Dry Homes

In the desert

You drive for miles.

So long, that you

Learn to make

Polite conversation

With the rocks in the

Dull mountainsides.

You learn to listen to nothing:

Music, chatter, the hum of cars.

In the desert,

In the heart of the heat and sweat

You hide inside

On cool leather couches

That have offered their seat

To the generations before you.

You listen to them speak endlessly about

The secrets – gossip and giggles

They hold in the family

Tight enough

To sneak between only each other

And the small neighborhoods they live in.

Nothing leaves this valley.

In the desert

History pours from their lips,

Slipping off of their tongues

Like spit and spice.


We’ve always been a mix

Of some sort of spicy sweet.

Chase it with tequila and tamales

And on to the next.

In the desert we aren’t

“Those kind of Mexicans”

That believe in “voodoo shit”

Dia de Los Muertos

La Raza.

We don’t wear our


With the same kind of

Colorful pride as others.

Not in Indio,

Where one lives dedicated to the

Valley they’ve been in for

Long enough to forget

From where ever it was they came from.

So we leave the desert.

To drive home

Back to the city

And this time

We go through the mountains,

With a trail of cars

Like little fire ants in a line.

And as the sun sets,

They transform into

Dark silhouettes

And the sky takes its time

To shut its eyes to rest.

Leaving those strong hills

Black like the eyes of your grandpa

With the same soft halos

That wrapped the heads

Of the saints hung

On your family’s walls.

And the stars, like freckles

On your baby cousins cheeks,

Consumed the night unlike

Any sky you’ve seen before.

And I sit with my

Face pressed against the car window

From 22 to 12 in an instant.

In my dad’s car —

My grandma’s car—

So old that all we listen to

Are his cassettes from when

He was my age.

Driving down the same roads

To leave the desert

To leave his home

And start something different.

Indio, Coachella, La Quinta

As endless

And vast

As all the wonders I’ve ever had

For the people in it.

Each grain of sand

Is a question I left unsaid.

If you’re smart,

Or maybe lucky,

Growing up

Is the journey

From learning

To unlearning

To relearning

And again

And again.

And I have been in and out

Of this desert so many times

I have run away and come home

So many times.

That I don’t know what to unlearn

And relearn

I was gone long enough

To let the first death

Become a ghost I never knew.

How many times

Must I lay to rest

All the ideas I’ve had

About who my family was. Is.

Before it’s actually time

To do so for real.


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