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.