Sunday, January 31, 2010

Full Immersion Baptism (in Brake Dust)
Los Angeles, 1996
In the pocket between a woman and her gallo, I was born.
Under a bridge.
Under a hard moon (alone, a fat white coin
not shining enough in a sky outshone by a city
and its crazies, its crooks, its
Concrete and intestines of rie bar), and above
these sleek and bulky buildings, 
above these urban arteries bulging 
of asphalt and exhaust,
the air glimmers inorganically and 
has grown black as crow feathers.
My baptism, then.  
Atop a rooftop, around a grip of dendrites 
that snap and click (magically, synaptically) 
inside a skull vividly recollecting his scalp 
pressed watchfully, obligingly, to mine 
on colchones that smelled of Eternity and Chicanismo
(one floor below the roof--the apartment
with the altar to la Virgen honoring Patricio 
and the Daytons stacked high like coins (in the bedroom)), 
the city has risen up.  
Atop a rooftop one night in August, 
where Cyndi Lauper crooning 
for those of East Hollywood who’d open their ears
is too much to bear: 
“You with the sad eyes/ don’t be discouraged...”
My baptism, then.  
At the moment two cars collide.
At the moment he surrenders.  
At the moment the cuffs strike wrist bone and ulna:
A high-speed chase where
I lost someone (lost for good, for
crimes, for carga, for my
epiphany (what I’ll call that 
crestfallen hour I sat speechless on the
empty sofa while tv cameras
and newscasters and ghetto birds
announced a man’s flaws to the viewing world) 
to come to me like a giant bird plunging earthward off 
the oddly perpendicular perch 
from where he’s despised me; 
(never got to deliver mi despedida,
or say my last goodbye, sit atop a rooftop with 
a vato and swoon to Cyndi Lauper again).
In the pocket between a man and his Regal, I was born.
Under a tower.  
Under a big white sun and the Hollywood sign.
Under heavy lights and an observatory.
Under eleven hundred stars (uneven, unruly even for 
the most disheveled of constellations
attempting futilely to pull themselves together 
amid the weight of an entire freeway 
and its wet iridescence (a recollection of his scalp
and his shine and that skin up around the canthus 
of his eyes in a rainstorm as he smiles, and we push
to catch the last bus out of Hawthorne.     
Despite the time, the silver velour beneath us
is his backseat, which tenderly composes itself,
assembling in the form of arms and lungs and 
other things that bring people together, 
hold them there, keep us from coming 
unyoked, unaligned)).
In the pocket between a man and his Regal,
a woman and her gallo, I was born.
Under a bridge.
Under a hard moon.
Under a big white sun and the Hollywood sign.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Tied, this man I know
had his belly pressed to asphalt
and had his wrists, thin and bony, 
tethered atop his spine
(ankles there, too)--
traps and black tar and thighs
override a 9:30 sky:  
while hosed over him: orange,
orange, the iridescent orange,
marvelous orange, which those
of us birthed in barrios and on calles know 
(so pretty, if he was not so forcibly bound
and spitting up sludge over lips 
and chin).

“Why??  Why??”
Another part of his heart arrives.
I never knew the young vato’s name,
yet, his namesake was known.  They called
him Speedy, and he lived someplace down
the road, and surely, this one called
Speedy must have known
what his old man was up to.
Must have been able to figure
it out.  “What the fu...!?!?”
His young vato’s voice, a harpoon.

And then, the youngster gets balls
and thinks he’ll rush to where
the chotas have his old man pinned;
“Get back!  Get back!”
A scuffle.  Turmoil.  
I remember the way my own cora
put a fist on me that was soon a grip
above the crux of elbow and hindsight 
on which I’d soon, like that youngster, 
rest the brunt of all my questions and all
my kites.

On the ground, skin glimmers.
Face busted up and sausage-like,
not palpable, not meaningful.
“This ain’t our shit,” my own old
man goes.  We climb our stairs.  
Inside, we can hear the shouts.  
When the shots come, I don’t even watch
from the flimsy bed sheet
draped grandly to the tall window 
of our Lorena Street canton.  
In the morning, I watch an anciana
hose the place on the concrete
where Speedy’s vato gave up his blood.

And This, After I'd Hit Him up for Some Carino (2009)