Attendance is documentary poetry by Rocío Carlos and Rachel McLeod Kaminer, who are collaborating on a book length manuscript for the duration of one year.
As we stand in relation to plants and animals—and one another—we are not exempt, but alive as creatures in and of the world. Taking attendance, and attending, alters* our writing, bodies; places—city, land, wilderness; times—past, present, future…
*fucks up / fucks with / plant sex
Nine Day Wonders (collocation)
Time in November is six crows landing and repeating.
Six crows at play above palms and churches; even their landings.
The starlings keep their time, gut wrenching.
Shapeshifting. Hydratic ethics, helix.
I didn’t see it / It appeared to me
The hawk and its pink back-lit tail spiral up.
They become a dark, ascending the air over Hahamog’na.
Uphill, the bear recognizes me beneath her notice. startle texture
Big, brown-black bear, and walks away, and leaves me, alone.
Soon starlings will fill the soil with their blue eggs.
They are told from true blackbirds by their aggressions.
by their capacity for aggression.
romania quoque ab eodem prodigio novendiale sacrum publice susceptum est, sen voce caelesti ex albano monte missa—nam id quoque traditur—seu aruspicum monitu
Prepare to gather loosely how to gather loosely.
Homing in flight, in winter plumage.
In not letting each another be picked off one by one.
A hawk, low and loosely towards the yucatecos.
Crying, gorgeous, described as kree-eee-ar,
her flight and her scream pitch high and slur downwards.
Formel, tiercel, eyasses, passager, haggards, red-tailed.
A falcon sharp-swoops the bamboo thicket:
Pull up silently and kill later, or pull up silently and miss the kill.
Rocío breathes peregrine
Time is fastslow. Time here and next door.
There hasn’t been an other side.
Dusk, a color-word originally;
pigeon palomas skim, underwings white-grey,
mud haze catches and holds the light at the end,
thickening the color.
Half-light appears twice a day
Togetherness rituals for birds. Fff, that’s for the birds
Bind, swaddling; bend, play. Charm, chanting.
To partner, curve. Spell un bound, wakeful, against hallucination,
the good kind of spell, made of breathing rather than taking away.
All Souls go off into the world later.
The new moon is up too early
is passing by too early.
With work, then with Rocío. Up too early, passing by too early, for the cacophony these days; will it change with the PDT joining back to PST?
All Souls, Día de los Muertos
The birds for almost half an hour. A word that is spellbound but not. Spellunbound.
The election disarrays us all. The pigeons, ravens, squirrels, human creatures in front of me, blur. The roof bird visits are all that make sense. Already feeling about human flocks, human homecomings, daily human together-and-apartness, movement, communication—now that’s each dusk.
The arrays and severings on social media are one place I look—and at one of the protests, the 9th. The drumming and chanting at the middle feels stagnating, dominating, even as it calls to the urge within me for order, for direction, for accomplishment, horribly, action-items speech.
The drums, chants, groups, further from that center feel different in purpose—connected to and responding @ the speakers and miss, but at any time risking diffusement, wandering, drifting. Stay together!!! I feel. Spread out!!! I feel.
Make decisions in a great field of awareness beginning with those nearest you—It’s keen, in a protest in a wide street, a long ribbon of distance from front to back. Do we have great fields of sensing, flocks attracting one another, landing in a great flourish—or other dusks never quite grouping altogether, small groupings flocking in at a time—but still all into the thicket.
(And no silent rest in either case. Long loud hours of bird noise, moving around, taking more time to rearrange there than to spinwheel the shimmered formation. Noisy joyful, noisy angry, noisy putting each other in places, noisy claiming, noisy calling out to find friends and roost-mates. Do they end up in a different sleep perch each night? HOURS of this…)
helicopters still going when I feel asleep last night; helicopters starting when I’m still waking up this morning.
19 November, about an hour later no helicopter sound. But as soon as I write this I hear it return from the other side.
[or fourth? this month feels five weeks long because it is]
The time before I watched w/Rocío, I’d left unsettled. All this time I’d felt clearly the hopeful possibilities of their gorgeous (through-catching again) flights, matrices of organized moving?? and not the gutwrenching hydra-capacity for evil this shapeshifting presents. To pose and fight a shapeshifting hydra surely requires a shapeshifting collective determined to bring all of themselves home to roost.
the birds, it’s cold about 5 and filtered cool light glows without reflection. My neighbors, the couple, are already there; the one offers to put out his j, but I’m like it’s ok no worries. When they finally home/hone in, they dive rather than ascend. The other neighbor and I marvel; We’ve never seen them do that before!!! she marvels again. I thought of magnets, when you begin to attract iron filaments…a few more…a few more; then the pull of them seems to tip over and be irresistible. I wish to draw or animate, or really to gesture, or to live in a language which uses signs in space near and peripheral to me body, rather than producing vibrations in the space of the mouth to emit near my body.
