Skinnin' The Pachuco

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: love

29/30: A POEM FOR JESSI

Jessi,
bird of my heart,
monkey in my bed,
giraffe of my dreams,
you sing to me in your
baby-talk, in your
gimme-dat clap, in your
nap-time nuh-uh cry,
oh my Jessi, you are everything
you are supposed to be. Right now,
you are shouting for the sky as the
swing-set in the park down the street
from my house brings you closer to the
moon, the stars, the sun, each one: all shining
for you. This is what the light does: it tells us
to reach, to look up, to swing into our shadows
so that darkness will not ask for this dance.
Even now, the Oak trees see you becoming one
with yourself, and I am helplessly in awe at the
call of your voice, the raw power of your smile,
and how I wish you could stay a little while longer.
In this swing, your joy sings me a song. I watch you
rejoice in the shade, alive and singing, here with me.

27/30: THE LOST CAUSE OF LONELINESS

In love, I watch you put your make-up on as the loud hum
of my longing stumbles back to the mountain I carved it from.

Outside of myself, I exit a door marked disaster, and the faster I walk,
the closer I am to your hand writing to-do lists against my unorganized skin.

I’m crossing loneliness off like it’s a lost cause. Somewhere, there is a mountain
made up of all the things I told myself I never deserved.

Each stone is a small thing, is a piece of earth bone, burrowed into the body.
Darling, I am digging my hands into the riverbed, where the soil is damp and

The current carries my secrets by the handful. The time has come for me
to forfeit myself to the fate of this moment, to throw my hands up and wait for daybreak,

Where your shoulder turns into the morning light beside my window and
I do not wait for love to say my name. I’m giving up on trying to see past the now.

I know the future of my feelings are something I cannot rewrite. I present myself to you in the darkness without a plan and without pain. What I’m saying is,

My longing used to be a locked door inside a mountain of shame. And now,
every smile you leave on my pillow is a key you carved for me, and I am in love,
And I am free.

14/30: IN RAINY APRIL

After Robert Bly

For Adela 

In rainy April, the Aloe Vera outside my window is unstoppable.
You lay your head across my chest like a path of magnolia leaves.
We turn into each other’s body and rearrange the soft grey light.
I have no choice but to adore the green eyes sleeping next to me.
I want you to know I chose loving you over losing you.

The light in my chest casts a shadow across your name and I know.
My path leads me back to you like groundwater returning to the sky.
The two of us tell time by counting the freckles between us.
You are the breathgiving woman who makes my heart sing all my favorite songs.
And for as long as you want, I will sing a song of joy.

In rainy April, I kiss you like a season I never want to forget.
The light coming down between the trees leads me back to you.
A laugh travels down your lip and I plant it like a seed.
I run my finger down your spine like a sentence I want to read.
Our bodies choose to bloom against each other.
I hold you like the clouds hold rainwater, and I do not let go.

11/30: THE PATH OF SOMEONE SEEKING LOVE (AND TACOS)

“Tell me about your life since I last saw you.” I asked.
“There are no great mysteries to tell. My path is always the same and I do everything I can to follow it in a dignified way.”
“What is your path?”
“The path of someone seeking love”
He hesitated for a moment, fiddling with the near-empty bottle.
“And love’s path is really complicated,” he concluded.

– Paulo Coelho, “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept”

Standing outside El Taqueria Palomo, I hold a taco in my hand on a Wednesday night
beneath a sky that is not falling, beneath a sky whose moon knows to call my name when
the darkness stays a little too long. Am I wrong to think the universe is speaking to me?

You may not assign meaning to every moment, and I understand your resistance. I guess
I’m just tired of believing there is no significance to the seconds that pass and the seconds that last.
I’m not talking about destiny. Though, I do believe we have one. As I speak, white rose petals leap before my eyes, falling to the ground until they become someone else’s footprint.

