What can be said is dust, the stray dogs
stretched out near the mesquite—panting,
mile-worn–just shy of the signs some
neighbors hammered into posts to KEEP OUT
strangers. Just midway through the teeth of
another heatwave, the strange perfume
of sunlight, rosemary, and drowsed winds
mingles with all kinds of hell. In one neighbor’s
yard, peonies, white and fragile, have their fairly
brief lives bent to rot. The dogs
piss on the crunched, brown-yellow
grass. Mexican corridos wail from the heart
of another home, an old radio set out on the porch.
Silk-soft guitar strings tear into
murder and love, enemies and family. No children
sing like that boy and girl do to their father. Sing
as if asleep, as if they were fields
of lantanas blazing orange and impossible.
The father leans into one long drag from a cigar.
He knocks the ash—his breath and the spark—
into a small cup.