"On the part of the King, don Fernando, and of dona Juana, his daughter, Queen of Castille and Leon, subduers of the barbarous nations, we their servants notify and make known to you, as best we can, that the Lord our God, Living and Eternal, created the Heaven and the Earth, and one man and one woman, of whom you and I, and all the men of the world, were and are descendants, and all those who come after us. But, on account of the multitude which has sprung from this man and woman in the five thousand years since the world was created, it was necessary that some men should go one way and some another, and that they should be divided into many kingdoms and provinces, for in one alone they could not be sustained.” — Excerpt from The Requirement, a 1513 manifesto read aloud to native Indians by the Spanish conquistadors that gave the conquistadors legal permission to attack a village.
So they won’t be captured in photographs or video footage, the usher vainly attempts to banish the Mexicans from the section of beach surrounding the ceremony. The Mariachi band begins to play drawing more attention to the scene and thus more Mexicans who crowd around in baggy shorts swigging cervezas, brown bellies framed against the gray agitated sea by the wind-whipped archway of palm fronds.
The guard who usually polices this section of beach saying: Ayscuse me meez, you are with Shangri La? has disappeared and I secretly wish some of the men would launch into their
It’s got to be a setup getting married in a place where a cab ride is always three dollars no matter how far you travel and night clubs have white beds that swing on ropes and men in white uniforms stand on street corners stroking the tensile triggers of AK-47s as I haul my birthright through the streets like some grotesque feature thinking shoot me now make it swift and painless but good and violent, make it cinematic and give all the money to the kids in the ghettos, no, give it to the worst criminals — a down payment on this well-mannered hostility.
Who else is sitting here calculating what one gringo wedding could buy —I want to buy him an overpriced margarita and stumble together out of the resort into the barrios where we’ll brave the banditos, tear our legs and torsos on barbed wire and glass shards cemented into the walls fronting each filthy little shack — our for-naught act of contrition, our anti-American anti-wedding — but instead I hold still until they are man and wife, albeit attended by uninvited guests, and take my punishment the civilized way— orally, anonymously, pig shit or human shit or the shit that grows on shit ransacking my gut until the sound of surf and the orange moon rising beyond the silhouette of my thatched hut is a set hallucinated and the play a schizophrenic monologue starring the body enacting its own torture coercing the absent mind to follow: Act One: The Body sins. Act Two: The Body repents. Act Three: The Body is poverty. Act Four: The Body succumbs Act Five: The Body is nationless.
Witch, at the Diner
She’s murmuring fricative blue
hush-hush things soft and
I wish I could just eat in peace,
quiet against the background clatter
and hum of diners but she’s got her usual itch
talking with her mouth open chewed food and
spittle dribbling down her crooked chin:
Salty! she complains and a spray of filaments fly
from her mouth, piercing the skinned-over soup.
As if ignoring her might make her vanish
I look hard at the coffee in my cup, think alone thoughts,
but she’s found her witchy groove: Remember this,
she hisses, air remembers old dreams; water contains
everything yet undreamt; fire consumes wasted souls and
unclaimed spirits live in the whites of your eyes.
I know the routine – her final haunting is always
my appetite: Do you hear what I’m saying? she implores
with a bony finger, Are you going to finish those fries?
I’m street damp, violent
as a cat in heat
his third floor window
under the streetlamp’s
violet complaint —
he’s another story
yet to be told
leaning forward just enough
to let me read his last line.
Drunk boys on the first
over funds for a roll
of toilet paper
but never dry
for a quarter bag.
I had to split my X
from the Y of that scene.
Old Black Joe’s iodine eyes
craving spare me
just a little to get by—
took no all the wrong way.
Dark upstairs boy
staggering in my head
— but he’s not the one.
My voice sitting hot
on someone else’s wires begging
to be played, crossed.
Tonight I’ll climb the escape
high on ketamine
watch the neighbor’s house
spark up the sky
PJ aching on the hi-fi:
Lick my legs I’m on fire
Lick my legs of desire.
The First and Second Principles
of the Grand Universal Theory of
It’s not that I want to fly —
I collect feathers for a cape to cascade
from my nape, cloak me
in magical bird sheen.
I want to be
but earthed, concealed behind
the waxy greenery of my houseplants,
throw rocks at kids
getting off the school bus — unseen.
It’s only a loose sort of logic I follow.
At first I beat with love for the robins
enticing worms all day,
then the gackels arrived
cowed the robins away.
Now they both dine here equally,
although not exactly peacefully.
My lawn is the Green Tara, goddess
with her uterus in the usual dark places
birthing more worms.
The birds father and devour
father and devour.
