variousignatures

Cocktail Party in The Time of Cholera

I.D.A.

When I saw the CD
on the floor of my truck
I saw three letters scribbled
hastily
I.D.A.
and though scratched
beyond recognition
I could hear it playing
in a Kroger parking lot
while we waited, smoking
listless gumshoes
abysmal stakeout
at the edge of the world
you turned and muttered
“you know if I was going
to go to jail
it’d be you I’d wanna go with.”

Our leech’s life
was baseless and entertaining
a bombed-out apartment
with an immortal dog
a mountain of diet-coke cans
a closet full of cigarette butts
to keep track
of our inexhaustible excess
future boys
with pink champagne
and amphetamines
and when the great
oblivion seeker
came to take you away
I begged hopelessly
“don’t you understand
I’m so less myself
without these guys.
I need them
in order to be me.”

Scattered into a neighboring city
where the streetlights sent forth
strings of mica
onto the first ever metal park bench
I was rolling on the floor
hysterical
Tony the Pony slouched against the wall
drunk as ever
and we all had a laugh.
Ultimately, they washed you outta there
branded the martyr of nothingness
the whore of babble-on
doomed by their admiration
their offerings.

You disappeared
you and a friend
running from big trouble
and every character deserves
only one desire
even if it’s only
a glass of water.
The insurmountable
first five pages
of Paradise Lost
threatened your existence
my voice waivering down a massive corridor
“Let him be
oh great darkening and lightening
and darkening once more
of the sky.
Bury me rather
in the fathoms
that purpose
confounds.”

June Bug

I awoke today and called out to you
your face in my mind
grinning wide
i left the house 
for the first time in a week
muggy and still damp
the smell of snakes
intrinsically oiled
and pungent
a warning 
becoming ever more warned
the onset of true hunger
and yet another summer shower
drove me into refuge
shaking like the last brown leaf
i scratched your name
on the bathroom wall
like lemons acid
finding each new cut
every microabrasion 
finding me
the blind acolyte grasping at 
beads or figurine or
the glittering ward of your name
walking out i spot the same massive crow
that’s been keeping tabs on me
urging a liver
full of vinegar to inhibit its
destined purity
i’ve been keeping tabs
after speaking to Gibson 
in a dream
that i am a spoiled child
of the Chemical Generation
the half-life of X
mocking prayer in the 
Acid Mother’s Temple
a humorless joke on the love children
and how that all ended
he referenced 
a million scraps of paper
spit out by a machine 
kept running eternally
heaven’s spyware
they all made movies about Vietnam
what will we make movies about?
How long hammering away until everything 
must use absurdist platitudes to absolve 
the myriad pain of toil?
‘Though Performing like the Psychology of Tribalism’
Am i only sitting at a card table hemmed in by 
poor surrealists?
There must’ve been rules at some point.
one asks ‘will i witness the apocalypse?’ 
and i roll my eyes
audibly.
The one affected orders me to get a job
in a factory that fabricates
gravel pebbles and astroturf
i could only imagine we’ll need those in the future
on distant planets
to manifest our humanity
to help us through it
ya see, that’s the thing about awaking in a dungeon 
you need a dagger or animal companion to
help you through it
this is my companion
this is my dagger.

-v.t.s.

how poems are made

a lack of divinity in the 
eternally dumb iconography
chalice of liquid poetry 
projected onto an HD screen
in Times Square
that repeats our poems 
must verbosely reflect
the ancient pain/beauty
of existence
that repeats our poems
must come from on high
like the intuition of mothers
says Juan Rulfo
from his crypt
that repeats our poems 
backwards to us 
to express their helplessness
the vulnerability of 
words on pages
and how after a while
they stop looking like anything
but a jumbled mess of lines
that repeats in its
crisp electronic yelp
that our voices
are no more real
especially when we 
bring them together
they become tactless
and elusive
without a center
or origin
and I’m back at my 
little desk
looking at a distant picture
of two of my dearest friends
and I’m staring through it
remembering the moment and
it’s the antithesis of poetry
it’s all consuming
beyond creation. 
One’s got a necklace
of trinkets
that represent disassociation
trinkets dispelling hope
for journeys distant 
a lack of egress
shining a light 
blinding 
not pure. 
One’s got a necklace 
a bullet on a string 
and the joke being 
the unknown future recipient’s
name carved into it
that represents freedom
of will
to end off all poetry
an ingress that understands
only brevity
will save our souls
it probably had 
‘art’ or ‘Bill Clinton’
written on it
in nail polish
but we were all convinced 
it would save our 
desperate souls
the neon-chalice repeats
that nothing saves 
the bastard youth
the first memories,
of you 
you must ride it out
and by equation
be lessened 
exponentially 
eternally, 
that no bullet 
frees the poet 
from poetry.

