for seven days
we left him 


on the lawn
near a flower 


no english 
in his spine


just asleep 
like jesus 


he is a cloud
admit it

Who Makes Love to Us After We Die

I turn on the radio and hear horses, girls becoming women after tragedy. Talk about dreams! His heart was covered in a thin shell the color of the moon, and when touched, I’d grow old. The best movies have a philosophy, Dorothy, after being subjected to witch-on-girl violence, is rescued. Someone hung himself on that set, a man, who loved, but couldn’t have a certain woman. Management said it was a bird. The best movies begin with an encounter and end with someone setting someone free. In Coppola’s version of Dracula my favorite scene is when the camera chases two women through a garden and watches them kiss. I made love to a man who asked, after many years, for me to choke him, so that later, cleaning a kitchen cabinet, I read a recipe he’d written into wood, and I had a hard time believing him.

Bridge Called Water

I wrote hard
on paper

at the bottom
of a pool

near a canyon
where the stars

slid onto their bellies
like fish

I wrote:



I went through
the mountain

through the leaves
of La Puente

to see the moon
but it was too late

too long ago
to walk on glass.



Near those years
when the house fell on me

my father told me
draw mom

in bed with
another man—



From a plum tree

the sound of branches
fall like fruit

I’m older
no longer afraid

my voice like water
pulled from the well

where the wind had been buried
where someone was always

running into my room
asking, what’s wrong?

Related Poems

Villanelle

for father and son

Jesús José Medrano went away
no more motel rooms to clean
he asked my dad to take his place

when Dad cried and looked the other way
the mortician closed the coffin on the body
Jesús José Medrano went away

He wore his best gray suit that day
hovered slowly above the family
he asked my dad to take his place

My father marched the casket to the grave
the relatives cried in the out-loud dream
Jesús José Medrano went away

My grandfather, farmworker among grapes,
measured a man tying vines in his teens
he asked my dad to take his place

Como un hombre, he would say
my father’s tears never seen
Jesús José Medrano went away
he asked my dad to take his place

Protection

We were refugees against the usual things. I scattered baby teeth around the perimeter. Things like bruschetta confused me. I picked up rastering body parts and I blew them out like bubbles, like store signs. I existed in the ear canals of the stacked cities. Many bells sounding at the same time opened up to Americans standing on scales. Holding their skin in calipers. I loved Jesus so much. I rubbed and rubbed until my bracelets fell off of me.

The Only Mexican

The only Mexican that ever was Mexican, fought in the revolution
and drank nightly, and like all machos, crawled into work crudo,

letting his breath twirl, then clap and sing before sandpaper
juiced the metal. The only Mexican to never sit in a Catholic pew

was born on Halloween, and ate his lunch wrapped in foil against
the fence with the other Mexicans. They fixed old Fords where my

grandfather worked for years, him and the welder Juan wagered
each year on who would return first to the Yucatan. Neither did.

When my aunts leave, my dad paces the living room and then rests,
like a jaguar who once drank rain off the leaves of Cecropia trees,

but now caged, bends his paw on a speaker to watch crowds pass.
He asks me to watch grandpa, which means, for the day; in town

for two weeks, I have tried my best to avoid this. Many times he will swear,
and many times grandpa will ask to get in and out of bed, want a sweater,

he will ask the time, he will use the toilet, frequently ask for beer,
about dinner, when the Padres play, por que no novelas, about bed.

He will ask about his house, grandma, to sit outside, he will question
while answering, he will smirk, he will invent languages while tucked in bed.

He will bump the table, tap the couch, he will lose his slipper, wedging it in
the wheel of his chair, like a small child trapped in a well, everyone will care.

He will cry without tears—a broken carburetor of sobs. When I speak
Spanish, he shakes his head, and reminds me, he is the only Mexican.