Conquistador’s Birthday

Spectrous like a Geiger counter before spirit-rot sets in/secret agent aryan Marilyn Monroe does her signature shimmy on Christopher Columbus’s poop-deck, “feliz cumbleaños señor presidente”/ bellisimo, bellisimo

After the overdose (the flood/ the repetition of a motif in spackle)

I have faith in infinite regression/ L’Éternel retour

To the homeland / lost love easily as losing car keys (not YOU Israel/Albion/Roanoke/San Francisco in 1969, you etceteras and also-rans all siddown and wait your turn because I don’t worship virgins anymore)

We will all have a chance to return somewhere in time (this must be what telling the pope the earth aint flat must have been like)/well duh smartass

Because time is circular, or did you not know?

And becoming aware of the repetitious patterns is how we learn

Especially (or so I’ve heard) in the rainforest/ something is there deep

If you dug far enough down into it/ graverobbed diligently, you’d still eventually find a landscaping tarp (nothing is created, everything is built)

Having only known or loved the sand and the rock and the reptilian cold/ is it only a symbol/ you desire?

The dementia-kingdoms of Al Andaluz bubbling stews of tumbleweed under California

In the west/ always in the west

I’m magnetically caught between my here and my there but the trap was comfortable at least

Memory is debris exhaled against the shedding of skin

When I was a child I would ask my parents on mother’s day or father’s day why there wasn’t a kid’s day and they would always reply: because EVERY day is kid’s day

They gave me an answer so I’m sorry to disappoint you but every day is Columbus Day sweetheart/ I’d rather it were Halloween whose meaning was squabbled over but oh well

I’ve heard they’re eliminating celebrities off the dancefloor on TV again but I’m sure it doesn’t mean what I want it to

And as I flicker my chameleon lips electric and anecdotally between peripheral cockroaches and my apology ever being sincere

I could twist this green reed (too young for kindling) into a flute or a crown

Or slip into bathwater fugues and consider that the teachers whose names I’ll erase will build their pyramids against gravity until one day a ship with all the allergies I was vaccinated for comes crashing full of bible salesmen

Born on the Santa Maria/ I got yer second coming RIGHT HERE

So sell it to my corpse you sugary bastards, I’m feeling generous/ with balloon animals for the children and facepainting for grandma (the things I do for showbiz)

If only to get a ride, the ride is the real currency and we haggle for the smoke of it

Public transportation induced occult search and seizures, the numbers flash red: iron and beeping, most importantly I don’t need to know where I’m going

Don’t need a map, its grafted silverfish to the flesh (the little guy must have been hungry)

I won’t look at the legend (take off my pants for the killers)/ turn the key in my hand in preparation for a trick (disappearance I can’t complete)

Too heavy to ever become a magician, more a human bulldozer in a spiral of them/ bright yellow pacifists tattooed with the enemy’s rapturous names

La Malinche/ Mona Lisa: a face in the rain

Moving through a flat dark tangling landscape where the Jaguars dress in business casual for two martini lunches at the carcass/ it’s rude to turn down an invitation

Let the map be an artifact of its own agency, not as any sort of fix for a thirst/ we got pills for that, oh baby aint we got pills

Subtle chemical outlawed but if I can speak it/ brown liquid dreaming hieroglyph, if I can speak it

(we all want it)

Learn its name/ plant the tree

Then perhaps slash and burn farming works after all

I promised you an epidemic if you could just shut up for five minutes about the blues

And with enough time, I could carve a masterpiece, graffiti thumbnailed on guitar wood I never learned to play/ two lessons and then I quit showing up, it was too hard

A thousand miles is all that’s needed (still so much farther than the grocery store) To make the noise easy

Undifferentiated showering in the dark and numbering the stones in that narrow gap of land between The Americas, it must have been there like a scar before the Panama Canal: it’s named the Darien Gap

Call it naivety in the face of viciousness if you have to

But this land is old and its winds smirk the feathered serpent chasing his tail

Ah but like every Conquistador who’s never even seen the east, burnt in sweat I didn’t earn: I will disappear (I keep saying it but the prayer has yet to ignite)

Through the digital non-ink Dillingerian headline: you couldn’t get out either, could you?