The nightmare (night of 29-30) was long and varied and began from good dreams. She wouldn’t look at me. Is what I remembered and feel. She wouldn’t look.
Oh net of rhizomes oh labyrinth oh open door oh eternity/
velvet corolla sepal a gold a path
what is there to go back for in a place eaten by wind/
everything is sand.
wrought iron painted pink and poured concrete.
(unkies or someone says mother) break the glass
and steal the rosary, the virgin, the cherub.
Somewhere a pawn shop, a patrol car,
a sad mother is a place for those things,
some dashboard, some niche, some mouth waits
Asteraceae (mature flower)
a lantern in the cold bitter
here, pollinator, your fur and scruff,
your hum and pinch.
The last throes, a heat.
Bare legs walk toward heat
and then run toward fangs/
the hour of the predator/ the familiar.
(they call it incentive):
function and the purpose of the petal
an operation/ a reason (to be seen)
landed on, velvet scallops/ how the gentle tug
releases the corn silk tails.
And then December comes
as dead bay leaves/
a tunnel to the main line,
The early days before a pilgrimage of red brocade,
Mother offering you to the fanged serpent you call MOTHER.
In the north, the winter is dry and hot;
Oranges fall, untouched.
A dead mouse and two dead trees later
comes the sea, the wall of salt water
and then the soothing/ the small hand/ warm breath.
Where is the compass the way home—
the banks of bruised citrus turning over my cells
a valley of a kind,
An idyll. Wild.
That place was never there.
A day for souls (what souls are/are wreaths of smoke/are leaves that cling through winter). Elms shudder in the lingering heat. This Is It, sighs the hillside. What names do: hold page of book/mark calendar.
normally/normal/ you paint your face and venture out. This year you make a quiet offering to your guardians, the wilderness still with anticipation/ the hillside sighs with relief we are not forgotten: the unlit candles, the orange flowers on a Wednesday.
Marigolds- a name of a halo, of a lady.
How the tongue seeks the teeth, how lips push away, a short guttural vowel as if you are not expecting something (what were you expecting). And again teeth and breath and the tiny trill behind the tongue. How your people engineered speech, and song. How the growl of the jaguar and the chatter of the hummingbird. The sound of rain in your mouth, the slumber of volcanoes under snow.
Cempazúchitl/ instrucciones: romper la cabeza y regar los pétalos en forma de sendero o de cruz o del nombre del muerto. Asteraceae- en referencia a los astros. Estrellita en la mano, farolito en el frio.
Dejen las luces prendidas, que vengo tarde.
And the third. Drive home from the sea. Easy parking on 6th. Walk to Spring and see them, wild and laughing. Fangs and teeth with gray in their scruff. What it is to have brothers/ how easy they are to embrace/ to sink into. Drink and walk, the summer winding down only now, your bare legs feeling the city’s chill.
But coyotes, the hillside gasps.
But your familiar.
A lit hearth, the howling outside. Take attendance: every beating heart accounted for, even those in absence. Even the dreams that come across the sea and after weeks: in the dark/ what is known/ how we know/ how we reach in half-sleep and remember the lights left on, the leaves swaying with hello. How the wilderness welcomes home the animals that roost. And what relief, to stand and not sit, to breathe the hillside’s breath and not exhaust, to reach for soft clothes and all my animals.
Fridays are the longest. Up in a lavender dark, too stiff and cold, the hot water and lemon, the whining calico. And going west, to the sea. Past the train tracks where a son goes to his mother’s and where once you watched a hawk land on a pigeon. You stared as the pigeon flailed but turned away before the first terrible bite.
Saturday night: what it is to feel ill in a crowd. To sit in an empty room waiting for it to pass. You are nauseous till it passes. You are sleepy till it passes. You are cold. The cold does not pass.
eldest was born. Bad of eyes tall in the skin. What it was to have bad eyes back then.
Fell asleep. Sister woke you up to say goodbye. She left and you were too sleepy to check the doors. The rats or whatever, upstairs.
The calico looking for the lynx.
La muerte de Ernestina (remember to ask your mom).
9:55 on a platform no trains no (illegible). The machine that screeched along the rails cleaning sounded exactly like a kitchen dragging a village behind it.
(all of the yucatecos) Dtla. Train. Walk to library, then to bar. Drunk on the train platform you make acquaintance w Flora. Flora trying to get to Lancaster, her brother died, she says. Her red flower. White people are so mean she says.
Walk out w calico/the morning still damp.
The mistake of the motorcycle
Feel the feel she said.
The difference between and being
We call the hour bird o clock.
And then the awful day of thanks, attendance taken by your mother. You are here my eldest. Attend.
Around town the firs are showing up, the fibrous boughs and garlands. You watch neighbors leave pine needles on the street. You wear thin cotton and no shoes and you hold a steaming cup on your porch.
The last day of the month/ meet Rachel and name names.