At the Zotel


Other Places


Jorge Guitart





                                    For Markito and Opa (aka Prof N.S.)


You are at the zotel with me. We slay each other at the zotel

with hands displayed to look like guns—our hands are meant to look like guns.


We live with laughter at the zotel and desperadoes are across

and the zotel might never close.


The desperadoes have a cross!

Their chances widen and ours may not.


The parapet (the parapet!) at the zotel is like a walk

a walk of life and simple talk and no one who is dead can balk.


You say (I say) to mock, to mock the rocks at the zotel,

the lowly rocks of zero IQ, resembling jocks


under the clouds resembling cows (of zero IQ,

both clouds and cows) and the zotel does rock!


Oh, the zotel! Ah, the zotel! To add, subtract

at the zotel. Then go and tell, tell all


of nothing gained, of nothing lost, of being zotelic

or azotelic just for fun.


And now a tango at the zotel

the muddle is a model; the model is a muddle (oh!)


and the zotel, yes, the zotel

is the size that fits all.




For a while after my conversion to realism

I was idealistic

as I had been realistic

after my conversion to idealism.


So then a charging Brahma bull

spoke to me in measured terms

but as the seasons went cycling

the general paralysis of shadowboxing

became manifest.


And brutal locusts acted as pure connectionists

during human gatherings such as picnics.

Now rocks native to this backyard

continue to observe their counter-holidays.


One huge mistake, it turns out,

was to carry logs to their logical conclusion

one summer day. Another was to think

that life had bebop intentions

that would carry any day.


This time we are being told it is Jane’s soul

that has been messed up by (un)controlled substances

and her brain is just a scaffold with wires.


And as the air leaves the room

we cannot shake the foundations of belief.

All meetings take place in a curious incurious atmosphere.

There you have it. The lucky and the unlucky alike

have it.



The environment not being quite outside us

I decided not to go anywhere

though I needed to run a few errands.

Then night fell and time and space

isolated my personality.

Some disorder was expressed that had nothing to do

with pesky mosquitoes (it was summer).

The enormity of narrow people

was revealed to me but imperfectly.





Holy polluted mackerels, the sun is kindling

its own temporal fire

and your superstition package includes

‘the will to believe.’


Don’t put anything into practice

till we have finished groping with buttons in the dark.


Before contracting, grownups wanted to know

what “the deal” was and went to nothing not knowing.


But you belong for now among your belongings.

Are we to leave the cobweb thanking the spider?




Here is our creed:

will you take it outside.

The spellbinding bound us

to the way we read


letter by letter

the word of the ejected.

We are the faithful companions

of the sparse furniture.


With the clarity of outlaws

nurses take their own pulse

but can’t leave the rectangle

whose base is AB.


A gripping, tell-all hand

holds the organ for now.

In addition to its swelling

there is its name in the vernacular.


It could almost be translation.

Symptoms are reborn.

There is a longing, chimerical,

plus the chance of ridicule


Quixotic and picaresque

collide in the thinking aid.

The pulsator’s last page

is grievous or is clogged.


Be received by my mouth

spirit of the broth.

Immodesty and the setting

diminish the worth of ghosts.




What if we want to hide things

in a primitive way

and the part of the mind that is

handling this desire is the one responsible

for us being so pedantic.


No, I haven’t heard the twittering of the kind of bird

that you consider extremely moral.

Where is it happening?

Oh, I heard that this saint

liked to feel small breasts and they were all

of small birds.

What kind of small breasts do you think a devil

likes to feel?


I must be brief because I am so tiny, such a tiny element

in this poorly lit universe filled with so much stellar debris.

It looks like something an enormous monster came up with.


O monster, creator of arthritis, pneumonia, and meningitis,

carrier of viruses to all locations

guess who has infected very many people

with a considerable degree of apprehension.


I want to go on without poisonous thoughts

not see dragonflames licking what’s left

of billions in pain,

but someone is flashing, a crazy seeker.

The door is heavy,

the escape theoretical.


And the indomitable human spirit

has been tamed

in many places

perhaps because of the lack

of sanitary conditions.


You start with what you have

and end up side by side

with what you don’t have.




Oedipal characters faking tameness

probably owls poorly known by mice

promoting the kind of divinations

that funereal conditions promote.


Narrative people walk every bit as powerless

as aboriginals. In the worldwide web of exploitation

what you call information is internalization

of the poison dished out by those who make stuff.


So great is greed that it could change you

as if you were a Y instead of an X.

O schools of dolphin-like people, look at the red grouse and shriek,

but the toughest slum is not an islet with lizards.




