» Poetry

Two Poems from “open pit”

These poems are from Villarán’s forthcoming collection open pit.


he likes to stare at walls

you were born in davis

in a small inflatable pool

in april


during those first weeks, you would often wake up crying

in the middle of the night. without really knowing how

i would pick you up from the crib and hold you tight against

my chest, until you calmed down, and fell asleep again


i liked staying like this for a while

staring at the darkness

that would become the wall


the world is waiting in line / at target

imagine us in the car a sunny day the windows down


driving to the beach 88.3 driving and all those cars next to us driving

always in movement the highway is always full because the more

lanes we build the more cars are attracted to the smell of concrete

and white arrows painted over seemingly endless black surfaces:


the original infrastructure of future battlefields


imagine thousands of small highways running inside of you


all those cars driving somewhere taking something someone like us

perhaps to the beach with your mother so we would have the cooler

and the tent the umbrellas and the surfboards imagine all those cars

going somewhere taking something driving someone imagine all that

movement all that continuous movement the displacement dislocation

bodies inside metal vehicles on black surfaces running


imagine thousands of small really really small


a huge conveyor belt a network of swollen arteries imagine an open pit

an open wound the skin rupturing imagine your leg imagine your arm


imagine my leg imagine my arm


a big bag of tendons and ligaments necrotic tissue a bundle of nerve

tissue imagine bags of plastic inside your stomach lining your

intestines and climbing up your esophagus through the larynx

the lack of oxygen


imagine these huge pond type structures with plastic geothermal

liners stretching across the mountains dissecting the mountains

becoming the new mountain the only landscape leaching ponds laid

out in endless geometrical patterns


imagine every single muscle every fiber every synapse every neuron

needed for you to type with your right index finger:

n. n. n.
the letter n


imagine thousands of small highways pulsating inside of you


imagine it never stopping


thousands of small highways and the cars and the people and the things

and the places they want to take those things to because that’s what we

do we go places with things and we use metal vehicles that travel on

seemingly endless black surfaces just imagine all of this happening all

the time all the time happening all the time always


this highway


 there’s no outside


this open pit


this wound this rupture this crevice inside body this highway all the time



what i’m trying to say miqel is:


just imagine thousands of small highways always running inside of you


imagine everything that’s needed for this to happen


all the time




now imagine an open pit a large open pit in the middle of a valley

surrounded by fractured mountains


i think that’s how it works


we have that pit


we keep running: faster faster faster


birds die and their stomachs are filled with plastic


whales die and their stomachs are filled with plastic


the united states economy gets a billion-dollar daily shot in its arm


imagine your arm


i’m thinking of mine


we have that pit


and we fill it with these things


we keep running faster always faster


now imagine us at the beach, imagine it being sunny again but not

too hot, imagine the sky punctuated by a few curious clouds, your

mother would be smiling, she’s beautiful when she smiles


it’s still happening


i don’t know what it is


i’m not sure what to do about it either


but i know it’s happening, all the time, always, relentless


we have that pit, it’s open, really open


and things are exploding and people are breaking and burning and dying


and we’re distracted


because we love the sand

the salt in the water

the cool air


Jose Antonio Villarán

Jose Antonio Villarán is the author of la distancia es siempre la misma (Matalamanga, 2006) and el cerrajero / the locksmith (Album del Universo Bakterial, 2012). In 2008 he created the AMLT project (http://amlt-elcomienzo.blogspot.com), an exploration of hypertext literature and collective authorship; the project was sponsored by Puma from 2011-2014. In 2018 he published an English translation of Omar Pimienta's Album of Fences (Cardboard House Press). His third book, titled open pit, is forthcoming from AUB in 2019. His work has appeared in MAKE, Tripwire, Jupiter 88, Entropy, Hostos Review, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA in Writing from the University of California-San Diego and is currently a PhD candidate in Literature at the University of California-Santa Cruz.