Tuesday Jun 25

RodriguezA.Jose José Antonio Rodríguez’s books include The Shallow End of Sleep and Backlit Hour. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, The New Republic, The New York Quarterly, RHINO, Memorious, and elsewhere. He has also published prose, including pieces in the anthologies Our Lost Border: Essays on Life amid the Narco-Violence and the forthcoming Others Will Enter the Gates: Immigrant Poets on Poetry, Influences, and Writing in America. His awards include the Bob Bush Memorial Award from the Texas Institute of Letters, the 2014 Founders’ Prize from RHINO, the 2009 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award from Paterson Literary Review, and four nominations for the Pushcart Prize. He currently teaches writing and literature at the University of Texas-Pan American.

Double Glass Doors

We sat conscious of hands clasping each other,
and that’s how the nurse put it
soft and tactful
with an artificial citrus scent:
Your father is having a heart attack.
Not: had a heart attack.
Not: was going to have a heart attack.

Though he wouldn’t die that day,
not in a hospital bed. No one pictured it:
            his body flanked by chrome rails.
The double glass doors sealing in
the smell of medical plastics.

And how could a father’s body
disappear like that when all he was
was hands painting the space
in which he breathed?

He’d been mowing someone’s lawn,
heaved the mower onto the pickup truck,
drove home,
threw up,
and someone said call an ambulance.
But I drove instead. Grabbed a towel
should he vomit again.
And he didn’t whistle on the way
that was all green lights.

What we can all do to save my third-world country

Support the donkey show economy
Enjoy a Nestle jar of cold jarro beans
Taste the watermelon sweat
Sell your camera phones to wetbacks
Sign the curandera’s appointment ledger
Rub your palm on this doe-eyed rosary
Swallow little girls’ citrus sweet
Pander to half moon erections
Buy mercury bracelets
Drink the mesquite sap off baby’s fingers
Purge the stomachs of nopales
Suckle from my wet bedsheets
Own my mother’s blind hands
Witness my father’s hunched back
Read me your Alamo story
Save me in your CK jeans and velvet cowboy hats
See me gnaw with teeth made of corn
Count the cancer moles on my back
Taste the neck of the rattlesnake
Kiss the gray waste of sexed factories
Euthanize the silver mines
Feed me the salty semen of your lucent gods
Play Mexican bingo with the ghosts of abandoned homes

Drug Runner, or, Random South Texas Town

Heard the men in suits
Said no to Target, to Best Buy,
To all those indoors
With cool-heeled bodies
Pelting you with khaki smiles
And the latest trinket. Heard
The men in suits didn’t want
Traffic, a lit world.
The rich don’t mind
The dark, don’t even fear
It when it floats in every magic
Their hands tremble for,
The bad shit I hear makes you
Not even want to fuck.
I’ve seen the tight heft of it
Glisten, moonlight touching
The tight corners of truck beds.
Drive it there, they say,
And don’t ask questions.
And when the cop car twinkles
Its lights from some bank
sluggish with night,
I know they like to play it like that.
No indoor job for me,
Nothing but the soothing silence,
The road past midnight,
Everybody learning to wait.