April 21, 2014
to remember,

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There are friendships that die when love dies

You bury them inside your throat to not speak of them

Some nights you grab your throat to remember
- VM, from “please do not die on me : a love letter”

It was still winter and I was almost done. I was leaving. I had began to feel. Cutting off body parts. Each one carried houses of memories and feelings. But no one ever lived in them. They began to rot. They began to sink. You can only look the other way for so long. T

Elevia is there. We’re about to start the dance group. She will be my partner. She will look at me as if I were an old train yard. 
She had told me of how her last partner, almost the only, had stood in her bedroom with the most important book in the world to her and tore it to pieces. 
He had sneered at how she could find something that was so little so valuable. I knew it was because he felt threatened by it. His grandfather had given it to her. She stood there with little pieces of the pages stuck to her skin, to her forearms, to her cheeks. Drowning in her blood. I wanted to scoop them all up and repair together again, even years later. 
She wore the same shoes as she had bought from the zapateros in Michochan, where we went to search for caterpillars.
I remember stopping in the middle of the road on that trip. We were somewhere in the desert. A vulture flew above. I could see its beak clear. Like cockroaches, I just felt a little sorry for them. I wanted it to come and pick me up, cut me up into little pieces. Because I had began to disappear. I mean, it’s absurd how people can make us feel like this. But anyway. I had forgotten. I had thought that I was strong enough this time. And how terrible it was that the vulture couldn’t come down and get me. 

She wasn’t even doing a good job at being in disguise. She could have at least tried so as I wouldn’t recognise her. She had the biggest eyes that I had ever adored and not one would fall upon me. 
We began the dance. She could do it as if she had been moving like this in the womb. 
I began to cough. All my life it has gone to my throat or my belly. The voiceless, the weight. I began to cough up my half-Spanish tongue, felt it pressed against my front teeth in a R that I could never normally roll and said nothing more. Everything else would have been ridiculous anyhow.
She looked the other way. It was preferable. I didn’t want to know what she was doing here. I had began to give it all up. I would walk the streets of Cuernavaca and give letters to the old women selling spiced corn. I would tell them. They would understand. It would let off the weight even if they looked bewildered. Perhaps they only understood matters of corn like I with tea. 

'Jass?'
The way she said it was like being scolded. 
I turned to her.
'Have you really spent all this time since I last saw you just rolling your R's?'
It had become a meditation. 
'And nothing else?' She looked down at me from below.
'Eso es tu vida y nada mas?'
I rolled one more and began to laugh. It was exactly the same as when I started. Her hand was upon the small of my back as we went through the rhythms. She began to speak again. I leaned forward and bit, as quick as a Mexican rattlesnake, upon her tongue.
Not deep, but enough to draw blood. 
It was time to bid farewell. I picked up my briefcase full of air two line letters to everyone I’ve ever know. And I leave this town once and for all. 


image - ‘Atlas de Zoologie : ou Collection de 100 Planches by Paul Gervais (1844) is a supplementary volume of illustrations, originally produced for a large French series on zoology published between 1816 and 1830.’  (viaBibliOdyssey: Zoological Atlas)

April 10, 2014
but write.

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— Write. Do not doubt, I mean: do not deny poetry.
— That is not easy.
— I know.
— It is not easy to find words again, I mean to relearn words or relearn to speak. It’s a little as if you were coming to after seventeen years in a coma and you heard yourself pronounce a single word: “write,” without any idea what the word means.
- excerpt from Jean Daive’s Under the Dome: Walks with Paul Celan


but write.
More and more I have become aware that there is a floating sensibility within my generation of disappearing and withholding. I no longer know what is real. What people really mean. What desires are our desires and which are theirs. I swim in rivers and find five eyed toads. I am astonished…flabbergasted by the continuous clawing out of eyes. More we refuse to see. More we refuse to feel.
And absent. Like people that are not inside of themselves. I have thousands of stories to write but they all form a whole. So I must find somewhere to give birth to thoughts that are as one with the days that I live. 
Nothing that is said is true. We make plans for fire ants to march off with them as a king before devouring them. 
I will not. At the very least my plans will be absurd and my desires unspoken. 

Last night I sat down to a dinner with a pheasant named Henri. We spoke of the last time each one of us had screamed till our lungs felt like bursting with flames.
Mine was last week. 
I have got into the habit of losing people.
But this one was for myself. Now - I am writing myself back.

image - Finding a mammoth tusk, Alaska in the early 1900’s, Dave Gove, National Geographic.

March 6, 2014

from all the borders of itself / burst like a star/ for here there is no place that does not see you / you must change your life.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Archais Torso of Apollo

Times of waving a burning flag, thought drunken, praying to be destroyed. 
After headless and foolish winters.
Winter…
And then this. Belly full of wars that only stop for a while, waiting, take you unprepared and burn any stories you once had. This. Birds at 1:35am, Jan 9th. Overhead. Everywhere. It’s too easy to walk into a taxi roaring past for nothing. Tumbling over the windscreen, full of the most important parts of my life before my head hits the slick wet grey.
I pick up my tongue, useless and cracked dry with Spanish, and we pack for the thousand kilometre trip north. To the volcano. To spring.

