as far as Oklahoma where the stars start tumbling down we drove half in silence half in Spanish it was the year of dust and ocher dreams of dancing like fireflies against screens that divide night from itself where the stars keep tumbling down and from Oklahoma hummingbird dawn we drove more in silence than in Spanish to the imagination of a border trickling rivulet with dizzy coils like vowels prepared to dry in an unremembered sentence and skies that hovered like clothes on the line and voices of the ancients engraved in stone and followed further south lands of the dead whose flintstone litanies embroidered the clouds and from the place where inert stars turn to ash and the heavens have their farthest reach before the motels color of fading gold and the fake torrents where horses drown and histories of planets driving ships across the magenta flaring waves of time unto the hill-slopes where photography has its origin and the thousand seeds of darkness cover like an abstract oil painting the clockwork beds lined up with dying relatives and seers whose rapid language turns swiftly bright consonants of hammered silver and masks that climb down from blood-spattered walls names and sounds more like silence than Spanish as we kept following the zig-zag carretera Panamericana and gunshot and saber strokes bristling like lightning in our sleep ditched in arroyos where the moon reflects her pallid other half backside of tormented adolescence shoulder and grief and the mounting suspicions of 1953 the year art-history became a discipline and orchestras of jade papaya and quetzal resounded in the ear’s oval amphitheaters kept driving in a rundown General Motors vehicle once owned by gods with two eyes to the left and three others deep within a frowning brow and leaping like azure feathers in the sunset ah such as these divinities we were to become bouncing the atavistic rubber sphere against the principles of Cartesian philosophy OLVIDOS ! who was wearing whose shirt ? who had the lower hand in the transept where stars are re-born and night turns to glitter who was the one on the other side whose shadow was cast in rock and became a pyramid whose was the voice that sang hoarsely into the dark which was indeed the other prismatic and unknown ? mysteries of memory ! in remote Tenochtitlan where the water-ways design anterior languages of maguey and pulque found the archaic fossil-bed and lay each other down and dreamed there was no future only OLVIDOS of lives that might have been who was who between the two : hummingbird and serpent ! para mi hermano perdido en los olvidos 10-20-2019
the day we discovered the Aztecs the sky was a torment of insects refugees of grass and flint clotted members of a hallucinatory device meant to call up stone fragments by name and tone the macron and circumflex were greater than the gods they represented hearts torn out of pure basalt and nerve a long thin wire that followed dust to a conclusion of light much like sunset when winter has no place to retreat hills of ocher and Levantine sandstone porous digits of heat that circling closer and closer revealed enormous plumes quetzal emblems screeching in dialect totem-feet hopping up and down on a spring of water an eye decorated with ships and candles all speaking Holy Mary victuals of chopped lung dog-fish erect as pyramids and the holy hush of leaves lamenting their discolor a whole and not its halves the figment of memory known as red-rock situated high on the left above the cranny and nook where the town lost perspective lines running together and the girls for the first time in their hair and aprons and making salsa and the radio imparting songs and quartets for the girls barefoot and climbing a needle of salt to sing in their ululatory Spanish a refrain of pimento and mesa everything running downhill to an arroyo where the Great Ancestor stood with his club of nails and ocelot pelt shoulders a-quiver with a menacing thought to codify the maguey in a series of dots bright crimson and a planetary system visible only by day haunted by enormous books made of sand the print dissolving by sleep-time behind murals blacker than noon and those two of us who lacking identity could only summon to lamp the once and not the never the articulation by fire of the Noun whence all time is distributed like sheaves of corn to the dead and not know the highway not deliver the motor to its whining and the rumor of mechanized combs and the rumba spattered against the wall inchoate without license as dragging their cannon and donkey fodder up the cordillera the followers of Quetzalcoatl in their rust and flivvers of archaic language using not only the Usted of majesty but the cornea and reticent beam that screws the pupil to its visceral destiny seeing what is merely the interior of a dark dispelling sound and the aggravation of a moonless space twenty-eight notions of dying slowly even as the street wound up its motor a ninety distance from the calavera known as Trotzky and the immense and dense insanity of an afternoon in Xochimilco two tons of cloud-water and flowers enough to last a Toltec infinity an inch in a second of lightning
Ivan Argüelles is an American innovative poet whose work moves from early Beat and surrealist-influenced forms to later epic-length poems. He received the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award in 1989 as well as the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award in 2010. In 2013, Argüelles received the Before Columbus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. For Argüelles the turning point came with his discovery of the poetry of Philip Lamantia. Argüelles writes, “Lamantia’s mad, Beat-tinged American idiom surrealism had a very strong impact on me. Both intellectual and uninhibited, this was the dose for me.” While Argüelles’s early writings were rooted in neo-Beat bohemianism, surrealism, and Chicano culture, in the nineties he developed longer, epic-length forms rooted in Pound’s Cantos and Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. He eventually returned, after the first decade of the new millennium, to shorter, often elegiac works exemplary of Romantic Modernism. Ars Poetica is a sequence of exquisitely-honed short poems that range widely, though many mourn the death of the poet’s celebrated brother, José.