tijuanagringo poemas

street market scribble scribe

At the end of the street
they are parking cars .

Everyone wants to go to
the street market.

s o b r e r u e d a s

a diez pesos escogele a diez a diez

We plunge straight to the heart
then go out on its far side
yonder between our
here and their
flat there

Otay Mesa .

At the center of the bustling street market fair
chickens roast on an  
asador  grill

45.00 says the sign
(ese es 4.25 en dolar)
clouds of sweet fowl meat fragrance float down the street
wreathing the thronging shoppers bob and weave
cliché heads that pivot, turn : Look! See?
¡Mire! ¿Ves?

across the way peoples crowd
tables under plastic tarps
for antojitos tipicos
typical goodies

si te antoja – if you like –
see that sign out front – el letrero – it says:
tacos d'pescado
aguas y sodas

at me this is all a text street full
public writing speech

the scribe walks at hand wrote
one end to another notes

no means justify
maybe means no

another booth a pizza joint
peperoni mexicana jamon hawaiana

off to one side the factories

waiting for Monday to bring them
to work

Meanwhile back in Tijuana the man selling fruit salad
from his cart by the JVC factory gate
wears a baseball cap that


San Francisco

There's a rack of suits
a booth full of stuffed animals

a tiny, frightened Chihuahua dog
scampering under the tables

across the street
30 eggs for 20 pesos

(two dollars)

deliciosos boles de rompope
from a little cart

Tejuino & Diablitos
painted words refresh
drinks from

next door
a pool table with balls, cues, rack
sitting out on the street, for sale, of course....

( "pool cue stick" in Spanish = "taco"
["taco" comes from the verb "to stuff"] )

(Maria Teresa would tell me stop analyzing but
am walking by myself only my left hand,
my right brain, and you beside me
reading not this wilderness
oh city of no yes)


next door: used stoves, refrigerators, washers........

a fat girl/woman with enormous
breasts in tight sweater
passes by birdcages

tables full of shoes

tables, sofas, beds, baby stroller
speakers, stereos, computers, CDs

tools and toys and TVs

a man connecting the battery
on a tiny, driveable car

for the young boy, barely four
who waits at the wheel

the skittish Chihuahua with
his ears flattened back
trots quickly past
dodging the thinning crowd

we (you and I) are headed
toward the distant end
of this market

writing all the way

A man in orange T-shirt glances twice,
three times, at me scribbling
while I slowly walk

scratch scratch I can see my
feet carefully stepping through
the background beneath my notepad

look over there –
jewelry and fireworks

and there's that hard-mounted
Escher print of lizards and books
turning reptile life into drawing and
back again all over again around around

You know the one? Yes. I tell you
I've seen it before and again
here for sale besides
tons and tons of clothes
strung up along the white-painted bars
of a tall industrial steel fence

we pass along Sor Juana de la Cruz
far east into the last straggling fringes
of the sobreruedas market

people and booths thin out

scattered now, selling from
pickups and cars, spreading wares
across plastic cloths stretched upon cement
in the eastern extremities

on the right, the crumpled rumble
of half-crumbled one- and two-storey
cement architecture all crowded together
cubist nightmare I have grown to love dear
cliché brain cannot speak sans
rumpled purple words

r u m p l e s t i l t s k i n
my flesh is your blood read

these are the far regions of Modulos
this Mexican barrio
my home

on the left a huge, open expanse before the border

vast truck parking zone
half full of trailas – big truck trailers

waiting behind their tall steel fence

waiting for the tractas to come
and take them away, to give meaning
to their global life.

We're almost at the end, now,
where cars & minibusses circulate
freely here around the eastern extreme
Sunday sobreruedas, "our" street market

you decide what the quote marks mean between us, you, me
wrapped around this weekend city
t e x t

r e a d i n g
I keep on writing, on the street, on my feet,
breaking rules, shredding script,
scribbling in public

what you ain't supposed to do
I suppose
writing in public right out
in front of God & everybody
on the edge
where market turns
back into neighborhood

yeah there are many frontiers
and boundaries
to cross

like Rydra Wong from Delaney's Babel-17
(NOT the tv show)

the poet

cuts across worlds

with words



p e r f o r m a n c e

of duty

"Go over-paper, Daniel"

my father once said to me in a dream
the year after he died

near thirty years ago too young.

He did not mean rewrite

I knew (as you know things in dreams) I knew
he meant something beyond paper,
like "over-drive"

over-paper uber-menschen

and I didn't know then what it might be
but I can only think

n o w


that is


h y p e r t e x t

m e a n s

"Llantera" Diaz

hay tamales de elote de carne hay tamales

El teacher
AL TEL. 623.45.77

this is not an advertisement este no es un anuncio comercial
there be little Mexican businesses all along the street
facing across at international factories from

beyond the horizon
with their signs
of the times

hand-lettered against
big corporate

be a good boy my boy and
we'll let you sub-contract
or even do our tuck & roll

d i g r e ss i o n
e d it o ri a l
b a b y l

I talk to you about the radio news
as nearer distance Otay Mountains rise
where immigrants freeze and die from thirst
while we kill and die and suffer torture Babylon

over there fight
fire with

the United States officer and a gentleman
placed a sleeping bag over his head

sat  on  him  and

covered his mouth while

" q u e s t i o n i n g "

