A Poem for Everyone


This is a poem for everyone.

This is a poem for me and you.

This is a poem for everyone who has been lost and never been found.

This is a poem for everyone who wears their heart on their sleeves

And those that bury it beneath layers and layers of hurt.

This is a poem for them.


This is a poem for everyone who has dedicated their lives to making the saddest person smile.

This is for those borracho artists, who drowned in a pool of their own talent,

Stinking of death and piss.

This is for you who couldn’t fill that deep void in the pit of their stomachs.

This is for the musician who plays his guitar until his fingers bleed and then plays some more.

This is for the person who stands naked behind a microphone pouring his soul out in words,

While his knees tremble and his hands shake, but his voice is steady.


This is a poem for everyone who walked a thousand miles in ragged red shoes,

Who philosophized his way out of every decision.

Who has never left the dugout to play his hand at life.

This is for the person who drove 400 miles to dye her hair red.

This is for the girl who lives in a shoebox and somehow finds a way to fit her whole life in it.

This is for the artist that paints with nostalgia.

This is for the person who plowed into a tree at 40 miles per hour and had to spend the night howling with the coyotes.

This is for the person who was wrongfully imprisoned in a jail with no working phone.

This is for the girl who drunkenly traveled Texas looking for herself,

But only found a sea of alcohol and drugs and bad sex.

This is for the poet who rescued that scared little girl and gave her a voice to sing her woes.

This is for the person who smoked his ambition away in a pot-hazed smog.

This is for the person who lost time and never got it back.

This is for those lonesome travelers who never made it back home.

This is for those who never experienced thirty.

This is for you.

This is for me.

A poem for everyone who has ever broken someone’s heart,

Who has ever been left holding the bag,

Who has ever given and given and never received.


This is for everyone who knows what it is like to truly be sorry.

This is for those who have never found God, but have found humanity.

This is a poem for us and not infallibility.

This is for those who cry themselves to sleep hoping for a better day.

This is for those pure mornings when the sky is blue and the world is wet and we know that it is a new day dawning and anything is possible.

This is for those who know what falling down the stairs metaphorically means. 

It ain’t no simile, that’s for sure.


This is a poem for everyone who has created something from nothing.

This is for the poet who pounds away at his keyboard hoping to change the world with his words.

This is for the woman who creates poetry out of life,

But not in words.

This is a poem for a father who works three jobs so that his kids will have a better life.

This is for those kids who don’t appreciate their father, but only bitch and moan when he asks you to pick up after yourself.

This is for those that realize that tomorrow is too late.


This poem is for you

This poem is for me

This poem is for everyone

una oda for twinkies

por Pablo Neruda


this place has two things

that we need. the answer

we breathe together is

cream filled blanconess.




el gato sits on the windowsill

lluvia drowning, waiting

por los años de Memorex

to come back around to this

space that always seems

like the same place

where el cielo uses

clouds like fingers

lashing its lluvia upon bread

with no pity. flowing

like butter. cutting through

the knife. roaming like

cuervos pinching at snow.

letting water crash through

its garras as easily as

Rabbit stomps a twinkie under

foot like carving sand

out of beach or tierra out of desert.

they are never alone. siempre dos.

Café Tsisdu[1]


Café Tsisdu

Where are you off to?

Are you running across the meadows

just to feel the grass lick your toes?

Are you running because you are up to tricks

Making clay and straw into sticks

and telling us that they are actually men?

Are you running to tell us something about then?

About blue coats, silver guns, and promises carried on a slippery breath

Soaking your people in blood, tears, and ink-stained death.

Are you here to tell us about when song was heard

And we could weave stories like a bird?


Café Tsisdu

Are you running so that I may follow

Across the mesas and the fields of maíze now hollow?

Were you chased by conquistadors slinging scimitars

Angry that Montezuma’s treasure was cocoa beans and not gold bars?

Or were you hunted by vaqueros with lassos y pistoles making fences with teeth?

