Art Mantecon

April 2001


I am tired of breathing,
of my own two feet
I want to crawl
through the sand,
to the shell-scattered shore
to the exhaling,
inhaling surf,
the rippling margin
of the grey-green mother,
who carries the lungless
in her womb.
I want to plunge
in the beckoning waves;
I want to be pulled
and drawn,
to where breath
is fatal.
I want gills
to capture
my essential gas
from the sodium liquid
so that my blood
will flow, and redden
the folds of my brain.
I want fins;
I want tail;
I want a sleek,
oblong body,
with brilliant,
lapping scales.
I want to be small,
no more
than the span of a hand,
small and quick
and mindless.
I want to be
without hope;
I want to be
without disappointment;
I want to be
without happiness;
I want to be
without sadness;

I want to do
without comfort;
I want to be
without fear;
I want no
I want no
I want no
I want no
I want no
I will make no

I want only to swim;
I want to swim
with my fellows;
I want to school with the others,
to move in unison
as a glimmering,
shifting cloud.
i want to follow
the signal of a tail,
and bend of the body
to the music of food
and the avoidance of pain.

I want to be part
of the shifting,
quickening parabola,
the conical curves
of flesh flowing outward,
in the thickly
ether of liquid darkness
with the star-like
of complex,
darting animation;
I want
to minimize
my zone of danger;
I want plankton
and more plankton;
I want
the nourishment
of the infinite-formed
diatonic soup
I want to move,
to swim,
to swim and move
over the red coral,
past the mouth
of the purple eel,
to flee the ravening,
yellow-fin tuna,
to follow the silvery,
corporeal alliteration,
of a million
blue platinum
I want
to swim with them;
I want
to release
my swimming
milky milt
upon anonymous eggs.
I want to eat
my children;
I want to die
in the beak of the squid;
I want to be pierced
by the needle sharp teeth
of the rocketing barracuda;
I want to tangle
in the net,
to be enclosed
in the purse,
to be one
of the shining,
countless coinage
of a thrashing,
collective treasure.
I want to be entombed
in oil and salt;
I want nothing more
than movement,
and the bliss
of an unmourned end.

August 2001

Soneto Del Alba

El fulgor primitivo que aves
provoke with a chaos of selfish song
alumbra con aureolas suaves
the night-hid, many-named colorless throng.
Words are released in the logic of light
extrañadas por negras mudanzas.
They are bolted by tongue at war with sight,
y transformam adargas las lanzas.
La luz engendra aguda razón
that wounds with every daily, mortal nmae.
Seres parados en roja pasión
are all torn from nothing, one and the same.

Fatal destino de la fria luz,
our dark bliss is broken when you accuse.

March 1998

To Brigitte Bardot

If only . . .

If only
I had taken more of an interest
in baby fur seals;

If only
I’d had the foresight
to have been born in Paris;

If only
you had been born
in the Barrio of Canta Ranas;

If only
you had thought the K Street Mall
the perfect place to spend your summers;

If only
you hadn’t become involved
with Roger Vadim;

If only
you hadn’t supported
such reprehensible politics.

If only
you hadn’t been
born so soon;

If only
I hadn’t been
born so late;

If only
you had been born as myopic
as a star-nosed mole with cataracts.


A drooled-on pillow on an unmade bed,
an overturned crate in a packing shed;
the dental floss that always frays,
the plankton diet of manta rays;
the toilet bowl that can’t come clean,
the ghost that dwells in each machine;
the worms the sprinklers flush from their holes,
managers and their objectives and goals,
a hair in your soup, your fatty liver,
the hen in her coop, the Detroit River;
los senderos plateados de carcaroles,
insectos que vuelan alrededor de faroles;
aphids that suck the life out of the rose,
the blackheads that pepper my bulbous nose;
downcast eyes and the nervous laugh,
old silk ties, a quiche cut in half;
the way your fat sister rolls her green eyes,
the grease that soaks through a big bag of fries;
shen she says “turn right: she means “turn left,”
the crease in my khakis tht’s far from deft;
the Polaroid pictures that have lost all their color,
the man in the next room who’s eating a cruller;
los caballos que no obedecen las riendas,
las chucherías que se vendeen ciertas tiendas;
the soporific hum of electric fans,
the compact spaces occupied by vans;
people who stick their gum under the table,
the complete disappearance of all girls named Mabel;
the arresting noise of a mourning dove’s coo,
the insipid taste of uncooked tofu;
how various women smell of roast lamb,
the tourists incapable of saying “J’ai faim:”
a woolen blue blazer all covered with lint,
a mysterious phrase that’s meant as a hint;
el hombre con cara de todo los dias,
la gente que saluda con palabras frías;
the fragmented glass, the aluminum can,
the itch in your ass, the ill-conceived plan;
the balding judge, Elizabeth Regina,
the pecan fudge, the large gaping vagina;
the cow’s broken horn, the child with webbed fingers,
the sheep that are shorn, some smirking right-wingers;
the strong earthy odor just after a rain,
the cars that are stopped by a long, passing train;
the pale slimy seeds in a honeydew melopn,
the women in love with a murderous felon;
el espejo roto, la niña ingrata,
un lago remoto, la frivola chata;
the clouds that look like curdled cream,
the manholes issuing wisps of steam;
the gasoline gauge that always reads full,
the soft, sagging hump of a brahama bull;
an egret frogging in a wet rice paddy,
an enticing plate of finnan haddie;
the zipper that’s stuck, the cold rice noodles,
her beginner’s luck, some thoughtful doodles;
a piece of lace from the city of Bruges,
a woman’s face with an excess of rouge;
el vecino que te da sus viejas revistas,
los tomates caidos en las autopistas;
the grout in your tiles, the radio static,
basking crocodiles, the rat in the attic;
the crack in the wall that you’ve grown to like,
the narcissists clutching an open mike;
a small, red empty enameled box,
men in loafers who don’t wear their socks;
the Easter egg that kids couldn’t find,
the way one looks when seen from behind;
champagne in plastic, the dirt in your nails,
a colon that’s spastic, the kidney that fails . . .

Beautiful profanity,
and divine inanity . . .

It is all the sweet wind
and fetid exhalation,
the fount and the source
of all inspiration.