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Malverde Days 1

by Duke Miller

(This is the first part of cuttings from Malverde Days. There will be two more in the following weeks. I hope you can feel Malverde Days ... a warm touch, a bit of candy, cold water ... a cattle prod in a slaughter house, throat cancer, a disinherited child ... everything like waking up and trying to remember some dream or nightmare at dawn. Malverde Days is all about the moments between light and dark. Just like our life and death in Mexico, the shawled mother of us all.)

I'm writing an interior monologue that is very loud in my ears, but silent for you and found only in these words. Your eyes are my lips. What are you to make of it? How about we are touching through the megahertz and truth is in the reading, not the writing.

Try to imagine I'm on a stage and you are in the audience. The show is sold out, but you are the only one there. It's a very small theater. There is dust on the armrest and the spot I stand within is a crucible. As with all actors, I'm trying to reveal the elements of my composition. Why? I don't know. Maybe because we all twist in loneliness and isolation, starting at the beginning and building toward the end. Our worst fears about fairness grow like an incurable disease. Maybe a one-person show, created from infinite moments, is a sort of medicine to help lessen the pain, to make some ultimate arrival a restful resignation.

So here I am onstage, everything disjointed, a fractile contemplation cooked by the meddling of some imp just off stage.

I'd never been to the Chapel of Jimmy Ray, but I closed my eyes and when I opened them, there I was, in somebody else's dream. I liked it and then I heard the voice of Dr. Dave. "Hey motherfucker, I know you don't care, but why not write something people in this town can relate to and maybe you'll sell a few books. There's nothing wrong with combining an understandable read and marketing is there?"

A friend standing nearby calmly said, "He'll never do that."

As much as I love Glen, she was wrong about me. In fact, I want to sell books, not for the money, but rather to feel pentecostal rain pouring down upon my body ... Malverde rain drenching my spirit.


MAYBE I'M A GOD or at least living at the pleasure of the gods like a bunch of dangling grapes
    Trying to figure it out, riding the lucky streaks
    When I think about the gods there is always sad music and then I fall into clichés like Voodoo chickens, but then there are the kids prevented from getting medicine, the football team kneeling on a cold night, sexual abuse, congregational wife swaps, divorce, suicide, betrayed animals waiting to be slaughtered, the lone survivor of a plane crash … empty rooms with carpets, polished wood furniture, pretty girls in starched dresses and puckered lips, everything smelling like silence, desperation, air conditioning … everything smelling like one sort of god or another and finally, there is the thought of me sliding a National Geographic cutout of dancing African women who look like peach jelly on brown toast into the minister’s Bible, the size of a front door, resting on the lectern, the embroidered cloth book marker on Job
    My first mystical, god-driven journey happened when I was a four-year-old

There were monsters
…a rain storm
…a dark tower blocking my path
… everything going on forever and then

I awoke peeing into the kitchen trash can
I finished and returned to my little bed


THIS is not the first stanza of Malverde Days
The first stanza is called How Did I Get Here, Don’t Worry Mother
    This used to be the first stanza back when I was young and dirty with the smell of fish on my hands, now it’s the second
    I had it on a ten-hook trotline in the Rio Malverde, but it got away
    When I waded out into the strong current to take it off the line, it slipped out of my hands and headed for the bottom of the channel
    The sparkling surface of the Rio Malverde applauded as the first stanza swam away like a gold bar sinking out of sight


I ACCIDENTALLY hooked my hand when I was fumbling with what I thought was the first stanza catfish
    Getting the hook out was difficult while waist deep in the swift water
    I got a taste of what an unfinished stanza goes through while struggling to be free
    Sitting on the bank and thinking deeply, I decided to take the trotline out of the water, cut it up, and bury it at the base of a tree
    If I was going to hold a stanza in my mind, I wanted it to be free
    This is not a contradiction, only the way of nature
    Genevieve says the second and third stanzas of this poem are necessary like removing the fish hook from my hand
    She says it captures honest mystery
    She says Malverde is a painful question, I should not mislead the reader into thinking there are easy answers to be found here


I LIVE in a state of Malverde, not the state … but a state
    Color is squeezed in the hands of Malverdianos, falling drops fill buckets for those interested enough to collect the tints
    Things not moving are painted
    When you look too long into the reactive colors of Malverde there is the possibility of becoming part of the light
    There is no difference between color and light in the mind’s eye
    Each day I steal a pile of pulverized crystal, put it in my little jar … saturated by bleeding pigments mixed by the force of sunlight … I get my prize from blind alleys, stairs to nowhere, rooftops with savage dogs, the abused, the lonely, fireworks for any occasion, the cathedral built by Walt Disney, people taking cover in the open, drugs, kidnappings, the theft of all things, weddings, births, deaths just over there
    I take the hues and spread them upon my palette
    I use the hues to communicate with my protector, General O’Malley … I seek protection and good fortune within his sanctuary
    I leave him cards, dice, paintings, lit candles, short poems on the walls, drops of blood … I try to get his attention with bright and important offerings


TO PASS THE TIME in Malverde I write poems, every once in a while they are published by online magazines, when that happens no one reads them as far as I can tell
    Is it just me
    Sometimes I get advice from magazines, here is a piece … Thanks for your recent submission, your work is not suitable for our magazine, however, you have unrealized talent and we hope the following advice helps
    Please consider dropping the following words from your poetry as they are way overused and you don’t want to be accused of being derivative … dark, shadow, distant, sea, sand, love, bird (any kind but most emphatically crows), night, sunshine, fish (of any sort), skin, dream, hole, death (or dying), sex (any fantasy or fetish and certainly masturbation), there, and and
    There is a word that makes you only an observer, consider here, it is more present and places you directly in the action … and is a word you should also remove from your poetic vocabulary, it identifies you as a novice polo player unable to control the runaway pony of your mind
    There are, of course, other words, but if you will start with these you might have a chance, we encourage you to submit other poems in six months’ time as long as they don’t include the aforementioned mistakes


Duke Miller is a writer and ex-refugee worker living in San Miguel de Allende. He has published four books. Living and Dying with Dogs is about his years as a emergency relief volunteer in war zones. Malverde Days is about his life in San Miguel de Allende.

See Duke's Books on Amazon


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