jornada del muerto (journey of the dead man)
“no one pays attention to these killings, but the secret of the world is
Beneath a kettle of vulture eyes
slowly circiling, spiraling down,
the city is an open wound.
Paused along trash strewn curbs
faces desert strife erodes,
strafes with unrelenting candor
raise brown knots of flesh and bone,
hollow sockets skyward,
miming pale novenas
in the broken house of god.
Forsaken factory peons, whose death is Mexico;
who press gaunt hands
to ears that cannot fathom sound,
seperate the moan of pealing church bells
from the screech of lawless federale sirens
in search of fresh road kill.
Victims of the Smoking Mirror, Tezcatlipoca,
ancient god of conflict
guardian of the fifth sun
whose light unravels the lives it mends
as lost souls wander naked through apocalypse
cry out to Pancho Villa, Emilio Zapata
Cesarea Tinajero to no avail.
In the wake of death’s tarantula
lives lose focus, dream’s go slack
burns down like hand rolled cigarettes
on the lips of toothless gauchos
filling the misbegotten with inconsolable alarm.
Each evening, jaguar
rips fading sun from retreating heaven
devours its fiery heart
drenching horizon’s altar with sacrifical blood.
Each night a cosmos of luminious archers
disguised as nebula stars
hurtle fiery missiles earthward
piercing the blackened heaven
above mescal hombres in snake skin boots
who scour desert shadowland
hiss at every step, list with venom
speak reptilian, dream iguana…
steadly drift north.
Beneath Sonoran nightscape
something vile breathes, breeds
repeats its awful cadance, heartbeat;
jaguar with obsidian teeth, whose skin is fog
eye’s bright blinding opals, shapeshift headlamps
winding down from a secret lair
becoming sleek sedans, metallic sorcerer’s dogs
grouped in muderous camaraderie
circling barrio enclaves, bleak maquiladoras
ravenous for prey, errant gold…
a-bombs, black cadillacs, marathons, cyclones, baby T
ecstasy, red Acapulco.
The soul’s of dark winged nightingales
whose naked breasts, supple loins
feather bloodsoaked stone.
Careful to avoid the mesquite thorns
that line each twisted street, to ward off evil spirits,
vampires, Aztec priests, shoeless misioneros
plagued with martyred visions of Santa Teresa.
In Chihuahua, poisoned manna
falls from a bleak fangoso sky
covering barren fields,
tumescent zones of peculiar silence
with severed hands and feet.
Food for Mexico City philosophers;
seeds for armageddon, mixed with cactus,
Under cover of night invisible cartels rise,
ascend through clefts in the earth;
crude revulsions midnight hones,
fills with lewd delusions;
voracious scorpions swarming over morbid landscape
in search of anything edible.
Four hundred ravaged bodies
strewn across Juarez, strewn across the decades
just south of El Paso, the dividing Rio Grande.
Nameless victims, cut down in brutal femicide.
Each innocence shattered,
shadowed by mayhem, debauchery, rape;
monstrous image of a young girl’s belly split in two
stuffed with stones and her own small heart
or a bloated corpse without arms and legs…
impossible to forget as the beheading of a child,
frenzied hornets on an infant’s face.
Each corpse the broken mouth of a yellow sparrow
buried in burning sand,
haunted thermal of sadness, mourning desert sings to ruthless sun
beyond the outer reaches of Juarez
where too, each dawn
the coo’s of eave hidden doves mix with rustling leaves
the electric thrum of hummingbird wings
immersing Santa Teresa in subliminal sound, memorial chorus.
The aftermath of horrific dreams
haunting the city whose kinetic portal,
crude esophagus, swallows light.
Just outside that part of the world
occupied by the festering wound
bearing the name already repeated beyond endurance…
fields of gaseous bladders, plastic vomit
food scraps, pulp, pottery shards, splintered
wood, gypsum, glass… human bone.
Great stretches of endless waste
slowly cook beneath the sun.
The rotten flowers of mankind’s inexorable advance
to the edge of yet another abyss,
where jaguar softly purring… waits.
By NEIL BROSNAN: jornada del muerto
This is a long poem I wrote a number of years ago after first following the story on my own as it slowly emerged in short, third and fourth page newspaper stories, and then reading the novel 2666 by Roberto Bolano, where part of his plot covers the phenomena.
It had (has) to do with the rapes and murders of women starting sometime back I believe in the mid nineties that were never solved outside of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico (Bolano refers to Juarez as Santa Teresa in the novel… I use both in the poem).
The poem has a lot of dark imagery I play around with a bit: Cesarea Tinajero for instance, (at the end of the first stanza) is in fact a fictional character (a renowned poet) from Bolano’s, Savage Detectives. Tezcatlipoca is an Aztec deity whose spirit animal is Jaguar. He carries a mirror made of obsidian (the jaguar’s teeth in my version) and his iconic image is of fog hovering over water (the jaguar’s body in my version).
Because of the horrific number of rape/murders the ongoing incident has been given its own specific identification by the World Health Association, Femicide or Feminicide. (Perhaps you are already familiar with all of this).
In any case, the title refers to a route in New Mexico with an interesting inquisition story behind it (you can google). I’ve taken the liberty to lift it and have employed it to try and capture the depravity of those drugged out cartel pieces of shit that swarm like moths around opportunities blood soaked candle.
Sonora and Chihuahua are Mexican States that are close to Ciudad Juarez.
Maquiladoras are American factories (sweat shops) in Juarez.