172.1: Steven Alvarez:: 1992 / 5th sun / our present & Bat 172

The eclectic selection this week from Steven Alvarez reminds me of William Carlos Williams' Spring and All. Not the famous parts from that book. Not the contagious hospital, not the antagonistic farmer, not even the white chickens (which, ironically, DO get a reference in Alvarez's "Bat"). No, this selection from Alvarez reminds me of the prose sections in that book. These are moments when Williams is irreverent and brilliant at the same time, the voice of a poetic revolution. The two pieces in this issue, "1992 / 5th Sun / Our Present" and "Bat," combine untranslated Spanish, regional geography (I've had to make the drive through Gila Bend many times), and futurist techniques to evoke a mosaic of sounds, textures, conflicts, and desires. "1992 / 5th Sun / Our Present" reads like a wonderful combination of The Cantos, concrete poetry, found writing, and kitsch. "The Bat" is Alvarez's wonderful response to mythic method, a story involving gods, incest, cannibalism, colonialism, humor, and loss. These two pieces honor the dust and beauty to be found throughout the Southwest. La Frontera and All. Ryan Winet

1992 / 5th sun / our present


honky-tonk gringo corrido Gila Bend Corridor Bar / Gila Bend / AZTLÁN

          s           t           r           u           m           [sic]

“for Chaley Chastitellez
          “that brave ballsy fellow
          “told those Xicanos
“working for la migra
“los vendidos agringados:
“‘in Makesicko love
          “‘germinates w/ the mouth
“‘begins w/ the mouth
“‘& her mouth the size of Puebla
“‘w/ lips like Sinaloas
“‘& how beautiful her hips / two Chihuahuas—’
                     “¡ Z á s !
“& he proceeded to snap each of their necks
“one by one w/ swift judochops
                     “¡ Z á s ! ¡ Z á s ! ¡ Z á s ! ¡ Z á s ! ¡ Z á s !

“qué hombre”

          brasstipped snakeskin boots tap
                     & a pouncing taxidermed bobacat lunges
          away from woodpanelled wall

“man’s man / & for his Tío / a hero
“& for his Xochitl & La Muerte the salvador himself . . .”


          accordion accordion accordion




Bat


1

     Sun sure shone down then on Pulotu—all the sailors then sailed Pulotu. Beaches back then shined swirled sand, glazed sometimes rain water—besides white chickens—below palms swaying in ocean’s breeze, dancing their dagger leaves, gently dropping their thick fruits loose. Sea mainly mirrored sun, sometimes flashed oysters. Yeah & those days strong men sailed, & eagles & bats & sea gulls sang gliding, smacking into sides of smoking volcanoes.
     Those nights Muli & Lolo went assailing sailors—nestling with them on Puloto’s beaches, luring them like sirens, presenting them their gentlemanly narrow Pulotu tributary tanned hips, sucking sailor tongue, rubbing sailor flank, then murdering said lured sailors before copulating with them, afterwards leisurely devouring them. Sweet cannibals delightfully fixing & mixing draughts of said sailors’ blood mixed with saliva. Called Lolo & Muli fa’afafines.
     Now Lolo was one goddamned pretty orchid flower—could go into the supermarket & buy what he needed with his good looks—not much of a speaker, but grotesque Muli spoke diamonds, spouted the old makeitnew poetry. & that’s how they got & caught their seafarers: as a team they hailed & shared to eat Pulotu’s passing farers. See if a sailor managed flight from one, well he sure as hell couldn’t hurdle the other—interesting thing, though, is that Muli & Lolo never stopped to taste the brackish bodies of one another. The warm meat ring of outsiders was their thing, & that’s just one of those things.
     They’d take to assailing a sailor, see, taking what them passing fellers trucking the salted whale road gave more than willingly, offering that ass & the fa’afafines redeeming easily—but, see, what they extracted—the anuses they filled, later ate—they took as pieces of sea, dig?: contoured, solid-filled hollow, shaped mysteriously by moonbeams, ebbing to flowing casual & regular, arriving as soon as departing, fleeting, nearly unreal, a sometimes handsome reality passing like every six hours. Into caves they seeped, hissing kissing all the while, rocks mossy, seaweed slimy & coiling.
A goddamned pretty eb, a sweet spoken flow. Having their way with ocean boys every time, then eating them, always eating them.
     Muli carved out a decapitated sailor’s heart with a butter knife. The systolic-diastolic dripping, popping mess jumped out that hole he’d dug, right out some bosom & into his hand, still pounding slippery as all hell. He kinda clenched it, crimped it vise-tight—trying to hold the throbs in, in a sexy kind of way. Handed it to Lolo, smile, lick lip, & Lolo, he rubbed it all over his smiling foxy face, right in his eyes, through his hair (upstairs & down), all along his chin & jaw, laughing—still thump-thump thumping too—then harshly massaging his junk with it, all real ceremonious with it, sort of primitive even. Then they snapped those photos of themselves with the donor’s organ on a spit & uploaded to their blog—such a classic Pulotu cannibal story, you know.
     A goddamned pretty eb, a sweet spoken flow. Having their way with ocean boys every time, then eating them, always eating them.
     Viz: Wet the night’s men, broke flesh together, & together met the wet nights later alone. Lightly Lolo lured his face-bait. Gave pause. Caution to the wind my f(r)iends! If nothing in the sailor’s watery eyes gleamed fresh fish here, good fish too, island muffin sunfish, pretty O pretty—no strings attached, eh—unpant me good sir, then Muli’d go to work; Muli enticed the sailor’s sunburned ears with his lisping lip prosody:


