Poetry by Austin Garcia

Praise: to the little

things that have molded
this clay-colored boy thank you
to the bunk bed
that busted my nose
from the six-foot
free fall that I thought
made me look hard like
an action hero thank you
to the three trailer
park girls who
called my little
brother fat thank you
for the rage I felt
when I knocked
her one in her crooked
smile her jaw and all
its slack thank you
to the one I drove
into a trashcan and told
her that’s where
she belonged thank you
to my mother
for not bringing
the belt down
like the time
she did when I hid
inside Sears letting
her believe some
man had taken me
for his own
to use this boy
as nothing more
than a body thank you
to the neighborhood
cats who pounce
at an offered hand thank you
for your burlap
tongues and soggy
noses thank you
for this outdoor prowler
with your dusty fur
and allotrope eyes thank you
for the beach bum way
you bathe in the sun thank you
for not adhering
to stereotypes
regarding milk thank you
to my tattered chucks
and your unwavering canvas
soul for being long with a century
of greasers b-boys and punk
rockers thank you
for not imposing
exclusions on skin, lover,
or look thank you
to the unspoiled lover
who tells us all that we want
to hear thank you
for the time you’ve spent
studying the highway
system of stretch marks
that make up this body
how your admiration
makes me feel adorned
with the wings of an angel thank you
when you run your fingers
down this river of stretch
how your hands polished these
square shoulders rounder
than a doorknob
quivering to be turned thank you
to the bread butt thank you
for willing to be last thank you
for staying at the end of the line
eagerly waiting your turn to be
smeared with the wonderous
fat of a mother
cow thank you
to the what-a-beautiful-day-
come-fuck-me cacophony
of the Stellar’s Jay thank you
for the squawk
you consider a cat call
that taunts me from my sleep
well before the alarm thank you
for giving me reason
to get out of bed thank you
again to my mother
for showing
me that only tongue
you need to speak
a language is the one
you slice
into bits and abundantly
stuff in telera rolls
and serve with beans
from the olla
for you I’ll do right
by the carne asada I’ll do right
by the tamale husks
and blindside the buds of the
nonbelievers as they caress
the taste of char
may it quench
their thirst for home
I’ll do right by
your gentle hands
mother thank you
to the father who
had no hand
in my upbringing thank you
to the white woman
who chained him
to a lemon tree in
the backyard and bore
him two dancing girls thank you
to these sisters of mine
who will remind him
the steady hand needed
to love them
may he make you
laugh from your bellies
and may your
incantatory giggles
cast a spell of what-if
for the first family
he might have had thank you
thank you thank you





Here, we are no longer fearful of the things
that move. We are free of a bullet, free
of an expedited missile, free
of a credit score. Here, everybody believes
in the weekend, maple syrup, marijuana,
overnight deliveries, things
to be sliced. Here, when soul mates
meet you two twine into a wick
and burn beyond reds, and yellows,
and blues. Here, heroes don’t assimilate
from tragedy. Yes, this place fulfills the
promise of “carrots will give you x-ray vision”
Here, when the boys eat the peas too,
when they finally peer through the walls,
they won’t find their dads
with the neighbor lady.
No, this is a place where mothers
won’t hurt and brothers
won’t hate and filled with fathers
who settle for less.
Yes, whatever you may need call to it like a dog:
say, here, second chances!
here, dime-store catharsis!
here, salvation at the length of my shin!
and it will come begging for a hand
because this is the land
of the good boys and leather bones.
Here is waiting for you
to bring it in from the rain,
waiting for you to display it
like something anyone can use,
presenting itself like a blanket
draped over the back of an old chair,
offering itself as if it could speak, as if it might say
“here, sling me over your shoulder
like a bandolier, wear me
like a never-ending cast of leather
and brass,” as if it might repeat “here,
wear me like an incredibly luminous shawl,
wear me, an incredible,
luminous shawl.”
This is the place where, blame
worn like a cast-iron jacket
is checked at the door on your way in.

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