in a Tex-Mex restaurant. His co-workers, unable to utter his name, renamed him Jalapeño.
If I ask for a goldfish, he spits a glob of phlegm into a jar of water. The silver letters
on his black belt spell Sangrón. Once, borracho, at dinner, he said: Jesus wasn’t a snowman.
Arriba Durango. Arriba Orizaba. Packed into a car trunk, he was smuggled into the States.
Frijolero. Greaser. In Tucson he branded cattle. He slept in a stable. The horse blankets
oddly fragrant: wood smoke, lilac. He’s an illegal. I’m an Illegal-American. Once, in a grove
of saguaro, at dusk, I slept next to him. I woke with his thumb in my mouth. ¿No qué no
tronabas, pistolita? He learned English by listening to the radio. The first four words
he memorized: In God We Trust. The fifth: Percolate. Again and again I borrow his clothes.
He calls me Scarecrow. In Oregon he picked apples. Braeburn. Jonagold. Cameo. Nightly,
to entertain his cuates, around a campfire, he strummed a guitarra, sang corridos. Arriba
Durango. Arriba Orizaba. Packed into a car trunk, he was smuggled into the States.
Greaser. Beaner. Once, borracho, at breakfast, he said: The heart can only be broken
once, like a window. ¡No mames! His favorite belt buckle: an águila perched on a nopal.
If he laughs out loud, his hands tremble. Bugs Bunny wants to deport him. César Chávez
wants to deport him. When I walk through the desert, I wear his shirt. The gaze of the moon
stitches the buttons of his shirt to my skin. The snake hisses. The snake is torn.
I'll be honest, the initial reason I chose this poem for originality is because the first word of the poem is lowercase, which seems to me unique, if not original. But I also chose it for the narrative. The story of the poem is the author's own and for that reason original to his life and so different from anything that I, as a white, US-born female, know.