Were you beaten by batons wielded by blue-shirted justice

when you spoke Spanish on the streets of Los Angeles?

Did Coyote pour agave nectar in your ear so that you were deaf to his lies?

And did you ride all night on his back so that all you could see were his eyes?

Did you wake to realize that he had only walked in circles and you were staring at his rear?

And did Coyote take everything from you to remind you that you have always been here?


Aye Café Tsisdu

Where are going?

Are you late for a date that just can’t wait?

No blonde British bobbins here

Just raven-haired trenzas and kawi[2]-skinned dreamers

Whose ears are trying to hear your sweet sweet song

for suffering and survival.


And as you leap from here to there

across black rivers and mountains with red dirt

down a hole where a great sequoia once stood

I can hear the wind whispering and the crickets singing


-------------------------Follow the brown rabbit.


[1] tsisdu is Cherokee (tsalagi) for rabbit

[2] kawi is tsalagi for coffee

the art of bleeding


the art of bleeding is the art of kneading

of feeling the dough between your fingers

day in and day out until your hands are worn

fingernails brittle from the grinding

fingertips replaced with calluses from the rolling

and the simmering of the stove leaves

burnmarks all over your arms


the art of bleeding is the art of feeding

hungry children at the end of long days

after working at the clinic

pollo con aroz or pork chops con papas

albondigas with mashed potatoes and corn

six days a week breakfast and dinner

chorizo tacos and meatloaf

the pain in your back from all that standing

you covered with a smile and a diet coke


the art of bleeding is the art of cleaning

every room in the house

from kitchen to bathroom to living room

but we had to clean our rooms

wash the dishes and cut the yard

that was our job

you did everything else from laundry for six

to mopping the floor with a fabuloso scent

and a month old sponge

sometimes on knees   sometimes with cuts


the art of bleeding is the art of tending

treating our scrapes, bruises, and cuts

with that old brown bottle of alcohol and cotton swabs

band-aids and tweezers to pull cactus needles from buts

bandages for our sprains, broken bones, and torn hearts

with just a caress of our hair or a hug after a hard day

you nursed our wounds while yours were covered

with heating pads, pain pills, and grins that bare it all on your back


the art of bleeding is the art of needing

from your hands of cuts and burns

to the fresh smelling tabletops

you were always constant with care and Lysol

you did not create in words paints or song

your medium was in bleeding

not the substance that coursed through your veins

but bleeding as someone who

cherishes the tending

not the cut

and that is why you were a master

in the art of bleeding

because you bled for us everyday

every breath


your art, mom, is the art of bleeding

The Man Without A Face


I met a man without a face

            he didn’t have a face again today

I don’t know if he’ll kill me or write a poem

            he let me go on the side of the road

I don’t think he’ll ever have a face again.


no tengo nariz

no tengo ojos

no tengo labios


I met a woman without a tongue

            she didn’t have a tongue again today

I don’t know if she will ever speak or stitch me a song with her fingers

            she kissed me once on the side of the road

I don’t think she’ll ever have a tongue again.


no tengo voz

no tengo dientes

no tengo cosas


I met this man without a face

            he never had a face not yesterday or today

            he meant to take what I did not have

            but instead he took me for my last drive.


I met this woman without a tongue

            she had a tongue before but not today or tomorrow

            she touched me lightly with her fingertips and her lips

            and I did not hear her tears drowned out by the rain.


I met them both on the side of the road

            he left me there to die alone without any hope

            she found me there with one eye swollen and three bullet holes

            he drove off with a screech      wet tires on wet asphalt

            she came from the shadows   wet tears and warm hands

            he never came around again    she stayed with me to the end


I met a man without a face

no tengo naris no tengo ojos              no tengo labios           


I met a woman without a tongue

no tengo voz                no tengo dientes         no tengo cosas



y yo

si tengo un lengua y una voz

si tengo un pluma y mis palabras

left there on the side of the road.


