David Tomas Martinez

The Only Mexican

The only Mexican that ever was Mexican, fought in the revolution
and drank nightly, and like all machos, crawled into work crudo,

letting his breath twirl, then clap and sing before sandpaper
juiced the metal. The only Mexican to never sit in a Catholic pew

was born on Halloween, and ate his lunch wrapped in foil against
the fence with the other Mexicans. They fixed old Fords where my

grandfather worked for years, him and the welder Juan wagered
each year on who would return first to the Yucatan. Neither did.

When my aunts leave, my dad paces the living room and then rests,
like a jaguar who once drank rain off the leaves of Cecropia trees,

but now caged, bends his paw on a speaker to watch crowds pass.
He asks me to watch grandpa, which means, for the day; in town

for two weeks, I have tried my best to avoid this. Many times he will swear,
and many times grandpa will ask to get in and out of bed, want a sweater,

he will ask the time, he will use the toilet, frequently ask for beer,
about dinner, when the Padres play, por que no novelas, about bed.

He will ask about his house, grandma, to sit outside, he will question
while answering, he will smirk, he will invent languages while tucked in bed.

He will bump the table, tap the couch, he will lose his slipper, wedging it in
the wheel of his chair, like a small child trapped in a well, everyone will care.

He will cry without tears—a broken carburetor of sobs. When I speak
Spanish, he shakes his head, and reminds me, he is the only Mexican.

Circus, Circus

Yes, families are supposed to be circuses.
Accept it, and accept that the acrobat’s taffy
of satin will twirl, and the bears in tutus will spin

over the exposes in the warped wood
and cracks in the waxy linoleum,
all the while your grandfather will yell

You no like it, go in the canyon and eat tomatoes.

Avoid his boots from under the Mercury Marquis.
Accept your aunt, the invisible lady, naked in the yard,
mustached and fat, fixing her car’s transmission

by sanding moons on the body at night.
Listen to your cousin make beats
and let his sister teach you the “Dougie”

while their mother juggles meth and late rent fees.
Accept it. There is knife throwing with your uncles.
Children run the streets yelling while you drink soda

from a straw in a sandwich bag, and watch
morning jump through a flaming hoop
to avoid the insult of a whip. Afternoon

stands on her hind legs and opens wide, showing
missing teeth. Accept that night stays in his cage.
Remember all that you see. Memory is a fist to the eye.

David Tomas Martinez

<em>Edit Libroafricante</em> David Tomas Martinez

David Tomas Martinez has published in Forklift Ohio, Poetry International, and other journals. He has also been the featured poet for Border Voices. He is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program in Poetry. Martinez is also the Reviews and Interviews Editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, and a CantoMundo Fellow. His debut collection of poetry, Hustle, will be released in 2014 by Sarabande Books.