Selections from
The Bird Of Nothing & Other Poems

by próspero saíz


                 it is night
       the hour of our love
       the bed of dead leaves
where i alone embrace you


your shame like mine is not a fiction
it is a womb full of white pus and maggots
and the sublime inquisitors must eat it all
    for your unfolding shame and purity

i too will eat my portion now again
as the brown thighs spread the pages of the night

here   sever my left thigh from my body
         and beat the brains out of the poets
as the white thick pus flows to the sea
and the maggots sprout yellow wings and fly

bury the brains of the poets deep in your purple anus
         i will sing the hot jaguars
         twisting and clawing at our heat
weave the tall grasses devoured by the hungry yellow moon

                it is night
      the hour of our love
      the bed of dead leaves crumbles

MALINCHE your absence is hot
as i salute my death

to Acachinanco i go prisoner
unafraid   every lonely night
every lonely morning the sun shines never in celebration
             i watch them
take me there covering their noses with rags
stepping over fly scorched decaying indian corpses
aya   a terrible buzzing invades the head

MALINCHE your absence is cold

i mutilated remain    a memory
        a living memory
for they have cut off my head and baptized me
they have nailed my head to a cottonwood tree
they have cut out my tongue and feed it to vultures
to shame me they mangle my testicles
        scrape off my skin
        gouge out my eyes
        tear out my nails
        burn my hair and
        ground up my penis

MALINCHE you are the witness

i remain mutilated   i remain and sing
as birds peck at my eyes dreaming in the grass

why are you afraid

is the form of my mutilation not perfected
the form is blank and bespeaks itself
it rattles dread in silence

aya   dread and fear   aya fear and dread aya
i know why others fear me

aya   my apache head too fierce
singing the absent chant

aya   my navajo hands too beautiful
skilling silver birds

aya   my mexican arms too hard
writing the broken stone

my chicano legs and feet too slender
and swift mapping mountain and river

all the backs will not bend

all the desert bones have been stripped
broken pottery scattered on mesquite mounds

my golden basket once soothed them together
but the heart is unwoven today

it is gone

aya   my aztec belly taut as drumskin cannot be opened
the hand the knife entered through the chest
my heart has been ripped out by the roots
and thrown out to the fierce northern wind

aya   my heart   my apache head   my navajo hands
my chicano legs and feet my tired back   my aztec torso
aya   all my parts go in search of you
they ask each passing shadow where you are
they ask each tree lake and mountain and desert too
they ask the unborn child deep away looking to aztlan
there standing still the land of white sands

aya   my heart
        we search both night and day for you
        where are your remains

corazon   solo   solo  solo

heart   alone   alone   alone

i sit lonely as a black gallows tree
awaiting the feather kiss of the fragile bird of song
nest in me oh quivering feather
nest in me bird of blue
nest for the blinking of an eye
bring me a twig of green
just for a moment nest
oh magic feather and i wont echo my sad refrain

solo   solo   solo   corazon
where oh where are you my glorious bird of blue
your soft feathers molted on the thorns of the winter
rose remain
but your proud mother of pearl beak flies
oh beautiful bird of blue
                          fly malinche fly

but remember the heart remember the northern horizon
and remember the southern sea   they seem two blue waves
merging in the one distant blueness

aya   they are not one blue
                          not the blue of blue   aya

do not confuse them in your glorious flight
the sky is always sky the sea is always sea

                          rise   rise   rise

renew your proud plumage
high over the black gallows tree

                      quick quick quick

quick malinche go
they cannot defile you now

                      fly   fly   fly
                      blue into blue

spread your fragile wings and rise
rise into the light of my night
and as your shining beak plucks the shooting star
open your brown eyes to the frost of mother moon
and remember my light remember our night
and remember how we used to sing

night i rest

moon shines into


lips put in place

trees and flowers


she plucks the shadows of the flowers       eats their bloom

i see her veiled by the light

the beautiful grief of the moon is my beam of silence


the splendor of the moon dies

my lips open to a gentle breeze

she rides a silken yellow scarf into the vanishing clouds

i am still here.