What I’m saying is, the path you lead is half the battle.
What I’m saying is, the path you leave behind is a line in a poem the universe wrote
when you thought you were alone.

6/30: YOUR HAND ON A COUNTRY ROAD IN A LIGHTNING SHOW

On the darkest country road, I touch your hand in the dark
to remind my wandering mind
of what it feels like to be held while lightning
surrounds the sky the same way my arms do
around you when we sleep together and my breathing
slows down the same way storm clouds move in the sky
Something inside of me is forming
The sky’s bright siren is a warning signal
And where we are going, I have nothing left to fear
It is April and all the flowers laugh in the distance
as my car speeds past rolling hills of bluebonnets
I’m reaching through every reason I have to stay
And your hand anchors me to the Earth like a law
I will always follow. I only know
it took years to see
the possibility of not being alone

Whenever the clouds swallow the lightning,
I know you are my waiting horizon
I know you are the light that stays
I know you are the hand that reaches back

On the darkest country road, I interrogate the fate of my heart
Is this the place we start anew?

I look over to you in awe as lightning circles your face
Songs fill the space between us, music rolls in the clouds

And we listen
as the car carries us forward
together

4/30: JESSI OPENS HER MOUTH

Jessi opens her mouth and language becomes a kite she is learning to fly
Language is in the wind and she holds a string in the sky
but all her words are untethered, sound orbits meaning
while meaning meanders along without a voice to
call out its name. She is still learning to speak, and I am still learning
to listen.

It is impossible to translate a sound with no name
But every day, her mouth is a chorus,
full of refrains
stains
growing tooth-pains.

Jessi opens her mouth all the time and when she does,
She speaks the language of refried beans
She speaks the same language a tortilla does
A voice hand-made by the recipe in our blood
She Speaks the same language as caldo
A calming flood of flavor that holds our hearts in its hands
Jessi belongs to a legacy of language only she can claim

The women in my family all have voices that command,
voices that understand, voices that float in the sky, water
the soil, light the fire, and carry the prayer, voices that exist
to say I am here, I am here, I am here.

Jessi opens her mouth and all the birds draw near
Every flower in my grandmother’s green house sneaks out
and the garden shouts out a song only Jessi can sing
My brother, Jessi’s father, watches his baby girl sleep
in silence. Her body rises like a slow tide, waiting
to crash against the shore of any world brave enough
to silence her.

17/30: LOVE BETTER

“Therefore, dear sir, love your solitude
and bear with sweet-sounding lamentation
the suffering it causes you.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Dear Zachary, sir—I need you to love better.
Dear sir, I need you to love better and mean it.
You can start with me, and all the sweet-sounding
suffering I cause you. This isn’t advice.
I love watching you try, but what good is
showing up, if you do not follow through
with who you wish to become?
Apart from me, you are another and I am other.
As if we exist in separate dimensions.
Am I a place you go but do not mention?
Dear Zachary, together, have we not walked
through shame like confetti and cascarones
underneath pink evenings? Have you forgot
the wilderness of your childhood, the backwards
deliverance of our innocence? We passed the time
like a jar of fireflies at dusk, opening the closed
jar to see how far we could see trace the fading
light. Each time you proposed an exit strategy to
get out of your head, who was your canary?
What if I told you it is not possible to love
someone until you love me? All the pain
in our heart is instructive. Isn’t that what
you call precedent. Would it please you
if I gave my argument with authority?
Because I know how you hate the past,
And yet, you protect your agony, unequivocally
too stubborn to learn the errors of your ways
And I know this weighs on you. I can feel
the slow puddle of your blood form when
you refuse to participate. Dear sir, please,
I am not an exit strategy. I am an invitation.
My only wish for you is to receive what
I give without leaving me behind. Remember
how it feels to stumble through the unfinished
plot of what is lost and what is gained? I know
you need me most when it rains and the air
changes instantly, announcing to the world
what is here and what is to come, the same way
you wish you could change back into the man
you wrote about once before you became an
island, stranded in the sand of your fears.
I hear you talk to yourself when you refuse
to use your voice. I know all your tricks.
In the mirror, when we visit each other,
Your eyes trace our body in the dim light.
Dear sir, don’t you see the space I give
is empty for a reason?

