Obsidian’s Edge 27


El sueño de la razón produce monstruos.
When reason sleeps, monsters are born.
Francisco de Goya.

3:00 AM

… often the imprisoned heart pinned like a butterfly and chloroformed into silence like a resurgent Guy Fawkes sitting on his bonfire and waiting for the universe to roll its coloured dice a captive and that heart singing as the dark rum of freedom bites into its jackdaw dreams of bright silver rings married to a bird’s leg and the round open eye of a cat staring at a Queen of Hearts as champagne bubbles burst in the mouth and dash on the tongue as they wash against the tooth’s white rock as it waltzes with the white caps that crest into broken ghosts who shuffle in and out like a pack of cards filled with knaves and the joker is belled with a red fool’s cap and a bladder on a stick as a tom cat’s tom fool grin melts in the mirror when the moon’s face skids and bounces off a snow bank where tranquil midnight mysteries trap trembling worlds in hand-blown glass bubble dreams that distort all distances clasped beneath clutching fingers while the crystal raindrops serve as an eye to behold the crimson glory of the hibiscus with its blood red stains where the baby fell from the rocking horse and confessed to a crime it never committed though speckled like a fresh trout it was drawn from deep water and blamed for the rainbow fire that flickered flames to the harsh crisp sound of the candle licking at its waxen jail where flower faces float framed against the white-washed wall as the wide-open staring eyes of the snowy owl speckle a yellow madness and its feathers are nails to be fired into  a pottery tree in this harsh somniferous light that breathes fear and fire into shavings of dry bark and a beaver gnaws at the roots of the world as an accusatory beak points at the funneling snow and puffed up feathers plump out a body so thin it is unfit to fight these flames of ice or withstand these snow stones cast by blameless flint-eyed innocents who have never themselves done anything wrong though they spark at the trough with one eye clouded by a spider web of hate and the other a sharp sun peering through clouds condemned like a donkey to walk round and round crushing the heart out of the maguey in an interior world of  dust and stone where the mote in another person’s eye is larger than the beam in one’s own and slant-eyed dogs eat dust and shadows of dust as they prowl through the courtyard and bark at the full moon blazing above this world that is sacrificed to a madwoman’s madness and an ancient flesh-devouring god who lives in a nearby volcano and is stoned all day on tequila and mescal


Obsidian’s Edge 21

9:00 PM
Mass in the Courtyard
St. Cecilia’s Day

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waiting in the manger

fine layers of sand
silted sorrow
strewn across the yard

eleven musicians
shaking the same traditional
salt and pepper tune
conch pipe and drum
over and over and over



a mass without mescal
a meal without wine
a day without sun

dark face of thunder

a stranger
pouring for a stranger
brown hands
offering grace

Tom Thumb sips
minuscule cups
thin paper crumbling
pinched between
finger and thumb

mescal’s fierce fire
burns a fiery ball
throat and belly


candle light sputters
shadows on name-
forgotten half-
remembered faces

walk among shadows

fading flowers
gathering freshness
a cross
a crowded room


black blades
paper cuts
blades of grass

ribbons of blood
tongue slit open
ready for sacrifice

cactus pierces lips
mustache of thorns


stones under flowers
so heavy

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a moonbeam,
slips its knife
a vow to forget
a memory that survives
living forever


shoe-less the people
standing on temple steps

noses ears lips
drawn from cactus
thrust through flesh


eyes of Tlaloc
Tecolote beaked and ready

the hole in the sacrificial frog
fills with fresh blood

round bundles wrapped
and tied with large knots


stripped from this flower
-ing cross and re-
placed by red roses

town’s beating heart
el corazón del pueblo

mass in the courtyard
St. Cecilia’s Day


Bistro 4 Flash Fiction



            Tom knocked on the hotel room door and Dick opened it. He took a pace back and whistled. “What have you done?”
“Isn’t she a beauty?” Tom’s hand twisted into the waist of her skirt as if he were afraid she’d fall over without his support.
Tom and Dick helped her into the hotel room.
“What’s your name, darling?” Harry came out from the bathroom, wearing only his shorts. “You’re a cutie.”
The girl half-stumbled and Tom held her steady while Dick took the bottle from her. Old, and slightly dusty, it had an air of quaint respectability that belongs only to genies or expensive liqueurs.
Dick put the bottle on the bedside table. Tom held the girl, from behind, by the arms, and Harry started to unbutton her blouse. Harry kissed her full on the lips. She showed no sign of resistance, not even when Harry thrust his tongue into her mouth.
“What’s her name?” Dick asked.
Tom shrugged and pointed to a tattoo on the girl’s wrist where the initials “CJ” faced off against a crimson heart around which a large worm-like creature curled.
“Are you CJ?” Dick questioned her and she nodded.
“Op-p-p-pen the bot-t-t-le,” she whispered.
“All in good time,” Dick took her by the hand and led her towards the bed. Tom and Harry looked at each other and started to laugh.
“Oh boy, is this our lucky day,” Tom went into the bathroom and brought out three glasses.
“Only three?” Harry asked.
“She’s out of it,” Tom nodded his head.
“It’s mezcal, isn’t it?” Harry shook at the bottle. “Look: it’s got three worms in it, one for each of us.”

