The Tejano Considers Seeds

To flower from seeds,
to make roots from water
means there’s a tending

or soft beginning like tenderness.
Delicate young germination

from soil. My baby. My soil as a noun.
A piece of ground from the Old French for sol.
A native lightness. The sol rises in Texas too.

Rising like a verb, there’s no stillness
to the threshold—another word for the bottom of a door,
meaning there’s a sill soiled. A sill or cut timber. Laid
& crossed over. To soil a verb meaning

there is original sin, meaning before dirt
there was cleanliness. No entry, no violation

of God. A mess of seeds that needs
water. Give us a mess of thick mud. 

            Que chiquero.             Standing still like a cleansing
after a gentle roll-around. Wallowing in a field

como un puerco. Madrugando            con hambre—
I am your shepherd. I am ready for battle

with the pastured sky
you fought so hard against

their beanstalks growing upside down, reaching for hell.

Related Poems

Un Mango Grows in Kansas

You have found me
hidden in a wheat field
within a husk of corn
growing for you

I am ready
pick me

Hold me in your hands
remove my skin
peel away my color
find that I am tender
soft and sweet

Eat of me
until there is nothing
and your mouths are empty
and your bellies filled

What is left
will live
as seed 
to grow 
and less bitter

Etymological Dirge

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear.


Calm comes from burning.
Tall comes from fast.
Comely doesn’t come from come.
Person comes from mask.

The kin of charity is whore,
the root of charity is dear.
Incentive has its source in song
and winning in the sufferer.

Afford yourself what you can carry out.
A coward and a coda share a word.
We get our ugliness from fear.
We get our danger from the lord.

Do Not Speak of the Dead

“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
            —Mexican Proverb

I was born among the bodies. I was hurried
forward, and sealed a thin life for myself.

I have shortened my name, and walk with
a limp. I place pebbles in milk and offer

them to my children when there is nothing
else. We can not live on cold blood alone.

In a dream, I am ungendered, and the moon
is just the moon having a thought of itself.

I am a wolf masked in the scent of its prey
and I am driven—hawk like—to the dark

center of things. I have grasped my eager
heart in my own talons. I am made of fire,

and all fire passes through me. I am made
of smoke and all smoke passes through me.

Now the bodies are just calcified gravity,
built up and broken down over the years.

Somewhere there are phantoms having their
own funerals over and over again. The same

scene for centuries. The same moon rolling
down the gutter of the same sky. Somewhere

they place a door at the beginning of a field
and call it property. Somewhere, a tired man

won’t let go of his dead wife’s hand. God
is a performing artist working only with

light and stone. Death is just a child come to
take us by the hand, and lead us gently away.

Fear is the paralyzing agent, the viper that
swallows us living and whole. And the devil,

wears a crooked badge, multiplies everything
by three. You—my dark friend. And me.