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.
All morning my throat catches,
the wind gray and wandering
along the spine of grief
hot from the bellies of howling dogs.
The windchimes stir, agate
clinking like a thousand well-learned prayers.
While hearing my children shriek
in Spanish and English–playtime,
two swings rising higher—
a squirrel rests like a stone atop
This evening is a ghost-life
when mist settles upon the metal gates
and manicured lawns of the neighborhood.
I see it and I grow
fearful the world I want is swallowed.
Reaching through the white,
humid air, I make circles and
Tonight the old lemon tree,
heavy at the branches, rustles.
The fruit is there, even in the half
moon. It is a plea for love,
to not be left scattered on the ground
In This Land
brief rush from the hundred flame
-like leaves in the grove. Oranges
between these gravities.
Our child in her longest shadow runs through the hymn
of fruit and light,
that picked up the dark
and so picked itself
to be something cool and soft.
ripples electric on the tongue,
the trees themselves night pillars.
Eric Cruz is a poet and teacher residing in San Antonio, Texas. He is the winner of the Pecan Grove Press Chapbook Contest for Through The Window (Pecan Grove Press 2002), selected by Palmer Hall. His poems have recently appeared in River River Review and Carve. Cruz received his MFA from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson.