“some words die in cages.”
—Eduardo C. Corral


Seventy-five years ago on the Jornada del Muerto

who didn’t surrender to its flat surly wonders and silent

skies brightened by a flash, the grotesque salutation of

white privilege exercised by seeming chemical fanatics

addicted to the experimental drug of trial and error?

The next time it rained blackened sludge flowed through the

arroyos from the burn scar for days after and after and nothing

past after, the fallout became God’s undiscovered country

and the next time it rained the children were drawn closer

and played in the playas, it was rarified, curative, the lightning’s

jagged scars healed almost simultaneously, earth’s pulse

quickened with each feral tear.  If I’m still enough in

this world I become borderline intoxicated, its mysteries

supply enough surprise endings to keep my captive eyes

buried in the heavens, no escaping its incontinence,

its virtuosity.

The migra cowboy

stares into a partial eclipse of the sun, listens to outlaw

country, practices the dark arts of separation and

detention. The mother says, espanto! The dread of this

something is the something after. He replies speak English.

Each badge absorbs its own uncanny power, as an object it

reels in the mad language of its country, as a mirror

it deflects the rest of humanity. The most famous northern

jaguar, El Guapo, crosses back and forth at will through these

almost extinct El Paso motel rooms a rain-splotched ghost.

The stars sizzle and execute or begat other stars while a rare

zephyr after midnight gently palpates the earth to sleep.

Immigrantes used to carry their

children across the river at first light. A father’s bone crucifix,

his daughter holds her magic rock, her mother’s photo. The

journey is all dreams and shadows, a raindrop reaches its

reflection in the river and disappears, no escaping

where they come from or where they’re going.