It’s not nature or science,
it’s a recipe to stave off death;
the woman across the street
has adopted it with stunning success.
If her house were really a shoe,
you’d recognize the story but
contrary to the rhyme she knew what to do:
She gave them all broth without any bread
whipped them and buttered them and stayed fat and fed.
This is The First Principle of the esoteric text
describing The Grand Universal Theory of Necessity
as Determined by the Natural Laws of Self Preservation
in the Face of Inevitable Suffering as Illusion and
Form of Rapture Via Procreation as Cure for Infanticide:
Excise “kill” and “murder”
from the language —
they become something else.
regenerate through her body.
regenerate through my lawn.
and so forth.
My window offers a landscape of duality
bracing nothing —as duality must —
but underground, a war rages.
This is the Second Principle of the esoteric text
describing The Grand Universal Theory of Suffering
as Vehicle to Nothingness and Therefore
an Attribute of Illumination Which Cannot Be
Wished For but Only Realized Via Willful Unwillfulness.
Thus the children pirated my electricity.
They came in the night on horseback
from the would-be shoe, 75 children
reincarnated 75 times, parked their horses on my lawn.
They fluttered forth their many souls,
shed rinds in my front yard,
dropped membranes like birth
strong incense rising from stained skin.
Bodies, many and minute,
percolated through the soil
discharged substances that suffocated my worms,
and entered my home.
I caught them in my kitchen
a bright suffusion of glints
draining energy from my outlets,
the toaster, the microwave, the fridge,
smirching my serene vision of the world.
I tangled their particles and cast them
into the innumerable pores of the earth
to replenish my lawn.
I questions my tactics now;
these new worms posses a will
and a memory — the root cause of war.
Across the street, 75 more
children born into battle, which is why
I beat with love for the robins
collect feathers for this cape
hide behind waxy houseplants
throw stones at the kids getting off the bus —
It’s only a loose sort of logic I follow.
Field Notes From the Cherokee Marsh
I’ll try to describe it with the mating dance
of three jealous geese thrashing long necks over the water
trash talking in that free jazz skronk – sex
is the bone of contention the best excuse for violence.
The trees here aren’t like the trees we know
but posses the same underground sense
reach into drumlin substrata, synapse
with the water’s edge where bodies sleep off
millennia in the effigy mound, which is why
when I come around that bend an old Indian
stands in rough skins and I must bow and bow
until he becomes the lightning struck trunk of an oak.
Across the fen a rotting boardwalk meanders
into a stand of dwarf birch where a bog of spring peepers riot,
split the air, hidden multitudes keen and bleat,
bang and blab some uproarious joke I’ll never hear.
If you were here, you would tell me
the dominant key of their terrible singing.
Down on warm bellyboards I want to know
who’s there in the copper black under cattails
collapsed — who brings me to my knees?
Closer, the silent propulsion of undifferentiated bodies
billowing. Closer still, they balloon, they undulate,
flitting ghosts with tangerine eyes.
The awful thought they exist without my knowing.
A bullfrog interrogates —
Why-did-you-do-it? Huh- uh- uh- uh?
And across the bog, a second questioner:
I tip my weight to feel the edge.
Over the sedge meadow to the drumlin’s crest
where an old couple pose on a bench.
The woman beckons: Why don’t you sit, rest?
But I run from them, too, into the woods where I find
regurgitated pellets of the great horned owl who spread his cape
descended upon a black snake measuring at least six feet.
You were there — remember how it writhed in the bird’s clutch,
diminished against the autumn sky?
Want grips like a claw.
Last winter we tromped over clumps of snow-covered grasses
bowing in great swells like a petrified sea.
It was a difficult crossing and on the other side
we found ourselves in a field with a rank odor.
What was it we were discussing, so intently?
I kicked up a rotting onion, then another,
a whole field of rotting onions under the snow.
Oh yes, how every day I look into strangers’ faces
and think, how brave, how brave.
How at any moment I might betray
everything that’s kind and good.
I don’t mean to sound perverse,
but why does a fenced-in quarry,
a sanctuary for snakes with a posted warning:
No Poaching remind me of our love?
On the dusty path heat gathers.
I leap over a pair of sheer red thongs
contorted in the dirt and feel shame
though it’s not clear anyone’s been hurt.
I’ve read this all wrong, a conceit
for my pornographic affections,
guise of my crueler desires —
I can’t let go
A flirting pair of indigo buntings holds the foreground
as a fleet of F-16s rises from the air field,
slices the sky in deft and calculated pursuit — of nothing —
and suddenly, everything occurs in perfect symmetry,
and suddenly, it’s all scattering.
© Copyright 2006 Jules Gibbs