miguel hernandez. . . . poeta del corazon
          i love your heart
you had a bigger heart than any man, miguel,
and it beat calmly, without mourning, tolling
slowly the omens of a pain still coming to be born
i have long been looking for your heart, miguel,
i found it this morning but i found more,

your heart lies crushed beneath a black boot
and a bayonet of hunger has nailed the body
of your 8-month old son and the hands of your wife
to a dying olive tree beneath the hot sky of Spain

i wanted to greet you this morning, miguel,
but now i cannot and i wanted to ask,

do the hard goats still graze in Alicante. . .
miguel, i wanted to offer you a breakfast of love
and have you wash it down with the milk of the she-goat

see the hard skinny goats move through Orihuela
oh, miguel, where is the loving herder

he is not there but look his silent lips
march in long uneven columns over the hot hills
even as the bell of the goat tolls in the distance

buenos dias, próspero, I cannot eat my belly's filled with jail
please feed the milk gently to my 8-month old son
and clean the black frosty onion from his five tiny teeth

see the hard skinny goats move through Orihuela
                  where is the
                                     loving herder

he is not there but look his exhausted lungs stand trial
even as the slowly ringing bell tolls the dying of the day

did not you hear me right my poet   your son is gone
the cradle is empty and the bull is again down in the hot afternoon
he wants to rise up but his proud back throbs with tuberculosis
and the heart has gone out of the picadores who must yet look on
even as soft thin songs move in shadow through the jails

where is the loving herder, miguel
where is the song going

he is no longer here but look his sad searching eyes
march in long uneven colums across the hot hills
and the song knells the beating of a sole white sheet in the wind
even as coffins on wheels clatter at five in the hot afternoon

            hermano, amigo, i love your heart
you have a better heart than any man, miguel,
and i have found it today in the winter
i want to take it in my hands without shame
i want to kiss it on the mouth with love
i want to lick out the disease with my tongue
and blow away the hard red dust that clogs the eyes
so you can tell us once again of the horror
so you can tell us once again of the beauty
of your life and days to the tolling of the bell
even as the rest of us sing in chorus

the black boot circles the world over and over again
it does not lift from the heart struggling to beat
again and again it kicks the voice from the throat
and the heart finally ceases and goes to burial
a terrible pain is still coming to be born, miguel
where are the other voices,


The River Speaks El Indio Calavera

Río Grande

     Cuando el río suena. . . when the river roars, it bears water. The indian skull floats south to north, north to south. Speaks in the eddies. Banks: the silent lips of el indio. When the river is silent, a hushed head is caught in the nets of absence. In the north the river is south; in the south, the river is north. Easterly flow meeting the sun. Lips tremble.


      Many years before you. I nearly died there: Río de la Pasión. A diminutive brown Indian woman cared. Humble paradise, the quiet waters of the Lago de Izabel. To the mountains this time. Close to Méjico. Close to the Pacific Ocean (uncanny name for those waters). Guatamala healed me once and sent me north to you.


      I sit in Matamoros. It is hot. It is humid. The gulf is vast: it touches the blue sky, a thousand miles away?

      I sit frozen, brown. I contemplate the journey. It is infinite. It will be hard. I will become hard, again. I think of your softness; but the gulf is vast... and the long river has no water for my skull.

      I must move soon. Down to Uxmal. I shall weep at the ruins. I shall dream of human sacrifice in the dark wells. I will dream of your colors. Flowers always follow sacrifice. But the dream must end.

      A warrior must never look back. Back. There is always someone there. Far back. In the north. Fall is coming brilliantly. And soon winter ice and snow. Your strong softness blends so well into that winterscape. . .

      At Río Lagarto--I shall begin to forget the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and shall wipe away all of my memories on the trip to Ciudad Chetumal. Is that possible? I hope I have the strength to forget and to breathe in new air.

      I wave goodbye to the north and to the Yucatan (the yuccas remind me of you, panicles of shadow-blossoms floating in blue- green waters: eerie serene faces of the one innocent face, at peace).

      The river runs fast into the mouths of lovers.

      No turning back now: only victory or death. I shudder at the sound Belize.


      Concatenation. Violence. A hard dry chain. I was tied to previous birth, previous death. They all exceeded mine (especially that of a long-limbed brown war woman).