Strange Leaves


Steps off of bus. Downtown McAllen. After surrendering to Border Patrol. Given ticket to see judge in 3-6 months. Options are simple: take bus ride to detention center deep in U.S. territory or report to refugee center located 2 blocks south of bus station. Shī barely understands since only knows few words English and not much more Spanish. Shī mostly spoke Quecha. Shī mostly gestures and points on Border Patrol paper map. Shī points at church. Symbol she knows well. cruz blanco…white cross…salvation she hopes. Shī walks down city block filled with tiendas, parking garages, and loud blasting norteño music. Streets are different yet same somehow. Many brown faces. A few white ones but not too many. Shī was expecting English but this place is more Spanish. More Mexican. Maybe I’m not in America yet, she thinks. But keeps walking to church. Shī goes to first building that looks like church. It is white with big wooden cross on steeple.  Has to be it, she thinks. Tries door.  It is locked. Hears footsteps. Older woman with glasses answers door.  Opens it just a bit, enough for half her face. 

            “Can I help you?” woman says.

            “No habla ingles.  habla espanol?” Shī asks.

            “Si, mija. ¿Que quieres?”

            “Estoy buscando Say-cri-ed Heart.”

            “¿Usted es inmigrante, mija?”

            Shī nods head while  woman explains where to go. Strange, she thinks, she never opened door all the way. Just enough for her to talk.  Then shut it hard and fast. Walks past two buildings until she rounds corner and sees six big tents with giant air conditioners making its plastics walls shake. Red Cross truck sits just past gate. TV news vans with names like Telemundo, Galavision, and Univision are at door where woman with blue vest tells her to go in.  Woman in blue vest never gets off phone. Everyone speaking Spanish here. Shī walks into building where women with blue vests are everywhere.  Clothes in piles. Tables with food. Tables with toothpaste, brushes, and deodorants.  No one says anything to her at first but then young girl with hair in bun walks up and says, “Hola. ¿Puedo ayudarle?”

            Shī explains her story to girl. Long walks in desert. Riding on top of trains. Same shoes. Same clothes. Same everything for days. Girl with hair in bun tells her many things, some she doesn’t understand. Shī knows Spanish but only a little. When she attempts to tell girl with bun in hair that she doesn’t speak Spanish well, girl cuts her off. Girl with hair in bun shows her to room with small shower and plastic curtain. Shī smiles for first time in weeks. Girl in bun tells her that she will have new clothes when she is done. Shī smiles again. Shī takes shower and sees new clothes on chair waiting for her. Shī puts on new clothes. Feels like new person. No longer dirty. No longer Shī. Girl in bun comes around corner and asks, “why no bra and panties?”

            Look comes over her face that takes her back to the Shī she was before shower. Shī looks at girl with hair in bun and tells her that coyotes made her hang them from tree after… Girl in bun looks horrified. Becomes speechless. Shī looks at girl and steps closer and tells her that it is okay. Shī smiles again because she took pill before. No baby.




Haldon Cruces [Donna, TX] to Rowena Garza [Albuquerque, NM]



