Skinnin' The Pachuco

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: caballero

10/30: GRASSHOPPERS IN THE SKY

Me? I got me 4 brothers. Corey, Brent, Jesse, Kyler. Blood-bound. I love these men with all my heart, always have, ever since the start. How lucky of me, to be both big and little brother. I used to be a bother. I used to be a small king. I used to be a pawn. I used to be a boy who knew joy was simple like falling asleep on Brent’s shoulders in the backseat of the car cause Corey always got the front. Jesse asleep on mine. Eventually Kyler on his. This is the song I recall. Sometimes the words change. Like I’m never forgetting what I’m not. Always searching for who I’ve been. You know I can count the poems where I throw the word loneliness around like a stone but truth is, I ain’t never been alone. Not truly. I was raised by boys whose names I knew only as roots, as proof of who I am or was or could be. My bruised and busted lip is a trip down memory lane. I lie awake thinking of my brothers somewhere away from me. Their faces are my history. Their names a story only I can tell. One hug from them and all my pain is resolved. I got me 4 brothers. All of us the same but all of us different. Like clouds in the sky. I know we belong together though we may precipitate with different precision. All my mother’s sons. Blood-bound. Can we pretend the light that shines in the sky is each of my brother’s reaching out to me? Our father calls us grasshoppers and I become a creature of habit, hiding in the low-grass of the past. Did you know grasshoppers can only jump forward? Never backward. Never backward. Never backward. Never backward. Never backward.

What I’m trying to tell you is: I’m blood-bound to these men like the soil our grandfathers worked in, and every day I miss them.

27/30: spoliation, then resurrection

I’m standing on the balcony of a high rise, 21 stories, high. The sun licks my face like bright smoke I try to chase, but when I begin, my brain spins in typical fashion, and I become a boy in my head, again, remembering my dad’s childhood home, one story, high, ceilings low, eventually, bulldozed to the ground years after my grandpa passed. Gas had snuck through the walls like a ghost wearing perfume, and it destroyed every room.

Picture this: a ghost house with a screen door, porch swing, and one million pair of saintly eyes not watching, but staring, at you like you’re trying to get into heaven, but you’re only seven. The Virgin hangs above the door, her eyes pour out like a river,

But walk through the door. Ignore the gods. It is the first door on the left.
Inside, a bald man with big hands holds a guitar and a cigarette. His essence was cinematic. He’s like a Mexican BFG, his love big, friendly, and giant.

When his memory went dark, his mind became an exploding star, erratic but catastrophically hilarious. Fact: He laughed at his own jokes. Fact: I do too! The ritual of our greeting went exactly like this: “Hey Grandpa!”, and he’d ask, “How’s ya ugly daddy?” And I never ever had a come back. His laughter billowed out the room like a ballad built with smoke, then he’d flick his guitar with his right wrist, ash his smoke, his unforgetful finger tips moving quick, much like my hands when I wrote this, and

The funny thing is, all my life, my mother looked at me and remarked, “Oh lord—you look just like your father.” And it is remarkable, how she sees the same face of the same boy who gave her her first-French kiss on the dance floor when no one was looking, the same face that faced my grandfather in the front room, with my grandma in the kitchen, stacking tortillas higher than the skyscrapers in front of me.

I remember watching her dig her hands into a bucket of flour, which I always mistook for a bucket of paint. I remember the tortilla beginning from nothing, a blank canvas becoming nourishment, and if I really think about it, she really was an artist, pounding tortillas with her fists until they looked like different phases of the moon painted against the comal sky, and I imagine, in this ghost house, my ghost grandfather, the two of us in this phantom room and me—finally ready with my comeback: “How’s my daddy’s ugly daddy?” HA! And he would erupt again, his laughter howling out the house, back into the universe.

Yes, this poem is about returning, about the indestructible ghosts inside of us, the tortillas I confused for the moon, how faces are places we return to, my grandfather’s spirit, rising high inside of me. I am learning my breath is the last thing this earth will ever inherit. I am learning how to rebuild from the blueprint in my blood. Oh, did I mention, his name was Jesús?