cannot can call angels mine

since never traveled nor travailed
truly never availed this myself for mass en-masse (in my ass—


so many, la, wah-wonder we fa’afafines

your hold, feel, to fill your fill with our quaking fog—
you wonder our draw, taste, Otherness awe—


wah-we love as bats underground burgeon history smell me big man while—
kiss this loaded gun sailing human seraphim) you born before

birth     your eyes their silence     la
censured ancestry inhaled hailed cowards we    sleep
—here he dragged his Pall Mall—

cry
wanna canonize?—

birth oppositional past times? tick-tick—     birth ME big boy

experience becoming anally wrapped consent it
—which way does your beard point tonight, Sea Man?—

now YES you know you right now my cheese ripe I’m

kinda messed stairs below to my pad moon—up—us

swimming shells of ourselves—shells—Let me
fix you a dram sprouts testicular tree oh me and let’s love     Canonize our love—oooh—
so oh melt me gut me like a fish—cup my guppies—
wide big boy all day you’re a giraffe BIG BOY let’s count out &

coffee-spoon
spilled lives lover love to drink your blood lover and test

teste grip dig me deeper than the

voice of all roses     rose to I fear


I hear here your breath wind smooth sure air full

pure


LET’S EAT, alas,

sailorman, mate to meet—
WEINER UP COWBOY—GIT! know my strum jobs make giraffes jog

live best both sides jive melt me a cheese ring dear
stars

April     lube up     when this this sun brandished
you today, salad baby, I saw you unsurprisingly

pure


planned to give you the buckshot

all

make my butter-color teeth sweat


got it all the—
while and you

quick sniff this
love
love
know me love
hate me mate—
through being
love love



—revolving round
nothing love shit
we all shit love
scoop yours out
with this bleached
beached trowel if
you would love
I’ll eat that later
love the shit that
is love roadkill to
me love unforget



sire desire  mount
me love sire
require netherhole
seize me love
spear me love
smoke out rhythm
beating our hearts
unison pumping