      The desert once again, and you in the watery north, so soft, so moist, haunted by desire, sustained by wishes. Anguished. Waiting.

      The news came back, a minor event: a cold knife flashed, blood flowed, an unknown traitor fell. He was buried (cold is the grave for us all). And the wounded animal hid in the desert that night, cold, moonless, wanting to cry, but would not even whimper.

      The sun came out. As always. The desert keeps its secrets well. Winds and sands. Kind to the spirit. Would he look back to love? When hands of skull are buried, the desert wind intones: requies... But who or what shall rest? Time will not tell.

      The night and the distant lights of Nuevo Laredo remained.


      This was my past (time has no image). Sandia Mountain. The brown high desert of my very brownness. The weight of night lifted away by a tawny cord (lost to sight). Her tugs are violent. Fate at my side fishing for something, smiling, and irresistible.

      Your eyes, scars weeping for life--begging to be born-- inside of you. Gratuitous violence, life, come into the world again and again. Blood in veins, bones swaddled in flesh.

      El indio del norte. Death skulls for hands. Give conjugal caress to the dusty one. Your miracle of blood is not as quick. You too would cast a spell. Mine long since cast. Dead men chanting in the dust-rays of the setting sun. A blast shattered the dark aquarium. Strange bulging eyes of fishes, final witnesses. She disappeared again. Something heard. The dust settling. A voice in flamenco rhythms: "you must love your fate, my beloved!"

Winslow, Arizona

A small brown boy. The butte, far and near. No time no space. Alone. The desert calls, brown, dry. Artificial flowers gathering summer dust in a cemetery. The butte is only warmed by the sun. It does not burn. Dead, alive, the wind will not say.

      an indian is a lonely thing

The tall Navajo does not moan, does not beg for mercy. Struck in the face Will a Navajo blanket be his shroud? Drunk or proud (does it matter to the six grey veined fists?). Gun butts beat head and hands: fingers burst open, blue and purple life painted on white glistening bone.

      the painted desert lives inside of us too

The tall Navajo will not let go of the telephone pole on first street. A cop stops, looks at the freight train and waves to the engineer. The Navajo's eyes are swollen. They will not close. His lips are bruised. They will not open. Mouth and eyes are dry somehow, peaceful in the copper face of pain

      the history of a race

What does he know, kissing that pole of death? The boy dreams of a pinto pony with sharp hooves: they will race the desert wind to the top of the dark butte. Hair and mane will flow smoothly--to be braided by the rising horizon. The jackrabbits will dig and dig and dig in the cemetery.

flower-covered dawn

moist scent of flowers

a sound in the air

in the wilderness

what is heard

an old dead mesquite tree

the dream in the night

enchanted world

flower world

the brown girl alone

eyes closed chanting

to the soothing rhythm

of bright red rivulets

running down her thighs

touching the earth--there

turning to flowers

boughs born in the night

caressed by the dry wind

the flower-covered fawn

sparsely flowered antlers

sleepy eyes dreaming the flower

strange blue hummingbird

unseen wings vibrating rapidly

in the light blue wilderness

seeking the flower's nectar


blades of grass and leaves

the red sun a growing flower

a flower-covered blue fly

crawling on the fawn's antlers

black clouds piling up

the blue mountain is lost

a snake

copper and black rolled flower

caressing hard black hooves

ah the flower covered grove

where the antlers touch

the old dead mesquite tree

the fawn dangles hanging

tail twitching on the white branch

where the rivulets are stopping

a soft sobbing is heard

eyes wide open and misty

a fawn's head bleeds

Song To Chineca

Tonight I want to declare myself for you
                                                                in time

the river of blood, a sea of roan blood: this kiss shivered upon your lips.
Your breasts are really too round to resume a story in. Enchant me. Tell
me the tale of that lunar beauty spot without countryside.

Chineca                                                 we kiss each other on our names.

Your company is a spelling book; I shall finish myself without hearing you.
The white clouds don't come out of your head (there are fishes which do not
breathe). Your hair doesn't cry because I gather it in, stroking your
neck. You quiver as joy goes on mounted wings. A figure astride my bent
arms secretly covers wanting, in cavalcade--young angel of death, love.
On your waist there is nothing but my quiet.... Your heart shall escape
through your lipping mouth while wanting turns mourning purple.

