Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Poem for My Tío One Week After His Release

Tonight I have not the backbone
nor the breath
to ask what it was like to live,
I mean really live
inside that cavity of muscle and concrete
carving out your days.

I could not even begin
to stomach the anxiety of a jailhouse minute,
of being locked in a cell-block
where eyelids are chiseled stares—
faces from neighborhoods that blur
with names like Héctor, Juan,
or any other homeboy you wouldn’t recognize
because he was marked.

Tonight there are no mad-dog stares,
only hard embraces from friends,
relatives you’ve done time with.
Tonight the moon is still an accusing lamp
over Fresno Street, your cousin is the man
at the corner bumming dollars for beer,
and your mother is reciting the rosary
in an empty room,
meditating on beads of smoke.

Tío, nothing has changed.
The city keeps growing and growing,
and our gente keep owing and owing…
your nephew is till a poet
who fails at his craft:

I have not the backbone

                                            nor the breath

to ask what it was like to live…

Credit


From In the Cavity of Sunsets (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2009). Copyright © 2009 by Michael Luis Medrano. Used with the permission of Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe.

Author


Michael Luis Medrano

Michael Luis Medrano is the author of Born in the Cavity of Sunsets (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2009). He lives in Fresno, California.

Date Published: 2017-09-18

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/poem-my-tio-one-week-after-his-release