Honora Spicer

Architectures of Disappearance

A poetics of proximity

Dumpster outside El Paso ICE Detention Center on Mattox Street.
Dumpster outside El Paso ICE Detention Center on Mattox Street.

In the scorched lot, the feral cat cuts through snake grass and candles of sotol toward the Buffalo Soldier gate to Fort Bliss. The corner’s barbed limit abuts Cherbourg Avenue and Sioux Drive, two opposite crosswalks across Airport Road, two cardinal directions of colonial settlement. Boeing Drive commences east from the military reservation gate, tracking down a settled tract: United States Postal Service, NASA, T-intersecting its opposite end like a spike into the sandlot buffering the El Paso Service Processing Center, ICE detention. Boeing Drive is the suspension bridge hung between Fort Bliss and immigration detention, a hammock over dune hummocks, making illusion of sky’s aloof float. What does it mean for this avenue to be one line between military fort and migrant detention? For Atlantic Aviation offices, subcontractors of ICE for deportation flights, to be located off Boeing adjacent to the NASA shuttle take-off? How to make sense of one fence away?

What is poetic research? What formal practices make adequate response to empire’s calculated proximities and tactical gaps? These research notes emerged from one month of archival and ambulatory investigations in El Paso, TX, in November to December 2021.

'Attention is the most important thing we can give to one another'

In conversation with JD Pluecker

A sonic sculpture looking into the trumpet bell-end of a metal-cast hand in firs
Photo Credit: JD Pluecker, featuring a sonic sculpture by Elana Mann.

This Commentary was written through collaboration with Mellon Humanities Collaborative fellows Rebekah Patnode and Tatiana Rodriguez about our conversation with JD Pluecker on October 26, 2021. This Commentary follows Reading JD Pluecker’s ‘Swamps Fly.

Reading JD Pluecker's 'Swamps Fly'

A sonic sculpture of a bronze-cast hand with a trumpet-bell arm cups woodchips
Photo Credit: JD Pluecker, featuring a sonic sculpture by Elana Mann.

JD Plueckers Swamps Fly is a work of “halloing the wasteland” — greeting anew, pursuing in shouts, seeing/seeping pervasively amid the moor. Against the hollowing of draining, swamp is met as the listless and listened steadfast space.

Swamps Fly was published in Spring 2021, and it zapped onto my radar as I was steeped in investigations of Narragansett territory occupied by the early colonial settlers of my own family. Behind my grandmothers house was a patch of woods, now bisected by train tracks and rail yards. Biking down a road called Liberty Lane, passing lumber yards and shooting ranges, I came to Great Swamp Monument Road. At the first house, a sign: Drive as though your kids live here. Whose kids? Whose your? I wondered.

Reading 'Los muros no son para siempre'/'Walls are not forever'

A collaboration of Maire Reyes, Nayeli Hernández, Iris Díaz, Ana Iram, Paloma Galavíz, Olga Guerra, Marcia Santos and Alejandra Aragón

Visual poem entitled 'Casa' by Paloma Galavíz on right, imagery of wall rubble a
Visual poem entitled 'Casa' by Paloma Galavíz on right, imagery of wall rubble and writing by Iris Díaz on left

The zine opens to a map of dotted lines: barbs on a wire, punctured lines symbol of trails, punctuation of walking routes. The lines trace a walk taken on October 13, 2019, by border artists Maire Reyes, Nayeli Hernández, Iris Díaz, Ana Iram, Paloma Galavíz, Olga Guerra, Marcia Santos, and Alejandra Aragón. The walk traverses between the artists homes through Ciudad Juárez, on the border of El Paso, TX, concluding that the entire city and its dynamics of exploitation and precariousness is a barrier of containment.

Reading Yousif M. Qasmiyeh's 'Writing the Camp'

Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, 'Writing the Camp' (Talgarreg, Wales: Broken Sleep Books, 2021).

The tender, raw poetic investigations in Yousif M. Qasmiyeh’s recent Writing the Camp (Broken Sleep Books, 2021) conceptualize a theory of the refugee camp as archive, taking as local frame Baddawi Camp in North Lebanon, where Qasmiyeh grew up.