New Years underneath the Tower of Las Americas
Softly, in the dusk, a cholo is whispering to me;
Taking me back to the formica table of a prima’s tamalada,
where corn husks gather expectantly in the hard waters of
blue speckled tin, poised for smears of masa.
Dutifully, corn skins part themselves for the girth of warm pork
pinched in rows and mounds.
A window reveals condensation and palm fronds,
which quiver and quake, unaccustomed and yet, determined
to tolerate an Arctic wind inordinately thrust onto our streets.
A cholo whispering in the hours before the year unwinds itself,
the cold on us like a barrage of ants at my toes. Taking me back to when
the air was cold, and I stared at homeboy’s shoes
as he put the red of his lips to mine as the two of us huddled
in the dirt of the back yard as we threw out his tia’s trash.
A kiss that exploded in the form of clouds and candy canes and
the scent of new promesas. Later, keys jangling in tow,
I stared at his shoes again and at those of his Tio Juan,
a man as old as my own father whom I never knew,
a man thick with years and jokes and who torched metals.
Forged, joined, sewed the alloys violently into seams
and joints and unsightly buttons.
The moon belongs to us, the welder said of his wife, who nodded
at this sweet thing produced by his mouth, and folded
the corn husks, packing them tightly into a deep pot.
The New Years is a night of lovers.
Antes, we used to drive the loop and see what the city offered--
The most beautiful night in the history of the world. The tio toasted
generously to our health and finances and to love and to the Spurs.
As vibrantly as a skyline of sparks, the Spanish fluttered off his jaw.
Strangely, I thought of my own father.
This cholo whispering as we cruised the 10 to the 90 to 281 to the 35
alongside Brenton Wood and this vato’s homeboy and his heino, who’d
spent a year apart from his cora while he got sent away to the TYC.
Four of us agreeing with his Tio Juan on the blueblack beauty
of our city at night. Great and simple beginnings came upon us that year.
The appassionato of a midnight cruise thrown in a 1985 Regal.
Southside streets impassable because of smoke and explosions.
Rooftops and the black, naked limbs of oaks and
the hard grey lines and loops of all these freeways and
my heart as tall as the Tower of las Americas--
the skyline glimmering beneath the tonnage of so many man-made stars,
the sounds of so many cuetes, and a Fair Avenue apartment where the four
of us pledged love atop mattresses and other necessary things
amid the cold.