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Sean Singer

Embers of Smoldering Homes

Embers of Smoldering Homes

It is a major war from
a manufacturing plant
near Ciudad Juárez, a concrete
dust smell from the maquiladoras
cools. There is a pool
of liquid forming
on the stone floor.
When Érika Gándara, the only
cop in Guadalupe Distrito Bravos
was killed the buzzards
were fucking in the wind.
See the brown ribs poking
through the side
of the hound, behind
the broken refrigerator.
The dog is looking for a guaco
leaf, or Saint Teresa.
She has not been seen
since two days before
Christmas. A painting
of the black Mary is wrapped
in plastic wrap, next to the rifle.
Who else is wrapped
in plastic, like drug baggies
or a piece of flesh: Praxédis, Leticia,
Esperanza, Hermila, Felicitas,
Lourdes, Elvira, Gabriela, Elsa Luz…
The body has been in the desert
for at least nine days.
A wire chicken coop,
a plaster wall, she vests herself
and waits for you like a hand
stripped of a moving world.
A hand stripped of a moving
world waits for you.
It snaps its fingers
on 2 and 4, a “black snap”
or a sponginess encased
in desire. The fleshy leaves
of the agave bend a white
feather on a girl’s brow.
The goatskin deflates
by the opening where,

lashed to itself, she pulls
back her flat breath,
her brittle and meager
clavicle unscrew the pain.
A niña’s rose black edge
stumps the coroner
who says something is striking
me, my chrome raindrop,
my jacaranda, pouch of bone.
In Dublin, Ohio,
a sortie of jackals
split the scissors behind the mask
mouth and “cut loose”
for a long needle-devouring night
into the rawhide axis
of dawn, of dung and ashes.
If the word Mexico means
“Place at the Center of the Moon”
then these fabric fireflies
and jutting hips are perfumed
honeyed vibrato moans
and the manic cartels
slice their own heads,
cancer-eaten, like a faceless jaw
snapping the desert moon.
We didn’t meet in Mexico’s
dark carbon, stretching palpitations
in black armor but a wooden
column of the archangel
who witnesses casually
the teporochos who eat genitals
and fuck watermelons.
When you take the last bus
to Piedras Negras a bullet
has struck the remaining tissue
not of livestock or bodyguard
but the moon’s own leather aorta.

Ancestors Who Came to New York Harbor From An Extinguished Past


Ellis Island is a little ochre stone
at the bottom of a cloud.


I’m not a furrier staring at the fox-colored
sunset. I’m not a women’s shoe salesman


going from happiness to unhappiness
and then from unhappiness back to happiness.


Clothed in black wool like black castles
sparks flew off their lapels in a blossoming town.


Think of Jews envying chocolates and cheeses,
their eyes speaking piles of lady’s-shoe-heelism


then become worms in an absent city floating
in the inky tea and a silver evening.


On Kazimierz street there’s a bar called Singer.
Its sofa pillows, leafy wallpaper, and velvets


remind us that we constantly peer
into fathoms of unfathomednesses.


A slender girl in mulberry stockings
has proven that the dead have a homeland


among the arcades. She’s a clairvoyant
of human vapor, the grey spine of a penciled world.

-from Honey and Smoke, selected by Guest Editor TR Hummer

BIO: Sean Singer was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and currently lives in New York City. His first book Discography won the 2001 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, selected by W.S. Merwin, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. He is the recipient of an artists’ grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. He graduated from Indiana University and received his MFA from Washington University in St. Louis. His poems have been published in various journals, including Salmagundi, Tin House, and Pleiades. He has taught students of all ages and has most recently served at Binghamton University and Hunter College.

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