-v.t.s.

Born In July

Out of economy
out of uselessness
out of indigenous drum 
out of luck
into a world still burning
volcanic eruption
mother’s magma
an island revealed
an archipelago of nonsensical curls
a cancer of tropics
sun sign obscured
leaving me in the incubator
waiting only for the future to grow
through osmosis
a southern town with one horse
a spy novel written in gibberish
the number nineteen burned onto
the tallest hillside
as the only way to remember.
that same number was
feeding the hand that bit me
ever since
i could walk about 
wherever i pleased 
but it always seemed
railroad tracks 
or middle school parking lot
behind small buildings
searching for a hidden object
dusty tabernacle 
coffee mug filled with coins
a cat that talks
of secret passageways of the town
down into unknown
catacomb
exposing histories
exposing lineages 
of my childhood
spent in isolation. 

v.t.s.

 

Poetry for Convicts

I’ve begun it
my self control evaporated
along with the snail pace
of personal progress
i write love poems to convicts
until they all fall head over heels in their
catacomb mentalities
punching a pillow
that may as well’ve been concrete
while i was there with them 
i felt an unreal pull
to become it
to melt into a collective consciousnesses of 
brutality and lovely fear
until my letters began to show up
on biceps
tattooed onto enemies
stab my joke of love
into the brawn
a cattle brand of displaced romantic emotion
                 
                 ………

It’s been like this ever since you disappeared
i heard you in the bistro
you were practically speaking into my skull
with your in-eloquent voice 
referencing a beach town in the gulf, which isn’t real
you’ve floated into another plane
the secret door activated leads towards
the ungodly scene 
awash with memories not my own
and the stink of nostalgia hanging 
some fog over a marsh
the particular atmosphere that mummified all deaths
no different from the unearthing of Guadalajara’s dusty graves
and their mummias
followed by the pang of Catholic fear that any divergent act sounds
them looking on in ornamental cope full of 
rats or feathers or hair
whichever it is they’re hiding
always questioning
when the sign for omega will stop showing up
scrawled at unreachable heights 
is this world but a portal of reference? 
basic beauty debased, 
someone else’s lovely evening?
                   …………..
A love letter to a prisoner 
describing my latest hairstyle
a desire to keep the dark partisans
hopeful and alive 
to not allow law’s tramp to
fall beyond recognition. 
I must encourage the man who just discovered whiskey
to drink enough to induce sickness
and the revelation that follows
I must inspire the robotic arm that just thought
to make a thumbs down 
ignoring its inverse
Arise Criminals!
I’m hammering out my little bird heart for you
i’ll sleep like the afternoon cat in a bed of snakes
i’ll leap into a bottomless pit
i’ll smash the walls and let them all run free
and i will find you
in the mind of one of my admirers 
hidden in a passage ever shrinking
you’ll be blindly tracing it all out in the dirt
explaining why it was
i wrote love letters to prisoners. 

-v.t.s.

 

14 poems for love

Jodi Barnes made me do it

I love myself
and the repetitive
number machine 
hellish super computer
set me free

My love shines
before dawn 
as I’m sleepily stuttering 
I’ll make spaghetti
or gulag

I would rip-off
Leonard Cohen
he would find and kill me
signed, love

Out by the bus station
all night
the moon relinquished
your greedy, little heart

Love, 
japanese demon moto
a mountain of zippys
severed hand
bisected by a friend

I wanted to write
a poem of crossword answers 
unintelligible
a result of love

love
like most four letter words
can be placed in a magnitude
of significance

The Universality
of a Oneness of Goop
is held together
by sticky, benign love

I left 
in the summer time
because love
is freedom
and freedom is meteoric

pull all the petals 
from the flower
wipe the species
infinitesimal sound
of romance

self-hate 
is a form of love 
enacted 
through fear
vitriol
a necessary expression

morning’s rays
reach my swollen form
on the tiled kitchen floor,
I loved you

I’m incapable 
of writing love poems
that aren’t about
science fiction
or drug addicts

-v.t.s.

