1/

Come out to show them.
I’m looking for a memory
And it starts with a sound
That makes the water
In the glass tremble
Like the neighbors music.
The memory is singed
In the Texas sun
Do I have to?
Yes, you look fine. Your a’ma is waiting to see you.
But the sounds are all around
I feel the wall and it is dry,
It is becoming hard to see.

Outside the family is breathing
Heavy because I made them wait.
It’s not the right color.
They won’t know the difference, mija.
Self-worth is a bone.

2/

Turn…


I recently finished two short works of non-fiction. The first was Agua Viva by Clarice Lispector and the second was Hand to Mouth by Paul Auster. Each of which were remarkably unique. Clarice is a rightfully cherished Brazillian gem, while Auster is the resilient American from the Bowery. The books are loose variations of what a biographical self-portrait might look like. …


We are now at the point where we have to touch base almost everyday. We do this mostly to remind one another of what might happen should we choose to move back home. Apparently home is El Paso despite having lived in Chicago for over three years. I imagine this is a common phenomenon and an innate magnetism to what is quantifiable, repeatable; home.

In the case that we do move back, according to our conversational spreadsheets, we’re looking at much of the same give and take a few amenities and environmental features. The lake is something I would definitely…


She got home from work early. The drag of her key in the old locks startled me because I wasn’t expecting her home so early. The first thing to come through the door was her tall red beanie that was folded wool clods around her ears; then from the bottom her black boots, followed finally by the center of her body which was wrapped in an itchy looking grey goat. My head jerked in surprise because she generally messages me ahead of time to let me know that she is on her way home. When she walked in, I was…


It was already midnight when he and the new hire, Dominique, were finally done unloading the crates. In the lobby, it looked like someone was getting ready to assemble a micro-home in the sunken apse and down the steps near an idle fountain that reeked with a sour-penny tang. They weren’t even halfway done and already he wanted to throttle the fool that lifted the needle from the recycled mall-soft tunes as the silence only added to the vacuum like ambiance of the impotent space. Because there was no music to shepherd the passing of time, the mechanisms of his…


Carolina was the eldest of three children born from Rosa Pimentel. They lived beyond the city limits in a single bedroom which was really a converted garage. The room was always dark no matter the time of day and when Rosa would turn on the television their few belongings would resolve themselves upward because the television was on the floor. She and her daughter worked at the same denim maquiladora but were unaccustomed to seeing each other. On one occasion, Rosa was approached by her supervisor Martin Minus at the end of her shift and was led into his office…


She didn’t appreciate it when her friends used the word proxy. She much preferred substitute, and at least surrogate sounds like something human. Proxy made her feel like a small pawn in a government conspiracy or a unit to be measured in reference to a standard locked in a safe in France. She cared little for this word. But her intellectual friends loved to use it when talking about how she managed to replace her dead mother’s plant.

All she’s accomplished in truth is revive her mother in proxy, or, a patient of mine once responded to trauma in a…


Image Rights Owned (2017)

i retreat in fear, by a
green and brush heavy
labyrinth among pillars
by the sea, like a pier;
although these pillars do
not hold up life,
but darkness, above my head,
within the labyrinth, a
resting place for madness
which if activated could harm
me; i run, with my
eyes agape, and at its end,
i find a cottage, looking in
not in my sight but their
existence in wicked emerald glow
of nocturnal eyes, the
others catch my face
a father rises angrily to
protect his daughters, bolting hammers
rubber, cast and carpenter at my
child sized head — afraid
i return the way i came,
through the dark
brush and green and rusted elbows, returning
i am no longer a believer but a
victim of an emancipated reality, of a low ceiling,
or a place one could drown in.


Image Rights Owned, 2018

This is a collaborative expansion of The Metroplex, by Jesus Olivas. Read more from this universe, here.

In the distance, the towers darkened as the sun descended. The blooming mirror fields began to refract. On the mountain sprawled hundreds of dwelling lights where workers of the mines and factories cycled into their ceaseless shifts — because the work does not stop. When the day came to a close, the textural landscape was enthralled in darkness save for the pools of light which came through like pin holes on the underside of a tarp hauled roof. For many years, Lou witnessed…


His partner stayed in the truck, and he alone approached the home. At the face of the door shadows were dropped and unrendered, ceasing and like any glimpse of objects fasting their source, uncertain. It was getting dark but the horizon gave a brutal light and looked like the burning edge of aluminum, above it the pigment of gasoline rainbows near a storm drain. Down here worldly objects were either reduced to a pale glimmer or steeped in heavy chiaroscuro. Beneath his feet the silhouette of finial toppers in no particular arrangement, resulting from primer based spray paint Scenic-Inland Walnut…

Christopher Gardea

I write about the desert, American culture and the occasional essay.

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