Southwest 8th Street and 40 Somethingth

I write this almost
a month later.
Everyone is saying
take your time.
How can anyone do that
as they walk
intentionally toward
a motherfucking land mine of tears.

The night before,
we had visitors in the room
Ismelia talking over my answers to her questions
repeating how she knew him
since he was a boy
me talking right back over her
just because I'm an asshole.
Jose doing his best
to be supportive of me
though I am a cunty contrarian 
right up to the end
of my father's life.
Saying how proud my father was
making sure to tell me 
he's there for me
but not to replace
my father
knowing the kind of shit
I look for
knowing what a piece of shit
I can be
when someone is trying to help me.

fucking talking
you're doing the right thing
though I find no power resides in me
to keep my father from going under
to right the left side of his face
to stuff the chuckle back into his mouth
when I say the docs say there's no fix for this
"No ay arreglo"
after the multiple brain hemorrhages
and the erratic heart rate.
How he shook his head
when I asked if he wanted them
to bring him back
when the heart attacks came.
These motherfuckers 
expected the heart attacks
like rain.
How he nodded when I asked
if he wanted to be comfortable
though I don't know
if he knew it meant
the dimming of the lights
or if I even had that conversation
or if I just said yes, please
make him comfortable.

I held his hand
as I spoke on the phone
to one of his buddies from the neighborhood
and I think maybe he waited
that he wanted to make sure 
those humble people knew.
These were his people
away from home. 
That taste of country Cuba.
I wasn't looking at him
and I felt his hand pull away a little
and I just knew.
I told the guy I had to go
and hung up
saw my dad take one last long breath
and just stop.
A single tear
crept down
from his closed right eye
and drowned all light
in my life
all the safety gone
no more Sprites in the late night
when my stomach went sideways
no more big red truck rolling into my swale
no more voice in the car
laughing at me
about being the family food delivery person.
And into the business of Death
I went.

Now I sit here in the air conditioner
ordering computer parts
writing this non poem
crying slow.
He sacrificed so much for me.
He gave up a relationship with a lady
because I was jealous of that woman
and he comforted me
saying hey her kid didn't want it either.
The last thing intelligible 
he said was hey careful driving home
because I drive like an asshole.
He suffered me so much
and I feel I am letting him down
with every interaction I have with my son.
I asked him, as that day went
and after
when his hand was cold.
I prayed
to my father
only Him
and to no made up motherfucking anythings
please please leave me your patience
tell me the trick
how do I shut the fuck up
Tell me, Titan.

He took care of everything a while back. 
I didn't have to find
a groupon for a funeral and a burial.
With the motorcycle cops
we took all the red lights on the way there
and Christina laughed, remarked
how he'd have gotten a kick out of it.
He wanted to be up high in a crypt
so people couldn't step on him
and animals couldn't shit on him.
I think he wanted to look down 
like this was a balcony
and he knew I liked the shade
so there's shade there.
I dread going back
looking up
I know where my god is:
Southwest 8th Street and 40 Somethingth.


It's a bit strange
and sad
how easy it is
for me
to put the death of my father
in a box in a far away
part of my mind.

The ease
with which I can speed myself there
to look at any of the many
items in the box
and be instantly broken
makes me wonder
if it means it's needed
to avoid being a monster
or something
and I think why
would drowning this way
be necessary
by design.


How He Felt

So I don't forget
his hands were brown spotted with the years
but smooth
warm at first
from the fever
and cooler as the day went.
The skin thin
on the arm
it crinkled
like aluminum foil.
The arm hairs short.
His forehead
felt dry ashy
but his hair was cool
thin but still soft and bouncy
But the eyes yellow in the whites
and the olive was dull.
He had a not great beard going
and the electric razor I bought him
sat in a box at home.

Shallow breathing.
A hard rasp every so often.
The last fight.


My dad didn't pick up
when I called his cell
at the hospital
this morning.
I eventually talked to a nurse
who said he couldn't remember 
the pin to unlock the phone.
My dad does not have memory issues
and while sometimes selective
he remembers with steel.
I told the nurse
this wasn't normal for him
but maybe he had that chemo fog
my girlfriend has
from treatment over time.

Christina did me yet another kindness
and picked up 
tamal en casuela from the Cuban place
and I took it to him that afternoon.
He had some
and let me set up the iPad
so he could watch baseball
but had trouble with certain words
and at the end of the night told me
"La computadora no esta buena"
and tapped on the right side of his head.
"Maneja despacio
y cuidado con las curvas"
was the last complete sentence
he spoke to me.


One Saturday
you walk into your dad's hospital room
as you touch
the skin
of his liver spotted forehead
and wonder if it's been like that
or if they're not cleaning him
you realize
you hadn't visited
for a couple days
not because you didn't want
to argue with or upset him
this might be the beginning
of losing
the man who 
chipped and carved at you
till you were mostly useful
withstood the barrage of your youth
and then waited
how did he know
to tell you he was proud
over the phone
as you sat in the grass
of your front yard
with your two year old boy
in the warm spring sun
oh this will be