The Boxing Ring, The Skating Rink

To Brice Maiurro, whom I assume is my contemporary.

As far as it goes
the kids play their sports
and the adults try to murder
one another
every once and a while
a stray bullet 
shows up
where it was not intended
Etta Terry 
shooting herself in the head
with a revolver
after being beaten severely by 
John Arthur Johnson in Havana
trying to punch oppression
to smithereens 
smash the Pottawatomie Giant
‘The Great White Hope,’ impossible
well, until Dempsey
ended his skull
or were they just searching
for Nuria Martí
on the crystalline ice
in the hanging for of Z?
and so plays the incessant song
of lovely love
the song soul of my country
the soul’s song of my soul’s soul
i love the song
it repeats with unbelievable time 
practically fractured and disintegrating
while the fighters skate in the ring
twirling their lovely soul hatred
towards one another 
full of convention
the songs of competition
that will end us all
yet returned to the rink
they’re still searching
for the olympic beauty 
who spurned a local diplomat
who nodded towards the
edge of humanity
for purity
the dreams of war criminals
singing a song in German
in a southern country 
bringing with them recipes
for sausage
and implications of new world orders
Chilean palettes altered 
under their noses and collective will
and before i go to sleep 
i drink a bottle of water
and ask myself
“when i awake
will i be
altered?”
i would ask for you to throw
the archaic tool
typewriter 
at my head and end the good fight 
leaving the blatant evidence
and buying a laptop
or spiral notebook
the first page scrawled with a sentence
‘addiction is a four letter word’
life
is a sexually transmitted disease
and all the other things i learned when
my amalgamation commenced 
and i surely set the pace
at which 
mania dissolves the squat house
with the mold eating everything
and an intoxicating
drone
circulatory system of sounds
that brakes my jaw every single day
my gloves undone
the pacifist of centuries
listening 
intently.
-v.t.s.

Old Wive’s Tale

Swollen, bloated heap. On the floor of the front room. Hang a bag of water above the entryways to keep the flies out or dissuade them from trying at all. Them wondering why it works, us wondering why it works. Eat at the teal table of the chinese restaurant and watch a show about capital punishment and yell “fuck you!” at the screen. Everyone putting down either plastic fork or chopsticks for a moment to see what the commotion was. Walk down the street and replace complicity with catharsis, an unending stream of revelation. While your head allows a river of blood to flow out. The blood being brilliance spilling out over all your personal effects. Staining all of your belongings, the crimson varnish of manic inspiration. Collect some in a cup and put it in a bag and hang it over the doorway to your bedroom to keep the devil out. Him being very sure as to why it works. Hear your friend’s band on the radio at the cafe. See your friend’s art show downtown. Go and see your friend read poetry that makes you want to cry because it is about mothers and think about the line that reads
“mother is
only one letter
different from
smother.”
Ask her if you could buy her book and she gives it to you saying “it’s no big deal.” On the trip home see some cops and think ‘everyone is a cop. Everyone is a cop and they all want to beat me up and take me somewhere.’ Like when you were arrested out west. And they must have beaten you up even though you were too drunk to remember. But in the mugshot you looked deranged and beaten up. Get drunk every night and argue with everyone about everything because nothing is right and nothing feels good. Then wake up on the floor of the kitchen, or was it? Or was it? The floor of the front room. Oh swollen, bloated heap! Start it over again not sure as to why. By divinity? By act of nature? By god? Oh swollen, bloated heap! On the floor of the front room.
-v.t.s.
from the zine “Distrait” published summer 2012

