Joseph Rios – Death of Josefo (Part 1)

Joseph Rios

Death of Josefo (Part 1)

Josefo is a teenager climbing a ladder
while he snaps this pic of his grandfather
on his new flip phone. He walks over to the tarp
covered swamp cooler. The roof crunches
under his feet but he can still hear his grandpa
shouting directions while scraping the ladder
against the camelias. Their petals are undoubtedly falling
and pasting themselves to the sidewalk. The dog is following him.
You can hear the chain dragging over the concrete.

Josefo is a boy in a photograph wearing LA gear hightops.
He’s holding a wad of wet sand at a beach in SoCal.
His cousin Erica is running toward the waves.
He’s running after her when he hears his name
from his mother’s mouth. He’s paralyzed there
as the dollops of sand melt from gaps in his fingers.
He’s in the photograph now, as we speak,
staring at her with a hand that never depletes of sand.
Josefo is not writing this poem
He is suspended in the photographs taken
by his mother on disposable cameras
and developed at the corner drug store.

Monique Quintana – Capillaries Look Like Trees

Monique Quintana

Capillaries Look Like Trees

            For Carribean Fragoza

We weren’t Catholic, and I couldn’t have a quinceañera. My mom felt bad, so she told me she would take me on a trip anywhere I wanted to go, as long as it was in the continental United States because she could get a discount with her American Express Card. I asked her to take me to New Orleans because I enjoyed the architecture, and the offspring of Nosferatu lived there. In grad school, I wrote a rambling paper on the Grand Guignol and the grotesque body. In a side street on the French Quarter, the façade of a townhouse was scorched to tethers due to the filming of the fire scene where Louis and Claudia escape Lestat and flee on a sail ship to Europe. It had been over two years, and Warner Brothers still hadn’t sent anyone over to clean up their mess. I thought of you when they played the movie at the old Crest Theater in Downtown Fresno. There were brown kids like us crinkling candy wrappers, and they didn’t give a fuck and hushing their friends to silence when the movie started like they didn’t know what was going to happen in the first scene like they hadn’t seen it ten thousand times and knew all the lines.

Joseph Rios – Ephraim Goes With Me to the Dump

Joseph Rios

Ephraim Goes With Me to the Dump

Gallo Wine was the only one to survive on Clovis.
They take loads of all-green for twenty bucks
and turn it into fertilizer that feeds cheap wine.
I’m doing my part. We got layers of leaves in
different stages of rot. The stiff metal rakes are
our best friends as the fellas in hard hats tell us
to hurry up with bleating horns. I’m coughing
on the fermenting slop as one layer slides smooth
off like a waffle lubed with butter. It’s like butter,
E says, and he’s right on time. It’s all coming out
pretty good now and Ephraim is smiling while
wearing the gloves I let him borrow. I’ve been here
too many times for it to feel special. But the words
come out anyway. I climb in and kick the pile forward
with my creased and cracked boots, then broom
the small bits away. I’ve said nothing about sound.
The earth movers have a way of being so loud
your eyesight gets better. The way I’m noticing
my friend now climbing into the truck and
pulling off those gloves, I can see him so clearly.
I’m doing all that I can to hold onto the image
of his arm out the window, conducting each
sentence from his mouth like a symphony.  

Monique Quintana – Crossing Sticks and Lies

Monique Quintana

Crossing Sticks and Lies

            For Randa

I had decided to drop out of school on the first day of my MFA fiction workshop. I was wearing a black corset dress with life jacket buckles as my goodbye to school shroud. Randa emailed me to say she noticed I wasn’t on the class roster and said she was reaching out to make sure I was there. Three years later, when I did my thesis defense reading, I said that Randa was a cross between the Blue Fairy and Lampwick, and I meant it. That day I decided to drop out of school was my most Pinocchio moment. I was saying that I don’t care to write anymore. I sat on a patch of grass, and I went to look at the taxidermy animals in the Science I building. I contemplated the willow tree art installation on the lawn blowing away and turning into disco confetti. I got to class about ten minutes late.

Joseph Rios – Field Guide: Calwa #2

Joseph Rios

Field Guide: Calwa #2

The steel wheeled train cars sing like a crystal flute 
of champagne accompanied by the bass held hostage
in the trunk of this murdered out Buick.

The kids’ jungle gym is a broke down Altima
that became a memorial to the neighbor’s grandpa 
who got shot while changing the timing belt. 

How will posterity explain the endless tumbleweeds 
               of empty Hot Cheeto Bags? 

I took out a chunk of the driveway with a sledgehammer
and thought of my dad’s father, drunk, tripping
off these steps and smashing his head in the same spot.

Do the hummingbirds ever see me and think I’m the spirit
                       of someone’s dead tia?