Steven Alvarez

radical / avant garde / poet of color

to be radical / to be experimental / fundamentally positions a kind of marginality to mainstream practices / a correlation to the systematic marginalization poets of color live experientially / lived experience and experimentation emerging consciousness / bounded by words internalized from languages intersecting at borders / as always bound by these linguistic interactions between and through languages / conflicts and congruencies of languages / dynamically pushing back against the power to marginalize / to make for innovative poetry 

  Pancho EL PRIMERO / to La Marcaida / Sinaloa

  think I smell you
  taste yr eyes
  dream yr brown hands
  groping a map of Tetaroba
  open my eyes / see yrs still closed
  kiss yr lids w/ thoughts untied
  yet only the deepness inside me knows—
  missing the smoothness of yr warm neck
  bids me to forget me in you more
  fingers opening as roses & sudden
  images descending
  countries breathing
  winds rise / hear yr breath
  you breathe: tight (& writhe)
  exhale / & my stomach shakes
  paint any monstrosities you want / jellybean
  poets all the same
  words no action
  ¿ow to speak?  
  wish w/ pages of boulders

  yes Pancho EL PRIMERO / to La Marcaida / owned by the State 
  decidedly chose to write 

    machines speak loudly / definitively 

    call me call me call me Pancho ordered himself to follow 
  his desiring destined bones 
  toward the nude whose back                                    [margin: La Malinche]
  faced his front  
  entered her / vigorously pumped / dispatched 
  thoroughly / woke her / though considering 
  nothing else
                          she woke / turned her glance—
              seemingly expressed a kiss  

  Pancho dismissed this because a priori his breath reeked
  open-mouth sleep
   even worse as he sleeps w/ his mouth open

  Pancho cd write / wrote / read 
  sometimes instead 
  cloudpiles
hear train choo chaos desmadre
  sun shines / clouds run / the blue blue blue
  kind can’t stand divided

  [MS letter holdings of Pancho Chastitellez estate / 19 Jun 2000]

  Chaley to Pancho:

                see Olson: recognizing that writing & geometry are always entwined / connected 

  shapes of letters reflect cultural notions of spatiality
                    Euclidian space in our letters we inherit mostly from Greece by way of Rome
                  don’t write boustrophedon / nor hieroglyphically  
  y liverty y susto for algunos

el conquistador es la figura que domina la historia de los años iniciales del contacto hispano-indígena/ y el conflicto
dominante es el desequilibrio de la Antigua sociedad prehispánica sometida a un NUEVO ESTADO de cosass—

                                      PHYSICAL ENJOYMENT Tío / 

                                      ¡Ay! reason Chastiteyes:
                                       both reality & process              how to operate 
                                                                                                                  yes  

nothin I cd be
                                       trope
               creature from second stage of—
                                                               no more than s-some creature crowing 
               over own triumph over incoherence

heard this from una ruca cryin / cryin / cryin:

 que ya te crees tanto . . . tú eres de Amurika / ya sabes hablar ingles y todo eso

think abt Quetzalcoatl 
my true conquistador
is that it helps me 
take my mind 
off things by 
doin something w/ me  
sometimes my sweet conquistador 
promises that we will do something 
& then we don’t do it  
my gentle conquistador makes fun of me 
in ways that I don’t like  
I wish my darling conquistador wuz different
O BUT WHEN I AM . . . 
when I am w/ my adequate conquistador 
I feel disappointed
& when I am w/ my antigovernment conquistador 
I feel ignored
& when I am w/ my reformed conquistador 
I feel bored 
& when I am w/ my symbolic conquistador 
I feel mad 
& I feel that I can’t trust my habitual conquistador  
w/ secrets b/c I’m afraid my feigning conquistador
wd tell my parent/guardian  
& when my abnormal conquistador 
gives me advice
my soft Conquistador makes me feel 
kind of stupid & ashamed
I wish my parliamentary conquistador 
asked me more abt what I think
I wish my necessary conquistador 
knew me better
I wish my loathsome conquistador 
spent more time 
w/ me

