Listen:

resident never real or simulated

and the crossers see that you’re not real or simulated

and they’re not sure if they are

a mural of rural crossers

you simulate what a person with papers would say
would act like so that you can cross over
your accent is hard to understand
you have trouble saying your name and you say it anyway
customs are suspicious because you can’t say your name

so they take you in and make you paint murals of crossers at the border

the murals warn crossers of what might be waiting for them

the unswerving future

an 8-bit desert

all day you paint in the border simulator

portraits of crossers and their portrait is their face covered by a phone

you paint murals of crossers going into the simulation

their faces also covered by their phones but you can see their eyes and they’re scared of crossing

you ask them to pretend there is water    they can only pretend there is water

so long

after your service to the simulator you practice traversing your words
or the simulation traverses you            this simulation isn’t a question of fake
or reality but a performance of saying your name

if the simulation survives you also survive and you keep it alive by crossing
the simulation exists because you cross into it and you love the threshold

when you speak of the border simulator you’re really speaking about blank

how dollar sign can open up a whole new world of crossing
you go to the front of the line customs ask you less questions
in simulation you can pay off la policia
it’s harder to do that in reality
but it’s not the result you want
and the simulation is a results based game

when you speak of the border simulator you’re really speaking about X
where the two worlds meet

Source image © Tomas Castelazo / Wikimedia Commons.

Gabriel Dozal

Gabriel Dozal is from El Paso, Texas. He is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Arizona. He writes about the borderlands and has work forthcoming in The Literary Review.