Back to Issue Forty-One

Con Tus Ojos


I must cut the Spanish because
that’s all my dad taught me
on car rides from basketball practice.
With your eyes, son. Use your fucking eyes.
Another sharp bounce pass slung
through my hands out-of-bodied,
watching the play unfold. My dad
in the bleachers, the coach’s whistle
vibrating off our skulls. Con tus ojos,
son. The car otherwise quiet. I feel
six, again. I see a boy still without much
hair below the eyes. That day, in my
sister’s bedroom we played with her
barbies on the floor. The back of my thighs
itchy from the hairs woven into
her carpet. Aaron Carter topless
and puka-shelled in the ripped
poster above. With his voice
dad kicked down her door, told me
I could never touch those thin
plastic legs or drive that hot pink
convertible off a mountain of
blankets again. He marched me
out to the kitchen, white-knuckle
steering my shoulders towards
the chair he pulled out from under
the table, like a root six years overgrown
in dirt he didn’t recognize. He made me
watch him peel all the green chile
from our freezer. Watch how I do it,
son. He pinched the stem so tight
the nails of his thumb and forefinger
lost all their pink. With my eyes
I saw the softness in his blood
harden into white. Seeds too hot
to touch fell from the tips. Con mis ojos,
I saw him becoming the man
he wanted me to be.



Birthday cake with stars


instead of candles. Mom never liked the melting
wax on her countertops. She hated the blues
and how they bled into her vanilla-cracked canvas.

Hannah and I twisted our tongues around
the egg-beaters when mom was done baking.
Her sugar milk circling our mouths.

Every year, after a homemade red velvet, we’d lay
on the porch and watched the stars
fall from the sky. Each one a tumbling,

unspoken wish: For mom to be ok. For mom to
bake forever. That Hannah sees you falling, too. Miles away
from the rest of the world, in Sapello,

we watched the little dipper shovel
the shards of other stars behind itself,
like a boy cleaning a sidewalk alone,

until our sleeping bags turned cold around our toes
and the bag of chips between us went stale. Back then
I had more wishes in me than the copper-spiked

water in a well. My head filled with pennies,
her blurry face clear in the water.


Alejandro Lucero is a writer from Sapello, New Mexico by way of Denver. His chapbook
manuscript, Sapello Son, was named a semifinalist for Beloit Poetry Journal’s 2022 Chad Walsh Prize. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, The Offing, The Pinch, Salamander, and Salt Hill, where he was a finalist for the Philip Booth Prize judged by Matt Rasmussen. He serves as an assistant editor for Copper Nickel.

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