Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Death Will Not Be a Surprise

It is the only reliable thing
in this world.

When armed
with the right lens,
the specter of Death
does not hide:

the opossum frozen
with the shriek of death
on its face in a tidy
pool of dried blood,

empty wrappers
littering the streets,
reminders of
everything that was taken
so that we the living
could be nourished,

the putty-colored
misshaped used condoms
employed to halt
or at least delay
the continuum of life,

even these modest
and ill-conceived ramblings
are written so that
when Death comes
to redeem my ticket
I will have
beat the game.

But any fool knows
that’s another losing

Death will not be a surprise
and it will not take
“No” for an answer.

Until that day,
drink in the roses
dive into the orgasm
with eyes wide open

swim in the melody.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

My Father's Pearls

"Everybody wants to be
a musician
but how many actually
get a job doing it?"

"I really want
to read more books
but it hurts my eyes."

"Nah, it doesn't
matter to me if
you don't wanna
have kids.
You can't miss
what you've never

"Sure, I believe
in God but
I just don't want
to go to church.
I did all that
stuff when I was
a kid."

"If you're gonna
get married
you have to know
how to take
a punch."

"To apologize
to your mother
is the biggest
mistake you can
ever make."

"One of these days
you're gonna meet
a pretty little girl
and you're gonna
start dating her
and before you know it
she's gonna be
pregnant and then
how're you gonna
pay for it all?"

"Go into electronics.
I know about that
field and there's all
kinds of jobs there."

"Do you know why I
bought this carpet colored
Because I want you
to treat it like

"Don't waste your vote,
Vote for Perot!"

"What you eat in private
shows in public."

"Thank you, mijo,
your reward will be
in Heaven."

[Actual quotes from my father. Posted for ]

Friday, September 15, 2017


We sleep together
face to face,
like the cherubs atop
the Ark of the Covenant.

I lay my head
closer to
her breast,
eyes closed
my sleeping gaze
pointed up
to her placid face,

a telling distillation
of our relationship:

ever worshipful,
ever deserving.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hands Digging Into This Earth

Cool Saturday mornings
in spring
I weed the planter
in blissful silence.

It’s simple,

I break the
cold hard ground
and sift the dirt
through my fingers
plucking the weeds
as though they were
errant gray hairs.

The same ground
worked and farmed by
my Mexican ancestors
and the Mestizos before them
and the Indios before them
and the Aztecs…

I am connected
to that eternal continuum
of hands digging
into this Earth.

It is almost
a mindless activity,
this private haven
that I own

and I smile
at my self-deception
and audacity:

to think
I own this land
that was here
long before
all my ancestors

and will outlast us all.

My name’s just
on the deed

for now.

Monday, September 11, 2017


When you’re free,
you become
weightlessly untethered
from the ground.

Though I am
a willing slave
to gravity,
I remain
a wisp,
a scent,
a flavor on the breeze.

May you
catch me
in your hair
and hear
my whispering plea:

be free!”

First Poem Published, Fullerton Daily Tribune, 1972

I was eight years old
and my local newspaper
a variety of
student submissions.

Here is what I sent in,
inspired by
an late night sermonette
on KTTV channel 11:

"God made
people to love
and things to use.

Some chefs
use people
and love
beef stews.

But God
made us to love,
with the love
from Above,

So, remember,
God made
people to love
and things to use."

Not bad
for a third-grader.

I forgot about it,
until it was found
in my Grandmother's purse
after she died in 1994.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Spark Joy

I bought her
the book
on tidying
your house,
your mind,
your life.

"Look at every
and determine

if it
spark joy,

throw it out."

I'm trying
not to read
too much
into her decision
to sleep
last night.