Saturday, March 20, 2010

How I Came to Be Down
There is an altar standing in a hallway.
It’s him.  Surrounded by Virgencitas and velas.
At dinner, Big Sleepy was kind and spoke
of a book we both had read.  A book I knew 
from school.  Farmworkers and pesticides 
and peaches, laying together on floorboards, 
two bodies “clasped together like hands in prayer,”
and the papeles guarded by the glovebox.
Perplexed, his camarada, a vato whom 
he’s known for almost as long as I’ve been alive, 
allows his brows to reveal his consternation.
That night was the first time I’d eaten parrillada.
It was the first time I’d worn a suit.
The first time I’d been to Olvera Street.
Never mind 3 a.m.
Never mind the boulders and the train.
In the hallway, I will later learn it was 
Patricio peering up at me:  Was I down enough?
Did I know what I was getting into?
Did I know how badly all of this could end?
But it’s what transpires on the bed that
spares me.  Each piece of his drapes
has been lain out, the pants flat and neatly
tucked, the tie and estirantes doubled over
as if from exhaustion, the vest and chain
and saco ready to go home.
At the edge of the bed, he sits in boxers and
tall socks and a white shirt and the discourse
of so many tattoos trying to make themselves
heard.  A plastic cleaner’s bag crinkles,
because he has removed his shoes and, after
wiping the black down with a cloth, has placed them
in their box.  Here, let me help you, he goes.
Already, he has gathered my coat when he reaches
to unsnap these estirantes I clutch like trucha 
about my pecho.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Monte Carlo
for a Torcido

Outside a Southside cantina, and I, though
furious, am huffing, as I’ve run six bold blocks,
gold spackled in a patina across
jaw and tooth and septum, am five, again,
and curious, again, and it’s the torcido alone
at the far end of the bar with the
marvelous bigote and the Jesucristo tattoos 
and the black Monte Carlo of my boyhood, 
breathing heavily from a chrome pipe, 
all the while glints of 2x4s and giants
and the slickness of my scalp seen in those 
side panel doors, and I’ve peeked in that door
before (cousin Ernesto putting his dick shaft 
into the rim of a Gatorade bottle, father 
on top of a woman who wasn’t my mother, 
a silver chain belonging to a lover’s trick 
left at my sink) to see things I shouldn’t look at after
having bolted out my Fair Avenue canton
hurdling six city blocks, thinking only of that torcido
the veins of his forearms and his thorns, 
and huffing old tinta like a maniaco out of the bote.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


In my closet, they hung like spirits.  
Six of them.  
I remember the black one and the blue one, because those he wore most.  
I remember the brown one because it matched his favorite tapa, and the beige one, because I have a photo of us after church, leaning in on the hood of a green ranfla, and he’s wearing it.
In that foto, I’m holding a Superman monito, and the jonque behind us is gnarled metal, a jungle of dead shit.  
And the white one, I recall, only because it’s the one my Tia Reynita gave to me when he died, and my moms (and me, virtue of my blood) wasn’t invited to his burial.