you breathing to
beat music of our
love love we all
love moons love
and love sun



generations of
best minds sucked
cocksure  hungry
lost



BIG BOY la

s
l
i
m
y

s
l
e
n
d
e
r

a
h

s
l
i
d
e

i
n

O
O
F


regal splendor
slippery serpent man
handle here this bat’s jizzle wet

s—
tr ings unseen unshaven sure

sailor
love sailing
here—
devil black


wa-whyn’t

white obscene
us gathered

inside unison ooh succulent yes

kissing bliss

luscious slipping succulent sucking smacking—la—la—


     & so on. Generally got dirtier as he continued cutting edges, him waving his genitals & manuscripts. In any case, one of them fa’afafines had the bait where they wanted it, either through Lolo’s lovely face & nice titties (had some killer titties) or Muli’s avant lyrics, at which point one of the two found the sailor fellers passing to kissing, heavy petting, member clutching. From there, through whichever rhetorical means, auditory or visual, the other cannibal not sidetracking the sailor would clobber the mesmerized shithead from the back with a stone from the shore. After that, they’d fuck that feller rotten, always slitting the throat first so the blood would shoot like a fountain as they pounded the carcass. Just one of those things. Sure enough they made it with the sailors raw, ate them mostly raw like sushi salmon.
     Lolo & Muli danced, hugging tight to rhythmic drum smash. They could feel their taut pressed peckers through their jockeys. They stared into each other’s necks, at the big jugular bulging, the blood mixing inside, & they wondered, & their chubbies thickened. Never made the beast though. They would carve gifts of jewelry from sailors’ bones & teeth for one other: Muli gave Lolo a jawbone locket decorated with abalone & hair; Lolo gave Muli a quartz thumb-ring shaved eye socket.
     SING: A goddamned pretty eb, a sweet spoken flow. Having their way with ocean boys every time, then eating them, always eating them. Still, they never made the beast with one another. & that’s just one of those fa’afafines things.
     Boats bypassed the island. Common knowledge that scores of sweethearts lost sweet hearts on that island, gobbled hearts poached, peppered, lime-sprinkled. So Muli & Lolo in the hopes of drawing dinner & ass financed a loan, resorted Pulotu to beach jeep sightseeing eco-tours, fishing excursions, a ropes course, kayaking retreats, a paintball park—all, of course, to no avail, & significant debt. Tourists like sailors quickly gathered that having you over for dinner really meant you know what, this despite Muli’s poems, Lolo’s fine titties, & Pulotu’s geologic wonders, five-star hotels, golden ports, botanic garden, paintball like I said, swirled sand, chickens, & the so-much-depended-on live music booked solid through fall. Business did fine for a while, you know, vacationing to the den of sexy cannibals was the big thing back in ‘85, & to travel the island, let the lovelies skin you to Huey Lewis’s Sports, have their way with you, eat you, suck the flesh from your knuckles, everyone—especially Germans—loved that. As the popularity & novelty came to a close, the enterprise spiraled defunct, the wave subsided, & Lolo & Muli were left wondering as they grew thin, thin, thinner.
     Cheekbones on each dented, their bellies potted, eyes bulged six notches to bug, desperation grew, & now whenever they pressed bodies, they felt one another’s ribs more than boners. Times got barnacle rough on Pulotu, despite the sun, chickens, paintball, & the island’s geologic wonders. Finally the day arrived when poet Muli could no longer help himself.
