Buenos Aires

By | 1 May 2021

from Places You Leave

Your dog takes a shit outside Hotel Presidente.
Someone else always cleans up for the State
and it’s not Alsina, busted, Socratic, his hand
remonstrating with a balding, white sky. They
rake green shoots into a pile on LIBERTAD,
a cosmetic gesture to the funerary traffic
on Avenida 9 de Julio, the largest boulevard
in the world. You film your dog in a series
of selfies cascading through the park. Abilio
roll over [click], Abilio squatting for a piss
on the lower branches by the hissing fountain
[click]. Snapchat over the traffic snaking west.
You feel yourself part of the continuum going
nowhere in the coolness of a Jacaranda’s quiver.

Who was it fleecing the workers’ pockets but you?
Each day opens and closes like a clockwork petal.
Even the air locks everybody in. Today is another
national holiday: warm rain soaks up the workers’
protest, where you pass by tapping your wallet,
looking down at the young man who lost his father
in the cyanide mines at Valdero. What can you say
when your eyes are spreadsheets, counting out
the world in ounces of gold. ‘Lo Siento’ you mutter
when the Pepsico workers approach, not meaning
I feel or feel sorry, but the formality of ‘Déjame
Pasar’. And you pass. Dream of a hacksaw factory.
Even Marx backed away when he saw the flags
of free capitalism. All those numberless offices.

PAN Y TRABAJO reads the sign. PAN Y TRABAJO.
When a canvas didn’t sell he drank the oils.
Turn away into Pettoruti’s La Plata. They call
you a foreigner but what does the word really
mean? Look away now and again. Solar’s smoke
-river. Spilimbergo’s louche terrace: the world
floats through rocks like memories (but whose?).
Commotional billboards blur and set the cars
honking. Tamayo’s soldiers wear shells for eyes.
Your everyday uniqueness and vertical sequencing
unimpresses Lam’s balloon skull; its eyes look
away from you towards a tablecloth covered in
unshakeable dust. Carry your tears in a wet sack,
worn heavy. Until the retina starts to shriek.

Lightcrawlers. Monsters in the bestiary. Games of
love or mischance. You count your casino chips
on the side of a dice. Peel away yesterday’s lover
from the tattooed map of your body. What you want
to call temptation can be renamed Ambition’s Grotto,
Encounters Unease. Turn Aryan devils into saints,
rise above a city counting out your bank balance.
Rattle your new coupe keys in the exhaust, ex-
hausted, wheeze through a cloud of cognac, disc
cells contracting the rotunda of your body. Morning,
your skin ruddied, reduced to buying up the sellabilities
of image. So much distance between victory and victim,
you think (how to translate this for the boardroom?)
When you die they’ll cut the film from your eyes.

The voyeur twiddles you as if by puppet string.
In Figari’s Candombe o Candombe de carnaval,
a pink-shirted man shakes open his hands to
question a gallery of masked faces in windows.
Chevron ¬– Swastika. A General, skeletally x-rayed.
Another morning when the waffle-haired president
reminds us how we met Hitler. As you would say,
sometimes it’s all just too much. How to embody
hope? Chagall painted dreams to save the world
from itself. My hands run over yours, lean in through
the remoteness of trees to fire a kiss. Because what
else is love but the world opening in your eyes, open.
Morose beauty of a horses’ eye, sad but knowing.
Stay close, take cover, safe in this mirage of mist.

Today, walking in the scent of love’s blood.
Tomorrow, casted in Alonso’s ‘Carne de Primera’.
‘It’s not just in Mexico, women go missing here,
you don’t hear about it on the news.’ A business-
man smokes his cigar and the elsewhere of his eyes
suggest: I am counting you up as a number: 622
by the leg, 729 by the arm. I live out my violence,
from the entrails of a ranch, from the hanging
of a meathook. The oligarchy are Bacon-faced,
digging another anonymous grave at the roadside.
A lost child runs through doors of broken glass.
You edit yourself in and out, as Mayakovsky
advised. It’s a form of self-dentistry, he said, just
to survive. A gloved hand props open your throat.

Without bread but with work. Weeks caption
the stillness of a blue table. Nothing devastates
more than a child dangling an empty spoon.
Stray bloodfleck on black-backed curtains.
Monday: volcanic as the sun. You remember
Christmas 1990, your mother serving chicken
instead of turkey. Am-Dram pretence of knives,
but she ate none. Outside the window, a swab
of musketeering soldiers on the charge raise
the sword of war. Death breathes through the cut-
glass wetness of your eyes (but for what, what?)
A child’s belly, soiled, the bills yet to be paid.
Whoever paints this is the repo man at the door.
The father looks to the mother who looks at you.

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