Poems

Poems/Poemas

Below are examples of my work both published and performed. Enjoy. 
A continuación se presentan ejemplos de mi trabajo tanto publicados como presentado. Disfrute.

I Teach

I wrote until
the chalkboard
became
clear and white,
until
textbooks
became laptops,
lockers unfolded
out of cabinets,
no tiza dust,
but erasable markers,
shinny boards that I
close my eyes in front of.
I hold my breathe right
before the first bell rings,
and every morning
I run all sorts of thoughts

and I know.
I teach because the money
is a hot meal, nothing more,
I teach because I can see
myself
in their faces,
desperate,
I teach because they want to be here,
I teach because they hate being here
and there’s no place else.
I teach because I let them feel
at home
and sometimes the kids,
they ask if they can spend
the night in the classroom.

I smile.

I provide cots for the ones
that can’t sleep at home; with
a pillow and matching sheets.
I’m a taxi service when it gets too late.
I’m a social worker when the school nurse
forgets the hearing aid paperwork . . .

I teach because the world
does not provide for an
A,B,C,D bubble life.
I teach because I hated teachers
and I am sick of hating them.
I teach to be humble.
I teach because I want them
to remember their own fathers
and quit slipping and calling me “Apa”.
Sometimes they hug me afterwards.
I teach for the laughter. I see the tears
and I can recognize
the hearts of children,
at least today.

Today is the only thing I control.

So,I will:

ice a few busted lips,
glue a shoe sole,
fix a spiral notebook,
contain a seizure,
collect twelve love notes
and correct the spelling,
organize three games of
kickball, soccer and
red light/green light,
make the boys shake
after a fair fight,
dig in the closet for extra
clothes after someone’s accident,
make a rainbow and speak of magical
refractions and sunlight,
and the kids, yeah, they
will only hear me say
rainbow, blah, blah, blah
magical blah, blah, blah, light,
use diplomacy while playing UNO,
introduce deodorant,
provide at least four lunches,
repair two sets of  glasses,
burn all the paperwork,
defend a child from a drunk parent,
stop a bus with a single hand,
control the weather with
my imagination,
bridge a nose bleed,
wish, then, shake the shit
out of that hooker/momma
when I need her Gustavo
in my Math tutorials,
make all the kids live to read,
convince eight pairs of parents
from Lantern Village that “camping”
is good for their hijitos
and
combat a system that wants
to swallow my kids whole.
I save children everyday,
every time I open my door.
So tell me,
just what the hell do you do?

As published in the 2012 Fall Edition of Huizache

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In Honor of Magnolia Homes

In Honor of Mr. Michelleti and his lazy eye, who could never point to the right price on the back wall of the meat market and ring you up for the ham you desperately needed to make a sandwich on a brazen sandy Sunday,

In Honor of Doña Maria, with her arthritic knuckles, that were cold to the touch; she would actually say she loved the green make- up on the wicked witch of the west – both cabronas scared the hell out of my 7 year old ass,

In Honor of El Novio, the self proclaimed ladies man, who would take me by the hand and walk up and down the beach, yelling out that “we should play, Frisbee, mijito” in front of the young girls he wanted to talk to,

In Honor of Dominic Streater and his bigoted voice, as he constantly yelled from his window for us to turn down the Vicente Fernandez, because he couldn’t drink his Shlitz in peace,

In Honor of all the neighborhood public schools that thought I was mentally retarded, and didn’t click to the idea that I only spoke a bold Spanish and lost me to an all negrito Southern Baptists school that labeled everything in the building so I could finally learn to say tank jews out of gratitude,

In honor of my mother who worked too hard and still had time to tell me a story, and yet I could never tell her mine,

In Honor of Marcus, with his sling shots and bruising rocks that managed to get us a slick switch to our nalgitas from everyone in the neighborhood, until someone hit him with a bullet in his lung,

In Honor of Gladys the bus driver who always gave me a free lift to the library, because she could see how much a bloody nose or a knot on my head never took my determination to hide in a book or ten,

In Honor of Fr. Frank and his funny accent in Spanish, it just provided him with a new congregation that didn’t care about the rumors of him and little white girls, acabo, no era nada nuevo en este barrio,

In honor of Carmona, who used to buy me and Marcus orange, sticky, push- up pops with money from her push-up bra that she wore like a badge, as she patrolled the corners from 6pm to mid-night,

In honor of Ira, our neighbor in 3B, who taught me how to pack her Winston cigarettes with a 1,2,3, tap on the meaty- flesh of my palm; I would steal about three packs in my underware and only have to pay for 1, and she liked that trick and needed her smokes- a lot,

In honor of my Tio Reymundo who showed me how to treat a lady - like the dog that she is, you can beat her, you can rub her face in shit, mijo and she’ll still come back to you – it didn’t get him very far,

In honor of my Father, and his abundance of Miller Lite, Old Milwaukee, Blue Ribbon, Ramon Ayala, gold chains, futbol,  and his lack of memory, direction, determination and the ability to teach me that even adults lie and that independence is getting left outside when he’s had too much to drink,

In honor of Streater’s Tavern with its funny fights and clumsy nights that always brought a few holes to my wall and got me interested in collecting revolver shells and new cuss words,

In honor of that old barrio; always defined by old orange brick; speckled by bickering blanquitos and blacks that finally made me want to come back to the spot I remember Marcus’ last words – get my mom, she’ll know what to do.

As published in the 2011 Edition of Bayou Review (25th Anniversary Issue)

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Sunday Shoes On A Monday

She loves the color recluse.
She eats her split ends,
has subtle ten-year-old smiles. 
But she never talks; 

preferring to whisper
through her fingers,
afraid of the sounds
she’ll make – this girl fears

the world might grow legs
walk all over everything
she loves, like dad for instance. 
Loves dad. 

She’s told me once:

my daddy is being
eaten up
inside out.
He can’t run as fast.
He doesn’t tuck me
in bed.
He won’t show me
the monsters
in my closet
that are
not really there.
I had to learn this
on my own.

Two days later.
I hear the clank;
Sunday shoes on a Monday. 
-How are you?

HE’S GONE

She puts head down,
the desk cries.
She pays homage
in big, quiet, crisp

one hundred dollar minutes,
only opening a jaw to yawn. 
Then a drizzle,
turned rain, turned deluge,

I hear the giggles
and the wiggles of a heart;
a pencil in hand, writing, 
writing about her dad.

As published in the 2009 edition of the Panhandler Quarterly