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RODNEY GOMEZ Their Bodies a Xylophone

My father blames them.

No te andes metiendo donde no debes.

Walls couldn’t save them

because they couldn’t be saved.

Thistles hitching a ride

on an unsuspecting animal.

No te andes metiendo donde no te quieren.

Don’t go where you’re not wanted.

Which would rule out the world.

In the sun, laid out, their bodies a xylophone.

Mira lo que pasa cuando te metes

donde no debes. Look at what happens

when you want to feed your family.

In nineteen forty-six he crossed

the bridge as casually as ragweed.

And never left. No oven of an 18-wheeler.

No sealed crate to muffle sound

like a plunger mute. No darkness

to drunken instead of water.

I ask him how he is any different.

He says, in English I can barely understand,

I belong here.

Rodney Gomez is the author of Baedeker from the Persistent Refuge (YesYes Books, 2019), Citizens of the Mausoleum (Sundress Publications, 2018), and several chapbooks. He is the recipient of the Drinking Gourd Prize from Northwestern University and the Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize. His work appears in Poetry, North American Review, The Gettysburg Review, Blackbird, Pleiades, Denver Quarterly, Puerto del Sol, Verse Daily, and other places. A proud member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop and the Chocholichex writing collective, he is also is an editor at Latino Book Review and works at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.