Categories
2020 Poetry

John Manuel Arias

VILLAINTINA ANSWERS AN OPEN CASTING CALL FOR LOS ESPOOKYS ON HBO

Mysterious Woman / Dinora Jueves

Ironically, it’s Thursday
In the syrup of her dream / she braces
For the director’s cut of a child-
Hood fantasy, played out in a field:
Nails long, blunt; she transforms
Into a beast, scratches every arm
Of other children skirting by in a wagon
Who don’t play along, but instead accelerate
Away from her breaking point,
Her mind immaculate as the bubble
From a drowned mouse’s ear

La peluca del pequeño búho

It’s an animalistic thing
They’re asking for / a cross between
Her breasts on a chain / link fence
Dividing the projects from her adolescent
Home / and its alleyway of colonial bricks
Where crack needles poke out
From the mortar like dandelions
A weed wacker makes a guest appearance,
Then a steel shovel propped up
Against a steel toolshed / snow wrapping the handle
In the warm memory of her mother’s hands

Úrsula

She channels the sea witch, yanks
A vestal’s voice with a breadth of lies;
Then the wife of José Arcadio, watching
One-hundred years in solitude with ants
Dancing circles around the office
Of the asshole dentist in the script—
That part has already been cast
You broke your leg for no reason

Extra #17 in the HierbaLite seminar

¿What’s my motivation?
Spearmint, fire
Flies, socket
Wrenches, dream
Houses on a beach,
Gila monsters, rose-
Mary, the mother of God,
Platinum and cyanide crushed
With a pestle and mortar,
Avocado seeds in the teeth
Of a languid creek, barren
Asphalt and cadmium cartilage,
A black bean
-er in the ovular cries of white
Boys on a black top
On a day of a blue-hot sun, the white-hot
Son of a man who will slaughter her
Demons for a nominal fee
Whatever you think will get you the part.

Tico’s daughter (uncredited)

She’s to scratch out a cornea
Or two / Consume Adderall
For a delicate, balanced breakfast
Of champions / She’s to poke out
An eardrum / Mutate her lovely face
Into a horse’s skull, like a ghost
Story, repeated in a night-hostel,
Masks on the walls as inspiration /
Every time you open your mouth /
All I hear is / Every time
You open your mouth / All I hear
Is / Every time you open
Your mouth


VILLAINTINA & MARCO FROM ANIMORPHS WALK INTO A BAR

The tender stumbles over his excitement
Seeing her flared flamenco gown, the boy’s eyes so cornflower
You’d think he was a whitey from the middle West

The tender tips his rainbow sombrero from Amazon
& yells through smile & handlebar:
I love to shoot cans!

[Mexi-cans]
[Puerto Ri-cans]
[Costa Ri-cans]

Now that that’s out of the way,
What’ll you both have?


/////////////////////////////////////////////

Marco has a sex on the beach
& Villaintina opts for a mezcal
Margarita from a can [wink, wink]

Tucked in her purse; she flakes gold
Some chipotle chile
& organic lime juice

They tip the tender with leftover teeth
Snatch cans from the recycling bin
Rip off each & every tab

& string them together into a necklace
Like the ears of prisoners of war

/////////////////////////////////////////////

On the dark stools in the far back
They finally get down to it—
The showdown of the century:

Vaporwave vs. Vaporú
Gorilla vs. Guerilla

Quintanilla vs. Gomez

They argue x & @ &
Where those Spaniards lie
In the scheme of things

Do the colonizers in the colonies
Get a seat at the table?
At the *mesa, Marco corrects

The gringos are listening
They want Spanglish

/////////////////////////////////////////////

Your eyes must be green like cilantro
Skin the tint of caldo de pollo in a bowl
Brown, spicy, adobo-fied

Call upon your abuela, and her abuela’s abuela
& the infinity of abuelitas in their graves
Make sure the colita de rana is sana, sana

& don’t forget to mention you’re a bruja
Or that you come from patria or matria
Depending on the patriarcado

Valentina, Marco giggles, pointing
At the bottle of hot sauce, the seal still stuck
solemnly to the mouth

/////////////////////////////////////////////

Sabado Gigante plays on the flat screen;
The chacal blows his soul into that trumpet

¡y fuera
y fuera
y fuera! —

/////////////////////////////////////////////

Walter Mercado brings his Liberace robes
& Colonel Aureliano Buendía, his firing squad
& Cantinflas, the negative space between his mustache fur

They flood the bar with Salsa & salsa verde,
& chips, & pico de gallo, which gringos call salsa
(No one knows why)

It’s Puro Teatro croons La Lupe
It’s Conga smiles Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García [Estefan] &
Celia Cruz belts, Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara Quimbara

/////////////////////////////////////////////

The night of dancing leaves
A bottle of tequila inside Villaintina
Glass & all; worm, & its stringy guts inside hers

Marco morphs ape, explodes body into fine, pitch hair
Sticky as if to be lit by embers
Picante, he whispers, winks, hurls, bares fang & lip

¿How does one say flotsam in Spanish? Asks Villaintina
Eyeing their world, & culture, & people on the bar floor

When in doubt, chew cud
When in doubt, add an accent
When in doubt, croak Spanglish
When in doubt
When in doubt
When in doubt


John Manuel Arias is a gay, Costa Rican and Uruguayan writer back in Washington, DC after many years. He is a Canto Mundo fellow & alumnus of the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop. His fiction has found homes in Joyland Magazine, The Kenyon Review, Barren Magazine and F(r)iction. His poetry has appeared in several literary magazines, including PANK, Platypus Press, Sixth Finch, the Journal, and Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, with poems forthcoming in The Offing and The Minnesota Review. He has been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net three times. Before DC, he lived in Costa Rica with his grandmother and four ghosts.