     Cued Zapp & Roger to track fourteen. Four drum pops, glistening keyboards a-twinkle, bass ba-BOOM boom, ba-BOOM boom booming & he lifting each shoulder sequentially with the capital booms, forming his eyes come hither, & the computer-voiced lyrics sputtered: “I can’t liiiiiiiive my liiiiiife wit-out chu oohhhaaaah”—he licked his fingers, combed his eyebrow—“ . . . everytime I see you walking by I get a thrilllllll, yooooou don’t notice meeeee but in tiiiiiime you willllll”—he silently mouthed the words inching toward Lolo, lit his Pall Mall unfiltered—“. . . I must make you understahand”—ba-BOOM boom—“ayyyyeeee wannabe your man”—he wrapped his arm around his compatriot, face near Lolo’s left earmeat. Gods he looked good with his shirt off, them titties.
     “Lo, dear comrade,” he said, “we’re but products of multifarious instances of circumstance crisscrossed, woven—& multinational capital, ahem.” Lolo stopped beading teeth. Muli expecting, backing momentarily, though still holding his arm around Lolo’s shoulder. Gods he looked good without a shirt, those little brown tender buttons. “No, don’t say pomp. Don’t say it, bitch, just because I said circumstance, no you don’t gotta—”
     “Pomp & circumcision.” Small laugh, resuming his beading.
     “That one I didn’t see.”
     “Yeah,” Lolo said. “Gods I miss those mariners.” Still beading.
     “Equally. A ball of pompous hairs, Lo. One repeatedly unwound, rewound progressively forward.”
     “Whose progression?”
     Nod. “Ours: that’s the nonsensical series of instance—stands full, eh? Who’s”—waving gesture with left arm, his right moving slowly down Lolo’s back, hand resting briefly on Lolo’s right buttock. Gods them titties on the glass—“standing still? Stolen accumulations woven from all into one ball.” He licked his fat lips, gestured eyewise toward Lolo’s crotch. “No, the lampshade there, yours. Curve, yours. The glory of unknowing you, ours, but the glory of your nose this instant mine, love. Your smell aromatic, delectable, your lips lip-smacking.”
     —“what I got to saaaaay, sealedwithakiss & the way we breathe”—ba-BOOM—“waaaaay we breeeeeeeeeaathe”—
     “Got some wicked, bitching sun today,” said Lolo.
     “I’m on it, doll. Hear it?”
     “Like some seriously wicked sun.”
     “Listen.”
     “. . .”
     “Hear that?”
     “What?”
     —boom, ba-BOOM boom—“ayyyyeeee wannabe your man”—
     “What about it? You’re going to start your break dancing again, I know.”
     “I want to be your man, Lo.”
     “Eh?”
     Muli & Lolo had never made the beast.
     He inhaled his unfiltered Pall Mall, blew the blue smoke into Lolo’s fine face. Gods, Lolo without a shirt. “Smell that?: inhale tobacco. Tapping gently. Fingers snapping continuous. Winter slithers, slinks away. I want to be your man, Lo. You want me to fix you a drink? Let me fix you a drink. A domestic light?”
     “Muli, I’m tired.” He stood, walked to the dresser, & put away his tooth necklace.
     Muli & Lolo had never made the beast.
     “Lolo, love, let’s bed it, make it, go all the way, hombre.”
     “Oh, oh no, no, no, no, oh I’m not hearing this, no, no,” shaking his head, backing away.
     —“aaaaaaaye wannabe your man”— boom, ba-BOOM—
     “Dude, lemme bed you.” Closing in. “Let’s get extricable, baby. Let me inhale all of you, taste you entirely, dove, make the beast with our backs shining in the moon’s light on the beach where we used to drive those tours”—ba-BOOM boom—“where we ate sailors like we used to. Let’s let all the seafowl & bats watch if they want”—ba-BOOM—“& howl barks louder than those seals down on the rough rocks. Let’s do this, just you & me. I’m hungry for you, baby. Moon shining.”
     — boom, ba-BOOM— “yooooou don’t notice meeeee but in tiiiiiime you willllll”—
