“What the grave says the nest denies.”
A BRIGHT white light beats down upon the desert like an unexpected clubbing. Landing hard on the hard earth, the dry rocks and the burnt up brush. Down over the fallen stones and the broken twigs still and stiff under its hot unstopping breath. Only the boy moves. El nino que corre. Running as the only thing left living before the bull sun hot after him. El ojo in el cielo. Luciente. The Victor. Burning. Searching out that last aspect of life. The boy running across a land vast and endless as the sky that caps it, toward the hills and the sharp fins in the distance. Only in the horizon is there any hope of shade and salvation. Running with his head hung low, cast away from the blue white blaze. Beaten on by its downpour. Running through the charred black and the yellowed death with red wet flesh on his back. Running until a crack cuts open the ground. A bend burrowing up into rocks, into hills. An arroyo. A hope. A chance that he might make it. Then he sees it. A tree clinging to the side of the ravine. Sees it green and verde. And again he can almost breathe. He lunges for its thin scratches of shade and curls up against its course dry trunk. He holds his hands to his eyes and tries to hide. Turning out the sun. Still burning. Burning in him. Burning through his eyes until the blue and white light blots and brands and blinds. Consumes him with fever. Magnifies the inside and burns out his last remnants. His mind but an ember and his eyes left scorched and useless. All there is to do is remove them. Quita la luz. The heat ripping through. Pluck them out and forget them. Rip them from blood gray slits and smash them before the pain hits. Doing it fast and violent in one last mad attempt to end this.
-EL PROBLEMA, my friend, es en la lengua, the tongues, the ones that without them solo somos como animales. Tienen el poder to dig into our heads like raices o lumbrices in trees. They tell you when you are young, you meet a man, you hear it oversaid that there only two ways. This way or that. Todo gente y cada cosa on only one side o la otra. And you go on believing these things and never seeing anything. Only two sides, one light and one dark. One right. One wrong. One of love and el otro de miedo. Not even ending in death, alli te persigue too, until nothing is left.
AND SO the light gave birth. Amidst bouldered barrens and scattered rocks hewn from earth and under a night cut like glass, stir the embers of a fire. Heat slides and swims across its surface like brass snakes mating. Though little by little the flameless kindle dwindles and their pulsing rhythm slows. Then the claroscuro sky breathes it all in and holds back the air. The coals gasp as the end draws near. Then silence bursts to rapture. The world is called and it answers like a mother. Wind is flung from all directions and comes howling in from the east the south the north and the west. Currents unchain and run strong and bear up all the loose fuel they pass upon. All the twigs and sticks, the weeds and the leaves lifted up and carried to the dying heat. Pounding it alive and raising its flame into one great majestic leap. A whirlwind of yellow hemmed in by licks of red tongues. A babe in blue defiant against the sky spinning in its middle. Asi La Luz Se Nace. The infant son of dawn. Breaking out across the sky with the irritated strength of a new born. Reaching up until it spends all its fuel and snaps free and floats high up in the sky. Placid and harmonious against the vast still darkness. Entre nada and nothing. Inbetween the earth and the sky. The horizon a hazy meeting of two halves. Black against black. Shadow into shadow. And through eyes filtered by fire it sees only light potential. And with its first breath it begets the birthcry. El Vagido. A Flame screaming I Am. Burning into the world. Racing towards its edge on an echo of a Hurrah and a Raw Ra Ra with a light that wholly covers all. An undone brilliance. An unstoppable thought, blindly charging toward the end. The horizon rolling over and peeling back as it arches like a missile and gravitates down with stern harsh judgement. And with one quick blast it is spent and all dissolves back to black.
DERRUMBADABOOM. Falling through a world that knows only lost light and dark doom. Aloof with shadows and stuffed full of vertigo. The birthcry having long gone awry. The final flight capsized. Tossed from side to side through the vacio. The life chariot having rose to the western sun until it flickered and faltered, wavered for a moment then blinked out of existence. All that followed was the fall. Caida tras caida. Down through the groaning darkness. The heavy stench of death. Then a crushing silence. Bajadabajabam. Landing where there are only cold grim nightmares and the pain of being wrenched from flesh. Not knowing who he is and with only a glimpse forbidden from remembrance. Lost and forlorn as a babe never born. His heart heavy. His hope less. Blind to all but a dull dark plane where screams fall flat and he is left to the devices of suffrage and a neverending rot and retch.
