Writing

an expanse of the transparent, odorless, tasteless, with pebbles and sand.
 


fill in the gap.

a)    waterfall               b)   coast               c)    lagoon             d)   pond

a)    port                       b)   shore               c)   beach                d)   bay

 

my students explain the differences to me.

“like, you walk along the coast. the port is, like, for ships.”

my part is explaining what parts of speech can go before and after a noun.

“and remember to fill in the answers on your answer sheet, too!”

telling students how to fill in gaps. that’s what i do.

they go to the beach on holiday. they swim and go on water rides, get tans and forget about their homework until it’s absolutely necessary not to. that’s what they do. my students.

***

every body of water seems to be waiting. a visit. a definition of itself. we assume it’s waiting because we assume we are to discover something there. a postcard view. our selves. a joint. someone else’s tongue. an answer to a problem we inevitably go back to when the waves and sunset are replaced by the usual stuffy commute and too short lunch hour.

no beach is actually waiting. a beach is not a place, not exactly. it only seems to come to exist when you need it.

***

i’ve been to the beach two times, according to a pair of photographs.

a beach in lázaro cárdenas. pigtails and a little round belly in a kid’s bikini. the 80’s did that, of course. i was probably 3. the beach looks too brown, too rocky, too dirty, but i suspect 80’s film did that, too. i’m standing solid on the sand, facing the sea, my hands on my hips, a lifesaver under my left arm. “i’m going to conquer this place”, it looks like i thought. i hope i did do that, as much as a 3 year-old could do.

the second is just my feet in the sand. everyone is swimming or on colorful towels, gossiping with friends. it looks like it’s about to rain, and i am alone, watching someone who has stopped loving me swim clumsily in the immense lake that belongs to my childhood summers. and winters. and to my perpetual nostalgia for the gray city i was born in. my feet in the sand, my keratosis pilaris on the small screen. “i don’t belong on the beach, not even on this one”, i know i thought, just not with those words, or that sigh, not quite yet.

***

this is the beach.

3d229-img_20160330_111726


walter benjamin lived in grunewald
i got there on the s7, by accident
fairytale greens & blinding sunlight
my story isn’t history’s

la manzana sobre la mesa no dice nada
se come sola mientras me ve pasar
buscando calor en la mirada apagada
de todo aquello que me saborea triste

my fingers taste like metal. a doorknob. the mere sight of endless railings. the subway.
my aunt’s eyes, little and sweet, like my grandmother’s.
she looks up at what the nurses are doing, stares at the patients.
she turns to me and says something intelligible,
but then she says it a second time, a third, a fourth, and my heart breaks.
her mind is wandering off to all the past she had always felt so much nostalgia for,
jumbled up now, a strange mosaic.
but sometimes she’s focused and hears the screaming from another patient in another room;
she mimicks the wailing and let’s out a cackle.
and that’s when i know she’s not off somewhere, she’s there, with me, her usual humor wide open, so crass and wicked.
i slap her on the head with a plastic folder and whisper to her to shut up.
she looks up at me. we both roll our eyes and giggle.
my coughing today had the texture of keys. i felt my throat rough, as if my entire insides wanted to slice their way out.
i saw my aunt yesterday, from afar. i wasn’t allowed in to visit her. some procedure shit.
i waved to her from just inside the door before being asked by a nurse’s broad back to please kindly get the fuck out.
my aunt looked up, her cute beady eyes lighting up her whole face. an instant smile.
two instant smiles.
she can still recognize me.
violent rain. it pierces the air and everything moves against its will.
everyone runs for cover. i clasp onto my umbrella and stay still.
the sky is made of steel.
a man is trying to sell his cellphone. his wife has just died. he’s crying.
i feel everything gray against my tongue.
the sky slips slowly down my throat.
it is a gun. the sky is a gun.
there’s nothing to do.
today i go inside the hospital room. the lights are out. every patient is sleeping, including my aunt. i look down at her, at her heavy breathing. she’s sleeping. sleeping, like when we shared our bed during late afternoon naps, or when i would come back from someplace and find her on the couch waiting for me between snore and slumber. she’s sleeping, and i bend down to kiss her forehead, her cheek, my fingers caressing her bright motherly skin. she stirs a little but keeps sleeping, keeps dreaming. i leave the room, happy that she looks so placid, so at peace in deep sleep, sleeping, like i remember her sleeping. i smile. i don’t want to say goodbye. i quicken my pace into a run. i wish she could just keep sleeping on like that. i wish we didn’t have to say goodbye.
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a window stare. his coffee cup sighs. it sits and waits. i sip, outside.

