On Writing Poetry (or Poetry as Protest)

                        Oscar Makes Cry — Ponca (Edward Sheriff Curtis 1927)

The question of poetry is one that torments us all. What is poetry? What are its boundaries, or is it a horizon in itself (an imperceptible one, like a little knife or a scalpel with which we auto-make surgery)? Is it auto-erotic asphyxiation or faith? What’s its purpose and meaning (That no one shares)? It seems sometimes like a transportation band directly to anxiety, to loneliness, to chronic masturbation. Who is the poet other than one who answers calls, his own calls, sitting on the telephone every day, showing up eternally even where there are no messages, no rings? (This bitter earth/What fruit it bears) Who is the poet other than a transfigured phantom chaser who cries ink with a pen too old to count the years, a memory too far to catch with a little net we used to trap butterflies but they are here no more and it broke, the net, like the mirror when we looked at it. The poet kept looking. Protesting and acknowledging Iraq, Vietnam, Mexico, (this bitter earth), Charleston, Beirut, Ramallah, his drinking father, and the bastard son of violence, the corrupt State. A voice within him cries, trying to answer the phone with a transgendered amber bottle in his other hand, (yes he has hands), trying to find meaning among tears, among age, among gone looks. He prays the poem, the cathedral of humanity, then buries it and waters it with milk and honey before taking his morning coffee and covering himself with blankets lest he should get shot with cold, with loneliness.(?) He owes his life, his eyes and hands to a blank sheet of paper, that he rapes with makeup (paperphilia)?

He takes a tumour out with his own scalpel and lays the bone marrow in his tomb, were it likes to sleep like his children. He is sublimed and lies beside a rotten notebook not even he understands.

He wakes up in the middle of the night to the moans of masturbating trees and flies, and does accordingly to sobbing stars, but with black lube, and crying hands. He stares in the mirror and is a burning faggot in a transvestite silver plate. (Aren’t we all?) The next day he goes to every protest on the streets, then returns home to plant a flower in the hope that she grows in an earth who (Write it!) ‘s not so bitter after all.

Poetry is the poet’s chaos, his own necessary taste of sky’s disaster.

by Angel Aragón


Tendre (Aragón, 2015)

Shh. My skin is water

contained by will

in the roots of a leafless


Shh. The alpine pool

of isolation flows

every man’s seed

frozen in time

while the Indian girl

harvests the fields

for meagre coins,

post-surgical nights.

Memories, shh, of citrus sky

sting a thousand needles

not enough anaesthesia.

(but there is not

a leafless


— a solitary one — )

and language's not enough

(like the tongue and the light):

melanoma planted in the land

and was caressed

in bed, the Indian girl

made sand

and, shh,

and radioactive air.

By Angel Aragón.

The Name of the Tear

Thanksgiving Maskers (Bain Collection)

You’ll remember my name
when that fateful
and always terribly strange
tear called death
that suffocates a child
called life
comes to your face
like a water telegram
in a sea of knives
(open and close your eyes
to plant a tree
that will survive
the memory of dry
flowers sewn with wilted
you’ll remember my vanished name
the day the moon
cries the sun’s funeral
covered in salt
every muscle fiber
of the once mighty horse
now bullets
burying the blossoms
of a land
that sobs, (no longer thrives)
and that name
will close the clouds
over your eyes
will become an ashy whisper
that comes,
like death,
through the mirrors
through the butterflies.
That black tear
will I plant,
and thence
a wilted tree
will bloom
with silver stars.
And with your blood
I’ll water it,
and construct a cathedral,
so that you can rest
at last, oh last,
after all these years.

by Angel Aragón


Young Migratory Mother In Edison, Kern County, California, Originally From Texas (Lange, Dorothea 1940)

I helped Mother carry drops of water
that weighed like deserts
to the river’s mouth,
for it was thristy.
How could I know, God,
those were her tears
and, headed south,
she was to bury her name,
with salt and sadness,
(her soul)?

How could I know
in those droplets
a silver knife
was kept
with which
the moon created
veins and tears
carving the stars?

by Angel Aragón