Iztaccithuatl ("white woman" also translated as "sleeping woman") and Popocatepetl ("smoking mountain").
Cantinflas, Mario Moreno, a big-eared, speed-nonsense-talking film comedian, heralded as the world's greatest by no less than Chaplin. He made fifty films in Spanish, and in English played the valet Passepartout in Around the World in 80 Days.