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J Arturo Aug 2014
ok so
what I was trying to say a month ago
that Lima of six million citizens is interest worthy uniquely for
it is (I have travelled significantly and) maybe yes likely the only city I've known
raised completely on a foundation of sand and
god, does it draw the mind to find something so much built
from grey-brown particles dust and quite really dirt look
beneath three cathedrals no joke it's
formica silica a bit of gypsum maybe.
regardless an earthquaking silty stiffness lies below.

and yes maybe I've been forced to love this city because
for whatever reason in my capacity made bad choices and I
have— no, have been made to
come to this city as the only enclave
the FBI won't pull me from.

but regardless I once said four years ago that I could
learn to love anyone, given the
willpower faith and motivation and
******* already I may love this
city I may love the way it always fog and evening rains but
the precocious days when sunshine comes are
unexpectedly– even possibly–
brighter than the days once were in Santa Fe.

Because the world has her Paris and her Seinne, her
London, and her Thames,
and her
New Amsterdam and old and Guineas new (and both) but when
You put a cornerstone down on lowliest ground, stack stones there only trying to–

one must respect a faith in what
shouldn't ever have happened.

Because Lima in growing to love and love can
Bring up tears but maybe you
start to glimpse at the heart of someone, after these years see that
Babylon dried the Tigris and
Shanghai may as well be the Yangzee but
Lima is a
peasant town, built from nothing,
while human we

cart in over tonnage vegetables and quartered meat
to eat, and eat– we
need to live to live we eat...

and from the Mirador De San Cristobal a striking view of where we sleep:
Lima six million bodies row on row.
What was once desert here we will decompose
and with craven frames prompt trees to grow.

There is more soil here than ever in
the geologic predestiny of the place and
Hell it could be three years even before
the Holy Bomb does come to
wipe clean leave stones of the
"human race" but this–
this city will do what cities do chew
up our radiated bodies all
criminal convictions forgiven each
soul I guess heaven, revelations, to
start a new.

This city is a desert I choose to live here
because when I die these trees will
(having no choice)
Exhume my body these
trees will grow where trees don't go and
from my remains make soil make
sand make earth make

If I must die childless I
can at least saturate the sand
in Lima, can at least,
serve conduit for something new.
maybe unfinished
J Arturo Jun 2014
Tamir is Israeli. I don't know what that means beyond he speaks Hebrew, came at one point from that area, and keeps dark-skinned friends.

I'm trying to cultivate a lethal talent
because one day I want to **** people
by painting them as they are

(and when you're known
as yourself
you have
nothing else)

but all my days are micro montages, characters
grandiose, come and go
drink a beer, do a line, perhaps
chat about the politics of
Germany France UK Belgium a
little high.
and then they go.

this is a great city on maybe
the world's longest coast
and odds are tomorrow, 87%, the whole day will be
grey and fog and a halfdark cloak
with a sort of haphazard mist that isn't rain, but
somehow in the grey condenses enough to
slippen tiles, dampen jackets, water roses
where everywhere it blow.

within four weeks men in black jackets, ties
sunglasses and training will come for me
and though I have accomplished much and
in a way am capable I
will try and throw myself from a nearby cliff and I
dream at night of the *****, of
wonder how far out I'd have to leap
to hit the highway below.
(and honestly politely hoping I
don't disrupt too much traffic when I go)

because there is a life lived and a life worth living and this
molecular decomposition holds
no loyalty on me. but I guess I had some
faith that I would live to....
that I would live.

I saw my life a grand tapestry. thought my
idolatry would eventually
coalesce into at least one great novel, Bildungsroman, tale of
development and
I guess that's been taken away from me.

and I've prepared ill-ly only exercised in
beat/postmodern poetry. l will
maybe soon stumble from the cliffs or
handcuffed bite my wrists, and
take any artery I might rend open

and all particles, unfettered, heartless bits. nonwritten novel, this is it...

there is the west and then there is the ocean.
J Arturo Jun 2014
If I survive the next few years, I may wish I'd written more about this time. My self is certainly transforming, but it's such a minimal bother to document it. It's 7:10 am. I worked at the bar until about one. Bill came by unexpectedly, and I went to his house and bought twenty grams for five hundred, as well as fifty worth of **** for Gillian. I suppose I've been high since about 11 o'clock.

