Nine with a Knapsack

— Willy Palomo

                                          & a spiteful overbite,
              Mama know not to stay anywhere
                            men don’t believe in the stars.
              Maybe they blind from staring straight
into the sun. Maybe they come from
                            a language with no words
for light.              No matter.      She tied a single
              pair of clothes to her back & told
fam peace.          Yesternight, Abuelo called her
              una indita fea y flaca.
                            He poked Abuela Tina twice
awake to argue whether the child was even
                            his. Next morn, he tried to take it
              all back, as if his lying could clean
                            the dirt rubbed over Mama’s face.
              Mama been had ungrateful men,
                                      begging her not to leave.
Ain’t nothing new.

Sooner or later, even this country
                            will finger its remorse
                                          the way you finger a fishbone
out the mouth of your choking child.
              ¿Cual country?             Cualquiera. Call Mama
my motherland because no land ever been
              matria to me.                I am citizen of her hearth.
                            If they ask what I got in my bag,
              know it’s a hunger hotter than your sauce.
Mama once ate a country built by gods.
                            ¿Wanna find out what I can fit in my mouth?


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