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Maurice Kilwein Guevara

1961–

Maurice Kilwein Guevara was born in Belencito, Colombia in 1961 and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author of POEMA (University of Arizona Press, 2009), Autobiography of So-and-so: Poems in Prose (New Issues Press, 2001), Poems of the River Spirit (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996), and Postmortem (University of Georgia Press, 1994). He is a founding member of the National Latino Writers’ Association, and is currently a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

By This Poet

1

My Grandmother's White Cat

	When fiber-optic, sky blue hair became the fashion, my father began the 
monthly ritual of shaving his head. It was August, and we were still living in the 
Projects without a refrigerator. The sound of my mother fluttering through the 
rosaries in another room reminded me of the flies I'd learned to trap in mid-
flight and bring to my ear.
	"Vecchio finally died," my father said, bending to lace his old boots. "You 
want to come help me?"
	My grandparents lived in a green-shingled house on the last street before 
the Jones & Laughlin coke furnaces, the Baltimore & Ohio switching yard, and 
the sliding banks of the Monongahela. The night was skunk-dark. The spade 
waited off to the side.
	Before I could see it, I could smell the box on the porch.
	We walked down the tight alley between the houses to get to the back yard 
where fireflies pushed through the heat like slow aircraft and tomato plants hung 
bandaged to iron poles. My father tore and chewed a creamy yellow flower from 
the garden.
	After a few minutes of digging, he said, "Throw him in."
	I lifted the cardboard box above my head, so I could watch the old white 
cat tumble down, a quarter moon in the pit of the sky.