"Like the razor blade that slices open in the eye-moon at the beginning of Chien Andalou, Alanís-García’s Galería is a drastic and radiant maneuver. What drips from this golden-throat is the full goat-song of art and longing, the violence of exile and the ecstasy of oscillation in the no-place-like-home" — Joyelle McSweeney "Edwin Alanís-García’s poems are ekphrastic, referential and expatriative – they are poems that wear their mediation on their sleeves – but they also manage to feel urgent and beautiful. This is how Alanís-García proves that the poet is not just a liar but an alchemist." — Johannes Göransson

Half-Past the Devil's Hour

                                                    (after Rosa Rolando’s Autorretrato [1952])

Replay the day in an astral haze:
by the time you rise, I’m lost
within a desert tempest. It’s 3:30 A.M.
and you’ve left me dreaming behind,
parched and starving. These saguaros
are cleverly-painted totem poles,
but they can still make us bleed.
I will christen the sympathy scar
on your collarbone after a dead friend.
We’re wind-worn down to the muscle—
maybe we’re dancing bones. ¿Do you
still dance? This appeasing stray mongrel
in your recollection, at your beck
and call, will be swept off a sandstone ledge.
Look away and there will be
no guilt, no evidence of a fall.
You might be writing poems somewhere
twilit, in a stillness and quietus
of your making. Insomniac. Wilted
desert flower. Blackbird. Sadist.
That glassy grit in your eyelashes
plays you dead, plays your double life.
This is what it sounds like in your head:
a choked question, unanswered,
worth to cover your ears so not to hear
a whimper shrill over the bang, where
the cruelest cacophony is the dead air at dawn.

Permanent Residents

(after Bridget Bate Tichenor’s Caja de cristal)

Declared on census, we’re
carte blanca.
Pallid faces crowned by
headdresses and sombreros,
burning Benson and Hedges,
floating on Moët & Chandon,
at home in the D.F. within
translucent five-star hotels.

On Aztec ashes stand
Ghiberti’s Gates, guarded
by stout doormen who nod and
mutter, “Gracias,” when we slip
them a few Benitos.
We Messina and Botticelli
Huitzilopochtli until
class is chiaroscurated.

Mexican fauna, lizards and
little boys selling chiclets
paw at diamond glass walls.
We muse through impenetrable barriers,
like when I push my air conditioner
to its mechanical limits,
create a chamber of ice
to deter cockroaches.

I Beheld the World and It Was Formless and Void

¿And what is there to do
among my fellow swine
and stupid children?
Unless you’ve cut shoulders
in these cornfields, in these
flyover wastes,
you won’t know these songs.
Trucks croon truculent anthems,
all vitriolic twang and smarmy drawl.
Beneath the sun’s shamelessness,
straw men are pecked eyeless
by fearless birds. They sing
and we could dance while
thick haze rises, that green shock
in the pungence of bled grass
clinging to our clothes, and
the reek of pig filth burning
in our noses.

This town
is a pyre. Open a yearbook,
take a red pen and x
one out of every ten
faces. I won’t say
they were friends, but I’m homesick
for hell and its denizens, a place
where the teleology of trash is to
allay despair, repair human porcelain.
The most common cures are white
power and powder, both bleaching
of flesh and essence. No second
look at the midnight bottles,
the dirty needles, the six barrels
spinning across possible worlds.

This world is not coming to an end—
it has been ending endlessly.
Burning stones grind the sidewalk,
the scorch marks invisible
to my neighbors. The collapsed
walls of my gutted grammar
school are manifest to everyone.
The playground and path
paved over a mountain of mud
in the city park where
children chant,
On top of Old Smokey
all covered in blood
I shot my poor teacher
with a .44 slug.
They come of age, carve punchlines
into toilet stalls, engravings
shaped like genitals and swastikas.
Switchblades shake
in chipped marble hands,
in vacant, unlined palms.

The sun tires, throws lengthened
shadows at violent angles.
The high school is erased.
The dollar store is erased.
The liquor store is erased.
A black dog snarls.
Frogs generate from grasses.
The sidewalk dims.
A cicada suicide bombs
a streetlight, buzzes into
silence, stillness,
flat on its emerald back, another
killed messenger.

Sleep Wagon

Our wheels grind the craquelure of 66.
World is road and hollow, will and representation.
Take me to Tucson, Flagstaff, Golgotha;
someplace where skeletons fuck in the sand
and jump at our passing to say,
“Hey, lovebirds, care to watch?”
And you look perturbed, maybe intrigued,
but we stay silent because we’re late for
the star shower and we still need dinner—
a drive-in where rollerskated servers deliver
shakes and fries and heads on platters.
We eat late on a sleeping giant’s shoulder,
in time for the storm, cruel lines of white
in the overhead black. We’re making wishes
but there are too many falling stars to count
and not enough to actually listen. Then
the light show is over, so I focus
on the black hole of your bra strap
and sigh at how it matches the ignited
crystals that broke from the asteroid belt.
A song on the radio slips through static
as rust and rain: your lips
look like prairie fires, and that’s all,
though then it’s not the radio
but me, and there’s smoke in the fields,
smoke on the gravel, smoke through your
hair sending signals all the way back.