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Poetry by Juliette Sandoval

The Badlands

The best of all possible worlds
is caught in a war of ideas
a maddening mantra
a shuddering mantra
of discontent

The cages shrink
between Gaiety and Lofty Dreams
between two breaths
full of burning
as rigor mortis sets

I have no one to blame but myself
for all the fires I’ve started
and abandoned
Lady of Arson

I bow and I kneel
I hold the gun unloaded
I’m doing my part
so that the circle
will remain unbroken

My love is barbed wire
I must have blood on my hands

You have no idea the way the vines wrap around
the pale haunted house
where I keep the sins I’ve committed
they’re suffocating me

I love you”

The trains go past in memory
give me your worst
the trains are in ill mood
I could lay out on the tracks
I could be tied to the tracks
Dismiss cruelty, it is peace I am after

They’re pulling into the station
and I look up at the clouds

Waiting
and wishin’ and hopin’
and thinkin’ and prayin’

for that defeating blow
which will reveal an off-color truth

I think in the distance I hear the airplane
May I borrow your radio?
The sun’s rays have a way of burning me
until I no longer exist

There are sparse trees, tall grass
all golden and abandoned
the bathtub still sits there, the bathtub still shimmers
the weeds and flowers propagate
mocking my indecision
and the rope begins to burn

All you can see is the wilderness of the depths
hurts my hand to hold it so still

My head is burning
My heart is on fire
My body dissolving into flames
How could you just leave it there on display?

There is a flock of birds in the western sky
pecking at the fear until the heart revolts

Well the pain could be a prayer in disguise
for this wasted romantic of the vast flatlands

Oh, to be a blade of grass in the field
no height to fall from, no threat of bad weather
somewhere, hidden, the real self murmurs
lost amidst the frame-up of a controlled demolition

See, I never meant to appear antagonistic
but people have a general air of cruelty these days
which mirrors the cool steel of the city streets
built by men on the verge of nervous collapse
in the back of their minds the machine never tires

and I see that look of despair
which he thinks remains unseen
as I arrange the fresh flowers
and set the table with coffee and cream

Only God hears my desperation
when I get on my knees to pray
while he loses himself in the hours
which pay well but cost his soul
attempting to outlast
the endless rising from the smokestacks
and the 1s and 0s of modernity’s collective mania

Difficult to remember what was real not so long ago
Does he even exist at all? Phantasm longing for,
the word secure, in the palm of his hand
“home”
I think I might kill for want of love
to swallow him whole, to swallow him whole
like a ravaged dog, on the hunt for blood
eyes illuminate in blasted ecstasy
where there is war, peace echoes

Time has no meaning
we’ve been here before
he nudges her against a fallen tree
a voice heard in meadows
mistaken for a cry for help
presses her down again
Oh, to be so certain…

to precisely fit in
describing the ebb and flow of emotion
temporary landing of dragonflies on the water
it is only a small matter

Sometimes I desire setting security on fire
allowing the dream to collapse around me
His heart on his sleeve as he insists upon his good intentions
already complicit in a crime that has yet to exist

and I can’t take it anymore

Now I feel the train’s breath
in the periphery of my vision
creeping up on my exposed neck
a bit of an industrial fascination
to pass the time until the World ends

This is my last stand.

Funeral pyre awaiting for the willing
He’s playing a love song on the radio
She plays along, turning water into wine
and it is only 9am
Meanwhile
the miners are being buried alive
and the dutiful husband seduces his wife

You have a reputation
of growing beyond your means
the desert heat flush with your offering
How to live in the world
When I am nothing
When I am wandering
When someone says my name
Startles the mind like an animal hearing gunshot

Ready to fall into the arms of the right translator
watching everyone in their own way
performing greatness in mediocre postures
leaves me feeling like I’m on trial in your bad dreams

and all the while all I can hear…
“denial, denial”

So, restless and dissatisfied
I wander the imaginary landscape of unresolved desire
listening to the drone of noise called The World

and The World keeps getting louder and louder
The night has set in, the day is gone
And I will never be as I was then

But I refuse to be taken in
by the sick carnival weather
which wants to contaminate the species
and trap my soul in amber

The gold rush happened here
The river keeps me up at night

Time is running out
I hear the whistle in the wind
I feel the earth caving in
in some hidden canyon

Well, so long as I’m right with God

and your eyes turn moonshine
and my voice softens like honey
and the train goes by
right through me

Juliette Sandoval

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