rules of american football
here is layla, using gianna’s jail mail markers
in her letter. the biggest thing annoying me
right now is my FUCKING roommate dee.
old and frazzly dee who wears you down yapping
on about her dog this and dog that, and when’s
it gonna end because holy fuck, i get it now.
layla used to work at a hardware store, and on slow
days she would build houses from wooden stirrers,
text me pictures of lap joints and stopcock screws.
when i was 15 i painted a portrait of layla’s face for art
class because i thought she was beautiful, brown curls
and spring lawn eyes. when i got her first letter, all
i could do was weep before reading, thank god, and
after, all i could do was laugh. i don’t know the rules
of american football, but i love letting layla explain.
Papi Was a Marine
Me preguntan si te extraño, a mis hermanos mayores o hermanas menores, y les digo que sí. Aquí el sargento nos despierta gritando a las cinco de la mañana, en la madrugada a cagar bañar y rasurarnos, y me acuerdo de ti, mamá, agarrándome de la oreja, arrastrándome a la iglesia, apúrense, apúrense! porque uno no quiere llegar tarde al cielo, mientras tanto el sargento nos pide cincuenta lagartijas enlodadas. A Santos le llegaron rollos de huevo Filipinos, hechos en casa, y a cada uno de nosotros nos compartió. Divinos. Aqui dentro eres blanco o amarillo o negro, sin Mexicanos ni indigenas ni mesclados. Los paisas y chinitos y morenos y gueros todos nos llevamos tragando puré de papas con charolas igualitas. Cantamos y nos emborrachamos todos juntos. Gritamos y nos reímos, pero no lloramos. Nunca. Después de la cena, Ramos sale corriendo hacia la lluvia cayendo, licor corriendo por sus venas, saliendo por sus dedos grasosos. El agua busca su boca caliente en lo que le grita al cielo, pidiéndole champú para lavarse el pelo.
They ask me if I miss you, if I miss my older brothers and younger sisters, and I tell them yes. Here the sergeant wakes us screaming at five in the morning, crack of dawn to shit shower and shave, and I think of you, mamá, grabbing me by the ear, dragging me to church, hurry! hurry! because one mustn't be late into heaven, all while the sergeant orders more and more muddy pushups. Santos got Filipino egg rolls from home and he shared with each one of us. Divine. In here you are white or yellow or black, no room for Mexican or indigenous or mixed men, so the paisas and chinitos and morenos and gueros all get along eating mashed potatoes out the same colored tray. We sing songs and get wasted together. Scream and laugh, but not cry together. Never. After dinner, Ramos runs into the pouring rain, liquor streaming through his veins and out his fingers, and water rushes into the warmth of his mouth as he screams up into the sky for some shampoo to wash his hair.
Ana “Ro” Rosales is an emerging writer, cartoon-watcher, and chilaquiles-eater currently based in the Bay Area. They proudly seek and celebrate whimsy in all forms.
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