Jon Davis

                                . . . al borde del abismo.
                                               —Guillermo Arriaga

The woman on the screen is screaming now bloodied
           palms now slapping the window the prints
the slurred the parrot-like squawking the moans gurgling
           up now from her throat, the doors locked.
Each time they crash, the lives, the storylines
           intersect. Who are

these people? Only when
           they are broken will we know.
What woman, what
white dog, what siren flaring, in and out of time? Don’t
           forget her,
the soundtrack is saying, the camera
pulling away like a sullen lover the woman’s dog now whimpering
           into the window the camera the audience gathered the darkness tensed

the seconds drifting through it—
           the waves and around them, the shuffling, the slender man uneasy now
the woman leaned away into a fearful privacy
           unrestrained now sobbing sobbing—
And the man the white-haired the assassin El Chivo
           with his beloved strays drifts undetected. The voltage

flows through him—the plans the plot—
           like an announcement no one hears anymore a price check
a special offer
           a monotone spoken
through a torn speaker
           until it seems distant as god’s voice.

I’m hearing in the undertones the warning that everything is aligning. I’m hearing
           in the spinning wheel on the overturned car. I’m leaning
to the screen, whispering. I’m saying to the screen
           saying don’t saying stop
because I don’t know yet
           that what comes next is the bleak

           But do not, El Chivo, while no one is looking slip the brute dog the killer dog
into your cart . . .
           Consequences lurk in the shadows, pool in the spilling gasoline—
while the onlookers
           (their hands flapping helplessly

now) gather for the third time
           at the crash,
contributing only their gaze, the weight falling equally
           on the cars the flames the woman—
until the bloody boy is spilled
           writhing on the pavement.

This man
           has a machete, he says, this one
an extinguisher. The white haired
           the wild looking the homeless El Chivo has stolen
the money the billfold now he is unsealing his fate
           saving the brute the nearly-dead killer dog.

Already we can feel his beloved strays
           Flor Frijol Gringuita limp and bloodied in his arms.
Because it’s his story now, his turn
           to make choices
and suffer. "You want
           to make God laugh, tell him your plans." Susana has already said it.

Now El Chivo is making plans. In this world, where every longing
           turns to greed or lust, turns to blood in the alley.
He has already left his wife and daughter,
           already fought in the jungles
for an unrealizable ideal, already killed
           for money because it’s what he knows.

And now the killer dog is teaching him about death
           the consequences—the innocent strays
dead and bloodied in the abandoned warehouse.
           Now he will wear his cracked and taped glasses
again. He will set brother against brother
           and let them face it,

their gazes falling on the pistol—
           the mystery in their hearts a darkness
howling in the gap between privacies.
           While El Chivo pastes photographs
of his own face over his daughter’s
           stepfather’s face.

Soon he will shave and put on the suit and tie,
           break into his daughter’s apartment and
line her sofa with bundles of cash. He will call her
           message machine from beyond the grave
spilling his story his tears.
           Then he will wander out with his dog,

named Negro now,
           through the aisles of scavenged car parts
away from us
           then suddenly toward us—
over the oil-black and fissured,
           the smoldering earth—