I heard a strange sound when I was on the road {stop} It was night and I was somewhere around King Ranch {stop} I was definitely south of Sarita checkpoint. {stop} Had pulled over to take a piss and thought I heard a woman scream {stop} Didn’t know exactly what it was {stop} At first I thought it was a coyote or maybe a goat {stop} but deep down I knew it was something horrible {stop} I contemplated whether I should check it out {stop} My conscience told me that I had to check, so I did. {stop} I zipped up and turned on the flashlight app. {stop} At first I thought I saw the shadow of three people run across the darkened brush {stop} Maybe it was the ghosts of immigrants that never quite made it {stop} But I knew better. {stop} Walked up to the barbed wire fence. {stop} I knew it was ranch land and private property but the sounds of a woman crying forced me to trespass. {stop} What I saw was worse than anything I could have imagined. {stop} First I saw a tree with strange leaves {stop} The woman was lying on the ground wearing only a shirt {stop} No pants, no panties, just a pair of sandals and a white shirt with a pink ribbon on it {stop} The shirt read, Help End Breast Cancer. {stop} Don’t know why that is important, but it is {stop} She looked at me and told me in Spanish {stop} “Leave me before they come back and kill you.” {stop} I told her in my best broken Spanish that I had a car and I could take her where she needed to go {stop} She looked at me, not ready to trust me. {stop} She hung her bra and panties from a tree and said {stop} She couldn’t go with me because the coyotes would find her and kill her {stop} I explained that this is America and the Border Patrol are only a few miles up the road {stop} “We can make it,” I told her. {stop} She agreed and she followed me back to my car. {stop} I turned to look one last time {stop} Too many bras. Too many panties. Too many strange leaves {stop} My heart was pounding waiting for the coyotes to jump out and kill us {stop} But that never happened, she got in my car {stop} I told her my name and asked hers {stop} She told me her name was Shī, I didn’t argue {stop} We sped down the road to the checkpoint and I pulled over {stop} Something I have never done and flagged down the first BP I could find {stop} I told him my story and at first he didn’t believe me {stop} But then when she corroborated they took her inside the station {stop} I was there 3 hours before they let me go {stop} I asked what was going to happen to her {stop} BP guy told me that she was going to be processed and probably let go {stop} I couldn’t believe my ears {stop} I thought for sure they would deport her {stop} but BP guy told me no because she was the victim of a crime {stop} she gets a special visa and gets to see a judge {stop} Crazy right? I didn’t know. {stop} I got to speak to her one last time and then I gave her my card {stop} told her I lived in Donna and if she needed anything {stop} Don’t know if I will ever see her again but at least {stop} I did my good deed for the day {stop} Catch you later, write back as soon as you get this {stop}



Shī doesn’t know what to do. Road is bumpy. Back of van is packed so tight, legs are starting to cramp from not being able to move.  Shī closes her eyes and hopes ride is almost over. How many in here, she asks herself. Too many, she answers. Maybe ten, maybe more. Shī is only young girl by herself in this van. Others are mother and grandmother’s age. Shī was sent alone. Mother didn’t want her back home. Shī was fourteen about to be fifteen. Men on streets back in Guatemala starting to notice growing breasts on chest. Ass being shaped by growing hips. Thinning face and fuller lips. Mother tells her she is becoming a woman now.  Shī thought she was woman when turned 13 she bled for first time. Men didn’t look at her then. Now when body aging faster than mind. Now Shī is woman.

Shī looks around darkened van. No real seats. No windows. Just smell of people sardined. At first, it bothered her. Now, she doesn’t even smell anymore. Other groups almost all made up of kids her age. This group is mostly grandfathers, mothers without children, and young men with fear in eyes and hope in heart. One woman asks if she is scared. Shī thinks it is strange question. Aren’t we all? she replies. Woman whose name is Benita Gomez-Santander touches her shoulder and smiles. Smile is most distraught she has ever seen. “No,” she says, “Are you scared of these men and what they are going to do to you?” Shī has not really thought of it. She knew what the unspoken penalty was going to be, so she puts thought out of mind. For sanity. Shī asks Benita, “Are you scared?”

Benita looks at her and smiles again. This time the way a mother looks at daughter knowing that something terrible is coming and she can’t stop it or protect her. “Mijita,” Benita says, “This isn’t my first ride.”

Shī just looks down and Benita holds her until van stops and sound of car doors opening and closing is heard. Benita then puts something in her hand and says, “Take this.”

Shī is confused and doesn’t react, so Benita looks her dead in eye and says, “Take it, por favor, now!”

Shī only has swallow left of water and so she does as Benita asked. She swallows pill. Tastes bitter. Benita hugs one last time and says, “No baby. Not for you.”

She feels hot tear trickle down Benita’s cheek and onto her forehead.



Rowena Garza: Yeah?

Haldon Cruces: I need your help.

Rowena: What’s going on?