     “I don’t believe it.” Folding arms so as to partly conceal his titties. “Muli, my face is up here. I’m shocked, Muli. We never made the beast before, & I guess . . . I guess I expected more from you. Figures though,” Lolo sat again. Brooding? “I mean, I am above average in beauty. & who could possibly resist these titties?” Cupped his titties. By the way, Lolo, you know, had already learned everything in the universe from Muli. & his titties were more than quite marvelous.
     “Let’s hump, Lolo. You’re pretty, Lolo. Lolo I want you.”
     —“aaaaaaaye wannabe”—
     “We shouldn’t, Muli. We’re better than this, aren’t we? & we’re cousins—though that’s not it mostly, you know, that we’re cousins I mean.”
     “. . .” Lifting & dropping of left half of unibrow.
     “You think you’re some sweet talker, don’t you. Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re great, don’t get me wrong, no, you’re the best cousin ever now don’t make that face, Muli. Muli, I mean, cliché as it sounds, it’s me, I can’t, I, I have too much to lose. . . besides you got that rash . . . & I want to go back to school . . . but your personality truly is the tops, &, but, but . . . no, we can’t, we shouldn’t, we’d better no—okay, let’s.”
     So they made the beast, howling like animals, their backs shining in moon’s light on the beach as the tide turned in & chickens formed a celebratory clucking circle surrounding them. They made the beast three times there on the beach where they drove those tours, where they ate many a sweet, wet sea traveler, tourist. Then, after they finished, & out of habit, & because he really couldn’t quite help himself, beautiful Lolo beat the shit out of Muli’s skull with the claw of a carpenter’s hammer as Muli slept there all soundless & post-coital. Licking the blood from the hammer: “That may have been a bad thing. I hope the gods don’t get pissy about this. Well what’s done is done. This is sticky, sheesh. Guess I ought to start what I finished. Eat him. Gods look at these titties.” Lolo commenced to suck the flesh off Muli’s bones.
     The Gods were pissed. They could care less about the incest, hell, they lived alone on an island. But eating him: too much. & now Lolo all had all the knowledge of the universe to himself undivided. What could they do do? They did what they did. They turned Lolo into a bat with their gods’ magic.
     Eleven years Lolo lived as a bat on Pulotu, sleeping days, rocking nights in local cave-karaoke dives doing decent covers of Morris Day, occasionally dabbling in recreational drugs, indulging his little lewd bat libido with fast bat shemales, flying the beaches, often clearly remembering the blood & pelvis scoop, the pop of Muli’s lips when he said “hump” with Zapp’s computer voice behind him, & also the pleasing tastes of men & boys from the sea.
     Alas, one day the Americans arrived on Pulotu. Lolo had never seen such handsomes, except atop pools of water when he saw himself pre-bat. They looked pale but rugged, rigid but streamlined, nectared in his mouth their tawny visages. They explored the island, & he secretly fluttered following them from tree to tree. Seemed like he hadn’t seen a man since he was born. Decided he could go for a piece of that American ass because he could hardly contain his little bat hard-on: he had a stiffy stiff like no other—harder than the times of ‘29.
     He swooped in & caught one Captain Jim Vulkan of Birmingham, Alabama right in the neck, sunk his fangs deep into the bastard’s skinny throat, just to the right of his adam’s apple, sucked that jugular Hoover-style, & poor Jim fainted. Lolo drank deep, fattened & fell asleep dreaming of a shoulder-popping Muli.