There is broken glass in the bathroom intact glass in stores flowers in shops cousin flowers in funeral homes there is no hope in lower case there is in upper case hope with abilities and personhood but she is too strong and too remote to be manipulated this means using invisible hands to guide other people’s destinies there is help and there are the helpless there is the cleared throat that is not functioning properlyu and there is radiation uniformity there are backgrounds too strong to be foregrounded  there are foreheads some shiny some matte and behind  the dark web of pain that controls the different styles of squeezing a tube of toothpaste there is the sad yes of existence in everything that is a no-no and the terrible presence of no in no admittance there is the bad news of the gospel that is and there is the old center of attention that is now the center of inattention there is the late mobster who can no longer hurt anybody there is the early mobster that catches the worm and the early mobster that flies at will and there is the great plum but not for nobodies there is a hallmark in every hallmark card and there is a tortured hallmarker in a factory that has not left its mark there are succeeding generations of stock swindlers there is fun in stock for partygoers and there is depletion in party nongoers there is the left to the right the right to the left in the periphery of irrelevance there is the going on about hell on earth there is the funk spiked with original members there is renown for atriums and obscurity for expulsions there is paper thin paper and there is the thin perseverance of the fat there are life-sized mockups and death-sized sarcophaguses there is essence as written in romance that moves the vehicle of expression there is implosion in installations there are severe limits to toys and to impeccable home décor there is expertise in making kitsch there is the snowbird that melts and the blackbird that doesn’t say bye bye back there are prayer gestures and the deviancy of abstinence by the religious uniformed there is paying more careful attention to distraction and more distraction in obligation and more insistence in the harmlessness of emanations from those that do not count.



I am confirmed by authorities into a type of slavery.

I called on you to be serene. You called on me to be monitored.

I was sold on cakes that would be bricks.

We are on our way to see

but we will say ‘I see’ and lie.

We’ll undergo the going under.

The enchanted brain will ride in an open car.

Here will be there and now will be then.


In the company of owls the mouse is inaudible

but edible. Magnets bloom and each apparition

blows a fuse.The universal audience

is in a wheel within a wheel.

All pronouns rotate.

In the inflation domain the common language

with the kid who mumbles has one noun and zero verbs.






As inevitable as the end

is the person you don’t want to hear

a sort of herald from nowhere, imposing

a brand new set of locks

when you were looking for the keys.

We are somehow detecting

that we got tired of detesting

the minute we were holding our intestines.

The provocation was of the ‘slightest’ type

and was fashioned by pushers of brand products.

Look at the counters over which items pass

to become part of what you are. But what of the part

of what you are not. The solid floor prevents

our sinking into a geological depression.

A confused geography is involved

during the deal when we are kidding ourselves and others,

which is why I want to be only in the history of manners.

Our separate atoms are immortal, but say hello to your autonomous

self as many times as you can, and generally in relation

to the particular, for the clown has the edge

but the fire-eater owns the razor.

I am writing to say that we are not sailors after all

and there is no ocean of the spirit to speak of.




I hope I made it clear that I am obscure—

as obscure as a certain forest I once knew.

The truth is that that forest was always excessively true,

in a way that never failed to bore me to tears


Yes, I wept every time, thinking also of clearings

which had been written about as having deep moral qualities.

Now I’ve come to such a clearing and I intend to lie to myself:

I am not here. I’ve never been here.



Any cat is an island

entire of itself

in vain, or not in vain,

and whenever the waves of the mind

complicate inaccuracies,

something could have originated in what we think we saw.

It is nice then to refer to our eyes as ‘those peepers.’

And as to faith, on, no prouder strength is so weak

when our behavior-guiding device selects pleasure.


Then comes a pause

between pathetic sequences

when smiles contradict fright,

but that is milliseconds before

they’re reinterpreted as grimaces.



Love can live, can be insane

if you smile when circumstances are withering

you are unreasonably another

and this garland is a chemical ring.


Beyond premonition is a cancelled bed.

The mount forgets before the brain

and you are the reason that fate has sprockets.


Lying next to the substantial brings postponement.

The implacable are not tired

I am a look. Tulips are borrowings.


Eternal taint, leave my morning alone

for heaven looks vengeful

and life feels like long division.


Speculation moves to be tattered.

What potential is not dissolving?

This is the same casual fatality

as last month’s, I mean causal.


Are you true to fantasy or should we

come back in thirty years

when the war to create peace

is no more but also no less?

What is the cartridge is empty?

What if the mountain is meek inside?




Lovers contend in a box

that the ceiling partly encloses

since a wall blew away.


They’re putting together penny goals

with priorities surrounded by ruins.

Life shows an increase in lethal properties.


But you said the air was filled with musical adornments

and art does elevate mysteriously

not unlike the way elevator shoes are designed to do.


Please don’t live in the Mercator projection of the compassionate

where the losses suffered by the powerless are looked at objectively.

Why are you moving forward? Is it to distance yourself from crabs?




Predecessors decompose and die

and are deported to the past.

Oh, close the windows, for the erratic starlings

might hint at something profound and inexplicable.


All is well. The brain is in its skull.

