Love needs a chaperone. Alone now,
the pachuco’s grandson holds the CD,
and waits for the sky to tell him
what to do. God knows how to make
a sign out of anything: a song played
for the fifth time that day; petals you pluck
from a flowerhead. Yesterday, his homie said,
Diana got married, and the pachuco’s grandson’s
first thought was of a teenage boy he saw
skateboarding. Kicking pavement,
the young man blurred between the bouquet
of flowers he held. The pachuco’s grandson
hated him now. He did not know why, or
if it were true, but it was something else
to rest his focus on. When their pause
turned silence, his homie said, why you all
butthurt? Quick enough, he answered:
Shut the fuck up. The sky says nothing
this morning, except that love cannot be
left by itself. This is what he’s learned.
Its attachments, its risks and warnings.
He takes the disk and bends. Light warps
like a bouquet’s plastic wrap struck by sun.
The sky doesn’t need to tell you anything.
You should know. The pachuco’s grandson
tips his Kings hat, conjures something like
John Wayne. There’s always room to be
the wrong kind of right. He’ll fit the disk
into his fist. To make things manageable.
If he turns away after, if he doesn’t,
for an hour, pluck each piece from his palm
the way a child might toss daisy petals,
might wait to see where each one lands.
MICHAEL TORRES was born and brought up in Pomona, California where he spent his adolescence as a graffiti artist. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, The Sun, and Water~Stone Review among others. He has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Jerome Foundation. A CantoMundo Fellow and VONA alum, Torres has been a finalist for the Jake Adam York Prize and a semi-finalist for the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Currently he teaches creative writing at Minnesota State University, Mankato and through the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop.