“The Old Mexican Poem”


“What are you doing for living these days?”
her voice shrieked through the open
transparent door, shrieked with the
west wind, shrieked with the scorching
fragile sun of broken-down engines,
with the shadowlands of red juvenile light
the nearby hotel’s mute rebellious
laughter, with the loser’s soul gold
with anti-matter generators’
hum – the world ceased to resist
then it ceased to exist
matter became the milk
of the gods
very soon other worlds
became involved

Then… the true shrieking climax began:
so shrieked the ghosts of a million
and twenty exterminated rats
the shriek of the well-trained
hunting cat
of his cut-to-pieces owner, the shriek
of my fade-out lover.
the circus, the theater… so shrieked
the distant voice from a gold-filled throat
from skin ripped off of the bones
eyes still gazing
at savage nameless altars
eyes pale from unknown tortures
from the gold fever mosquitoes
must’ve been one of Cortes’ minions
his final plead for innocence
“I didn’t burn the books”
his final bow to the death lords

So shrieked Pinta’s blood-drenched sails
the first world’s conquerors
the first white guerrilla in the jungles
of South American hell
the first pagan convert
so shrieked the self-fulfilling legends, the tragic
ones, the evil, the primal ones, the gods’
returns and the calendar cycles.
so shrieked the legendary thieves
whores and occupants
of no-man’s territories, so shrieked the underworld
so shrieked the primitive scum
amoeba killer
white diseases, beads and booze.
so shrieked the cactus and the eagle
so shrieked my empty wallet, my shotgun
my chimney… so shrieked my sofa’s
beer dawn

So shrieked the empty tequila bottle
my dog’s counted bones,
the persistent aching of marching outsiders
the solitary demand for peace
so shrieked everything
the “days?” continued to shriek
to hiss
to howl
to vomit
to hiss at an unbelievably
high frequency, the one to rip out
your internal organs
the one to wrap them around a sewing
machine, the ancient one there in the corner
and start the whole fantastic mechanism
ripped apart
sewn together
ripped apart… and so on

‘Til you get to the point where sewing
it all back together becomes impossible
a waste of time
and of matter
“what are you doing for living?” you ask…
the only thing is the art of thinking – blunt
still – thinking
the rest can be taken away… the rest was never yours.
and now they pay me off
in bloody silver dollars,
spaghetti western sunsets
and death, while I just burn them books

Copyright © 2008 by A.J. Kaufmann. All rights reserved.