Telling Grandma Stories

At the end of Grandma Esther’s cul-de-sac, summer moon found me coins. Mexican money—round plata imbedded in roots. How do our hands find themselves soiled? Old man bursts through screen door, barking ¿Qué haces? I should have grabbed two handfuls of dirt and run. Instead, Grandma’s pursed lips, unsure if mentiroso is tasted in blood.

Statue for Seamstress

Stand on chair, legs uneven. A mother is stability. Hand needles her voice, quells fidget. No little boy understands fray—quick work of time, rub and soft cloth. Waist, wide as mans. Limbs eager to catch-up. Boy sways. Finger pricked. Punch to thigh teaches patience and still.

Photos 3 & 5, Found In An Album We Don’t Talk About

In a solid red sweat suit and L.A. Gears, little boy enters dawn. Mounds of mulch scattered. Pick up that rake…Now with the hoe. Disposable in my father’s hands, meant to mark: boy holding tools too close to the claw—the majesty of ignorant wealth.

Demographics, 1991

On Paseo del Sol, periphery came to cul-de-sac. Estabamos chicanos at the foot & hump of horseshoe tú nos llamamos mexicanos. Elderly at our sides—Philippinos y queers opposite them. Sprinkled anglo, our street squeezed the american dream. And like asphalt, it was hard, unforgiving, sticky in summer.


The memory is phony, prescribed photographic. Kaleidoscope shifts wonder—sparkle to offset dark. I question an eye that gives credence. What trigger makes it so? My Kodak truth—blank-face snapshots. Tickled grimace to extricate joy, search for a smile to say I’m home.

Ruben Rodriguez is a MFA student at the University of New Mexico where he studies poetry. He is the fiction editor of The Great American Lit Mag and author of the chapbook We Do What We Want (Orange Monkey Publishing, 2015). His poetry has been deemed fit for consumption by Passages North, Beecher’s, Superstition Review, Potomac Review, Bayou Magazine and others. You can find him at