February 22, 2014
Planting fig trees,

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I do not remember where I camped that winter but it must have been a time of peace and of plenty to eat,

- Black Elk

Cracking open, grinning, all the ridiculous and squashed days add up to something :
8 rides later, one of the last through the mountains with my nipples hard in the wind / in the back of a truck with a girl that had been waiting for her bus to come, convincing her to run after it with me. Three shooting stars / goddamn it’s cold.
Jazz slipping through the streets with a taxi driver. Esto es mi pasión, he tells us. I so rarely hear this word without it sounding forced. I am a bear gulping down warm air, suddenly in Oaxaca. Four years for this. Pianos running up my forearms.
I have no more space for names today, the little room is full. Hernan Cortes slinks between my toes. No me importa. We hug in the back of the cab like crabs and she leaves and I am sure that I left a mark, that I am visible again after these burial months.
You can’t make a living here as a musician, he tells me. So I drive taxis and live my passion while I drive.
This living thing is a complicated affair. But I am beginning to plant fig trees again, in the centre of my veins. 


/Photo - A four-hour exposure photograph of the 1998 Leonids meteor shower taken at the Modra Observatory in Slovakia.

January 29, 2014
Hatian volcano dance,

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And those who were seen dancing,
were thought to be insane by those
who could not hear the music,
-Friedrich Nietzsche

'Baila', he says to me. 
Dance. 
There is never enough time. Even in my saddest and most self destructive scenes of life. I yearned to open my chest and heave out all the cities that have grown there with walls of graffiti swearing upon my execution. The swarming streets where I cannot be still for a moment, that will not give me rest. The limbless figures that are too painful to see. 
But there is something about dancing. Any form. It is to out-move death. I stop thinking of the cities.
They all gaze at me.
'Baila, baila', they shout and chant.
The teacher shuffles his feet and drifts across the dust. He’s dressed in white and moves his hips as if there were no bones. Strutting. At lunch I shouted into his mouth as it opened to spoon my lentil soup into his mouth. For his ears would not work. No matter. He listened to footsteps instead, the way bodies move. 
'Es un danza de Haiti', he had announced, suddenly, out of nowhere, at the table. I hadn't imagined him to speak. He complimented my Spanish, which is, for him, to pay tribute to the way I speak with my hands, my eyes. Los ojos del mar.
After Haiti, it sailed to Cuba and onto the east coast, to Veracruz and onwards into the centre of the country. The way feet move. 

I have never taken a dance class in my life. 
And I cannot do anything on the spot. The dentist has to force open my mouth with horse tranquillisers. I refuse orders like a rogue sheepdog. I spit gasoline at passing cars when crossing the road, refusing to allow them the right of way. 
I stare downwards. It’s going on two months since I last wore shoes and my sandals are starting to become a part of my bone structure.

This is danzón. My feet no longer know each other. My dance is not their dance. My frenzy of whirling and stamping is not applicable here. Passion is more controlled, focused.
I withdraw to sit and watch. The dozen or so here exhibit an elegance, a style, a dignified movement across the stone dance floor. Ways to face it all. Most are housewives. One is from far away. She becomes my regular partner in the turns, keeping with me, guiding me. Her bump appears to grow from her sides, her back. Her hair is a stark contrast to the others,  Later when they pat her belly, I feel foolish. I had just accepted her and her body as natural and thought little of it. 
She holds my hands tight and I feel her gaze upon me, glossing me, as I focus on my feet as the sequences build, as I forget myself. 
She speaks Spanish how I’ve heard them speak often before - almost fluently. I curse my tongue and consider sculpturing it to allow it more room. Perhaps I have too many teeth for languages of the sun. I can make the sounds of rain perfectly. 
Beside me, constantly, is a short ageing man with shiny black shoes. Shoe polishers do well here - singing and whistling as they brush away. I wouldn’t be able to cease laughing if I had it done. One day my sandals and I will pay a visit to the market and find the most enthusiastic foot cleaner. It will be an important day for us both. 
The señor becomes my uncle quickly - guiding me through each movement.
'No! Pequeños, pequeños - pequeños pasos!' I keep making huge steps no matter how much I think about it. He takes me arm and gently pulls me this way and that. 'Te ves? Asi es, muy bien, puedes hacer todo que puedes imaginar.' Something about the way he moves makes me smile and smile, despite myself. As if every step he takes is important.
It’s a mess when with Ana, scattered, all over the place. She’s young - I cannot know her age. She has three children that appear out of cracks in the ground and lives up in the mountains where it gets cold at night and there are more trees. She steps on my feet and I on hers. We try not to be partners but we’re both fresh and lacking style and shaking of hips. 
My new tio with the buttoned up shirt and pushed out chest returns to my side. ‘Pequeños pasos…hombre, dios mío!’ 
Little steps. 
I am surrounded by people counting their own movements, trumpets coming out of the speakers, the sun sinking down into the mountains. In Central Mexico… facing down a winter with a gun at my stomach, wishing away wishes. Of everything that has passed me by, I am most here : under the volcano, moving on through the ashes. The more the sets of dance increase, the more I am lost. But it is an abandonment that I swallow with laughter as my steps get smaller. 
One last dance. Four sets. Everything blurs in. I go one way and she goes the other, her eyes never looking down, always upon me. Later, she becomes a hyena in the kitchen with the other girls - loud and thunderous in the Cuernavaca night. Now, she asks me where I’m from. She knows already and I even know what part of the country she’s from - clustered and without space out in the west.
It’s been a long time since anyone at all saw me. I have decided to become visible again.

Photo - Orquesta Enrique Peña.
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Because I love my country, it hurts me to see danzón at gatherings of decent people [La Voz de Cuba (8.10.1879)].