This Time by James Diaz


This time

the past is the past
depends on how bad it really was

he hit me here
and here
in the parking lot of the auto mechanic’s
neon glow
I said do it again
and I’ll put you in the ground

there was a name my mother used to call the neighbors
angrily in Spanish
there was a way she held the salt shaker in her hand
that reminded me of
a solo dancer
heels clicking on a sad High school gymnasium floor
abandoned by her date for a hotter flame

my father was at the race track
with the rent again

I was sent after him
around the corner
with my tiny hands
held out like contrition
momma says tell him milk and bread
I say I won’t forget this pain, ever
my only inheritance

tonight i cut deeper than I expected
the vein in me sang the whole chorus this time,
she cooed like a rail yard
at the end of the world
I looked like I felt
like I looked hooked up to the moon
trailed by barking dogs and no last name
they said it wouldn’t hurt so much if I just handed it over to him

they were wrong

it had a life of its own
a death-bell
that i ate like laughter
motel-vacancy in my eyes,
past the bone
is the spirit
past the spirit
is the pain

you can’t outrun what you are –
not ever

it’s twenty dollars to forget
it’s twenty years
to remember

the county off road & grid
in the tall pine
moon mother
shouts after tail lights
disappearing into the mountains
her daughter, in her mouth –
she breaks the thing in two

a god of silence
walking home
to build a wreckage
from her womb.

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