saberme en mí. desear recibir cartas del universo que no me saquen la lengua, ni el pene, ni el peine de lo que me pasa. buscarte en cada ventana. imaginar que no me muero. suspirar ante el fuego. dejar escapar el alma en canto. bailar furiosa el pasado. patearte las bolas. besarte muy fuerte. correr como loca. reírme todita. sacudirme tu parálisis. enunciar todas las piezas que me conocen como soy. reinventarme vertical. desatada, como siempre. pero, a destiempo, como siempre. trial and error. trial and error. trial and error. mal.di.ta. se.a.

Today’s failures were strictly planned. Essential. Especially the parts where I am to accept and heal and grow.

How we love to tell ourselves the same stories over and over again.

 

So we talk. About other things. About being happy in what we know. About being unhappy when we don’t understand. Which is often.

 

The facts I know might not apply to everyone.

 

I am lazy.
You might not be.

 

The best view of any place is on a boat.
You know I’m wrong
and you think of how beautiful
your city looked
upon landing at your local
airport a few nights ago.

 

I like reading into fire.
You like reading in bed.

 

My secrets are taken in capsules.
And so are yours, but we don’t talk about that.

 

So, again, we talk about other things.

 

I wonder how many words are wasted in not knowing.

 

This morning felt like destiny. The wrong kind. With car horns honking and cruel-looking eyes. The cold. The queue. What’s present, what’s absent. Incorrect numbers. Red in the face. Not the right blue. Paradise is Maui. Or the Bible. Or a power outage that will please let me go home an hour earlier, just this once. But that’s not happening. All the other things are. In their own way. To whom they may concern.

 

I pout.

 

Today’s failures were strictly planned. Essential. Especially the parts where I am to accept and heal and grow.

 

How we love to tell ourselves the same stories over and over again.

 

Let’s talk.


flash1

a veces hay noche. hay volantes. hay carriles. hay párpados pesados. hay la necesidad de llegar viva a casa. y es cuando te veo. te veo claramente. en la distancia. humo de cigarro. café entre las manos. pasos descalzos. silencioso. siempre a solas. siempre adentro. esperando. esperando todo. esperando a todo aquello que no soy yo. y rompo el escenario. rompo al conductor. rompo su plática. su puerta. el cristal de su puerta. el siguiente coche. el siguiente carril. el andén del metro. el vagón del metro. la siguiente acera. la que sigue. rompo los edificios. las ventanas. los televisores. las charlas. los cuerpos. los vacíos. rompo las esquinas. los postes. las calles. subidas. bajadas. las iglesias. los hoteles. rompo todos los lugares que te resguardan de mí. rompo la noche. me rompo. y llego. ante ti. sin filo. sin aliento. sólo mi presencia. entera. patética. y te miro. y me miras. y ves cómo se me van los ojos hacia ti. hacia la cama. hacia el escritorio. hacia las sábanas. hacia el cuaderno. y de pronto me acuerdo de que nunca sé por dónde empezar contigo. cómo romperte. cómo rompernos. cómo romperme de regreso a mi lugar en el asiento trasero. esperar llegar a casa. en la noche. al sueño. lejos de ti.

