The Posada Sonnets
BY ANTONIO LÓPEZ
I – belén, campanas de belén
did the cargo bed burn? the one who looks like him
asks. outside, a car clears its throat pulling out
of gravel. josé opens the door, & the youngest
shores up to his knees. he clasps the clumps
of denim, washing its dirt with eyes brown
as the sonora. after their hearts slow down,
he goes outside with the men made of empty
modelos. they grab fistfuls of cacahuates, he
the neck of his red ecko. smells maría again,
recites her prayers of sweat & victoria secret
perfume. lips tremble for her clutch as mouth
climbed down her small cerros. & she moaned
his name una última vez—the rain coming down
II – en el nombre del padre
is it a timeless knowledge que los hombres se empedan
as an excuse to cry? for throats of glass to be chased
con chente, who pours on the salted rim of lip—llorar.
was meño the first to water concrete with eyes, & ask
josé, compadre, do the cicadas still belt songs in june,
the boys mistake mating for the sound of heat? is yes
to see her circle la plaza with your rose held, a church
bell to tremble con chisme, as comas en cada cuadra
persignan her walking rhinestone? está la pista de baile
hecho de tacones y ostrich boots, la birria burnt over
un camarón pelao? y bodas después, will el novio only
be called father when he kneels to his sons, wishing
palms can shore pesos? as you walked uphill with a torn
mochila, & met the other men perched behind pick-up,
who was the first you bent your head to, their shoulders
a warm church bench?
III – Aguinaldo
Pozole oozes from metal mouths. Pots of pollo & hominy,
hummin’ about. ‘Nesa puts down a Gucci bag, lowers a bowl
into the greasy volcán. Calms the caldo with fistfuls of lettuce.
& let us give thanks, Abuela says, for this meal, the birth de nuestro
señor. For Sofia as she hoofs past the holy trinity in a reindeer
mameluco, sniffs las casuelas that tower o’er her space buns.
She tiptoes to touch the stainless temples, the chunks of skin
stuck to walls, ‘till she hears the alarm sound of tías boiling
behind her, VANESA! AGÁRRALA. She jiggles down
to the back table, inspects the crops of Vero Mango poking
through plastic, & snaggletooths the twigs of twist knots.
As ‘Nesa grabs Sofia, she the goodie bag, both hold
the sweetest gift.
IV – The Most High
Tías walk in wax, Chuy rolls his on
bible-thin paper, dresses Our Lady
in a spliffed robe. White petals float
backseat, the tuffs of sons sprouting
from Dora sheets. Their sheepish eyes
graze Chuy’s hands—how they thicket
a street sacrament. His fingers of tired
vultures pluck the stem, a stubborn vein,
& open the body of Mary until she’s a palm
of kief. Face-to-face with their Messiah,
Moi bleats, Can I try? & inside the shepherd’s
whip, lungs confess their first hit. He gropes
for the door, still child-locked, so he rips
his baby-blue hoodie. Moises coughs,
& the burning bush dies laughing. Mi’jo,
your arms is too short to hotbox with God.
V – the wise men stop to play chess in the front yard
he grooms the feathers of an adidas hoodie,
logo of a chest swelling, hit em wit dat one-two.
with mando’s call, a flock of primos encircle
us, soles glued to patinetas & plastic chairs.
the apostles of postin up, they raise phones
like staffs, snapchat the pawn’s cold march,
a lone brown boy who’s crossed the guarded
line. how do you win this game, chirps baby alex
as he nestles inside my cotton shirt. i lift
his sleeveless wings, so perched on my lap,
he can hear, let them believe you only move once.
VI – next of kin
darting their heads at the pieces of men who’ve gone
from this board, the older crows kiss their teeth, naw
this ain’t it chief. which i think’s millennial for tweeting,
has death always been this wooden, waged over color
by a murder of homeboys plumed in puffer jackets?
i watch samuel put on his from across the table, & try
to remember antonio’s face, how old he would’ve been,
the age when red was just a bandana, not the stain never
cleaned from a white t. & maybe this is why mexicans have
so many nicknames, to flower the nearest flesh with our lips
before a corner does. like papá as he knocked on the tinted
window, handed tamales to our neighbor Nate, ten carnal.
how dimebags fell from his lap as he bit into the warm husk
of spanish. & sang, man oh man.