John says that Bill is certainly the most intelligent man he's ever met. I used to feel that way about people. I spent the rest of the night at the bar, and then at the couch, talking to Sarah and Liz. Liz's last name is Oliphant. Sarah is Croatian. Liz is prettier. I would like to kiss either of them.

This **** may be better than last time, I'm not sure. As usual, as is whenever I get high, everyone leaves me in the early morning. It was around five this time. Maybe five thirty. As usual I thought to watch TV but Andrea looked so comfortable curled up on the couch in reception and I hadn't the heart to bother her. I learned a new word today: gallow, I believe it was... meaning to frighten. Or gallowed, meaning to be very afraid.

As is not usual, this time after I got in bed I did another line. Two in fact. And the largest I'd done all night. Because oddly this is the first time in the last month that I've stayed up all night without having anywhere to be, or otherwise any obligations the next day. I was going to go to the markets and buy pants. But I suppose a day in bed will justly stall that need for another turn at least.

And it had been a while. Actually I can't even remember when. The last time I was high by myself, and not overly drunk, and able to just stare up at the bunkbed slats supporting the German or French or Dutch fellow now above me and feel the unmoderated effect of the dear drug itself as she works through me. I know I'll regret this. I always regret it. But I was regretting it already and so to stall the regret and stare upwards for a few hours, treating myself to a little selfish time, seemed not the lowest of sins.

And I work at four. Four to eight thirty. So even if I don't sleep a wink and even if I continue to defy conscience and maybe do the one more line thing again, I can still power through. Can still sit leeward on the barstool and listen to 90's alt rock hits and putter through the motions of making it past eight. I can do that. And I can spend 30 minutes in this exaltation and then stare listlessly at the mattress above me and all its cartoon moons and stars while I debate the uselessness of my life and all the strings I've severed when I came here to drown.

Because this is a true story. It doesn't wrap up, or nicely. And there's no twist, but ongoing turns I guess. I'm a newborn, dripping with womb in a way and without even language or very many clothes: I feel much like one indeed. And I tried to buy a phone card today because it's something I need but the man told me to go somewhere else, gave good directions, and I didn't really understand. Likewise it seems will fail my dream for today to get out of this room, and buy new pants.

I can accept my grandfather dying. Every time I've seen him I've said goodbye. And he in his humble way, or maybe faith, always hints at see you soon. My grandmother sure. If anything somewhere maybe I expected the grief would take her. Or afterwards the dire space left between caring for her husband's ailing pains. But I always thought I'd know well before my mother would go. And now won't. And honestly never considered but now dramatically realize: I'll never be an uncle to my brothers' sons. Never see my sister find her place. Never see Brandy become the quiet dark eyed schoolteacher she is in my dreams. And also she will die and I won't see that, either. Not even anyone will call on the phone.

So I start with, "if I survive the next few years" because regardless those years will mean loss. Either loss of those loved, or more likely loss of that complex potential of mind... that once made space to love them. Or maybe better lost the own bitter instrument. And I say it all without condolence because each those ways feel, to me, tragic. Each way feels to me like something bright once in the world, that had to perish. I go forth with some sadness into the dark.
I've been trying to find a voice. It's harder in prose than poems. And I can't find fiction in myself, so I keep tormenting my life into the fiction I wish I could create. But every day baby steps I guess.
J Arturo Jun 2014
The cranes cling along the sea cliff
yellow spiders perhaps made skittish
by the rolling morning mist.
they swing and strain with (do I detect?)
a nervous urgency until
when the sun half shines through
to draw the fog and warm
fragile yellow exoskeletons.

There are plastic bags now in the dog parks, cameras
grow on top of poles.
Exercise equipment planted in the gardens, at the edge of the sea
(certain I would have noticed them before).

These towers must be taller, then.
I've seen them at work for a year and a half,
they must be–
with all that nervous energy.
Tire tracks from heavy trucks.
A bent rail, discarded candy bar.
Morning sand on the sidewalk
where secret midnight bricks were laid.
And here, maybe, a new banner flies:
"Se vende." To sell oneself.
To give oneself away.
J Arturo May 2014
"I need to make more art"
I say today. But not tomorrow,
tomorrow I am heading west, again,
into a new notebook I've titled, "Chapter 3"

And my friends, the poets
weight a web from their pupils, to their hangedman's shame
but I will just tell you about my morning:
the coffees I sipped, the hours clocked.
I scraped the edges from my fingernails
with the tip of my traveling knife.