Y QUE PASO con el soul. El alma que cayo. The voice that spoke from the encapsulated space of a body thrown to the darkest shadows. Cast off from cliffs and the light like some discarded sacrifice. The used up skin left to hang from the leafless limbs of wintered trees below. Abandoned, quartered and split. Its flesh dripping off with the blood into the cold black mud. Cast off from life and hidden from death. An existence of sleeplessness in a place not merely blind and sightless, but wholly unknown by the light. A place of such terse darkness that it never welcomed the photons with their many sided insights. The small soldiers of sons and their self contained worlds of shape and surface wholly unknown. Their opaque colors and hues never even having breached the edges of its memory. Knowing only una noche honda, lleno de clamor, noise and an unending vertigo. A place where the switch was never thrown and those who call it home drag themselves along in an insomne blind and eternal. Burdened by earthen pain and drawn slowly toward moans. Things not easily exposed. They are the hollow resonance of souls existing in a nightmare unfinished. Left alive to death and dead to life.
DONDE ESTOY asked the lost blind boy, who only knowing unshaped shadows and a feeling blue, black and full of puss moves on not owning any name. And the respuesta comes ni aqui, ni aca en la forma de huesos, dolor and podre. The sound of guts opening up in the retch of rot and darkness. Rude wet things spilling out slippery and unseen. Cold burnt smells in a thin lonely air. Knowing only a land thick with thistles and cracks over which things squirm along on snapped backs. Bodies torn apart and scattered by the wind in a land from which death keeps its distance. He can feel it when it nears though. On a faint breeze floating overhead lazy and rapt with hauntings. On a wave of black birds like a scythe of stygian sensitivity. In the mute veiled form of mythological horrors. In the whisper of a heart like a grave with no body. However as he learns to crawl his way along he begins to dream of other things. And with the borders blurred between the dreamer and the dreamed, el soñador learns where he must go. Like a root with slow blind growth through the grim and grotesque of vegetative existence. He makes his way through the bones and scat of worms and rodents.
ATRAS LAS TINIEBLAS and taken in by where others have hide. Graves with no one in them in a place where the dead no longer play. And the souls of the buried walk, wonder and slowly loose their way. In a Black against Black. A Night against Night. Everything and all, false and impenetrable. On and on, he crawls and falls over the hunched back souls of others. The heaped up hearts of those who refuse to give in. Lives lost to miscalculated chance. Selves struck down by fateful tricks and accidents. Sudden moments of mutilation living on like sightless shades that bend and twist their limbs in torment and pain. Singing the serenada para nada and death for everyone in an air that will not listen. And here is where his Ser perseveres. Struggles on crossing bridges between an ashen nada and that which does not live here. Still cursed and nameless. Until slowly he begins to remember and his inner eye learns to play with the lights of its own mind. The brilliant dawns recalled. The solar disc and its storm of bright pin pricks. An infantile joy playing with the colors of its own elements. Gathering up and taking in the very air that unites intelligence. Digging through the dim by way of toe bumps and bruised limbs. Attempting to make the darkness thin. Savoring the past and the remnant memories. Until he recalls that it is he, who is the architect of his darkness.
LENTO AND INPRECISO. Retracing his steps by way of shadows. Learning where to go in an ashen gray oblivion. He stops and touches those dried up sockets. Remembers how it is he that did this. And aun sin nombre he attempts to dig up what he can from the dim, though again and again he pierces only un alarido. Eyes that once filled him with bright nice lies now only offer up a pain and surprise. Red hot holes hanging like burning lamps in a meek realm of shadow. There are others though. He can see them. The elemental stains of birth and decay. And more than before. He hears them now being drawn to him. And he runs. But again and again he only finds himself lost again. Back in the black fall of collapse as the sounds of jealous hounds close in on him. And so he runs, trips and falls through where solo el soul knows home. Afraid of loosing any memories he has at all and must once again learn how to crawl.
DEAD SPACE CROSS CUED
HE HAS run enough and here there is a trunk that feels familiar. Aqui se siente safe. Here is a place he can lay his head and rest. Rest and attempt to remember. Remember all he tends to forget. Remember he is more than before and those who carried him are those he can no longer choose to ignore. He has banged on their doors, made weird noise, appeared here and there until they caught his scent and chased him here. Here where it feels familiar.
JOHNNY STANDS in an alley and is not quite clear on how he got here. He remembers the bar, the dark and the light. A door and a wind rushing in. He knows enough to tell however that the hour has past. Something he can smell in the wind. A moving silence in the night. Cleaning up the vacuum and leaving him nowhere to go but home. Where the last of the urban barks will not taunt him and he can be alone. It’s a state of mind he can authorize. Something wiggling within him. An isomorphism making room in his head as he walks on with only the simplest of motor skills in function. His thoughts weaving up the loose frays of a night at its end as someone flicks off the lights one by one.
