"Cocos" & "A Barrio in Heaven" by Vincent Cooper




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

And sleep.

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

in heaven

And when they died

They stayed true to themselves

And familia


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

Known you

We love you and miss you

Nothing has been the same since you left.