selections from Hog Stomp CINEMA /José Luis Rico

selections from Hog Stomp Cinema[1]

José Luis Rico

[1] This manuscript was translated by the author and received crucial feedback from Anthony Seidman.

Edited by / Anthony Seidman.


Dramatis Personae

(under construction)

Cowboy

Aztec whiskers, Aztec eyes, violet

ostrich boots, or a busted

sneaker and a sandal. Sapped up half of

an adolescence long as cactus branches

or the flight of a rook. Drugged up.   

Rook

Will appear in the shape of a house or a pit or a

jewel box. It will soar over the walls of Xochiaca.

Diego

Tavernling and Cowboy’s new friend.

Knows by heart the growl of trailer tires

under a cement overpass, the place to acquire

a taste for death.

Mariana

Tavernling and Cowboy’s new friend.

Knows by heart the sprouting world that’s still to come,

seeks said communion,

said bishop in flames.

Lamprey

Xochiaca Levee or Mexico City

or some specific place in them.

Fig Tree

Also known as the Corona Neon Sign,

or fluorescent deterministic philosopher.

The Clamp

Cursed poet (has lost protagonism from one version to the next).

Tobi

Reptilian resident of the Xochiaca Levee. He drives a public

transportation vehicle for individual passengers (Taxi),

but also works as a strong arm for various pimps.

Max Da Costa

Working-class whitey and ancient crook living

in LA shantytowns of the year 2154.

Matt Damon

U.S. actor. In 2013 he starred in the cast of Elysium,

filmed in part at the Xochiaca Levee.

Outdoors. Daytime. Haggard highway in northern

Mexico. Cowboy explains his beef with the rook

And speaks to him face to face.

[Cowboy says his house is like a bird. Which is impossible. It strictly doesn’t work. Walls do not resemble fleeting Northern plumage. Legs are unlike rebar and concrete sacks. A bird cannot convey the foundation of a house.]

The house flew out the head,

it tore itself aloft because a can

of trash rolled stomping on the dust,

the cactus, and the plains.

The house flew out the head,

it left behind its rag, its bed sheets, the bronze

of scattered creatures on the floor,

it left answers, crimes, the question-

hushing staff, crater-holes to hide,

and slinked its way to the other side.

Wings of everything visible and the landscape

flapped on hardened air through glass:

the beak was ashattering of windows, the squawk

was tar with hundred-degree sweat

on a cinder block.

The forehead was a desert, the shrapnel boar

rolled over a hare,

burned this ground a little more.

A blooming village opened fire on the pillow, on the bolt,

the lathe. A Southern path unlocked itself.

Rook, warn me about the mines

in the water well, hide away

in the claws of a screwdriver.

Outdoors. Daytime. Corpse-like weather.  

[Cogitation. Closed question.]

Who pulled the day’s pelt sideways

setting loose a creature in the forehead,

troubling the waters of a tricycle.

The beast-pelt of commencement,

trucks that took the naïve gaze

to the Northern light, women who threw

night’s iridescent soup down

a scorpion afternoon. Who saved

the house and voices that swept a brief,

illiterate mud, who took

the locking pliers that pinched the ulcers

in my father’s hand,

silt, age of stainless fabric.

Outdoors. Daytime. Ragged highway in Northern Mexico.

[Cowboy narrates his journey and addresses his flying house.]

Behind me, weed-choked arroyos and eight-arm

cacti shrink away,

big-rigs on the tips of the afternoon,

amid a bonfire. This wind-propelled, turbined

pick-up, my four boxes in the trunk

of chance. Rook, I follow the sun under the shadow,

I saw you evaporating yonder that charred hill

doing business with cement

and honey.

Seated behind a sandstorm’s wheel,

I put the pedal to the metal along my forehead

to Xochiaca.

Indoors/Outdoors. Daytime/Nighttime. Highway/ Xochiaca Levee

[Cowboy in the Central High Plateau, during his triumphant arrival. Days like oil stains dripped by a tractor.]

We drove out of Puebla slow as tricycles, circling

the city’s corpse-aroma, Xochiaca opened its smoggy eyelid, among masses

in the skull of a single great sorrow when I said “this child who maketh thee cry,

hath returned.” The Northern Bus Station, I said.

The Moctezuma neighborhood, I adduced.

The street was a lush, remotely rusty skyscape

made of killings in the ferris wheel, urban

cannibals, fifth dynasty harpies.

My co-pilot waved a handkerchief

and left along the stubble in a yacht.

I wandered in the cardboard night,

the sinks-and-subway night,

and saw two pals stung by greed

(from sticking a fork into the sacred,

from reading the entrails of a nanny goat):

Mariana, who had harpoon-thrusting eyes,

and Diego, with the underwater-cavern-like idea.

That harpoon-toting gaze,

that red stuff that tells countryside birds

there’s a cinder tower in the west

dwelled in them: tavernlings: with such cool motherfuckers

finding the boar who split my village in two

would be a piece of cake.

                                                                         Cowboy: See? From wayover there, before…

                             Mariana: It’s O.K. You made it here.

                                                                                        Diego: Doesn’t it smell a bit like boar

                                                                                                       although the air’s so clear?

Outdoors. ROOFTOP TWILIGHT. Xochiaca Levee

[Drug-spree and rampage.]

At seven in the evening,

before lava and tiredness had come along,

Mariana, Diego and I sniffed solvents.

Before the bison and being blackballed out from a den

we strolled in search of my father’s

lost eyes and my synthetic cradle.

