Guernica

Where Papi’s Angel Speaks to Me About Love

Illustration: Ansellia Kulikku.

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mijo—i know you have seen the night

as an excuse to hold your body like a bottle  

 

and drink yourself to sleep in the morning

the sun will rise bright as an infant fear

 

in your throat you will not die as much

as you wish for it you will get lucky

 

friends will envy you with their stomachs

whether or not you deserve it you will lose

 

women you loved wrong and i know what

that’s like—to love until you lose hope

 

in yourself no one wants to talk about it

how at the border they offered us clean

 

criminal records our first ride on an airplane

if we went back to motherland el salvador  

 

it’s so hard to leave and of course your tio

he went back for a girl said he would try again

 

the right way but there is never a right way

to leave we would have never left if there

 

was a choice to make but men leave to survive

leaving is what makes us & you will become

 

a man all the wrong ways which is to say

there is no right way after your tio left

 

they let me go—into the blinding street

with nothing not even a bus route always

 

an orphan this time without a family

to call a motherland only an address

 

my eighth grade dropout’s command of

language & survival—mijo—i made it

 

there is no need for a map if fear is your

new face learn to kiss him with your eyes

 

open without a border between your lips