Once, watching from the house on Potosi Street, I witness
A chicano couple making-out across the street fade to black
As the park lights dim
A pink gecko scales the wall
Of my room, transparently
I fall into dreams
While my familia sits in stillness
On a wooden bench beside the window.
A framed Last Supper,
Our Jefe sitting where Jesus would be.
I ask questions:
Can you hear me?
What are you doing out here?
Why do you look like that? Hello?
No one answers.
Then, a Tengu creeks the wood
And beckons from the front porch, its talons
Gesturing for me to walk toward him.
A cucuy or Lucifer himself
Chases me in a circle around the familia
I shake my mother who is pleading with Jefe-in-still-life.
I run in to the house and hide
In my room
I hear nothing – then feel
His nail piercing upward through the mattress
Quickly, I jump off; he reaches for my foot from underneath
The bathroom door opens.
I run inside, locking it as
He hit the door violently.
I step onto the toilet
Escape out the window above it.
Outside the still-life-family is gone
No bench to frame them. Only
Filaments of black feathers spread over the yard
Beating against the breeze.
I wake to the sound of a window opening.
Tìo Danny stinking of beer and sweat
Falling on top of me
He asks, “quièn es?”
It’s me. Vinny.
“Chente? Oh yeah I forgot Ama said we’d be sharing the bed today.
Do you like Texas?” He asks
“I’m in a lot of pain so try to get some sleep” he says
What lingers is fumes of Miller-Lite beer,
The stench of a man who hasn’t bathed in days.
His arm drapes over the soft part of my stomach
And slouches closer.
Horrified, I’d become a pillow for the drunk, after a while I give in
He groans as if he left a fight
Or was stabbed.
In the morning, Jefe shuffled by in
Corduroy moccasins, smiling
hugging an orange coffee can
Full of warm urine, and
Danny had vanished.
A Barrio in Heaven
If the Army or the Navy
ever look on heaven’s scenes
they will find the streets are guarded
by United States Marines.
Marine Corps Hymn
Mike convinced God to let my tìo’s live in a barrio
And when they died
They stayed true to themselves
This barrio was a combination of The Cassiano
And Alazan Courts
Murals on the sides of them
Showcasing Cesar Chavez, Corky, Ruben, Aztecs
And of course Che
Danny has his arm around an old girlfriend who
Also died too soon
they sit on a bench
Her face resting in his shoulder nook
As he explains the men on the murals
Jody sits on the first step of his house
Smoking a cigarette
Enjoying the nothing
Staring at people in cars driving by
Mike is firing up a grill
Wants to try a new chicken rub
Playing air guitar to Honky Tonk Women.
Cousin Monica is telling her father Tony
About her kids
And the way San Antonio has changed.
Tony signals an ice cream van to buy snacks for all the kids playing
In the street
Jefe is standing by a black iron gate
Staring into miles and past forever
smoking a cigarette
Scratching his cheek
Guarding his boys
They all look healthy
Waiting for their mother
Sisters and remaining brothers
Waiting for me…maybe
If my living relatives ever look on heaven’s scenes
They will find our reckless ones
laughing in the streets
safe and sound
In a golden barrio
full of old school chicanos.
At night, there are noises in the darkened corners of my bedroom
Up by the crown molding
And behind red curtains
Flashes of black by the windows
I know its Tony or Danny
asking a question
I can’t hear
I tell the darkness
We are fine
I wish my children could’ve met you
We love you and miss you
Nothing has been the same since you left.