no. 58
esta casa tenía número telefónico de cinco dígitos. tenía siete camas y una cuna. tenía un perro que yo no conocí, uno que lanzaron al río y felizmente regresó.
la calle es emilio carranza. hay otras calles: mina, allende, melchor ocampo, cuauhtémoc, muchas más de personajes históricos que ni por la secundaria logro recordar.
en este pueblo todo es “allá arriba”, “allá abajo”, “allá por”, “ancase”.
mi abuelo tenía una casa mejor, “allá arriba”. tenía tres hijos y cuatro hijas. tenía a mi abuela. tenía un mal vicio, como todos los hombres de este pueblo de horas lentas y botellas. en una borrachera, perdió una apuesta, su casa de “allá arriba”, y llegaron a ésta.
esta casa pobre, chiquita, de vigas de madera y suelo de tierra, vio crecer a 11 nietos. mi kínder estaba “allá abajo”, al final de la cuadra y a la derecha. para entonces ya había domingos de concha con chocolate y en familia con chabelo. las paredes y pisos vestían de colores. la mayor parte de los adultos se habían ido al otro lado y las idas al banco hacían que supiéramos que todo estaría bien. mi abuelo iba por mí a la escuela y yo me le adelantaba corriendo y jugando por la calle. llegábamos a sentarnos a la mesa, a comer juntos, todos platicando, mi abuela siempre en chinga, mi tía siempre riendo.
ahora, 30 años después, la casa tiene un segundo piso y mucho silencio. seis camas, vacías. aquí se regresa para que unos se despidan y otros mueran. soy la única que regresa para hacer ambas. visito cada vez que alguien se nos va, y también cuando me aniquila la ciudad, cuando me empieza a fallar el cuerpo, la cordura. aquí se muere bien, se descansa bien, pero yo sigo inquieta. aún no sé si estos rincones puedan sostenerme de alguna manera, así, siendo como soy.
el número telefónico ha aumentado con dos dígitos. anoche escuché a un gato maullar afuera de la recámara en donde me estoy quedando. pienso en que una casa puede contener muchas historias, muchos giros, muchas vidas.
hay más calles en este pueblo cuyos nombres no me sé. siguen ahí, como puntos suspensivos.

plank, dog
experiment
spacewalking
into human
smile
me
your views
papernews

aún hay cosas
que no sé soltar.
el control, por ejemplo,
la lengua, el culo
y sus demás secuaces.
a veces me pregunto
qué han significado
todos aquellos intentos
de espectro,
las búsquedas bruscas
y sus verdades ondulantes,
los minutos vueltos días,
los días vueltos nada,
esos abrazos de susto
que con sus letras vivas
se quedan atorados
entre brote y polvo,
entre ayer y mañana,
entre los nuncas
y los siempres
que creemos existen.
pero ni el mismísimo
descontrol es capaz
de arrojar respuestas.
sólo somos nosotros:
simples preguntas
malhechas           hurgando
en donde no hay.

i.

no fue hasta hoy en la mañana mientras me bañaba que me di
cuenta de las selvas que ocupaban el lugar de mis axilas.
pensé en el rastrillo pero opté por pintarme los labios de
rojo para afrancesar la situación — el descuido también
merece tener su momento de glamour.

ii.

la seriedad que domestica se llama agotamiento. la seriedad
que libera se llama de otra manera pero lamentablemente no
recuerdo su nombre.
[y ya que estamos en ésas, ¿sería posible pedirle a la
lluvia que no mimetice? para chubasco, ya tengo suficiente
con mi propia confusión…]

iii.

desaparezco de los párpados para afuera. cancelo mi cita
con los espejos. no hay nada que ver si la ceguera lo
impide, y depender de un sólo sentido para sobrevivir es
bastante mezquino.

 


 

flash2


Speaking in tongues or parading gimmicks on a leash,
I circle around my words, galling shards between my toes.

One tear might as well be two. Or more. Or many.

I am used to asking the wrong questions.

Does courage come in a box?
Will it make me pretty?
Can it tell the future?

I curl the lint in my pockets deep into my fingernails,
Heartbeats folded frantically into a messy response.

Last Sunday’s map of a city I knew well,
Showed streets difficult to walk through,
And bodies of water that no longer exist.

A song on the radio belongs to my mother,
Who was buried on a sunny day,
With the same doubts as mine.

Evening falls upon corners the clock insists on exposing,
Each door I’ve left ajar stands ablaze but forlorn.

I am supposed to be someone else by the end of something,
If only that something were a clean name again.


i.
Sunday is more like a month
It happened this morning
Hibernating into life
ii.
The wrong shoes, the wrong hair
What will the future look like
No time, I run across the street at yellow
iii.
My father used to buy the newspaper
It never had the funnies, though
Just dead bodies, severed politics
iv.
A drop of mint tea on the page with your poem
An accident, I hope you won’t mind
I’ll lick one off your lips later on anyway

 

v.
Nature and its unfamiliar names to me
Those larkspur (?) look softer than the sky
This thought, rain sliding down over every color

vi.
A flame hums under the oldish kettle
Night is a fluffy towel over my shoulders
You’ve found your keys, you’re in, you smile

vii.
We’ve slept too deeply but I’m awake now
It will be another morning for you soon
Outside, silence sways steady, pitch-black

viii.
This was a song, how could I’ve forgotten
A half-eaten waffle, a sunny kiss goodbye
I pull up the comforter and listen