19/30: SESTINA FOR THE GOOD SAMARITAN

St. Martin Caballero also known as St. Martin of Tours is the patron saint of those in need. He usually shown in the act of cutting his cloak in half and offering a piece to a mostly-naked beggar crouched below him, who later appeared to him in a dream as Jesus Christ. Because of this, he is called on by those who need the assistance and kindness of strangers. The Saint is often referred to as the “Good Samaritan.”

The Good Samaritan just collapsed. 14 inches in 12 hours. A woman saves
her family by emptying the refrigerator, crawling inside the ice box, flood
water mocking her, but this is how one avoids death. The duty to change
is the duty of survival. A man slays his family, then himself. Give me pleasure.
I am under no illusion. I know how a thing becomes ruined in the wash, how time
thrashes like a wound in lime juice, the touch of jalapeno seed against your eyes,

As if another excuse to weep was needed. The world is greedy with my breathing, eyes
paralyzed by the damage we create, stunningly sad. Terror is honey for the bees. Who saves
the bees? The ways we kill each other. The knives we hide in our words, weapons old as time
as original as rhyme. The darkness cannot be locked up, says the bayou after the flood.
So who wants to swim in the mud of love? Our bodies drowning in pleasure,
forgetful of what we’ve lost, remembering what we’ve won. The world is afraid to change

The Good Samaritan has awoken. He anticipates needs, green thumb, tends to change
moment into miracle, sees the grief in the beggar, stares down loneliness with both eyes,
The prayer in his voice akin to the promise we give our lover, the lies we tell for pleasure.
Do not forsake the world, my love. The best is yet to come. It will get better. Time saves
the best bite for last. But, too many are swallowed whole, disappearing beneath the flood,
fishing in the mud of love. Opaque ache for bait. Tossed into the deep end. Is it time?

Your best is good enough. Your open heart is actually a gift, and now is your time.
Open it. Harvest happens first in the eyes, beginning the search for change,
Then by touch. Palms a precise kind of pull. You are not rotten because the flood
forgot to leave. Deadwood and oak, choked, but not defeated. Keep your eyes
tenacious, impatient. If the tree doesn’t have fruit, rip it up. If the world saves
itself, can I go back to bed? Look at this weather. The Good Samaritan is tired of pleasure.

I know not how to build or fix. I am not content with my fate–plate full of pleasure,
Cruel hunger, my appetite numbs. The child in me wanting seconds, my hands time-
tied, tongue lying out on the road, heirloom I’ve groomed like a cure. Pleasure kills, saves,
sends waves. Orgasms to bridge the chasm, to cross what we’ve lost off with a kiss. Change
is a strange prayer. Indifference is a virus, Please, somebody look inside my eyes
without seeing the flood.

The Good Samaritan is in love with everyone. I know the trouble before flood,
everyone’s secret is the same. We all want someone to say our name, simple pleasure,
simple song, familiar longing. Am I wrong to want kindness to blind both my eyes?
Come in, come in, come in. I’m opening my heart up like a gift, and now is your time.
Both the drowning man and the man in ecstasy throw up their hands. I refuse to change
my dance. Touch is a song in my hand. Sing with me, the Good Samaritan says, as he saves

The best part for last. Spring in his eyes. It is time
to forget the flood, cruel hunger of the sky, tongue tied to pleasure.
Alive in the love of mud. The duty to change is strange, but oh—how it saves.

10/30: THE LONG GOODBYE

we don’t want to leave, even when
we’re actually leaving, even when
returning home is the last thing
left to do, it’s not our style.
we choose to linger, stick around,
embrace again, embrace again,
our soft brown hands wrapped
around our soft brown bodies,
my grandma whispering blessings
across the back of my neck,
red lipstick stuck to my cheeks,
my aunt’s kisses,
my grandfather’s wisdom,
a bowl of tortillas
sitting in the center of the island,
an invitation to stay,
a warn place to put
your hands.
The swing set
getting closer to the sky
each time we sit next
to each other, our bodies,
old memories fitting against new stories,
I think the hardest thing to do
is leave when you don’t want to,
not always knowing
what you wish you knew.
Is it so bad to be late,
then? When the door
is such a chore to open,
let us rest in the love
we give, on the couch,
sitting outside in the backyard,
grandma’s flowers changing
colors and shape, their petals
holding onto the stem,
not wanting to leave, even when
the season has come to end.
My family,
we choose
the long goodbye
to close the distance
between us,
hug, and hug, and hug,
kiss, and kiss, and kiss,
yes, I will miss, miss, miss
all the parts about this, this, this.
My loves, my dears, the sweet names
I need to hear, that I need to see—
My family,
we all choose
the long goodbye
to make our beginnings
shorter, I’m sure of it.