It was the dusk of cranes, traffic lights, and shadow

in Chapultepec and the Xochiaca parks.

It was a dusk for scouring,

finding the steel’s bottom, my father’s

tinny eyes, three thorns, and three bellows.

Turpentine in the tip of the tongue and the tooth gums

got a rubbing. Rose apples, ash trees. The legend “TEPALCATES”

covered the buses’ foreheads in flames.

Sidewalks likefractured arms, thorns,

melancholic ears, dog muzzles

and dead furnaces. Down the Reforma Promenade we hailed a riverboat

driven by one alligator among hundreds

of alligators who headed home or kept working and

suddenly slung their miserable tongues sideways.

A flock of nuns cruised in whispers.

The rook flapped its wings in the distance.

                                            V: Let’s go kill that shit

                                            and wash the night with a rag.

                                                                                        D: Let’s go play in the water fountain.

And the toad-faced rower at the far

end of the boat, bags under his eyes begged let it please

be Friday, toted the bargepole as he spoke.

                                                                                                       Tobi: Where to, then?

               M: Down over there.

                                                                         D: Why come then if you don’t like it here?

                                                           V: I told you I came to…

               M: …face your fear?

                                                                         D: No, honestly, what fucking monster

                                                                         are you talking about, if up North men hate

                                                                         children and beat up their own mothers?

Outdoors/Indoors. Night. Tobi’s riverboat.

[Cowboy ponders a speech he’d written for his triumphal entrance into the Xochiaca Levee.]

What one (someone,

your go-to guy, a nondescript twat)

believes to understand upon seeing people flayed inches away

from his deep naiveté, I wrote about

years back.  I already had a beautiful speech

with relentless crying: standards, Bavarian hills would march

to put an end to death. On board I wickedly

opened the parchment which would flit

flags and mountains. Thereafter

I felt sad:

Capital gentlemen, brethren of exhaustion, illustrious

compadres, here, you, forty million fatigues in our continent’s

sternum, stop what you’re doing and listen

for this single phrase—if well heard—will be worth many centuries.

There is a beast of raving dust, alive with granite and paper.

These terrible years of ours were caused by a beast I’ve seen.

Our species waited ten thousand years for this moment,

though I admit I didn’t come up with all of it. My prominent

and eminent mentors erred in the essential notwithstanding:

if you don’t follow, read the Bible, read ‘bout Prester John’ achievements

in Nicaragua. I saw the tragedy up close

and found the key.

There is a beast, a boar, a trash can

razing down the villages, it has become a crystal monastery.

It faked its death but was really only playing

gaslight, looking like a jasmine, crustacean-eyed.

Honorable citizens of the country’s navel, this great force

is only comparable to the force of all of you at once, in unison,

and can only be terminated by you because you are the beast,

you, finance officers, distinguished tennis players, small-time hitlers.

And also you, the poor and less-than-poor among you.

I warmly ask in name of all the edges this museum

our planet has turned into: pretty please

kill or hang yourselves. I’m a hillbilly, I haven’t

travelled, don’t need to: this is what I think.

Jump off from that mix of pyramid and satellite, the Latin American

Tower. Hurdle your bodies to the coarse entrails of the freeway,

go for a spin in the Guerrero neighborhood, hike along the leisurely countryside

of our Xochiaca inheritance, which I’ve only seen in pictures.

Such a good-faith suicide will have majestic consequences.

You will see –or you might not –peace returning to the provinces.

And when the corpses in their slow piling touch the Tower’s

antenna, when the turnpike achieves the lawful status

of a river of blood, before the moon is boarded

off by tall, narrow glasses, eat you brethren’s

brains. Thus, from the other side of the grave you’ll see

how the boar writhes and coughs out the soul

among the reeds and the magnificent avenues, the yellow-

faced statues free at last. Thank you very much.

José Luis Rico (Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, 1987) now resides in Helsinki.  He is currently at work on a translation of 20th century poets from Finland, as well as drug-traffic-themes ballads from Mexico.  Born and raised in Chihuahua’s northern desert and border region, he began writing poetry as an adolescent.  In 2013, he published Duna (Colección La Ceibita), a suite of poems reflecting his youth and its arid landscape; that first collection of poetry was followed by Jabalíes (Tierra Adentro, 2015), a splendid sequence— part science fiction, part social commentary—whose narrative takes place in the Bordo de Xochiaca, an apocalyptic zone which, in the words of Rico, turns into something similar to a text by Burroughs or Ballard.  The collection—which won the Francisco Cervantes Vidal prize for poetry in 2015—laces together shard-sharp glimpses into the lives of ten characters whose reality is marked by grief, alcohol, dire poverty, decadence, along with allusions to Hollywood dystopian visions.  The book was celebrated for its peculiar mixture of experimentation, testimony, along with a cunning attention to poetic craft and diverse sociolects.  In addition to his first two collections, José Luis Rico has translated contemporary North American poetry; in 2015, he published Pruebas ocultas (Bonobo), translations of legendary Los Angeles poet Bill Mohr.  Rico’s poetry was culled for inclusion in Ciudad negra: antología de poetas de Ciudad Juárez (Bonobo, 2015), edited by Jorge Humberto Chávez.   Rico continues to publish his poetry and translations in such journals as Casa del Tiempo and Círculo de Poesía.  His first feature-length film as a scriptwriter, Qué tan lejos, was directed by Hiroshi Sunairi and will debut online in the midst of the pandemic.


[1] This manuscript was translated by the author and received crucial feedback from Anthony Seidman.

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