Yet the priestly quality in someone might be recognized

and the unlucky ones may not be able to scatter.


A kind of longing in these here private parts continues unabated.

Our positions are firm: we are quivering blobs of jelly.

and we suspect that cannibals eat missionaries

during beautiful religious ceremonies.


Victor Virus has knocked down Oliver Organism.

and all cockroaches of the soul have perished.

Yet all cockroaches of the mind may sing and dance La Cucaracha.


I regret to tell you about

my total lack of discomfort.

I thank the evening for being so new and so lovely.




Though your separate atoms are immortal

you should be ready to bid goodbye to your autonomous self.

The end may come at some beginning.


Don’t know why

there’s an ego in the sky

needing so much adoration.


Darwin machines

are in the building

looking for tissues

and have not left.


Faith has risen

while hope and charity have plummeted.

Here again is our air of inferiority.


Business students dressing as medieval people just for fun

put me in mind of truly medieval people who have looked in the mirror and reported

seeing faces radiating modern business acumen.


There is always a native village that has no electric power

but tourists can feel the electricity inside the huts.


I feel the charlatan in you desiring quiet

but I bet I am sadly mistaken.


The history of reality has never been written.

You’d swear that a violin was weeping

but I won’t,

I won’t swear to such a thing.


Pathetic garden (I’m talking to the garden)

Pathetic garden, grow!





The bishop’s shadow lengthened

of its own accord or because

reality required it.

God, if the bishop

had only dressed normally

and gotten laid!


Aberrant people who are also saints

have ruled this part of reality,

a huge part--and this is a huge bishop.


The bishop claims to know a fabled carpenter

who answers an immaterial telephone.

Some will boldly embed the bishop’s deeds

in a tale as influential as his.



Thick layers of misunderstanding, how thick you look

and how layerish! Today is as good a day as any, though its purpose

lies buried, perhaps right here.


Often we struggle with the jigsaw puzzle containing

the card table and the jigsaw puzzle on it and the puzzler who’s holding

a piece of the sky!


So let’s stop and think of our cousins the fruit flies,

who have devoted their one-day life to exploration

of the glass jar they are in.



Former hymn lover,

I see you are purple and green

like the flag of a manioc republic.

Time has not rendered any nuns crystalline.


There is a lot of brown water in the pool

and a lack of concern with spiritual thirsting.





I partly resemble the trouble I’m in,

and you, you are built as if you had

a past history.

Sometimes, but not right this minute,

I am filled with wonder,

sometimes with beer

sometimes with doubts

sometimes with stinking gas.

How dare you say that you know me

but then again how dare I say that I know you.

I am writing a letter:

it will turn out to be a gigantic X.

No one will be reminded of the optic chiasm

doing its job, silently in place.

All that that X may symbolize will disappear

while not all that disappears will be symbolized.

Defective symbolizing occurs in the mind

of affected people who count on huge angels

to stand by, solicitous. But they fly away many times

to be part of the inexplicable.

It has to be that way or some other way. It has to be

that the word ‘way’ is like a poorly lighted road.

Or it has to be that the verb ‘to be’ is somewhat misleading.

Or, and I won’t bother you any longer,

it has to be that harmony must be bought separately.





I am like Socrates only in being mortal.

I know something, though not who is for sale.


Old intuitions about the ocean, the sand dunes and the rest

are roaming the encephalic dudgeons.


Only this object in my hands seems to be immune.

I mean this beach ball.



With features dependable

the reasoning minder

is piercing and slicing

psychophysical meats.


At the ruined temple

of the memory of moonings

rubbing without charcoal

is one more technique


Our sorry dialectic goes backward:

synthesis first, then a phony antithesis

and at the end consuming itself

a totally shitty thesis.


And tons of accidents

tons of ephemeral flashes,

a monstrous unraveling. You say fat chance

meaning something completely skeletal.




[From the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: “a.pos.tro.phe2 : The direct address of an absent or imaginary person or of a personified abstraction especially as a digression in the course of a speech or composition.”]


To Balloons

O balloons, you may lead empty lives without us

or you may not.


To the Sun

O sun, poor sun of ours, you are such an average star

and there are so many lifeless bodies orbiting you it’s pitiful.


To Elevators

O elevators, thanks for so many elevating moments.


To the Heavens Above

O heavens above, we pray you are structurally sound.


To the Pregnant Pause

O pregnant pause, go ahead and give birth.


To Talking Points

O talking points, shut up.


To Absence

O absence, you are here so often they will have to change your name.


To the Happy Hour

O Happy Hour, what are you so happy about?



To the Underwater Mobster

O mobster who sleeps with the fishes, please do not disturb their dreams

and least not the wet ones.


To Minnie Mouse

O Minnie Mouse, if you had wings and were Austrian, you could think of yourself as Die Fledermaus.


To God

O my god, you are not mine!