h i m

he died of course
(swallowed a horse)

they do that here, too
druglords and the
kidnap gang

secuestro express ransom ATM

CLICHÉ death is E.Z. @ our OK.Corral crime
taped up in plastic, dumped from speeding car along
the proud,  paved     h i g h w a y
p r o g r e s s
according to Webster, "progress' is
a royal procession marked
by pomp and
so let us go then, you and I
out  to    c e l e b r a t e
that horrible truth we dare not confess each
other there where Elliot's evening is spread out against
the western sky decline like impatience etherized upon a time
of once to fight fire with fire? seek our/your own level, water
No Thanks. It's already old news on the border line
I'll just go to the market again and write
these lines = align-right & eyes left

no one dares to drink from any river anymore
silent spring

without chlorine no

n e v e r

same with my words
s a n i t i z e d
&  s e l f - c e n s o r e d
at the very end the street goes on
between clunky collections of apartments and factories

a gated cement apartment community open gate
no one in the guard booth

come back now with me toward the center of the market
past the railed neighborhood balconies and barred windows

look, a pile of software CDs mmmmm yes
I am interested but can't buy today

oh no, look! not even those three
CHICAGO albums in fair condition....

and look at all the other "old" vinyl...

¿Eres del otro lado?
Sí pero vivo aquí en Otay.

I lied the records were at another booth far away
but the rhyme was too tempting and the time

"other old vinyl... del otro lado"

¡No puedes caminar tú solita dame tu manita!
a mother growls at her little daughter

"You can't walk around alone
                              give me your little hand!"

I break all the rules I am a lone
twice divorced, three times dumped
maybe by now I've learned... nah.  Still in love
with la vieja Mexicana

sí, sí, hay que reciclar el corazon, ¿verdad?

no. no más tenemos un corazón. Es la
sangre, pués, que tenemos
que re-circular

Ijuaak kalaki tonalli nechkokua noyollo

a young woman handing out employment fliers doesn't offer me
as with a glance she knows I am gringo turista

follow brown threesome she handed two pushing baby stroller makes four
maybe they'll drop one the younger male has a pierced eyebrow

I shoulda studied anthropology
but I prefer poetic license yes

a couple of middle aged women come the other way
pass by bitching about something they heard

oyiste la mala educación de que estoy hablando
heardst thou the bad upbringing that I speak of

the pierced eye drops his flyer I snatch it up

Schneider Electric

American Company iovites thee to become part of our great team

"tastes crispy like fried"
T H E Y ' R E     great!

here on the frontier where Americano
global consumer market meets ancient Maya Aztec

new old postmodern medieval

this bastard hybrid is nothing new here cultural cross dressing
c o n t a m i n a t i o n counthenation LIGHTSACTION camera

there's a lot of meat and fish around here
this last year before the bird flu

especial de Winis de Pavo
$24.00 kilo

(special on turkey dogs [wienies] $1.10 a pound)

look at that bathroom sink-top blue ceramic good condition single faucet

(3 x 2 foot) 200 pesos (20 dollars)

But now look over there:

Wave to the man who helped me
rent my studio eight months ago

Whoa will you look at them

andale pues
wouldn't they be good in my studio yes

What? Oh, that!

ice cream treats
con fresa o chocobanana

and over there's young "crazy" plant boy – remember?
with a bunch of ladies ooooing and ahhhing
over his greenery

the constructing second storey on
a house gapes open mouthed doors and windows
upstairs of family with shiny black VW

and by now we have gradually come back into the heart
of it all

crowds thickening around us
fish fillets drippppping water
from hidden ice

quiere pescado quiere camarones

across the street from
with plastic tables and chairs all around the big filtration machines
converted every Sunday into extension of next door seafood restaurant bar

La Sirena

no advertisement just a design quotation from the street quotidian
two clowns selling balloons

no, three

a kid at a food stand whacks that bag
of BRASAS charcoal chunks

(people do not use "briquets" in Mexico, no, no way;

it's gotta be chunks of good carbón, buey...)

here before the steel skeleton of that abandoned
four-storey never built framework
something out of

Luís Buñuél : Los olvidados
en estilo Nueva Tijuana oil-boom 80s
before all went to hell
inflation and

I wish I had asked Chris to take a photograph of that metal shell
those rusting rectangular girders scream silence
beyond this bustling market fair

"my lady fair oh"
everyone all jammed together grumbling at a car
who dares to thread its way between us

it's too crowded here

but then that little kid rolls by
steering the tiny drive battery jeep

his father made run
and here comes Papa guiding along behind him
while everyone laughs and sighs
and steps aside

I have to write that down
move off into TELNOR service driveway
between booths, out of the crowd

scribble scribble scribble no matter how weird it looks

and they are looking at me what is he doing

Mmmmmm you say, look at those strawberries

Toys! Die-cast aircraft carrier
reminds me of a dream at port last week

and then a table full of dancing battery dolls,
hula dancers, flipping dogs, old man on toilet

Batteries? ¿Baterias? ¿Pilas?

tacos lite, tacos de dieta, diet tacos

cough cough stop writing it's flu season

and we ain't even scratched the surface what's here

what's wrong with 
this   p i c t u r e  

heh heh heh we severely edited it from a photo
Chris shot one Sunday in 2004

tijuanagringo poemas

copyright 2006 daniel charles thomas