Be good or well or water or sand or shell
or itch in a house where I sat
on a patio behind the laundry room.
The washer had to be bleached
when the pile of shit was found
inside. The wall, in red paint,
said “RESPECT THE T.P.,”
so we all made sure to really wash our asses.
My mother told us to fold for every wipe,
porque siempre vamos a ser pobre.
The sweat of lotto factories, country
clubs, el supermercado Latino,
and the house to clean was all she knew
to love her child. I wiped windows with Windex,
for her wrists couldn’t be
dipped in ant piles anymore.
Her eyes were carrots, their roots
at the neck of a bottle. I would stare
down at my drink
and vomit. All over
my desk, the water,
and the sand
were children pilfering
Dirt lives in my missing lunulas.
Draw a picture
of an America underwater
and tell me there are lemons to
put on my head. I want to dance with my mother,
but I hate my own signature.
En unos años, she’d say,
todo será diferente.
There are too many beach chairs
and I have frost bite. On my palm
is a map of interstates.
Steven Perez is a poet and musician (Grounded, allscum, Swell) currently living in Tallahassee, FL.