HE MUST hold on con ojos cerrados and dream la honda vision and not drift off with the wind again. There is something strong here. Something easier to bury than to forget. And he must hold on until the song comes. Someone singing. Then hay un light. And the beams begin to multiply. One beam. Two. Three beams. Four. And the colors come and blur and run. The gray pliant against bright blotches of blue and a wide yellowhite. Pieces begin to form into the shapes of sight. Things he has seen. A tree. One branch breaking away in a attempt to flee from withering. Another twists about to see more but can not. The last wraps around to court and converse with itself and he sees that this is his tree. The one he grew up before as a boy. The one climbed and hidden in. And he hears someone singing. The song his mother sung him.
HALF WAY down Calle Sin Nombre Johnny is closing in on home. His feet pick up the pace with that nearly there gait. He can see up ahead its low familiar roof and drop of dead grass. The top of the car in the bottom of the yard. Then a rolling by van stops their suddenly. A black van with a side door opening up the moment it can. Then a squad of swat hut hutting out and fanning the perimeter. Johnny freezes. He spins around and looks up the street and sees two more cruisers parked strategically. Then another that he just stumbled past. Fuck! Who the hell are they after? Is the first thought that makes sense. Would they be looking for me? Shit! Did I do something? Then in an instant his whole life becomes suspect.
THE MIST and fog lift away with the sound sung from that familiar tongue. Like la luz feeding off the nothing. Dispelling the darkness and killing off the howls of dogs and the wind dragging up the smell of blood. And standing strong is el nudo de la nada above. And he hanging on to its trunk as its leaves leap and plummet into aves, rocio and verder, breathes out the thick oppressive air. And he can see up in the tree where the song is coming from. La rumbla en las ramas. A figure hung. Her face a scarab of sorrow. Her hair falling down like tangles of branches and leaves. Her eyes stitched shut against the flow of tears and blood. It is she. La madre matriz.
FROZEN IN the night shadow of a simmer tree and with fuzz all around and one coming up with its spot light roving, panic hits him. Not too quietly he starts to run through an overgrown yard and over a fence with a stomach not quite up for it. Then stepping in some dog shit, he nearly slips, then runs like hell down an ally and into a street with the stench still clinging to his feet. Then turning a corner he tumbles into the path of another cop and ducks, turns and clears another couple of blocks before his heart almost stops. And then, with that final excitation, he crumbles to his knees and throws up. Nearby a small puddle reflects him. After, he crawls over and washes off in it. And in the gristle floating on ripples he sees his monster.
QUIEN ERES? He asks with lips the shape of sadness.
TOO BLITZED and oblivious to care or fear anything he lays down feeling like passing out right here. Though the lull of the freeway keeps him from sleeping and he stands and tries to wipe off the chunks of scat with a piece of loose trash and becoming momentarily unbalanced crashes loudly into a chain link fence that scars the silence.
NO SOY tu mama, but only your mother’s shadow. I am what tu me has hecho. And you a mindless witness to what had to be done so that I could feed you. You ran and hide and wandered the hills and stared at the sun. Stared until you could stare no more and slowly let your eyes burn. Then you ran again until they found you and they brought you back and they cured you. But you were no longer my son. And you left me again. I who whored for your food, forgotten by a son who would never cease to run. You who chased the fate of my husband. Forgot where you come from. And as she speaks his story he unties her eyes and frees her limbs from their binds. And he sees what he has never seen. La Cruza Clean. A mother who loved him blindly and el hijo malvado who threw shit on her memory. He sees now how she cries and el huerfano repenta and arranca su corazon and la planta.
JOHNNY GATHERS up to the smoking pipe held before a Chester like grin. Crack floating over a black night on black skin. Him and two smiling Mexicans. Twins. Or at least they seem twins, giggling like innocent orphans as Johnny configures himself within them and squares their triangle.
YOUR SECOND birth tore more pain from me than did the first. The secret tubes in which you grew have burned the oil from the water and the blood and now that you have come you must go and not return. Her words hurt. His tears create a pool and the moon gives way to the sun. And por primera vez the darkness is gone and true dawn comes. And soon he sees all the little animals. Birds begin to sing and fruits ripen and drop from the tree that is now wreathed in beauty. And her words roll over him like snow. Her voice fills his ears with a voz, a hope and a light free of shadow. And he knows the taste of every vision. El sabor de saber as he watches his mother die and bends down to kiss her good bye.