蝶 (or, 15 strokes to become)
 
in english, a compound noun. butter. cheese, milk, cow, dairy, fat. fly. wings, buzz, velocity, fuzz. verb. fuss. insect. fuss. ear. fuss. slippery. fuss. cholesterol. fuss. fuss. fuss. fuzz.
generalities.
specifics: scrapbooking; crafts; lisa frank merchandise; hair accessories for girls; bad tattoos; the word ‘metamorphosis’.
i hate butterflies. those.
***
nabokov and my days at uni. nabokov and lolita. nabokov and everyone’s nabokov. my interest wasn’t really there; it was in his index cards. nabokov and his nabokov. nabokov and his index cards: over-intentional, wordy, overflowing with pen drips and zeal, trying to be contained in a small hopeless slip of ruled cardboard… it’s no surprise that someone with such a particular interest in the aesthetics of classification would ultimately produce an exquisite collection of scientific illustrations, of butterflies, no less.
***
my mother comes from a state in mexico famous for day of the dead, organized crime, and the arrival of the monarch butterfly, in winter, for hibernation. thousands of hectares of firs and pines covered in orange and black, clusters of butterflies swarming in furious tiny whirlwinds while the rest sag millions of branches quietly to the ground. the power in all of this makes me feel literally nauseous. i could not handle the sight of it if i had to face it. i don’t know why. it’s their home. like me sprawled out on my bed typing this. something about it is grotesque, too messy, too natural. it’s marvelous, and yet it makes my stomach churn.
***
butterflies were thought to be a form witches took to steal milk left uncovered.
my aunt once told me about her father’s mother, a woman dressed in black, severely religious, severely cold to her grandchildren, because they were poor. they would be sent by my grandmother to visit their grandmother, to keep her company. they’d get hungry during their stay, but she wouldn’t let them near her food. when she was out one day, my aunt –the youngest and most mischievous of them all– took a pot of milk that was on the kitchen table (or raw cream, i can’t remember) and finished it all. well, not all, just enough. but not enough, really. probably just a taste, a sip. her brothers and sisters had been taught to know better. but she did it. she dared. a taste, a sip. even if just a taste, a sip, in the name of her siblings, a huge smile on her face, i hope. she smiled when she told me about it, anyway.
some stories work the other way around.
***
match correctly.
a)  break a butterfly on a wheel                    ____  fluttering felt in the stomach when nervous
b)  gaudy as a butterfly                                      ____  a person going from party to party without care
c)  butterflies in one’s stomach                    ____  cute, fancy
d)  a social butterfly                                             ____  all for this?
***
***
and then there’s this.
***
but every time i happen to catch glimpse of a single butterfly in the air, i get inexplicably excited. it’s the only time i am able to see the butterfly for what it really is and not the word, not the caricature, not the metaphor or the effect or the stroke. a butterfly is always a majestic sight. the real ones, though. i don’t know what to call the rest.

Underneath our steps,
calendar days make us stumble,
serving as thick reminders
of their ever-growing greed
Further out, winter crawls into our ghosts,
shakes the wrong words out of them,
leaves them bare,
past iron, past death
The night swells back into its foundations
I am standing, however,
pressing against an invisible war
The hiss of the usual
rough around the hundred stones,
ornaments of my nature
and my rustic sense of hope
A landscape is near
I cannot see the risk or the real,
only a red sun that ripples
high above an insurmountable frontier
Infinity gleams through my hands,
and I, an impossible net,
keep myself wide open,
unwritten, possible

woundcol

no sé hacerme invisible. tampoco le estoy contestando a un exterior. es la terquedad del monólogo hasta sus últimas consecuencias. es perder la noción de lo que es sin buscarle reemplazo. no hay conciencia. no hay trasfondo. la percepción se distorsiona y los filtros rechinan demasiado irreales. la boca hambrienta de las ausencias es incapaz de sentir furia — sólo calla, espontánea. no percibe formas ni sentido, ni fondo ni interpretación. es como estar muerta? es como verlo todo? entre dios y la locura, la lista de absolutos se retuerce y expira. sólo queda la vastedad del universo, y con él, quedo yo.

303
sample this, a script for the innocent
deep topography otherwise forgotten
all lands rest before the next heaven
something stops to speak inventions
how to crawl into corners, how to sleep
how to tamper with verbatim
curiosity has its own moods to stretch
one body touches another, we reconsider
our dreams are the last vowels to break
nothing knows itself after the first force
except the score of ivory memories
intact through our eyes in dying light