Catechism for the Missing

“Snow where the horse impresses itself / is solitude, a gallop of grief.”  - Miguel Hernández



What use is a language

that lacks a name for hazard?


When wheat brays in an alley.


Where do you go

if you aren’t born

an adoration?


If you start the book

of brutality

you will never finish,


knowing how many

teeth go missing

every year.


A trapped animal

will tell you


how each chrysalis

necessarily entombs


a liberating force.


When water hisses in a barrel.


How many excuses

for the absence

of footprints about the body?


Even the desert

has a language


capable of uncovering

the ontology of the castaway.


Around the ocotillo,

around the narthex and dumpster,


each mouth exhales

a shrine.



Story About a Glacier



What I won’t tell you is how I became a flute

and brushed against lips but there was no music.

When the blows came furious as juniper.


There were days when I was a parachute

and the wind was free but kind. I won’t lie

and say there were no such days. There were days


when I curled into hailstone and pretended

it was only breezing outside. Another man’s music.

Eventually the need to unfurl overcame the need


to stay anchored. Tsunami greeted me in its maw.

I have his smell all about me but it dwindles every day.

What I won’t tell you is how I escaped. One day


I met a map at a bar. It pointed to a gash on its head

and said I could get there by becoming someone else.

Most of me was still scrawled on a carpet under a belt.


What was there to lose that I hadn’t already lost?

Alone, in the middle of the night, the road smelled

like freshly sawed mesquite. I wormed my way out.


A buckle still loomed in the background.

And I told myself, there is no gleam.




The Knife


What can you say about the knife that hasn't already been said? It is the same knife today as it was yesterday. Even if the law decided to melt it down, it would still be a knife tomorrow. You can travel back through the history of the knife & discover the America-like violence of its birth, how it carved yokes into brown bodies & how it chose night as its uniform. The knife very quickly discovered skin, blood, & the poor. The knife is an instrument & so takes its identity from the purpose of the hand that uses it. The knife can glide gracefully down a backbone in mimicry of a feather. Or it can leap from one carved island of bone to another. When I was given the knife I pretended to be a survivalist even though I lived in the inner city. The knife melted into milk in my hands & I poured it into the wailing mouth of my baby. It was redelivered into the world & made its way to an open sewer. A woodpecker used the knife to cut down the lone acacia on the block. The tree tumbled & soon it was as if nothing had ever grown there. Except the knife. From a sandy oval in concrete, the knife jutted like a mouse tail. It waited for someone who believed in dynamite.