That’s what they’ll say to my façade and I’ll just parrot it right back for a pat on the head and a treat

Spinning cotton candy as solace for a failure to dance/ for dealing stacked tarot cards in the nursing home

Wooing the quietness of Scotland or Antarctica

Well schooled in hyperbole, the milk of some rhythmic ocean I’ve never even touched

The Irish Sea was not enough and The Red Sea wouldn’t step aside

Because I would demand an exorcism from the one thing that I wanted to matter more than biting into a stolen ear of corn wet at the edge of the field

Insect flashing on and off in the eye’s lit corner/ a brown-out or a delusion of kindness

I never claimed to be a winner

And it has made me

Such a sneering yearner/ amateur pulling a coin from your breath

I will only negotiate the terms of my surrender with my reluctantly destined kidnapper

Put more plainly, Snakecharmer childe/ I am listening (the stolen stethoscope hurts my ears)

Asleep on a pile of books I couldn’t finish

And I did not think of the trees, think of the children/ think of her and light the fuse


And I do hope the Vatican library has good insurance

Conflagrated payback for Alexandria (a bookburning is a bookburning nonetheless) So many first sentences but no child remembers their own (they go fast)

Curling high

A thousand miles/ now inhale, it’s gray and it’s good for you

And still we talk of going green

Take the ash from your shoe and smear it in a circle on my thigh, now you’re getting the picture

Hours farther than light years inside dim potted plants withered and determined ]

Not to go

The expiration on a milk carton still a week ahead of me

The milk does not remember the preradiated cow

And the escape/ that myth of digging a tunnel out

The vast green of the past overtakes me/ let the gardens of England rot for all I care

Curved and dull knife (the butterflies not pinned on the wall go motionless) and the crow’s beak eats from my hand

Even the most heavybooted thug has doe-gazing headlight temptations of running Of cutting loose the bit in the horse’s mouth and shaving his golden mullet,

Of dropping the whip into the pampas grass and jumping/ come my trustfund love and let us skip together gaily on the xylophone bones of our generous elders

Knowing the stomp is sweet/ old pennies in tar as traps for the greedy

Oh Caledonia/ there is a man on a ship coming, he’s always coming

And we will greet him with sacrificial jukeboxes and roots

We invent him again and again and he lights our peacepipes like a real gentlemen/ hot gleam in sunglasses (where are the eyes?)

We shall have the concrete, the vision of it and the roughness

And we shall have the milk, have the ghosts in lavalamps and nostalgia

We will have the animals and we will have the keys

Troublemakers with a drive for it/ what distinguishes the passive lunatic from his doctor I understand it’s not my time to return/ to leap the divide in an itchy sweater

I gather twigs for winter

And know the blueprints against the crows (a non native invasive species/ won’t invoke pest control)

But the theory of it/ somehow I’m at peace with invoking the notion of being the wandering Jew (accepting the curse, though it quite likely will make my momma proud)

The mathematical Andalucia, end of the kingdom /so long boys don’t let my embarrassed pokerface fool you, you will never be welcome among us

And I, bemusedly Moorish (though we know the difference) Meditate the road even as it spins on the water like a wheel of fire

Almost looking forward to new air, new smoke, the corpse of a world still not desiccated Still with the stone below

The theory of it

Tragically like shards of hearth or Odyssian spears/ the return

The theory of it compared to the impact

Still tastes

That much sweeter


Illustration © James Conant

Illustration © James Conant


Nate Maxson is a 24 year old poet and performance artist from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has published 2 books; Vaudeville Jihad in 2011 and I Wished for a Serpent in 2012.

James Conant is a Cambridge artist who has recently added photography to his skills, which include clay sculpture, pen and ink, montages, and pencil art. He is always available for work and collaboration.