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.

Canela.

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 Rava.

We don’t wear our

Heritage

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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5am

Although I woke up

Before the night was finished sleeping

I caught her in the midst of dreaming.

She let me breathe with her.

Let her calm wash over me

As, for a quick moment, I gazed

In awe at the stars in her dark hair.

 

Oh moon, it’s been so long

Since I felt loved in such a way

So thank you

For letting me steal that morning kiss.

Requiem

Trauma sticks onto muscles like tar.

After so long of being clean

From anyone who could

Fill my lungs with that same smoke

Why is it I still feel the burns

In my throat

Down my spine

And in every inch of my body.

 

I am afraid to love.

Your lies beat bruises against my lungs,

They swallowed me whole

Till I too became a lie.

Truth was a foreign language

And I knew only the drugged and drunken

Daydreams we called home.

 

Abused and manipulated.

My scars were not visible,

Because you toyed with my mind

With hands so strong

And a tongue so sharp

That my nightmares sometimes remember Just how hard they tried to

Convince me that I was wrong.

 

I still hear whispers every now and again.

Over and over in my head I hear only

The voices of those who blamed me

Because I convinced myself

I was not worthy of forgiveness

For the knives you drew

 

I still mourn the bodies left

From a battle I did not start.

Including my own.

But I have found someone beautiful

In the ashes of my own fire.

-sc

Old Flame For New Fires

There is a past that lingers behind me.

There is and will always be

A dust trail of my mistakes,

A wisp of smoke left

From the cigarette I quit —

Squashed and burnt

Against cold pavement.

I will always apologize

For the woman I could not control,

The woman I needed to be

When the world asked questions

That I did not yet know the answers to.

But beside me, to silence

Every habitual apology

Is a stronger woman.

Beside me, is a new self

For every knee-jerk reflex that

I have not yet massaged out of my bones.

For every time I raise my arm

To beat down against the girl

Who ‘should have know better,’

This time I will hold myself back

And remember.

She shouldn’t have.

She couldn’t have.

The layers of women in me,

Continuously reflecting,

Listen with overactive ears,

They know they will never be able

To rewrite the history

They had no choice in creating

But they will do what they can

To set me up for a

Stronger

Happier

More loving

More supportive

More accepting

But always human

Future.

July 31, 2018

I feel you underneath my skin.

The bits and pieces I knew about you

Fall out of my mouth

And I try to take them

And rebuild some semblance

Of a man I didn’t know.

 

It’s been 3 years since you died

Today I wondered how you and Grandma

Fell in love.

I questioned quietly to myself,

What she thought when she first saw you.

I knew your voice to be low and harsh,

But when you were young,

Was it ever gentle?

 

To me. Being Mexican.

Is letting you be a ghost inside me.

To me. Being Mexican

Is letting myself float through a history

I hope to one day understand.

To me. Being Mexican

Is being apart of your family at all.

 

I feel you underneath,

And in every inch

Of my skin.

And though I may not always see you

You are always there.