4/30: HOW YOU THINK ABOUT YOURSELF

At a party where no one is listening,
a woman I’ve never wanted
whispers in my ear, leans over to say,
I know how you are,
And she is a liar as soon
as she says it, as soon as she says
know and you,
the air in the room sours.
She, a fruit fly, a gnat, a small
bothersome thing, hovering
beneath her false certainty,
and I cannot kill what I cannot see:
truth dimmed in half-light
a lie dug in the dark,
invisible, dangerous sparks,
catching fires
more troublesome than the storm
forming inside my throat.

On the phone, a woman I do not want
to want me back anymore says,
I think, I think
You have trust issues,
And as soon as she says it,
am I supposed to be less true?
Is my skin the soil she needs
her words to take root in?
People misconstrue
bloom and blame as the same,
but who gave both my name?

I read a text message from a woman
who does not want me to want her back,
who wanted me, then stopped wanting me,
who kissed me, then stopped kissing me,
who, at once, remains both
blameless and blooming.

She, typing,
me waiting,

three dots bounce like a wave
transmitting
the blue crash a new rash
now sending
slowly bending towards me,
the words move up, delivered
like the river leaving the ocean,
the words touch the earth of my skin,
leap off the touch screen, unleashed,
touching me without sound,
I think, I think
you felt more for me than I felt for you,
And as soon as she writes it,
I read it, each single syllable of
her words jump into my body,
barrage of silent cadavers
pierce the paper on my skin&
all I can do is weep in my garage,
inaudibly alone, sitting,
neither beside or outside,
but as my disgusted self,
listening to Azalea
croon out the wicked moon
of Louis Armstrong’s cratered
throat, a songbirds words
blooming off my tongue,
the garden of my blues
recoiling, repeating
the melody
of m’lady melancholy.
I confuse so many
sounds for hope.
Is my heart wrong?
In the dark field of my longing,
all the flowers are dead.
I know who you are,
the pain says
the pain says,
now and always,
your hurt
belongs to me,
while

the pain of your name
your long history of blame
now and always,
only
belongs to you,

and all I can do is murmur
alongside the sideways summer storm,
yearning to unlearn,
still not knowing what to do
other than follow
the soft curve of my palms
form around the jawline,
like a poorly written sentence
I don’t want to write.
I know who you are, and
I know who I want you to be
the pain says, but you’ll
never know the difference.
I say,
Pain,
How do you
think about yourself
when no one is there to witness?
when your grief stays, unanswerable,
never beginning, yet always
unfinished?

 

 

 