ENTER CAVE |   |  . . . in the beginning was the DEAD . . . |   |  McTlán / al Norte / AZtlán |  vivid [sic] desert / sand / heat / vacancy |  “no eres betwixt or between cabrón |  “brace yrself coz I’m the Mex next to más |  “& images flicker & pass pos: |  “mucho maas deeper pues . . . |  “¿ye want carnitas ? / ye’d better respect my aGuad-loop ¿eh? |  “¿ye don’t respect her? / & I’ll send ye right to yr ma . . . dray” | & there upon |  fewer than few postcards |  hates writing postcards dislikes limited |  space generic greeting hi here’s what I see everyday sd |  hope you enjoy yr monsoon see you when I get back sd . . . |  how insipidly impersonal . . . y tengo sed |  marble hand /nothing |  like that & alive / deeper deeper |  sloppy pelotas deeper |  pain / groping wild nail |  driven deeper then |  extrapolated terrible thing is |  broken fists gripping pit deeper still yet . . . |  maybe this falls from |  broken fists |  further deep into McTlán |  & sweaty brows that forget |  broken fists |  & humbleness two tumbleweeds/ | M |  c |   T l |  á |  n |   |  broken fists  |  / branched in union / branched  |  broken fists |  as one / one sickness / dry / deeper |  broken fist |  & scorched union |  & scorched hands holding firm stopped  stopped | & up Chaley heard: |  ¿how calm wd one feel? |  ¿how scorned? |  ¿how separated? |  then down loosed he fell deep & deeper into that plumpy shit McTlán |  ¿how learned? |  alas all wd say |  alas |  alas general dismay |  alas wish for more rhymes |  somehow beside |  alas |  alas |  alas wings |  alasssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss |  sssssssssssssssssssssssss |  yet called twice to something nay |  tain’t no sin |  take away yr skin |  & walk walk walk away in yr bones | into nothing |  nothing |  before arriving in |  McTlán |  aL |  nORTE |  AZtlán |  dismay |  dismay general no dismay O |  O | Chaley arrived presently— |  deeper into pool of cess McTlán |  skyscrapers / shadows / smoking obsidian mirrors |  upward looked noticing INFINITY parked nearby |  others stopped to marvel as well |  all saw how water held infinity above her |  all saw how |  all saw how |  Chaley had to conduct himself w/ controlled |  elegance say nay to frantic exuberance |  made way up toward swell of earth |  little mound |  O |  O | O O |  maybe hill |  maybe grande |  hell if Chaley wd know |  made his way up there & found |  that pyramid |  yeah imagines his surprise |  think of that shit |  pyramid grass grown over here |  so you know ain’t like no complete fiction |  tell you what—C |  O |  O O O |  O |  O O |  O |  OO |  O |  O | OO |  O |  O |  O |  O |  O O |  O |  O | they |  took that castle dismantled |  stones from this pyramid to build a church down the hill O Holy Rompecabayza |  & C: read abt another one conquerors built & the church takes those stones down to makes that |  Tlatelolco’s model green | O O |  soundtrack & lesson this like |  ¿asking for a goddamned lesson? |  M c T l á n ’ s p l e a s u r e s |  give me a lesson & we’re waiting—two demons platicando |  ¿waiting for who? |  looking at one another / away / |  & A HUEVO GÜEY—away |  fase uno: waiting to become / human dead / ¿zombies then? |  fase dos: stacked ourselves w/ wit ¿what part |  of illegal don’t ye understand beaner? |  for these demons nothing but living dead exMexes |  & indeed upon inspection w/ exes in their eyes |  ¿we’re what? |  waiting |  simultaneous: |  waiting to go |  home

Steven Alvarez

Steven Alvarez is the author of The Codex Mojaodicus, winner of the 2016 Fence Modern Poets Prize. His work has appeared in the Best Experimental Writing (BAX), Berkeley Poetry Review, Fence, Huizache, The Offing, and Waxwing. Follow Steven on Instagram @stevenpaulalvarez and Twitter @chastitellez.

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