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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


NOTES

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.
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Author:Wright, C.D.
Publication:Chicago Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2007
Words:2934
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