Skinnin' The Pachuco

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: relationships

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.

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

19/30: little things

When my dad would lose in backgammon, he grumbled
About luck, about both my brothers and my failure to adhere
to the updated rules of the game. I mean, the man justified defeat
Like a dying king in battle
And I believed in his brave wounds
Even when I did not see the foreshadow,
in how he salvaged small sorrow into a ship
like a sailor stuck in the sea of himself.
My father carves a life boat from each lesson
From each lesson, he rescues himself.

When I would cuss growing up, my mother would
admonish me, Zachary Fredrick! Do not cuss!
To which I reply, but my father is a sailor!
And she’d laugh where she stood, her eyes heavy with
the past,
and my tongue was a sail in the wind of an ocean I’ve
never been in

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.

17/30

THANKSGIVING
or
How I Let You Go On The Most Depressing Day of the Year
and Feel Pretty Good About it

I burned all the leftovers. The pie too.
It is as horrible as I am making it seem and
more. I am used to more but there is no stuffing left,
nothing left to stuff but silence.
When stuffing is the love you shove
into your mouth, what happens when you
run out?

It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving
when I last saw you and when everything
didn’t happen like it was supposed to.
When asked what you are grateful for
all anyone hears is hesitation, air taken by teeth
and you leave a silence so grand I bow
at the base of it. Is that what giving
is?
No, thanks.
The rain came like it was supposed to
and I am still smothered in mud, my
god.

Driving home, I am my own soundtrack
Words like why, again, why, again, why, me
again, why is there always an again
are lyrics
the speakers are familiar with.
Driving home, I am my own carwreck.
I exit the highway onto a country road
which then turns into a mouth of mud
and I am stuck and sad and so oh very
sad at being stuck.

If I count all the times I asked you to come back
I could not trace my way back and oh to be stuck like that—

All it does is take and that is a terrible
and true fact.

A stranger tells me a fact I go home to Google to make sure it’s true.
The first Monday of the New Year is considered
the most depressing day of the year. Something about
having to begin again but this time with follow through. Something about
having to show up and mean it, on a Monday
no less.

Driving home, we are on the phone. Most of the talking
is by me and I forget what I said but most assuredly
it rang to the tune of me promising a safe place to crash
or fall or call home, even if we are all bones or blown to
little bits of I told you so, oh don’t you know
I would have showed up and meant it
every Monday?

Driving home, we are on the phone when I run out of gas.
A stranger helps me push my car to the side of the road.
It is the coldest day of the year, which means it is the first
day we felt our skin sting and suddenly I cannot help but
count the coincidences. This same stranger brings me hot tea
and tells me
Waiting all alone is the worst.
Tells me today is the most depressing day of the year, and how he hopes
how much that isn’t true.

I call you later on the phone, and you showed up but
we both know you didn’t mean it, and so I tell you then
like I tell you now, the last words I will say to you are
I love you and goodbye.

It always ends the same.