LOST BODY OF A LOST BOY LOST BY

Lemon tart to start,
brass manifesto for lunch,
sunlight whispering
touch me, touch me, touch me,
though glass windows.
This life is enough, this lie is enough, is,
i.e., no, no, no
who is there to trust?
i.e., no, no, no, not who, but what,
what is there to trust?
Lost body of lost boy lost by the majesty of it all.
I know my heart, your heart
may be long winded, but
the war within has ended
all of us have won
you now have permission to
lift your heads
The war within is won.
Do you see what I see?
The gold spun sun spins
while we sit on our hands
to relearn our stillness,
even our sins sit in silence,
marveling,
silenced by the lineless pink brushed sky
speaking in another language, and this is
no good time to talk, so I am listening,
no longer lifeless, but a lightweight, as in,
I curve around the dark without so much as a sound.
Just your friendly neighborhood noiseless witness
shucking the dusk, trying to steal the miracle
of any moment slow enough to reveal itself.
Do you hear what I hear?
The voice of my dreams is a soft stream of hushed light.
I break out into a peal of commotion, like I’m in concert
with the cathedral bells downtown, performing in free-fall.
Lost body of lost boy lost by the majesty of it all.
When I think translation, I hear misunderstood.
I think misunderstood,  I see the invisible cost of loss
lure me back into conversations
where all I do is crawl beneath the
Lost body of a lost boy lost by the majesty of it all.
Is it so bad to be half-made of worry and honey?
Do not talk to me about half-truths when your mouth is full.
My mother texts me to say, mijo, you are blessed—
don’t ever question it, referring to the ways in which
I keep arriving, the path in front of me, paved by
the sleep I do not get, labored by the hands that
do not quiet, cannot quit, only furiously stick to the
changing script, shuffling papers like the spirit
of the hero following my fingertips, realigning lines
until my finger print is fine print, wishing for someone,
anyone brave enough to read the sentences I’ve written,
to bear witness to the way I have reshaped the invisible
back into instruments, until the first thing I hear is
the story of your bravest moment, when fear stopped
being so mysterious, when you yourself learned the
definition of ephemeral, how eternal things are unchanged facts,
how you are not ephemeral, not a disappearing act, not a
Lost body of a lost boy lost by the majesty of it all.
Don’t ever question that the first of you is the last
of something extravagant [synonym for generous]
opposite of meager, [your survival is never an understatement]
You can stop hiding from yourself
is the last prayer I whisper when I pass a mirror.
This is how I define radiate.
This may come as a surprise to some, but
you don’t have to hear your heart beat
to know you are alive. No, no, no—
I’m not trying to prove the truth to you.
I’m simply trying to say,
you don’t have to be afraid
of what the truth will do to you.

.

 

4/30: MOONMIST

Show me all the possibilities
on how not to be alone.
I am telling you I need you.
The rain won’t quit looking
for a body to swallow
It is telling everyone to need
each other, but people do not
have appetites for people.
People just have appetites.
I don’t long for the company
of another because I am hungry.
Every day I perform for love
but the audience is stuck in traffic
The show does not go on
even when my mouth does,
even when I say what I mean,
and who knows what I mean.
I am under the moon with a woman
who does not know my history with rain
who looks at me like the first days in spring
and suddenly the sensation of sinking is gone.
How do I explain the absence of love
without looking for it?
I am my heart’s only detective.
The mystery of meaning
is knowing without saying
but I cannot do both.
Show me, show me, show me.
All the possibilities.
How does anyone stop being alone?
Does the sadness pile and pile or
does it serve some other purpose?
Say my name in the middle of a sentence
where sadness cannot reach.
If my day is truly good, I will tell you all about it.
Don’t let me slip away with simple answers.
If ever I make-pretend, take away my hands.
Both my hands are open and only you can fill them.
When I trap myself inside the house lonely built,
tell me to open my curtains.
Outside my street, live oaks longer than longing.
Behind my house, a whole street called Moonmist
Early one morning, a grandmother teaches her grandson
how to rake, shows him where to place his hands,
and how to build a mountain of fallen things,
and he is trying so hard to gather, to put his hands
where his hands should go, and even then,
his body is not big enough, he cannot do
what he has to do, but what difference does
that make?

WHEN I AM EMPTY PLEASE DISPOSE OF ME PROPERLY

 

When the blender blade I left out on the kitchen sink
grabbed onto my skin like a midnight conviction,
I could not refute its symbolism.
Sloppy universe, I smile to myself
while the steel burnished
dagger grins, bedaubs the taut tarp
that keeps me buried within.
The crimson song hurries out
just
deep enough, I witnessed
the white breakable body beneath me
adulterate
puncture 

picture this: the entirety of my essence exits
from simple exposure.
You should know,
I concentrated the blood until it dried like plums
until aplomb is all I would ever become,
ablaze by the harvest moon, conflagration
of certitude, long overdue, all this belief
no longer absconding but leaving the body
alas, turning blue flame true.
Imbued by the imperative nature of my own leaking,
the thin tissue, indignant at the incessancy
is now a precursor of how I’ve come to be. A leaving
behind of what makes me lighthearted
suffice to say there is a surplus of
ordinary sadness in whatever I say
whether it be silent or amplified,
there is a history of empty
staying alive.