iasmshupnf

Cyberspace.Golden Dawn. A couple cornered lines is all it takes to keep the dreams alive. Adapted from lands unknown. There once was a trace here of some vapor like fear that had been beckoning forward. And were you among the oppressors when it was time to make decisions? Did I spy that bonny face mother kissed? Ultra-nationalistic mongers covered in dust shot out in one’s and zero’s magnificently. There was nowhere to turn once the cascade came over the wall and explained what we were building all this time. The hot red face of hatred that drives us. That we cannot understand. 
The permanent stasis of this land is hyperventilating and generally punctuated by an occasional movement. We have found this land and intend to purpose it for our very vital means. What was here? It was bacteria and phosphates. The occasional flash of insight that what we need is not quite what everyone needs. Like when the boy went missing for 30 years and decided not to come home to his still mourning mother but rather to fall off the bridge and into the negative water. What everyone needs is closure. 
Europe is on fire and the faded empire of social unrest sends up yet another string of hysterical zealots. Decorated with words like “lawless violence,” I yawn to spite myself. You yawn to spite me. I want to live in a spite house in way of the movements I disagree with. I do not disagree with any movements. I want to live in a spite house that floats through space. I want them to find me and scrape the outer shell that obscures their needs. I want them to try and break in. To try to tie me to their will. I want the paranoia to be projected to a universal level. Cower. Cower. Cower.
 
 

Charlìe (part 1 of 3)

ANCESTRY

Speaking excitedly
your language
is one that does not exist
and is misconstrued
by your countrymen

You must have
strained and crouched
and fallen in the 
beds of countless trucks.
All Hail The Polleros!
and the day I 
translated
I cringed. 

You must have 
seen and smelled
and touched
the earthen floor
with dirt shapes
a thousand times over.

Then the boiling world 
was beautiful, bounteous and 
the sweltering world
was minuscule.

The men at the shore
hauling in
billions of horrified shrimp
and you look on
and raise the question
“How’s the water?”
“It’s warm, little boy.”
so you swim out
until your arms betray you
and the men pretend
to capture you
in their massive nets 
once you return to shore.

Where were destroyed
or washed away
the reeds.
They show to you
all their objects 
and then did they tell you
what to call them?
Did they try to pull
that bastard tongue
out of your head?

You were so less
as a youth, unwizened
the unwieldy
unmistakably
suffered through confusion,
groaning that you are
still no more yourself.

Showing me a picture
of a young girl
(hija)
and showing me a picture
of two boys kissing
(maribosas)
and I don’t know 
what to say to you.

Rolling into New York
somehow
while we must’ve seemed
ridiculous with wealth
numerous shops and cars
all the neighborhoods
knowing you couldn’t stay long,
and there never was hardly
anything here for you.

Then there was the 
American South
you felt the 
nostalgic warmth
electric, magnetic
and saw lush
farms and farm workers
The every annunciation of
“we go down to our home”
or even
“place of the Misty Sky”
Tamoanchan
knowing you could not erase
-your mother is dead.
-your father is dead.

When I met your roommate
who looked like Castro 
hiding out as a gaucho
and laughing at my
positive colloquialisms
and said he had tried heroin
in Chicago, 1978.
Having seen more of this nation
than I ever will
and he still wonders
‘ where is my family?
where are my children?
why am I here?’

The passage in the book
nearly seared my retinas
claiming the societal outcasts
and the immigrants
are inextricably tied.
Immediate companions,
I wept in the folding chair
outside her office.

When asked your age 
you paused and smiled
“A century
(un siglo)”
I wouldn’t keep track
if I were you.

The Chihuahuan Desert is on fire
and you pin a 
ribbon of misery
in recognition 
to your staff t-shirt
for las muertas 
for the end of the world
and the sharpened teeth
glimmer by the moon
by the maquiladora
that is Mecca.
While the rest of the crew
pokes fun at your
faggot ribbon.

You and an El Salvadorean
go out for mezcal
and carrot juice
and you fear him
fear his silence
his unseen implications
this visage tattooed
with scars from torture
as a political prisoner
politics he would’ve been
otherwise unaffiliated with,
yet there is a bond there
through proximity
in tongues
and sheer 
distances traveled.

The agave heart cooked
tenderly pace the turkey breast
into the slow mashing process
it’s flavor burns
with the fervor of a home
the El Salvadorean grins
and repeats a saying not his own
“para todo mal,
mezcal,
y para todo bien también.”
Charlìe grins as
the worm
that promised god harvest
in 1941
pouring a stream onto
the floor for
the fertility of this world.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.