NIGHTMARE: BAR LAS PLAYAS
I sit at the counter, a crushed High Life before me, and a piss-warm can in my fist. I look to my left: the aging bar-maid is dressed in a black mini-skirt. Her ungainly hips hump forward, as she pushes the mop. A stench of ammonia sours the air. Outside, a big-rig roars past, and its brakes squeal, puncturing the silence that resumes so that I hear my breathing, the occasional splash of the mop dipped into a bucket, and then the slap of the mop against the tiles. Sunlight squeaks through the iron screen-door, casting brown light against posters of 1980’s beer models. Two workers, hunkered in a shadow, sit by the entrance. They whisper, heads nearly touching, and erupt in laughter, before taking swigs from their bottles. When I look to my right, I notice that the Bone Lord is seated on the neighboring stool. Rather, when I look to my right I remember that he has been seated next to me, stiff and silent. Before him, the dark bottle that he hasn’t touched. His tinted sunglasses are reflected in the mirror above the racks cluttered with chips, peanuts and pork cracklings. I noticed the vein on his temple that throbs slowly; it is a faint, jade color, and it extends from above his eye brow to where a hairline would start if he were not bald. I stare at that vein and his profile, yet he doesn’t acknowledge me; the only movement made apart from the pulsing vein is a constant slow grinding of his jaw. It’s been days since I have spoken, and my voice cracks like an adolescent’s when I slur about the rusted chassis in the junkyard behind the motel, the boy locked outside his mother’s room, the boy whom others ignore when they play soccer in the parking-lot; the shape of certain words, like that of chaparral, when I scrawl in my notebook; the pointed breasts and brooding demeanor of the waitress at the pupusería, and the men who badger her for her name, her day off; the pungency of ash in the air and the brushfires on the foothills. I pause... his ear has started to secrete a thread of blood. Viscous and pinky-thick, it slowly winds out of his ear until it reaches the black leather of his jacket. I look over my shoulder; the barmaid is nowhere to be seen, and the two men who were drinking have left. Bone Lord continues grinding his jaw, saying nothing; I pull once on the thread, and it leaves a gelatinous and rosy stain on my thumb and forefinger. I tug again until there is a slight resistance, and then the thread comes out along with its root: a walnut-sized bolus of gristle and fat. I bolt to my feet and it plops on the floor, a coil of blood and pulp. When I look up, I see the Bone Lord’s jaw has opened. A thick, slug-like appendage oozes from his open mouth. Crimson and vein-webbed, it inches into the brown light of the bar. As in some zombie slasher flick, I back away with my eye-balls peeled to their edges. The appendage continues to throb its way out his mouth. By the time I feel the door behind me, five, six inches have excreted from his slack jaw, yet the Bone Lord doesn’t move; the silence is excruciating. Outside, I pause, trembling. Twilight. The Santa Ana winds have whiskered the air with ash, and I feel augmented.
MAKING THE PACT OUTSIDE CHIHUAHUA
It was a bus stop, and past midnight
at a 24 hour dinner with smoke
basted on tile walls, and vats of pork
boiled in red chili sauce.
I stepped outside; light sped towards
me from stars and supernovas. A rust-
flavored wind stirred cobalt clouds,
and lightning cracked the night, struck
where sky meets earth, where black
touches black, and becomes neither.
I saw you, Celeste, with your windfall of fire with your lungs of atomic moonshine Inside you it is always summer and you shatter the cloak of ash when you spread and together we find the pearl a mutilated mermaid planted in your seaweed for safekeeping from the avarice of nearsighted tax collectors Celeste, your heart is a platter of sardines, Celeste, your tresses are hammers striking sparks from an iron rod weighing as heavy as the moon glowing during my siesta of sweat and skin Celeste with ink between your teeth and the poem on your tongue as you thrum hummingbirds in my mouth, Celeste with your eyes of golden beetles, with skin the color of autumn, with a pubic tuft like a steaming bush glazed with rain that never dries The wizard is a charlatan, Celeste, the watchtower toppled, the staff of wood is less than this meat I quiver, this sinew sharpened like a riled porcupine, this sponge clotted with bees, this crow strut, this black diamond of my sperm, this verb of my skin or my throat reverberating the low E of a guitar string taut and plucked, this desire my desert this embrace of the cactus open-arm’d, I collapse into you where the coyote is a delicious stabbing I enter you where bones are flint alliterating against stone where pollen is gunpowder where thunder is your fingers wrapt round my prick where rain is your odor flooding my sleep where the cosmic is canine where the canine is arachnid where the arachnid is saxifrage where the split stone is a fleck of plasma or your cry during coitus sweating a supernova in the contours of your womb
My tongue like leather, I stumble into the Pentecostal Templo de Dios. Sunday. Conflagration of noon when summer etiolates the paint on these stucco liquor stores and Laundromats, and chaparral on the foothills hunkers in for the fire-season. The sound-system crackles with the howls of rapture, as the preacher swats at the humidity of women and children with a crimson bible. The mothers are plump with estrus and the honey of the vowel that now opens as the preacher, sweat-glazed and straining, shrieks ¡Aleluya! No one notices me, shivering and pale. No one, but the preacher who spreads his wing-span and commands: Vení ... vení, pue’ .... One matron bumps into me, and commences to rotate like a cumbersome gas planet. Another begins to babble. Infants, dozens of them, are wailing in the arms of their mothers who shake them in order to cast forth the first light. I kneel, collapse face up. Tambourines rattle awake as my tongue slithers, my gullet unleashing a hundred colors.