* * *

Later, the three boys sat in front of the television to take in the football game. They sipped at the large glasses of yellow liquid they held in their hands.
CJ lay on the bed, naked, oblivious. Her lips moved as if she were praying. On her arm, the tattoo had changed shape. The worm, uncurling, now flowed into a single word: bruja.

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* * *

“First and goal!” The boys stared at the screen. Behind them, the bottle on the night table started to shake.
“Second and one!” The boys were bewitched by the game. Behind them, the bottle on the table grew in size and the three yellow worms that had been sleeping at the bottle’s bottom, swelled with it, and slowly swam to the top of the yellow liquid.
“Third and one!” The boys were besotted, their eyes glued on the tv screen. Behind them, the three worms emerged from the bottle and stood on the hotel room floor, dominating the room, a trio of unspoken elephants.
“Go, go, go!” The three boys raised their arms.


* * *

The room stands empty now.
CJ has gone. She has been returned to her own room where she is guarded by two enormous presences that have cleaned and bathed her wounds. They have blessed her with their twin gifts of wholeness and holiness and now they are allowing her forgetfulness and sleep.

* * *

In that other hotel room, the screen door to the balcony lies open. On the ground five stories below, three male bodies lie. Sirens wail. The police cordon off the area. Ambulances arrive, sirens wailing.
Above them in the room, a yellow presence scours the surroundings, devouring all evidence of CJ’s sloughed skin.

* * *

On the sleeping girl’s wrist, the initials “CJ” face off against a crimson heart besides which three large worm-like creatures stand on guard.

* * *


Obsidian’s Edge 6

10:00 am
Dark is her Shop



I buy two liters of white mescal,
cheap and rough,
without the second brewing:
fire water, not smooth.

Two liters:
she sells them in
an old Coke bottle
she’ll seal with cellophane,
and a rubber band.

Six worms I buy.
Bedraggled fighters
dragging smoky trails
as they plummet
through a yellow sea.


In the shop next door
I buy poinsettias.
When I get home,
I put them in a vase
and watch them watching me.

Red poinsettias:
bloodstains scratching
a white-washed wall.


Misshapen gems
in a ceramic prison,
their beauty
breaks me down:
decimated words,
born from mescal.


The eyes I see
are not eyes
because I see them:
they are eyes because

… twin brown ovals …

they watch me
as they float in a liquid mirror
within the upraised glass.


beyond the balcony,
sun blood melts
like sealing wax.

The bougainvillea
strains sharp stains
through a lonesome
slice of sunlight
giving birth to
flamboyán and tulipán.


My lemon tree
leans over to listen.
Glistening pearls of dew
embellish its morning throat.
Christmas decorations
these postage stamp songbirds
thronging each twitching branch.

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winged flakes of archaic paint,
flutter from temple walls
leaving them barren and bare.

Church towers,
strong when terra firma shakes,
quiver insubstantial.

Mescal melts the morning:
a quiver of shimmering air.


Obsidian’s Edge 5

Obsidian’s Edge 5

9:00 am
Mescal and Memory

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Frail old men
huddled under hand-woven blankets
sipping their morning mescal:
each face
a note book seamed with memories.

Crab apples
hastening to autumnal crispness,
their wrinkled faces,
their minds ready to tramp
the snow of today’s blank page.

Unwieldy limbs
bursting back to bloom,
flower by unyielding flower,
they squat in the square
beneath blossoming trees.



characters lifted from the pages
of their pre-Columbian chronicles
and Mickey-Moused on modern walls:

Ocho Venado
framed on a restaurant menu,
recalled on a hunded peso bill.

has forgotten how to walk
on the burned, broken feet
that Cortés held to the fire.

Ocho Venado,
a king in his own right,
bows and bobs to tourists
in the restaurant that bears his name.


an errant, feathered knight,
whirs his wings and charges
at the sun’s twin windmills:
sun-dog ear-rings
tethered to a golden flower.



Sweet flutter-by of yesterday’s butterfly:

fragments the memory
holding it bitter between tooth and tongue.

Obsidian’s Edge 3

7:00 am


I sacrificed a chicken.

it lay within its calcium cocoon,
a volcano sleeping deep beneath thick snow.


Tap, tap, tap,
the silver spoon bounced
off the hairless shell:
a sudden crack,
a spurt of orange blood.

I tap with my silver hammer
on the grateful grapefruit’s paper skull.

No movement
within the honeyed
comb of pith and cell.


High in the church tower,
a hammer blow falls on an echoing anvil:
the cracked bell lurches into life.


 Rooster crows his thick rich cocoa rico:
blackened torsos of fire-roasted beans.


Squeezed orange, racked by the inquisition,
its pale yellow robe spent and exhausted;
wasted disc of a worn-out, decadent moon.


  Naturaleza muerta:
the orange expires on the table.

Still sticky its carcass,
its life blood is a sacrifice:
thick, rich, golden liquid,
as fierce and sweet as
sunshine on a branch.


   Tabled motion:
my hand reaches out.
Arthritic fingers clasp,
but cannot hold
the golden glass.


The tequila’s wrinkled worm
tickles my fancy.

fried in garlic
no longer make me squirm.


Two Tigers
rage in my head.

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They crave mescal
at this hour of the day.