4/30: THE ANSWER

Will my niece ever love a man like me?

If I think about
the answer
If I hope
the answer
is no—then I want her to know why.

Jessi, mija, I am your uncle but before I am a man
I am a boy I am a mistake I am untrue I am a lie
I am a forgery I am a horror story I am a sorry
sorry man, a forged boy, a museum of memories
spoiling in the corner like stories stuck in time-out

I am a mistake
I keep making.

In the sixth grade, puberty arrived. So did desire.
So, so, so
many fires forged this foolish faith,
and mija, I cannot apologize
for the stubborn smoke of my secrets. But I will
explain myself
to you.

I did not
want to be a Mexican boy with the Spanish name
but Mexican girls,
like you, wanted me the way I was.
Knowing this, I hid
this new affection for soft cajeta eyes.
I lied about my longing. I did not give
it a name. I grew secrets in silence.
Intimacy did not speak unless spoken to.
Eleven years old, under the wooden desks
of my world geography class,
I sit next to a girl with eyes like yours
She speaks Spanish to me like a secret
She knows I cannot keep
When no one is looking,
my right hand storms
the unfamiliar shores of her new world skin,
and this new land does not feel new,
Because our blood flows from the same running river of remembering
Because our grandmothers speak Spanish in their kitchens when cooking
Because our mothers threw chanclas in the backseat to beat us
Because our skin jumped at the sun like the gritos of our tios
Because my name told them I was a lit saint candle in their hallway—

Weeks later, when confronted by my peers
All I can do is lie
about the first time
a Mexican girl
held me wordlessly
in the dark, pretending
our
hands never melted
like honey
across hot sopapillas.

As a rule, I learned,
to be a cruel boy,
you must deny what you feel.
I trapped the truth in me like a dead tree.
Years later, when other men ask me
if I would ever date a Latina,
I’d say, I don’t date Mexican women.
I’d say, have you met my mother?
I’d say, I only stay for the food.
I’d say, does it look like I want to wake up with a knife in my back?
I thought, is this not what Mexican men do?
Disguising vulnerability
is a disgusting disease
I am trying to transfuse
out of my blood by talking
to you,

Jessi—
don’t let
any man hide his hands
when he holds you.

Do not love a man
who believes
he is blameless
for failing to name
the monsters he created.

Do not love a man
who preserves the past
into a personal legend
but acts like the lessons
are lost on him.

Mija, I did not mean
to be so mean.
Please,
do not love
a man like me.

30/30: FAITH IS A DARING EXPERIENCE

We had a catholic service
for my Uncle Jesse’s funeral.
And I was a pall bearer,
which means I carried his body
which means I carried his casket
which means he really did kill himself
which means he really did want to leave
and I felt weak in my strength.
But the priest who spoke at the ceremony,
did so about the soul, about its longings,
how death perplexes, but faith persists.
Actually, I believe his exact words were,
“Faith is a daring experience.”

16/30: IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER, PLEASE DON’T GUESS.

Outside,
Lightning is all the sky talks about
Houston has a clapping chatter mouth,
bayou tongue, thundering teeth.
I drive by a series of buildings all dark
except the dance studio second-story window
where I see an elderly couple
waltzing
alone
together—
so this
is the face of love’s
rhythm after it has grown?
I am almost crash the car
in a flash of grace.
I’ll never be the same.
The rain makes it so easy to fall apart.
Stay inside of yourself.
The trees flurry with reason
Weather is all about rhythm
Nothing trembles for trembling’s sake
I can sleep through thunder
I can dream through thrashing
Why is nobody impressed?
What’s left of my body besides
the crumbs of love?
If you don’t know the answer,
please,
Don’t guess.