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Transborder Immigrant Tool Series: If a Western Diamondback Bites You, ‘Borders Be Damned’

Posted on Dec 27, 2016

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 11th poem in "The Desert Survival Series/La serie de sobrevivencia del desierto," read in English by Sunhay You and Spanish by Natasha Hakimi Zapata.

(5 MB)


Western Diamondbacks—light to medium brown (liable to reach a length
of two meters)—densely populate North American deserts. Most often
found in brushy washes and shady recesses, in the springtime, they
emerge from hibernation, blooming like flowers. At this, their
venomous peak, they sunbathe, flashing their diamond-shaped patches.
Their prey of choice: mice and kangaroo rats. Diamondbacks hold a
dubious record—the majority of the continent’s snakebite cases.
Listen for their rattle. Look for the shallow circular marks they
leave in locations where they’ve coiled up to sleep. Diamondbacks,
too, are creatures of habit, returning to rest stops. Poisonous
snakes fall into two categories (dependent upon their venom).
Diamondbacks pack a hemotoxic punch, albeit not as concentrated as
that of some snakes. They make up for this supposed lack in their
powerful mode of delivery, injecting large quantities of venom with
single surgical strikes. Hemotoxins flood the bloodstream, destroy
blood cells, damage tissue, catalyze internal hemorrhaging. Yes,
reactions to snakebites vary. But, if you are bit by a
diamondback—especially in March or April—within three minutes the
area around the wound will redden and swell. And, left untreated,
your body will not deviate from a well-rehearsed script: massive
swelling and blistering, a steady lowering of blood pressure,
headache, severe pain, blood in the urine. Do not block circulation
or make incisions to the wound. Do not take painkillers or sedatives.
Do not eat. Remove all clothing and jewelry beneath the area. Remain
motionless; keep the bite below your heart. Ideally, get someone else
to cleanse the wound. And, most importantly—borders be damned—call
9-1-1 or 0-6-6; seek medical attention immediately.

La cascabel diamantada del oeste—color cafe claro a oscuro (capaz de
alcanzar una longitud de dos metros)—puebla densamente los desiertos
de America del Norte. Se le encuentra con mayor frecuencia en los
deslaves de maleza y nichos con sombra, en la primavera, emergen de
la hibernación, brotando como las flores. Ahi, en su pico venenoso,
toman el sol, destellando sus parches adiamantados. Su presa
preferida: los ratones y ratas canguro. La cascabel diamantada tiene
un record dudoso—la mayoría de los casos de mordedura de serpiente
en el continente. Preste atención a su cascabel. Busque las
superficiales marcas circulares que dejan en los lugares donde se han
enrollado a dormir. Las cascabeles también son criaturas de habito,
volviendo a sus lugares de reposo. Las serpientes venenosas se
clasifican en dos categorías (en relación a su veneno). Las
cascabeles diamantadas van cargadas de hemotoxinas, aunque no tan
concentradas como el de algunas serpientes. Compensan esta supuesta
carencia con su potente modo de entrega, inyectando grandes
cantidades de veneno con ataques individuales y quirúrgicos. Las
hemotoxinas inundan el torrente sanguíneo, destruyen las células
sanguíneas, danan tejido, catalizan la hemorragia interna. Si, las
reacciones a las picaduras de víboras varian. Pero, si usted es
mordid@ por una cascabel diamantada—especialmente entre marzo y
abril—en tres minutos el area alrededor de la herida se enrojecerá e
hinchara. Y, si no se trata, su cuerpo no se desviara de un guión
bien ensayado: hinchazón masiva y formación de ampollas, disminución
constante de la presión arterial, dolor de cabeza, dolor severo,
sangre en la orina. No obstruya la circulación o haga incisiones
sobre la herida. No tome analgésicos o sedantes. No coma. Retire la
ropa o joyas debajo del area. Permanezca inmóvil, mantenga la
mordedura debajo del nivel de su corazón. Lo ideal es que consiga que
alguien mas limpie la herida. Y, lo mas importante—malditas
fronteras—llame al 9-1-1 o 0-6-6; busque atención medica

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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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