Thursday, December 24, 2009

Balloons and Boulders

What is crime, I ask.
What is punishable if unavoidable, you go.

Say the man is twenty-nine
or twenty-five, but looks moth-eaten,
cheeks as sawtoothed as cliffs.

Say he is six foot two.
Say he is car-less and comfortless
(and that explains his females, 
the appetites).
Say his arms have gone black,
intricate twists and helixes where 
needles have pricked and poked him.
Say his eyes are starved.
Say his eyes are illiterate,  his lungs rash.

From a window, I watch.
From a window, I count.
Seven cars in one afternoon.
A stream of them:  coming!  coming!

There are loud women who knock handsomely,
and men, groomed, silent as spiders, 
weaving caliche into stunning lace, 
their urges clutched to navels as another 
would wield cash.  This is the envelope of unloading: 
Allotments and the burden of a balloon 
as hulking as boulders.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I’m seven.   
Barefoot, my mother runs after Raul’s Ford.
Don’t leave me, babe!  
Don’t leave me!

At 33, she calls.  
Frantic.  Dying sounds
conveyed via cellphone.
She ran over my cat.
In the street, the cat is convulsing.
If I’m crying, perhaps he won’t
yell at me, she thinks.
I’m sure of it.
It’s worked with other men.
At 33, I leave my dinner
and lock myself in a room.

I’m twenty-one.  
Puke stains the tops of my feet.
I didn’t quite make it to the sink.
Don’t die on me, mijo.
Why are you gonna die on me!?
Haphazardly, I wipe the yellow
mush, enough of it, not to track
it to the bath.
At 3 a.m., I’ve parked crookedly.  
In the street, I am barefoot.
Enough tequila in me to set
her voice ablaze.

I’m five.
My father fights with my mother and 
leaves with my uncle.
Move, move! she insists.
I’m pushed aside.   Having
just waved goodbye to them, my hand
goes through the rip in the grey screen.
Why don’t you just fuck him, too!
She yells, and the neighbors duck their
heads out trailer doors and 
manufactured screenless windows.
His truck speeds off, and she’s left
huffing the dust.
Such heaps of asphalt to rub away.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sweeping after Having Remembered Mi Abuela 

At the sink, the talavera
has clanked, broken water, and
chipped so that I must hide it, while 
noiselessly, you sit,
paint splat across an elbow, the
10 o’clock news rattling on and on
about armed robbery and wrecks-- 
the pit bull curled like a
rattlesnake at your boot.  

There was a time when
we were in Mexico, and I’d packed
our plates and the bowls I 
promised to purchase each trip we
made;  when we moved to
this house I never wanted,
these plates stayed put away,
same newsprint wrapping, 
same cardboard box, 
same thing that happened, 
I sometimes fear, 
to the knuckles we once called my heart.

In the bed, you sleep.  The dogs
snore and sigh.  A pillow
covering your face from the 
whisk of the broom I run over the
hickory floors you laid last winter.  
Te vas a casar con una viuda.  
You will marry a widow, I recall my Indian
abuela stutter as she pushed
a bundle of yellow straw 
over my unprotected feet 
when she would come to the States
to visit us and get money
for those of us who stayed behind.
Ironically, it is you who married
the widower.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chorizo and Clouds

This morning’s chorizo blackens, 
and these eyelids haven’t even slid open
enough to admonish the date--

In the shower, the milk has soured.
The soap hardens in the cold.
December isn’t too far off.
Fantastically, the steam lifts me 
to a world of clouds, 
wisps and tatters and heavenly shit, 
and I climax enthusiastically with images 
of you and a younger version of me 
trekking among these clouds, 
away from these splintery walls 
with holes pushed through, 
this hole in the unfinished floor that once 
nearly swallowed me and two dogs whole.  

At your seat, I’ve arranged a plate.  
Orange, now, from the egg.
The corn already has mixed itself in
crisply.  A long time ago, you would have
kissed me and smiled that half-curl of the mouth
you’re known for, then, 
put your hands up underneath the peel 
of my shirt to feel my heart 
before you ate.  I would have breathed 
confessional paragraphs into your neck.  
Yes, that was a long-ass  time ago, 
you’d likely say.  

