Rodney Gomez

Home is a bus

          full of scars,

                     hurricane tattoos,

          arms black

                     and brown and purple,


from the waist up,


                     from the waist down.

On Route 66

          I stitched

                     track marks on a mother

          holding a sack

                     of ragweed in her arms,

                                her face a tattered afghan

I’d stroke in the dark

          when I was high.

                     I rode every bus

into swashbuck then,

                     but I don’t remember

                                the stanchions.

          I remember the manager —

                     a storm cloud

                                who washed his hands

whenever he touched the passengers.

          He was all about efficiency.

                     In this life there is nothing

more pathetic

          than a businessman.



          A man in a turquoise sash

                     speaks incessantly

                                about his catamaran:

a Stacy Adams shoebox

          he plows into the flank

                     of the Sandia Mountains.

A man who fishes for ears

          is often lonely

                     but there are too many

          liquor stores on Lead.

                     He has an appointment

                                with the kind of wind

and heat that cleanse,

          and pity he doesn’t know

                     how often they go

on vacation.



          I pull the stop cord

                     on Copper to hear

          how the metal

                     veers carefully

                                into soft vein.

A mother rubs dust

          from her baby’s throat.

                     Two boys gulp water like radiators.

          Heads are gauzed, necks

                     emblazoned with warring

          versions of the Virgin.

                     I wear red to match

                                the seatbelts: fifty sardines

tasseled with blood.



                     I used to be Mexican-

          American, I used to be

                     Hispanic, wedded

                                like an unwilling bride

to maracas, chimichangas,

          and Cinco de Mayo.

                     Then I took the bus

to Old Town.

          A man with a grocery bag

                     leaking hatch chiles

          stumbled into my lap

                     and said I smelled like rotten

                                eggs. He flashed a forearm

tag of a Karankawa bride.

          Dissolution often happens

                     on the fly.

A year ago, when the 54

          trampled an octogenarian

                     at the depot, I smelled

          the Gulf of Mexico.

                     The wheels turned

                                over the curb like hands

making bread.

          I left a makeshift prayer

                     in the gutter

where it still swells.

about the author