Haldon: You remember that telegram I sent you about the girl I rescued?

Rowena: Yeah, that was weird.

Haldon: Well, she’s here.

Rowena: Wait, what do you mean she’s there?

Haldon: She’s here at my house.

Rowena: How’d she find you?

Haldon: I gave her my card.

Rowena: Why’d you do that?

Haldon: I don’t know. I just did.

Rowena: Well now she’s your problem.

Haldon: Thanks, I know that.

Rowena: How old is she?

Haldon: I don’t know, thirteen maybe. Why?

Rowena: Because you’re a thirty-five-year-old man. Recently divorced. With an underage immigrant girl in your apartment.

Haldon: I’m not a pedophile. She’s a kid.

Rowena: I know that. But the rest of the world ain’t gonna see it that way.

Haldon: What do I do?

Rowena: Alright, Hal, honey.  I don’t know what you should do. Is there a social worker you can call?

Haldon: The social worker dropped her off here.

Rowena: The social worker drove her to your house? Why would they do that?

Haldon: Because all she had on her was my business card.

Rowena: Why would you put your home address on your business card anyway? You’re a writer. There are a lot of Misery creeps out there.

Haldon: Rowena focus.

Rowena: Alright already. Tell the social worker you can’t take her in.

Haldon: I did that already. Vanessa told me she had nowhere else to go. She has no family here.

Rowena: Okay, whose Vanessa?

Haldon: The social worker.

Rowena: Oh okay.  Ummm….I don’t know, honey. You are in uncharted territory here.  What are the girl’s options?

Haldon: Going to a detention center somewhere deep in the Midwest or…

Rowena: Or what?

Haldon: Staying here.

Rowena: You want to take care of this girl, don’t you?

Haldon: I don’t know.

Rowena: I hear it in your voice. She is not your problem. You did more than anyone can expect. You rescued that girl.

Haldon: But I feel responsible for her.

Rowena: Oh Hal. You and your conscience. They always get you in trouble.

Haldon: What do I do?

Rowena: You already took her in, didn’t you?

Haldon: [silence]…yes I did.

Rowena: Then why you calling?

Haldon: You know why?

Rowena: I’m your friend, not your mother. You don’t need my permission.

Haldon: Just your support.

Rowena: You always have that.

Haldon: What now?

Rowena: I don’t know, honey. I’ll be down for the holidays. Keep me posted. Caio.

Haldon: Yeah, later.

Rowena: Hit me up on Facebook. Give me progress report pics.

Haldon: Yeah, I will. 




            Shī hates Mama because she took all their money. Everything. Took it and gave it to man with busy beard. Breathe like cerveza and eyes that always undress her. Mama says Guatemala is no place for indias bonitas. No place for young girls like Shī. Not anymore. Shī asks, what about her, but Mama says, Shī was more important. Go to U.S., Mama says. Go to U.S. and have better life. Coyote tells Mama that all Shī has to do is get across Mexican border, turn self into U.S. Migra and Shī would be free to be American. He also wants 5 thousand dollars American and a night with Mama. He wanted night with Shī, but Mama won’t have it. Threatens to cut off huevos with butcher knife if he tries. Don’t know how Mama will protect when Shī is on road with him. Don’t know if Mama lets that thought invade. Don’t think she wants it to. She cries all night before truck showed up. 4 am. 20 others in back of old truck. Shī doesn’t want to leave Mama. Mama is all Shī has left. Papa was killed by gang coming home from mines one night. At least that is what Mama thinks. One night Papa just never came home. That was two weeks ago. Mama struggled to pay for both of them with waitressing and making pan dulce, but not enough. Never enough. Don’t know how Mama gets money to pay Coyote. When asked, Mama refuses to tell. Has something to do with man who owns restaurant where Mama works. Shī wants to cry when she got on truck. Mama sees it on her face. But doesn’t cry. Mama is always strong. But just before truck pulls away Shī sees single tear fall from corner of Mama’s eye glistening in moonlight.