HIS FINGER drawing lines across his face. I can see you brother. You who can not see past the darkness, his words slowly rolling over warm thick tongue. Your world has come apart and behind the brief insights there still adheres the mark of a scar. Parts that do not see the other parts. Though you do not yet know where they are gonna meet.
UN PERRITO scampers up and barks away the last of the darkness. Shadows steal softly off and soon even all the little animals are gone as a warm befuddled wind begins bringing in the dawn. The oasis and its tear made pond dries up and the tree is set free by the light like a phantom. The doggie licks his face before running off and yipping por aca, por aqui. And no longer boy, but man, he knows where he must go. No longer blind, but armed with the vision and the voz, he puts himself to the road and marches on past the dark clouds and black passions that lead back to the blind lands. Keeping toward the sharp colors before him. Forward on toward the sun. Let its lens come and try and burn him.
FOCUS IN on the tinted glass behind the captain, an opaque window with a hot red slug slowly inching its way along. The sun coming up on its fiery path and softly peeling back the velvet black. Burning its way with a glow redark and rojamarillo. And before a witness who has gone on for so long by only touch. Wondering on no longer blind, but not knowing any home to which to go to, and though he may have gained his name the memories, aun olvidado, only float like tears on dark mirrors and unreflective glass. Much the same as this land he and his companion are slowly beginning to find themselves in. An endless stretch of dust and nothingness. Though the dog seems to know where to go and guides him on toward the fine line of the horizon and past all that is uninhabitable and vago. Over hot sand that allows nothing to stand. Knowing only a fear that nothing lives long here and that when the sun ceases to climb it will see them and try again to blind him. Sending down upon them its furnace driven winds and the pain of heat, thirst and fever. And the long hot walk having only just begun, he starts to sing the song his mother sung him as every shadow flees before the coming sun.
NO SE mueve Nada. Ni el polvo Ni el aire. Only the sun sudden como un ojo bruto. As indefatigable as he who crosses the desert which stretches on unceasingly. The hard sand mirroring the sky and the sky heavy on the land and only a sea of heat in between. The horizon always out of reach yet ready to set the soul afloat like a garrote on his the throat. And as if having measured the desert’s space with the secret even pace of another landscape, he knows it has no end like the thirst that has only begun to haunt him. Though he struggles on with his mother’s song and the dog to guide him. Even though he knows his lips will crack and his gait will slow and grow step cautious as delirium begins to ravage him. And in seeking relief from the intolerable heat he begins to tell his story. At first to himself and then to the dog who does not respond until he stops and wonders if he can understand or if the dead could even speak with the living, but then the dog barked at the pause and he went on to tell how his father had left them. Por lo visto, ladró el perrito, seeming to understand that his family like most families were pobre. He told how he had become lost in the desert and was never again heard from and how he himself had only wanted what his father always wanted. El otro lado. Si por eso, el perro seemed to already know. He wished to tell more but in that reflective breath the dogs ears perked up. The song he had sung had not stopped but only just begun. Its remote cantata had taken form and with it came the first shapes they have seen. Others bathed in blur and washing along what seemed to be a river. The shapes of woman, tossing back and forth, from bank to bank, the character of rumor and hints of hearsay inbetween their slaps of song. He neared and took in their he saids and she saids, their report on how it all went wrong. He heard them wonder how either could possibly have known, how in the end they were both just too young. They paid him no head and he moved among them unseen. And after listening he lowered his head to drink from the river but only sand greeted his tongue. He may have conquered the darkness, the song continued on, but now he must master the empty wilderness.
CON OJOS sedientes he struggles on below the bright diamond of the sun. And the day that has not reached its end hardly even seems to ever begin. Its deathless distance reappearing at every bend until their own shadows blur and burn away. So to entertain their way the man walked and talked to the dog telling stories neither one would believe. The dog barked orders and directions that the man would not head. Each guiding the other as their path back tracked and circled through the hot anvil of flats. But now and then they see the shadows again. The first he knows. Bien lo reconocen. Bien he remembers them. They are friends. And he pauses to listen as they speak not to but upon him. Though in the end they are only men, men como humo that burn away and blur. Dispistadas fantasmas that are gone as fast as his miasmic fever can conjure them. And so he and the dog trek on as the ever changing shapes of others come. At first alone and solo but soon their numbers grow into clans and caravans like shadows falling off the land. Each one with the face of every other. The face of his mother and her mother and her mother before her. Their brothers and sisters and daughters and sons. The sum of every feature that engenders a race and belonging to every one. And more and more they became poor. Men with long hair and armed for war. Women in hides and holding nothing not made straight from the earth. Boys with complicadas mascaras and girls who have not yet suffered birth. The people who wove his story, who came with ponies that were painted, ridden and killed for more. The bands and tribes that gathered, fought and scattered into hordes. He asks them from where they come. He begs, shouts and pleads. Though they only mock and jabber in broken tongues and more and more cease to be. Their flesh becoming as putty. Hung like soft mud over burnt bones and eyes he can no longer recognize. Yet he marches on courageous and firm. Confident as the land becomes more difficult and rough. For now he can see the mountain, wreathed in tapestries of clouds moving around like serpents in the distance.
