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Transborder Immigrant Tool Series: If Tarantulas 'Cross Your Path' in the Desert, Live and Let Live

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Wikimedia Commons

The Transborder Immigrant Tool is a GPS cellphone safety-net tool for crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. It was developed by Electronic Disturbance Theater/b.a.n.g. lab in 2007 by artists Micha Cárdenas, Amy Sara Carroll, Ricardo Dominguez, Elle Mehrmand and Brett Stalbaum, in conjunction with CALIT2/Visual Arts Department/University of California, San Diego/Program in American Culture, Latina/o Studies/English Department/University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Poet Amy Sara Carroll wrote a series of 24 poems titled “The Desert Survival Series / La serie de sobrevivencia del desierto,” which were uploaded onto cellphones equipped with simple compasses and interfaces. Each poem is a form of lyrical advice that provides readers and listeners with tools for every hour of a day spent in the pernicious borderlands between the U.S. and Mexico. Truthdig is publishing these poems in Spanish and English in our Poetry section, accompanied by bilingual audio recordings. To read the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth poems in the series, click on the hyperlinks. For more information on the project, watch the video presentation below.

The tenth poem in “The Desert Survival Series/La serie de sobrevivencia del desierto,” read in English by Amy Sara Carroll and Spanish by Francheska Alers-Rojas.


Female tarantulas line their burrows with silk. Enterprising, they
swing their elaborately webbed entrances open at night to spring on
guileless insects nearby. Although some South Texans contend that
nocturnal mass exoduses of tarantulas are the dead rising from their
graves; in fact, male tarantulas, mildly venomous, routinely venture
forth at dusk. If they cross your path, live and let live. Otherwise,
these book-lunged arachnids will bite or flick you off, blowing hairs
from their bellies into the air. Like slivers, their missives will
enter your skin, provoking gradations of irritation (itching,
swelling, raised reddish bumps). Worse yet, if their hairs float like
spores into your eyes, expect a reaction comparable to that induced
by pepper spray or tear gas. It will pass, but consider, in Italy,
many once believed that the only cure for a tarantula’s bite or
shedding was the dance now known as the tarantella.

Las tarantulas hembras envuelven sus madrigueras con seda.
Emprendedoras, explayan sus elaboradamente tejidas entradas por la
noche para atrapar a los inocentes insectos cercanos. Aunque algunos
tejanos del sur sostienen que el masivo éxodo nocturno de las
tarantulas son los muertos que salen de sus tumbas; de hecho, las
tarantulas macho, ligeramente venenosas, rutinariamente se aventuran
durante el ocaso. Si cruzan su camino, viva y deje vivir. De lo
contrario, estos arácnidos con pulmones laminares le morderán o
chasquearan, soplando los pelos de sus panzas al aire. Como las
astillas, sus misivas entraran en su piel, provocando gradaciones de
irritación (picor, hinchamiento, topetones rojizos levantados). Peor
aun, si sus pelos flotan como esporas a sus ojos, espere una
irritación similar a la inducida por el spray de pimienta o el gas
lacrimógeno. Pasara; pero, considere que en Italia muchos creyeron
una vez que la única cura para una mordedura o el vertimiento de la
tarantula era la danza ahora conocida como la tarantela.

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Truthdig will publish poems that offer insight into current events and sociopolitical themes relevant to today’s world. From entries across the nation, Truthdig staff will select poems based on both their artistic qualities as well as the social issues they discuss. To read our guidelines and submit a poem for our consideration, click here.

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