There are an inordinate amount of words to describe leaving the body
but they all lead to empty, a extinct future of eventually, this is the kind
of goodbye no one likes to memorize, you know,
the kind of death that spring performs
the erasure of winter,
dead trees
daring to be great
when even the air they make
turns against them, their bodies
forgotten. My body forgets its make up
all the time.

You should know, when I saw the bare minimum of me,
my own blood was all that I could think of, leaving, cells
succumbing to oxygen, color by breath,

the radiance of it—

This sounds improbable, and it probably is
if you’re anyone but me but you should know
how I stopped the bleeding, the leaving.
I wrote L-O-V-E in blood on paper,
watched the trees swallow the plums
in seconds, and just stared at the only thing
that’s ever left me and still spoke love
and let it last.

Let it be the last of me.
Oh please if I am not to last,
when I am empty—
please dispose of me
properly.

 

28/30

I burned my throat while looking for you this morning
but that isn’t fair to say
because I was drinking coffee too.

On both sides of my coffee mug is a typewriter
with the words Just My Type beneath the brim
and before I can smile at the wordplay, I open my mouth
for a kiss. My lips slobber sleep, my tongue sits still
a tired ribbon pretends to do the same, as it stays
wrapped up in picturesque porcelain until it is
ink free and all my teeth are stained with something
remarkable to say.
But your name taps out before I can even say
good morning.
I type your name out, each letter lost keys,
turning into me, a jagged memory,
a picked lock, a space bar struck by a thumb
over and over again, the distance within
being without you
will always be a burning bridge
a fresh brew that caffeine chews the type
of silence you wish to remain so,
but even the rot rises, like it too
wants to be forgot,
a lock turning into a chimney,
lost love learning itself in these
letters of mine,
I have let my tongue bear the mark of brimstone
because my coffee mug is a typewriter and
I burned my throat when I tried to spill the stories like steam
because I wanted to say what mattered the most
and then watch it leave
but nobody knows how to do that
and how is that so?
That is, how do you speak the very thing that swallows
you whole?
 

22/30

 

Waiting for the bus in the rain
sounds like a sentence that belongs
in a story about nostalgia, you know.
Trying to remember, as if the mere
mention of memory does not make us a history book?
This doesn’t take that much work, though.

I am waiting for the bus in the rain.
With little effort, everyone avoids drowning.

Except me, and that exception applies to the entire
previous sentence.

With much effort, I am still no one avoiding nothing
which to say today is Thursday and I am waiting for the bus
in the rain.

Goodness, now it sounds like I’m trying to remember
but memory for me doesn’t work like that. What happened
is still happening, as always with me, an unhappenable being
and this mostly gets confusing due to the speed at which
I speak and that has to do with memory, too.

I’m afraid if I forget what I want to say, I will lose my tongue one day.
Once the letters and words begin to pinball I don’t want them to drop
like jaws. I want to say everything all at once.
Oh, my mouth is my mistress
and I want to make love like teeth
and fresh banana bread. Have you ever had fresh banana bread?
Well if it’s a no, you haven’t made love with your teeth like I know
and let me tell you, that’s a love you have to show. What’s the point
of being able to speak if you ain’t gonna sing? What’s the point
of being able to eat if you ain’t gonna make the food sing to you?

Goodness, now it sounds like I forgot what made me remember
which I didn’t because I don’t have to remember,

I was waiting for the bus in the rain and nobody drowned
except me but that’s mostly because I was born next to the ocean
and my father was a sailor and you know there’s something about apples
falling from the shipdeck and boys getting apple flesh
caught in his anchors, well that’s me.
The only brown boy who made himself a ballast and still drowns
in spite of it. In spite of the buoyancy he was built with.

I am waiting for the bus in the rain when the bus stops
like I don’t know how to do and now I am
on the bus with the rain outside when I look up and see a poem
by Jill Wiggins. The ending it went something like this,
“Into dark water—
I could drown
in words”