is thriving

1. double-fake wood paneling
peels from the dashboard
of a toyota truck
that has traveled the 600some miles
between el paso and san diego

2. white gate clinking as it revolves
how many hands have touched
benign as a public swimming pool
ritual like the black stone of kaaba

3. the fine art of abur
begins with abraham over chilaquiles
in cast iron skillets
and doesn’t stop
we fly above the pinche line
long after midnight

4. gringos love it
jp says just past the ice factory
(concrete painted yellow
painted blue
painted white
pickup rolling past
a pile of icesnow in its bed)
when i take them along the train tracks

5. something about the plastic bottles of water
lined up on the table
next to the mic
makes this official
a welcome
a milestone

6. sí se puede jp calls out
pulls me through the syllables of

condescendiente
how good it feels to laugh

in true naive form
in the middle a reading
how right it feels to take apart the
stonecold facade
of perfection

7. nidia is a musician
nidia wears a barrette that looks like a tiny red top hat
nidia told me that the manifesto brought tears to her eyes
and that alone
is unexpected and worth it

8. aurelio and i
cut through thick basement punk bar smoke
(on the juke: smashing pumpkins
new order
u2)
discussing bridges
and the disillusions of a northern border town
and the falseness of any conception
of twin cities

9. navigating sidewalk pits
we discuss the finer points
of heuso y sin hueso
caught between nikolai and honna
over the differences
between wood and bone

10. if there were  a flag for la zona norte
it would be hot pink
black
sequin
and 6inch-heel seethrough plastic

11. handful of pesos in backpocket
clink against keys
i pass coins to jp at the gay (men’s) club
where women are charged to enter

12. i don’t know how to dance
nikolai says
hands to shoulders
side to side
we move anyway
see. of course you do
i tell him

13. laughing is the last thing
one should do anywhere near the border cops
on the way back into the u.s.
but we are exhausted and punchy
and even an acronym like wthi
is enough
to send us reeling
belly-rolling
on the floor where hundreds
thousands
wait
daily

14. LA ESTRELLA
showerbled stamp ink
on thin inner arm skin
2:30am
wet-haired and sleepbound
a bout of unnamed grief
in the wake of all-day coming-alive returning-to-self laughter
what i presumed to be mostly dead
turns out
is thriving
on the other side of the border