Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dime Bag

five heads inside five coolers
in Jalisco, by the road
where the kingpins make a killing
and the poorest pay what’s owed

it’s a dime bag on the corner
it’s the puff before you pass
it’s a mother’s moan in Juarez
just a little harmless grass

they still move the bricks of black tar
and the keys of yay and hash
but money’s in the mota
growing fast and green as cash

and it’s flying over Phoenix
tunneled under San Ysidro
and it’s hauled up through El Paso
and it’s shipped through old San Pedro

and it’s just a simple matter
of supply to meet demand
and the competition’s buried
in the Sinaloa sand

dismembered bodies in a Buick
parked outside a taquería
another day in Acapulco
and another bad idea

it’s a dime bag on the corner
it’s the puff before you pass
it’s the multitude of missing
just a little harmless grass

when the factories are shuttered
and the runners ride in style
when you buy a kid’s allegiance
with a soccer ball and smile

when the cops are all complicit
and the army is the cops
when the devil makes pozole
and the murder never stops

when the money’s flowing southward
thick as Texas river mud
from the cities, ‘burbs and backwoods
blowing off a little bud

it’s five heads inside five coolers
it’s a barrel full of lye
it’s a way to make a living
with a thousand ways to die

it’s a dime bag on the corner
it’s the puff before you pass
it’s a few hits in the alley -
just a little harmless grass

[if you're interested - the L.A. Times is doing a remarkable job of following the war you almost never hear about.]


Karen said...

joaquin - I have read this three times and I am sicker each time I read it. I mean no offense by that, and I am sure you understand what I mean by sick. Heartsick. Saddened. My safe little world is disturbed.

That's a good thing, and I know it, but I want a different world. I want a world where children can grow up with their own choices and mothers don't see their babies buried in the sand. I want a world where the police are not complicit. I want a world that is not the one you describe.

I've looked at the link you provided, I've re-read the poem, and I'm sick because this is not the world of imagination. This is grimmest reality.

Now for the good news -- you have done the right thing by exposing this war to people like me. This is incredible. We had better be awake and aware.

I just realized that I've been talking about content and not form. The form is perfection. I may come back later to comment on that.


Mairi said...

We have the privelege of living in safe little worlds and need poetry to break them open.
This piece wants to be a song, or a slam, or both. The rhythm is incredible.

Vesper said...

And you, Joaquin, did a remarkable job of bringing it to the rhythm of this fantastic poem. I knew about this war, yet maybe chose not to think about it.
Your words are more than stirring and the feeling of fate is almost overwhelming...

Jannie Funster said...

I had to Google mota and pozole. And educational as well as heart-breaking poem.

This is definitely a song, but one that would be to sad for me to put a melody too.

RachelW said...

Good stuff. Mexican was never a big thing here, due to a thriving local economy. Ours is much less mysterious and blood-bathed. You drew me into your story, wholly.

TechnoBabe said...

Very strong stuff in this poem. First of all the writing is very good.I like your style of poem.
But I have to write in my comment that my hubby has been clean and sober for nine years now after forty years using and I know for a fact there isn't any such thing as the very last line of the poem.
I read through your blog and will be back.

Anonymous said...

joaquin, very well written and said. yes, as a californian i am aware of horrific tale as well as my husband who travels to el paso on business. this is a frightening tale and responsbility of us all to be aware of the war right here and just on the other side of the border. the war is being won but not by us.

we all have views on what should be done - but our first responsiblity to love and teach our children that they are not drawn into this hell. bkm

Aniket said...

Mexican drug war was never expressed better. You portrayed everything about it in your signature style we all are such fans of.

I just hope things get better down there.

I favorite lines were:

"when the factories are shuttered
and the runners ride in style
when you buy a kid’s allegiance
with a soccer ball and smile"

Little Girl Lost said...

you brought an alien war right into my cozy little world, JC.

Julie said...

Joaquin, this is very powerful and an excellent statement. It's a story that needs to be told over and over. I'm glad you posted the link. I've been reading some articles, but they're not on the traditional media outlets. This will provide much more information.

As for the poem, it is Joaquin Carvel style at its finest. The images embed themselves in my mind and will stay in my soul. The second stanza hit me with a particular thump. "A mother's moan in Juarez" brings tears to my eyes.

Thank you for shouting it from the rooftops. This poem says it all.

joaquin carvel said...

karen - none taken - i know what you mean. thank you - i hesitated to post it - i think "shock value" is generally an oxymoron - but it's happening every day. and i didn't want to be preachy or gratuitous or self-righteous - so your comments on content were a big relief!

mairi - i think you're right. i've never done a slam but if i did i think it would be with this. thank you.

vesper - i think we all do that - kind of push aside these things - we have to live our lives in spite of them. but sometimes they do get overwhelming. thank you!

jannie - see, there's always time for a spanglish lesson. you're right though - i don't know what style of music this would work well in but i know it would be sad.

rachel - that's a good thing (relatively speaking). i'm not sure this would apply as much in humbolt county either- but they seem to get a little something into just about everywhere. thank you.

tecnobabe - thank you - glad you dropped in. that's kind of the irony of it all - irregardless of the user, the people and industry it supports can be devastating.

bkm - thank you. you're right - i'm roughly halfway between tijuana and l.a., about 90 minutes either way - if what goes on in the south happened in the north, it'd be headline news. but the kids are what bother me most.

aniket - thank you. i think as long as there's a market, there will be a war to control it - which is hard to face and hard to stop.

lgl - glad to hear from you! sorry to bring this ugliness into cozy worlds - i like a cozy world too - but i trust you'll forgive me.

julie - thank you. i think the times stories give a very real human face to all the numbers and statistics - harder to read in some ways, but needed. it's just hard for me to understand how such brutality could be happening so close to me - and that it is mostly financed with and over american dollars.