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Poetry by Juliette Sandoval

There is a Flame Called the Endless Night

Even now
I know that I have savoured the hot taste of life
Lifting green cups and gold at the great feast
Just for a small and a forgotten time

 — “Black Marigolds” translated by E. Powys Mathers (1919)

The Wild West comes into view
in many ways we are inseparable
desert heat and eidolic palm trees
meet in the stained glass of the cantina

And the sun is quite Mexican
On this side of the border
I feel the stirrings Of ritual sacrifice
like a heated lamp

the windows are thrown open
the lights are electric
Fired by the spirits
Of orange groves

I was born in a ghost town
And I live my life in the pictures
I go from Casablanca to Tombstone
quite effortlessly

Las Vegas is my second home
the slot machines are like singing birds
there are playing cards littering the streets
And the smell of tobacco is warming

And the neon-lit buffets line the avenues
In the open desert night air,
the limits of paradise transpire
beyond this Los Angeles wavers like a mirage

I come face to face with a whistling coyote
On Route 66 and I order the midnight special-
bad dreams with luminous premonition

I half expect to see cowboys and Indians
but there is only shadows and the shattered mirror
and I long for open air and gunshots
breaking through the desert stillness
but get no relief, only suffocating wild heat

So much of the desert lies empty
like the burning impulses of desert people
when you are born in such heat it leaves
little room for the imagination

dusty, dusty thoughts rusted over
and occupied by scorpions and
snakes and a lone jukebox
playing outlaw ballads like a bleeding heart

The horizon extends into infinity
The strip malls extend into infinity
The wasted dreams extend into infinity
And the heat hovers like a bad horoscope

We try to drown the desert and it drowns us
losing faith in Stygian quicksand
losing time on the frontiers of the soul

The desert can be so industrial
and filled with scraps of metal
which grate against the senses -
long trains creak by in consciousness

And the fires unleash an exposed flame
like a game of chess played by Duchamp
Every one who comes here is a traitor
Every one born here is a caged bird
pooling with mirth and exotic desires

In the land of eternal summer
the hawks circle overhead
in golden light, revealing,

The West as a vision
of intention lacking focus
connected only by smog and broken glass,

feeling the thorn
of a lost home
South of the Border
colonized and colonized, again
the blood stirring and burning
blown out in silence,
staining the streets

looking for anything to bring meaning
to the days which fall into each other
Outside of time and experience
like my heart, which only knows the sting

And will you forgive me for being sentimental
for wanting to be married at The Little White Wedding Chapel
for having an insatiable yearning for poker tables and tanned leather and beer bottles and desert roses and a clear night sky
Spilling with stars
for thinking of that desert stillness
with a bit of love
and troubled affection

And will you pardon me for looking at a man’s rough hands
while carrying a rosary and blooming without water
and please excuse me while I shoot my rifle in the sky
to mark another day alive,
as the sun sets on this, the fullest of illusions,
known only as the Wild West.

Juliette Sandoval

Twitter: @rabbitsmoon24
IG: @rabbitsmoon24

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