Pre-credit Sequence for the Film About the Camp

You crawled back into your motel in a border town near the demarcation line between the nation-state of the living and the underworld. Sleepless, you peered out the window. You could see the neon lights garlanding the Gates of Horn and Ivory. The lights spelled out “OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY” in blinking red cursive. You laughed. Of course, death is the only border crossing still open to all. You watched the illumination from the street pour onto the wall above your bed: a red lasso that looped on the wall, as if the wall had begun to bleed extravagantly. Below, traffic packed the road in both directions. From the two open gates, dreams sailed into the living world from over the deserts. Some dreams true, some false. You recognized some of these dreams (Race, Nation, Gender) and could not tell from which gate they had emerged. Sleepless, you saw the line of pilgrims queued up to enter the underworld. The line seems longer lately, new refugees to the afterlife.

Brief Lives [excerpt]

Descartes in Love

Love, accepting that we are not pure and lucent hearts, ricocheting towards each other like unlatched stars—no, we are tainted with self. We sometimes believe the self is an invisible glass, just as we believe the body is a suit made of meat. Doubt all things invisible. Doubt all things visible.
 

Colin Powell

Not to be a tragic person. What is a tragic person? The victim of a crime who does not realize the criminal is himself.
 

Adonis Prettyboy in Hell

And then her son with love-gun and a quiver
snatched a love-shaft and delivered—a twiggy arrow 
in her nipple like a nasty sliver...
A big pig stuck me with his tusk, but it's life that's the bore, silly!
I never got desire, I always got what I wanted
And in this hallway incredulous of lights, I want wild pears, firm booblike fruit—Daffodils! 
Clovers! And the trill of starlings why not! We could grow 
apples here... Apples? So, I suppose I do miss her

          —You know when I fell out of life
I grabbed her heart like a rope;

Virginia Woolf

 

The target audience of my secrets is not my friends, but my journals and the strangers who will read them in the future.
 

Child of Immigrants

I used to pretend I was American.
This was until I realized I was American.
 

Richard Rorty

What is forgiveness? When someone else's sin becomes merely an action we ourselves might plausibly commit. The virtue of hypocrisy—we temporarily become people other than ourselves and can notice our actions from the other side, as saintly as no one.
 

Io

Symbol is 
abridgement. I am not a cow and Argus not omniscience. 
We are clockfraught beings. 
The man I love stopped my heart when he froze the world to night. 
My heart being part of the world.

Related Poems

Father’s Memory of a Mexican Mining Camp

Softly, it always began softly.
Then slowly swelled to a wail.
Men’s voices. Maybe seven of them
up on the hill behind the house.

A breeze through the window
stirred the curtains like clouds.
I was five, or six. Around midnight
it would start—such a doleful sound.

They were drinking. It was Saturday
and the mines were closed. Their song
would wake me—their longing.
It was a language I knew,

though I couldn’t make out the words.
But the music—that was theirs.
Some ancient secret. A string of notes
piecing together who they once were.

My twin brother slept soundly.
I was alone with this mystery.
It haunts me even now, this lament
to their gods. If flowers were songs—

if the marigold sang, it would mourn
like this. I imagine them still
sitting on a dark hill chanting
their dirge. Some nights I wake—

I hear them. I don’t remember
my dreams, so I dutifully make
my way to the window.
All I see are clouds and mist.

When the Orders Came

"[We are] calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."
             —Trump’s administrative team, December 7, 2015

they shipped us to the sanctuary camps
& we forgot our other countries.

like good schoolchildren we sung
the anthem loud, so loud
until we could hear nothing else.

not the birds delighting
over their young, or the dogs’ snarl
at our feet, or him on the news

hourly, growling. this is the cost
of looking the other way
when they come for us:

I build safety inside you
& wake in cuffs.
I’m all mouth. every morning

I whisper my country my country my country
& my hands stay empty.
what is land but land? a camp

but a camp? sanctuary
but another grave? I am an architect.
I permission everything

into something new.
I build & build
& someone takes it away.

Race/Race

stock     strain     family     line


breed     blood     skin     shape


of the head     of the pack


animal     human     judge



better     fitter     swiftly


to find     foot     horse     car     run


for your life     around


town     the block     the camp


 

to the top     the finish     contend


compete     in     for     against


the other     the not so


great     not even in the