2

     Lolo woke. His face felt raw from resting on the desk. He looked quizzically at all the students in the classroom. (Classroom 315 at the University’s Modern Languages building.) An empty water bottle sat in front of him. He shook his little leather wings, yawned. He stood, quivered, left a pile of guano on his chair, & ditched the Spanish 202 lecture. No one seemed to notice. Nadie.
     He exited the building & felt refreshed hearing the sounds of a college band playing on the mall. Nice to let the kids express themselves, he thought.
     Four months later, Lolo bought a used Geo. Seems he had decided to remain in Tucson. I met him at the Rialto’s open-mic. He tried miserably to recite verses he’d heard Muli mutter from memory. He sounded all right, you know, but I don’t think Tucson was ready for him yet. I remember he wore eyeliner, dressed all in black, billed himself avant-garde & spittin’ pretty. He lived just down the street from me, over at Seneca Village on Country Club, so we met up for a few drinks & to smoke a bowl, discuss the dog fights. This was back in the summer of ’98.
     He told me about Pulotu, how he loved it, hated it, the beauty, dignity, chickens, geologic wonders, beaches, shemales. Told me about Muli’s sweet verses, hips, how he sucked the meat off those hips for weeks, & lastly of his former looks. He still had decent titties—I’ll give him that. Seems to me Lolo spoke with bittersweet longing: “A part of my life long passed,” he said before taking a long, slow drag from his Benson. He told me about his new bat life, & how he flew up above buildings, damn near touching his nose to the moon, how he could smell it he said. Sometimes, he said, he’d perch on surfaces upside down, & stare at the earth below him like an alien, & all the people & cars & trash ebbing & flowing like the tide there on the street all estranged. I might could have fell in love with him when he talked about all that Brechtian nonsense, you know, but that was only a passing deal.
     “I’m leaving, moving out,” he said to me suddenly one snowy Tuesday in August. Yeah, snow in Tucson in August, tell me about it.
     I didn’t ask any questions—about him leaving that is, not the snow; why prolong this shit, that’s what I think. That’s just the way I am, you know, one of them things.
     We said our first good-byes, & Lolo went up in the wind, & the snowflake flurries gently twirled & looked like moths dancing, colliding.
     Few weeks later he landed at my flat. He looked like shit: wings tattered, cuts on his back, neck, one eye swollen shut. Looked like he had been crying, but I couldn’t tell for sure because he made it a point not to look me in the eye. I didn’t ask any questions. He wandered over to the fridge, grabbed himself a beer, & took a seat on the couch, tossing my folded laundry to the floor.
     “Make yourself at home, Lolo.”
     He kept looking with his good eye back behind me somewhere. I’d noticed that since he walked in. He had this distracted look, you know, like his mind still hung upside down or something. I’d seen that look before with crank junkies, I’d seen it sometimes in those over-the-hill red-nosed drunkards, too, you know, old timers.
     “What you searching for, friend,” I asked.
     “How long you had them boots?” He pointed behind me with his wing.
     I looked back at the old black leather boot. “I only have the one. Lost the other when Shavonna threw me out. Guess I keep it around as a reminder. Let me tell you, her ass was like a split cantaloupe opened like a book, man—I loved her, Lolo.”
     He shrugged then asked if he could make love to it. By this time I could tell he was really wasted, that he’d probably been hitting the horse, & that whatever he said more or less made sense in his bat mind. So I gave him the boot. I told him to take his business out to the alley if he would—not really my bag to be witnessing whatever he does to that boot, ‘specially if he wants to make the beast with it, know what I mean? Plus I was expecting a lady.
     He went at it with that boot for a long jiffy—& by that, I mean weeks. Never got maced & mostly no one noticed him with my shoe. Ended up living back by the rusted dumpster out in the alley behind my place. Way I see it, the thing about that boot was he couldn’t eat it, & the boot couldn’t blarney him with poems. My guess is he fell in love: the boot would never deceive him, wasn’t in to him just for his looks, or titties, whatever, & Lolo, hell, he couldn’t eat my old boot because that was some tough-ass leather. & that’s the moral of the story: turns out that’s all he really wanted: no sailors, no poems: he wanted something tangible that he couldn’t devour or destroy or decapitate after he banged it—no, that’s the moral of the story. Well, whatever floats your boat, that’s what I say—I’m really into the sisters (moral of my story, you know), & he never faulted me for that—like a split cantaloupe opened like a book, you know. But he really had it bad for that boot, & I ain’t ever seen anything like it. Every time I saw him, though, he smiled this incredibly happy smile, & he wore it all the time, the smile, not the boot, you know on account of his little bat feet, & I don’t think I ever seen anyone so goddamned happy, a real golden boy cloud-nine number, & nobody—unless you’re some cruel son of a bitch—wants to take that away from any harmless fella getting his. See I ain’t no hater, so I was happy he was happy.
     We started to distance round this time. I hardly spoke to him anymore. Something changed. He stopped hitting the clubs like he used to. No more open-mic. He hardly even ever came by my place anymore. & when he did, all he did was talk about the boot’s firmness, warmth, soul, & how he could top it ten-times-ten times every anytime he wanted. Seriously, I think I began to get sick of Lolo & his new sweet—not that I’m the jealous type or anything. I just get tired of seeing that look when it ain’t my reflection, dig? Besides, he had no more party left in him, no draw or awe. He really slowed, yeah. Then I didn’t see him for a long while.
     What happened? Shit, I don’t know. All hearsay as far as I’m concerned. I heard some non-profit folks picked up the boot & him, told him they’d find the boot’s missing brother. Of course they lied. They tried to rehabilitate him, refine him, help him to find meaning in his life or whatever—his Higher Power. Heard they tried to take the boot away, & then after that he went apeshit, cracked a couple skulls. I respectfully chose not to ask him, & I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know he found his way back to the alley behind my place again, he & my old boot.
     The following August snow fell again, & it continued to well into winter. Those were deep tequila drinking short days for yours truly, & I hadn’t seen him for ages—he kept his distance from everyone those days, including me. Sometime in December, middle of December, round my birthday, I walked out to the alley to see how he & my old boot made. Not made you know, but how they did. Not did, you know what I mean. I was curious, you know, maybe even a bit worried, & I had this plate of leftover chicken enchiladas I was taking to them, see. Snow falling still.
     I saw him trembling; his wings froze shut around my old boot’s steel toe, snow blanketing them. I left the plate & never tried to find the poor bastard after that, never saw him again.
     I glanced back, saw the streetlight halving him, his wings froze shut around the boot’s steel toe, snow blanketing them.