Frank Menchaca



Kings 1:19, 11-12

And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.


The voice of god pixelates and dissolves

In money transfers


1s and 0s hum and howl

Figures from the ground compile


The mouth of god swallows a six year-old


The face of god stalks you from billboards

It peers through the eyes of models

It conspires during vacation

Reflecting windows reflect cockpit windows


Wrists, plasti-cuffed, half

Lidded by a leaf of copier paper


Is the eye of god


The judgements of god are written in chalk


Immanent as magma

With no memory of steel


The face of god duplicates in the branching cracks of mirrors

It was shattered in the accident


And in each cell-shaped fragment is another face


See how they observe each other: gliding, twirling, passing in and out of one another’s pieces

Without touching, just staring




“Along wide…”


Along wide, windy avenues of the capitol

We're swept, ushered past guards

And into the museum showroom


Behind glass the first flag is stretched

On tracks a conservator’s cart passes

Sector to sector, square to square, tweezing fibers up


Cleaning and repairing. But the spiral

Strands have disengaged, and the code of their structure

translated to dust. So a layer of tissue


Is draped on cloth. And soon it rests entirely

Under paper, a present wrapped, dispatched from view

To archives, retreating into history


It was a sweaty June and the cocktails

Had just taken effect and our damp

Faces, clustered, glowed in display glass


Like a dim constellation. We turned and a guard,

A single wire coiled in his collar, pressed

An earpiece with the pad of his finger and


Complied, pledging to check the disturbance

Captured on surveillance camera

In another part of the museum:


Vaseline-white florescent light

The smudge of a body shifting, flipbook-style

On screen and sounding no beep a red light glared and gave proof




The Secret City


The citizens speak only in recordings


The skyline is of cell phones

And stories of dazzling digits climb

To blinking messages for aircraft overhead….


In its libraries history ripples down workstation screens

You can read it reflected in the polished marble floors

The letters float over swirls and loops of caramel veins


For a moment near dawn time reverses

Families begin to touch each other in desktop photographs

Children wander from the frame

You see a gray field and a leg


But once the system has been backed up

Martial law resumes:

A dust cloud rolls through the streets

At the top of a flagpole a rope is clanging


Soon accounts are filling, shares change hands

And transaction logs archive on terminals

Left to right like an antic figure fleeing down a flight

Of stairs continually flattening then duplicating


So the bottom is never reached

And margins are achieved not by greed but by devotion


High up in its offices raindrops cling to the window like fingertips




Antic Figure


Someone tugs a lever and the stairs he’s fleeing on with flamenco-style steps collapse.

The camera looks backs as he coils (they’re a spiral) arms a few inches too

Short to touch his toes, close the lines of right triangles as his legs spread, tip up, and he twists down

Into the scene; only when he’s landed can first does it become simultaneous

Pacing him as he sprints through a succession of scenes painted on a façade.


Number one is a bedroom and a girl with a polka dot dress is singing in a microphone,

Mesh-covered, the shape of a pill. She wears what appears to be a hankie pinned to her hair,

Though it’s really a hat. “I feeeeel sooo goood,” she squeaks, almost Betty Boop style and

Before we’ve had a chance to nail the time and place our hero’s in the next room, hurling himself

Into a cardboard crib, baby-bonnet like a halved daisy clamped to his head, thumb in mouth.


Clearly it’s his infancy and the woman leaning over him thrusts out her hands and howls

(inaudibly) at the misbegotten man-baby who’s replaced her darling. The swiftness of her viciousness

Surprises us: not only does she produce a dagger one instant but it only takes her one more

To thrust it air-ward and strike with maximum force the chest of the infant imposter. No sooner

Does she than he’s out and on his feet and scrambling into the next life in the world’s longest-ever railroad apartment.


From the nursery to surveillance: the mouthpiece of a headset curves around his cheek,

(the visual transition point from the thumb) and his eyebrows arch as they lob suspicion

to one another. There’s a door facing him and we see him creep up and lay a cheek on

As if it were a pillow and he’s one going off to sleep. His eyes flutter shut and he eases an ear

On with his fingertips touching lightly. He smiles. He’s eavesdropping on a pleasant (or stimulating) conversation.


But the scene’s turned. How he’s gotten here so quickly is a mystery, and disrobed to boot,

All but for a coarse loin cloth, standing with legs spread, arms out. We see no cuffs and chains

But the posture intimates them enough. This one is torch-lit and there’s a narrow river

Winding though the concrete floor separating the captive (him) from two women clearly grieving:

His mother? His wife? It’s already too late and there is no one to plead with; they simply weep.


Like a spring, the staircase has propelled him into what seems to be the heart of chance

With all of its shifting scenes: less a mechanism, more a collection of elements into which

One has introduced a powerful magnetic force that pulls some together while

dispersing others. Its funny, scary and impossible to learn from; just then the camera pulls ahead and

He’s in the implied past now, still suffering while from this vantage we see the rooms


Run out and the façade go blank. But not yet. There’s another to pass through and he enters this one with a dive,

Still wearing the loin cloth; brown buttocks raise to the camera, and over he goes.

There’s wreckage. And fire. Copper stems blossom from cables dangling like sliced vines.

Elevators aren’t working; so he makes for the stairs and can’t see for the smoke.

There’s fresh air rattling the slats of the blinds and he goes for it.



Now memories abandon him, like citizens from a blacked-out city filing through the streets,

He is cut off from futurity and we’re forced to watch his face as he comes running up the aisle

Toward the open window and, stopping short, arms pinwheeling him back in the other direction,

Realizes it. His voice, his words, the avatars of his mind, his being are available us now only as recordings.

For next is the beginning of free fall, air stripping clothes from his body, and the unintended comedy of his glasses still on.