Last night I shared a cigarette on the fire escape,
while Rachel cried about her leaving friend.
Looking at the sky, trying to conjure a feeling of insignificance.
But all I could feel was mighty...

(musing that, like topiary,
perhaps one day I'll not have nails at all.)
J Arturo May 2014
I, too, can write passion poems:

(and if you were a rose I'd pick you and stick you
in water till you withered and died and
everyone would comment
on your color
and refined shape.)

so let's collide with night through our noses:
wake to your banging fist on my swinging door
and binge on bad ideas and beatless songs
till distended with poetry we grow ill and collectively
**** sunsets onto those 365 well-ruled pages
        that we pray to in pews in this church of hedonists--
        every book a bible, all manuals for *******.

so at dawn we
criticize the sunrise, hang ourselves
from the belltower, for kicks.
or lash limbs together under covers,
those well-rehearsed kisses
a myriad of plots:

and with our bony fingers,
tie the sumblimest of knots.
J Arturo Mar 2014
sheridan you’re
the first other person I’ve ever
wrote a poem

I’ve written about just
everyone, lovingly but usually
in a weird passive regret.
but never sent the letter, just
stewed alone, that’s me:

a stew.


and I’m writing a poem to you because I
can’t find a better way

       well of course my immediate response is to
       (on your notes):

       “******* it girl you are going to be So… OKAY.”

but you know you won’t believe it.
know I didn’t when I was you and
so maybe I
(maybe I)
thought a poem might grasp at trying to say:

I don’t know much and most people I get wrong,
and I’ve ****** up and (for some reason) **** up still,
but ******* it girl I’ve seen every Kind of ****** Up and
you’re jumping every hurdle, blowing past
each road bump with
flying colors I
don’t know how you do it but I— *******…

       if you could have seen me in writers craft
       spilling to mr. spree the way I
       weekly carved a heart into the
       skin on my chest just…

       to grasp at something permanent.

(just to feel
a little bit different).

and I know you hurt in your own way and you
gotta, please—
and if you don’t try (and at least pretend) to **** your
at least twice before graduating then you

probably aren’t graduating yet.

but I’ve seen Every Kind of ****** Up and kid you’re
none of it, and I’d bet ten thousand dollars
(you can hold me to it)
that in five years you’re going to be the

       the happiest
       most amazing person most people will ever be lucky enough to know.

               they’re gonna say, “I need to get my life together”, and
               you’re gonna say, “and I want to be there with you for that.”

                       and you will love.
                       and you will be loved in love.

                       because you do your damnedest and that’s *******


and not only are you going to be So very happy
(ten thousand $, promise)
but you’re going to make everyone around you happy…

               you’re going to be one of those rare rare creatures
               (people will be suspicious)

                       ..who are true sources of good in this world.

       and it’s going to be so entirely different than
       anything you can imagine now:

       going to do things you’d never dream about and
       do drugs you can’t pronounce and hurt people because
       you tried to help and
       fall in love with a Loser or a Railroad or a
       Foreign Country and either way will get let down but
       get back up and keep on going because

       (it seems like)
               when you can
                       you do your best.

and yes it will lead to disappointment.
when you see
you’re not really like the rest.

       (most people hardly try at all…
               …and generally aren’t who you’d expect)

and I know it sounds extreme and I
want you to not believe me cuz—
who would.. but
like I said I’ve

       seen All Kinds of ****** Up and somehow, kid
       you’ve got it.
       you’ve got it just right.

               musta been an angel or something…
               (..or a very hard fight)

and I guess I wrote this to say that you’ve gotta do
you’ve gotta do.
and you’re gonna break hella hearts and a couple laws too.
but if you’re ever alone, and

“what am I even worth?”

I hope from this poem you can at least take away

       that at least someone thinks you’re
       doing great.

               and **** the ******* anyway.
for my little sister, who is sixteen.
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