Gus Hernandez


The kind where the horses have been hitched to the trees.
Where the granary door’s been locked and the money
stashed in the box in the wall. If it’s free,
my grandfather used to say, I will take
even a punch to the face. I think that’s a misquote,
but that’s what I do these days. I mess with the syntax—live
in the belongings—of the dead. My mother goes
to bed, and I’m left to turn the locks in the house, to sit
in the kitchen and survey what’s left on the table.
I know there is no way to safeguard what we have.
No bolt that will hold. My grandfather couldn’t
have seen himself growing old. His fortune at the mercy
of so many. What happened to the late hope in the rain
rustle of the cypress? The ordered security
of the stacked rocks around the cows and the pasture?
Only now, nearly alone, do I realize how little
of the earth you can take with you. Not the paper
that counts itself whole in my pocket. Not the bread
and milk. Not even the bread and milk
I have in the smudge between night and the morning.

Gus Hernandez is the author of the poetry collection Flower Grand First (Moon Tide Press). He was born in Jalisco, Mexico and lives in Santa Ana, California.