LA LUZ del dia no longer burns and he is strong before the failing sun. Having known the omnipotent depths of oblivion he has grown accustomed to the torment of its opposite. Having crawled under leaden skies and crossed the burning continent he has reached the relief of twilight in hills torn by sharp stones and dead cacti. Now he knows where he must go. He can see the high cliffs in the distance, the rocky prisons and stiff rifts which protect them. The dog has lead him well and the bald tierra has fallen behind and having entered a valley with two steep sides they soon find a river. One which runs and can be drunk from. And as they fix their thirst they hear again the song. The river having become a tongue. Una voz quebrada. Pouring out its chords of whispers and warnings. Though now, well saciada and drunk on water, they travel on against the rivers flow. The only way a soul knows to go. A path that lifted and rose against the land as he carries on headstrong toward the mountain and the clouds above them. Over trails viscous and cunning. Raw interruptions of space filled with unfriendly thickets and dark ravines entrenched with trees. Crawling on on hands and knees over cracks choked with dead brown things. Staying close to the walls and following the dog as they track their path through bends until the river dries up to a trickle and ends along a cliff wet and vermilion. Above they can see the clouds floating lazily and the path now but the steep and impossible tracks of deer and donkeys. He climbs on and only once did the dog bark that no further would he go on and only once did the man turn and look back and ask if he did not want to end this journey. Who only barked but of course not, for then he would have no purpose. To this the man merely sighed as he again began to climb while the dog looked up with what can only be said to be sad dog eyes and barked his last good bye.
COMO MINOS emerging from the shadows, el soldado ya bastante barbado lifts himself from up over the lip of the cliffs and por primera vez sees what seems to be a city. Once bien poblada pero now only burnt and desolate. Quemada bien and with nothing left but its broken bosquejada. Pero con la cabeza echada hacia atras and his chest thrust ahead he enters its camps and passes the fields which the smoke has bleed and sees the blasted hills and fallen walls whose bricks and stones have been hauled off and used to build the blind kingdoms. His home and the home of his parents now absent of any residents. And on entering the streets which once flowed with laughter and song he sees now nothing but the debris of a ruined city. Cavities filled with only wraiths and bad memories. Cada calle como una boca llena de ojos and everything burnt but the church and the air but remnants of aniquilada sangre and slow smoke. And above clouds craft themselves into fast ships charging toward into battle where they clash and change into the forms of a storm while he wanders on past gravestones whose words have been overturned and blurred into frases indescifrables, palabras known but left unspoken by history and bones. And he begins to weep with sick long lingerings until the dead begin to see him. Los otros who approached como sombras curiosas. Sad and benignas. His unliving brethren who did not make the journey. He wished to ask them why this was, how the city for which he has come so far has been abandoned. But finding that he had no breath left he was forced lay down his head and rest. And as he slept they began to gather around and speculate as to what sort of man this was that had come to them from out of the dark blind lands. Perhaps he was a lunatic said some, perhaps a saint said others, though most assumed he was merely lost as were they and paid him no mind. And as he slept the sun fell and the clouds, dark and luminous, soaked up with darkness and what they saw in the last of that light was a man without history. An old man, a young man, a boy and a babe who dared shake the midnight tree with rage and engage the living thing known as pain and let all the shadows fall and burst into miracle. A man for whom they had a name.
EL CAPITAN wakes and it is dark and raining, and so he moves for the last thing standing. The church and its solid roof and oaken doors. But when he knocks he is greeted by arms crossed from El Pastor.
“Birth was the death of him. Again.
HE KNOWS NOW. Now he understands what the Pastor has told him. He knows what he was and sees in the reflection of his own pooling blood a King. El Rey standing proud and strong. The blind mad god in ritual recreation. Knowing death as but an entrance, only a change in the way all things are processed. And he born, begat, not once but twice; once from the mother in a flood of blood and placenta and then again from the darkness, knows that he is king. Prepared to kill and be killed again. And having rested in the temple he finds himself dipped and refreshed. Armed with a shield and a sword and a pendant dangling from his chest. Then the bell strikes midnight and the pastor leans in and asks him.