I’m hyper-visible yet not really seen
The way people hear my last name
And all they see is beans beans beans
I’m hyper-audible yet they silence me
The way they honk when I drive
And stare at me, it hurts you see
I’m hyper-masculine and feminine too
The way my thick thighs crush crush you
And they turn away when we coo-coo
I’m hyper-brown and queer my dear
And root of immigration too
So stay clear if you don’t want to near
This dinner of tacos con salsa brava
don’t run like a girl.
get good grades.
don’t be scared.
don’t say bad words.
don’t play with your sisters dolls.
get a girlfriend.
You scare me at night, you don’t shut up and you force me to close my eyes to the world so little specks of dirt don’t enter through my eyes. Listen to me now, I was as much asleep as awake. My fingers tattooed my face like dead silk as I rubbed my eyes and yawned. My breath reeked of cranberry and vodka. The coffee pot whistled, like the hissing of lost souls sent to Purgatory. I disappear into myself when you shake my windows. You carry whispers, dry leaves sweeping along the sidewalks, whistles bleeding through my cracked windows.
Pink roses lay on the table from my grandmother’s funeral, people sending flowers as if that’s going to make up for the loss, as if squeezing my hand and punching a wall could rewind time, as if nights like this were signs that she was trying to tell me something, her words getting lost in the wind. In the mirror: my eyes were glued to nothing as if dissolving in dust, into ashes.
I walk out from my room to smoke a cigarette, my shoes caressing the floor as my breath becomes one more noise in the wind, gaining power and speed, as if it were trying to tell me something I don’t already know — souls crossing borders and lost tongues carrying the dead songs of those that linger on the hot winds between heaven and hell.
Luis Lopez-Maldonado is a Xican@ poeta, playwright, dancer, choreographer and educator, born and raised in Southern California. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California Riverside, majoring in Creative Writing and Dance. His poetry has been seen in The American Poetry Review, Foglifter, The Packinghouse Review, Public Pool, and Spillway, among many others. He also earned a Master of Arts degree in Dance from Florida State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame, where he was a poetry editorial assistant for the Notre Dame Review, founder of the men’s writing workshop in the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center and the Recipient of the Sparks Summer Fellowship 2016. He is currently a co-founder and editor at The Brillantina Project. www.luislopez-maldonado.com