                                                       This countryside hearabouts is dead.

A rolling stone says nudeness is in the process of be-coming. Recline,
clandestine. On your forehead are drawings of my burning eyes. The
bracelets of gold wrap round water and your arms are clean, amazingly
clean of reference (don't wrap round my neck arms for I'll believe that it
will nighten dark). The thunder claps beneath the earth.


No: caution can't be fully seen; an asphyxia out of the mouth. Your teeth
white are in the center of the earth. Yellow birds spin borders round your eyelashes.

                                                                                                 But what to     do?

Yes if I touch you here, your breast isn't sweet basil: but that red flower,
hot. I suffocate. The world is hurling itself down, headlong down up around steep climb.

                                                                                                 When I...

The Magnolias shall grow. Woman you armpits are cold in the distance. The
roses shall be so coldly big that they'll drown out all eternal noises. Under
the arms feel the rhythm of the world heart made of chamois. Chineca. What
a kiss! Upon your back, a waterfall of clean water: tells me of your destiny.


I wait--the voice nearly lately mute or not too suave. Alone the rough voiced
cough shall spit out those obscure flowers. the lights shall kneel to earth,
taking root at mid day. Earth and fire is your name; your lips taste of...
far away. A shower of petals crushes my spinal column (but I can bear the burden
can't I): Or shall I drag myself like a serpent to you tonight?


A hole of dried tongue neatly fitted with discretion into vacuuuuum raises its
fury and gallops across my forehead. Buried. I open my eyes to moist heaven.
You're not there. Here where I sit the world is showered with hollow ferns,
empty phalloi. I, you, where.


cut me off in sections of perfection and let my equal parts drag themselves
across the piebald earth to.... Buried. I sweat at bone and skin under the working
burden and my words limp as a spavined horse. We kiss each other on our


Muteness I


The void lacks mist!
The poem!


The wet carp dancing in your hands
slips between the darkness of your legs
(and the poem rants at the quiet reeds).


Swift silver salmon,
Leaper of moons,
Keep to the salt seas,
What good are rapids?
Muscular leaper,
The sea knows no limits, The poem, alas, is of fresh water,
And scales the rapids but once. . .


The holy tortoise shell long since departed. Small bejeweled turtle shells line the window sills. The stupor of the light shines in. The poem awaits, oh holy shell, the elegy of darkness.


The poem sleeps beside you. You want to make love to its dream. But you cannot open the legs of its more primitive language. You are free to try, again and again (it will not resist). Your only possibility: awaken. Lying beside you, the cry of the poem gives you your silence. Desire!


The poem--a ghostly place that is not yours. It has no need of trees or earth or clouds, luxuriant landscapes; it has no need of homes or beds or any shelter. It has no need of language or of words. It has no need of life. It has no use for you or for itself. It is, the poet is not!


Go, small poem,
Quit man's destitute abode,
Time gives still.

Muteness II


The poet cannot conform to the world, but is made to do so anyway. The poem, therefore, always abandons him. When the poem abandons him the poet convinces himself that the poem is unfinished. Worse still, he believes that he can finish it! This compounds his conformity.


The poet has nothing of importance to say to man. Why? Because for the poet man does not yet exist.


The poet desires the freedom (the power) to be a true dissident. But the poem has no space for moral values: it is wholly without power. Alas, there is no thought free enough to say what this means.


The tip of the poet's tongue is cold with desire. The poem's passion is hot in his mouth. It steals a few words.


The poet solidly inhabits the earth. The poem floats in endless space. Earth: Heaven: Never-ending Polemos.


The poet's lips would hold the fiery flower's blossom. The poet's tongue would wet the flower's organ: there the ovary, there the stigma, there the style! A holy rhythm would shake the anther! He would woo all night, stamen within petals, and would inhale forever the flower's perfume. The poet's mouth would faithfully take vows. But the poem's speech is not for procreation. It will never marry anyone.

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Published in The Bird of Nothing & Other Poems by Ghost Pony Press. Copyright © 1993 by Ghost Pony Press.

Light and Dust Mobile Anthology of Poetry.