Friday, November 13, 2009

Birds and Buicks

and there’s this road,
birds on it
blocking bikes and buicks

birds gouging pits
in asphalt, pits like sockets
like craters

like searching worms out
of rock;  and there’s
this homeboy

I used to go to
when my own sick birds
dig into those

things I’ve offered 
other vatos only to 
have them dismissed;

things like a ride
from county one 
night after a warrant got

served after a fight
after throwing my
ass outta my own house

onto concrete and steps
and that terrible scratch
etched into the back

where I slid into a nail
that burst right outta the floor;
there’s this road

where a cruise 
is the next best thing for
a vato with too much alone

time, too much attachment
to what was his in the past;
this road where a bird preys
upon a dead thing left between
F150s, sun, and traffic cones.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back When I Was a Chavalon, Fair Ave.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

for J.

And in the afternoon, the hardness 
ascends from thighs.  And this is a time 
for telling what’s here amongst us four.
Within the growing and these ventricles that 
Surrender their girths to throats and tendencies--

I hold his cap to my mouth,
And my chin winces. 
Eyes wish this would last—this 
Don’t go.  Don’t go.  Repeating itself
Beneath the root of the tongue 
as if the syllables
Alone could manufacture time.

This is it, then:  the bone’s prayer.
Lungs, lungs.  
My face has his scent.  
Into a Fold 

Of dick skin, I pressed a murmur and 
imagined a big pearl.
Alive and warm in my hand
And then into the passage of throat. 
Gloating, it swam.

A December passed over me like jetsam and rockets.  
Armada of nimbus and space ships, 
they came and lifted my big pearl.

Pearl of all the ocean.
Pearl of the Gulf and the Nueces and 
the arroyo just east of the Courts where I come
to remember things.  

His ear wasn’t there but he could hear me.
From my toes that grabbed at planks of flooring--
vibrations, an echo, a shoe marooned at the 
far end of the room.  

Sitting on his belly, I rock.  
I, too, can give pearls,
Which I do:  a messy string of them encased in 
Chest hair and cachete.  

I pant.  I squat.  I feign I would 
Not miss the man or my pearl.
A melody.  I dug for one that I could hum or 
tap or suck on and that would occupy me 

For the night.  Toothless giggle.  
Stare at the tangle of pearls in my palm.  
Smug ruthless crinkle of it:  
inhabitable, drying.  


We creep up softly to the monte obscured by
Flores Street and freeways.

Urban comets whiz above.  Taillights 
and the spectacle of a Tower watching out 

for us.  

I could change shit for you.

Stay.  Dig the meaty parts of your calves 
Into my shoulder blades.  Sigh.  

Press your feet into my throat.  I could make
Ovals in the sod.  Endlessly.  Irrevocable

impressions, tattoos and toes.

I could make it so that you’re the only one.
Could conjure an arroyo to make mud that

will mask our tire troughs and raise the
earth-scent.  The 10 has torn hapless gaps 

into this photograph: 

atop my bike, this colchón and my
Southside longing.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saliva to Thread, Sternum, and Scalp

an escapulario has snapped;
kneeling, fingers fumble, 
nimbly wishing to
fuse the broken thread

traffic lights do not wait;
midday, a sedulous task:  
a tallboy and lotto;
PikNik doors swing shut and 
open in unwitting applause; 
shuffling feet miss

I could offer the young vato
what I have around my

he will soon find saliva
will not fuse
a broken escapulario.

I could offer homeboy
a hand, the repose of a 
vato’s shoulder,

words of advisement 
(trucha, homito.   looking at me
like that, you already know
the bulk of what there is to know).

I could offer
my scalp, stubble, salt, and 
pressed to
the slick section of his neck 
where he will dream
of others after me 

(the permanence of ink si vale),

could offer
the sternum, where he
has never felt a vato’s lips form
crisp ovals, has never felt
that crushing weight of a vato’s 
goatee inching up your spine that
first time, where 
the prick of his name enjoining
the wall of your cora is a
new thing;

could show him my own
shit, those losses and aguantos
where another’s
letters dangle atop cora flesh
and rib;

(be down.  know how to not fuck a good thing up, 
yet, know when to say fuck it and leave
that shit behind)

and then,
my own saliva 
might accept 
his own scraped scalp;  

Clown, I will learn they call him.
he will tell me it all,
and intently, I will listen; 

(can’t ever say nobody ever gave you a chance)

glistening brown, scarred, 
his scalp touching
my thigh or the flat of my belly,
a twist of the mouth 

sets that space inside him
where the
thread has broken 

what’s your pit’s name? he says.

Cucuy, I say.  

parking lot has emptied, a place
as vacant as my bed.

works best if you just put it on,
make a knot.

(some things, pa, can never be fixed)

I spit.  crack my neck, go slow.