during the fourth and penultimate world war, a soldier—
a warrior, really, in the purest and truest sense—rose
to power. she moved like smoke, could simply whisper
a person mad, drained more blood than the eldest
of vampires, she knew no allies, and was able to organize
the world against her, and through her efforts, a thousand
years of peace.
we drove to the mountains in early summer, you had
just finished your residency and we had absolutely no
money, we stayed at your great uncle’s place, we couldn’t
afford it otherwise, and each morning before dawn we got
up and walked to the rocky shore of the lake, and you’d press
your lips to the skin behind my small ears, and ask me to draw
the word the into that rocky shore, stare at the word until
the world and language and even you melted away into pure incoherence.
what many will tell you is that I often claimed that I wanted
Olympic Village sex, that kind of fucking, but what I really want
is the dropping Reese’s Pieces into my mouth while a bootleg tape
of Aaliyah—her masters and licensing rights are tied up in courts—
plays softly in the background and our children are downstairs
somewhere doing something reckless and dangerous under
the sleepy supervision of our very fat dog kind of sex, Safeway Roses
dying in some coffee tin or hideous, reprehensible vase
one of the children made, not apology roses but just because roses.
scientists estimate that the amount of fucking that takes place
at the Olympic Village, well, if you harnessed that energy
you could power a small hamlet for approximately three-
and-a-half weeks, or create some kind of explosive device
that would liquidate two average-sized city blocks or one
large city block.
in the 40s and 50s the U.S. government used to spray Braceros—
legal Mexican farm and day laborers who crossed the border—
with DDT, pesticides, at processing centers in places like Hidalgo,
Texas. Hidalgo means nobleman in Spanish. when people
say that we’re made of stardust, sometimes I want to say
that I’d rather be made of the ocean, the Pacific, specifically,
but I know that I’m also made of a bunch of bullshit, too.
I wish I could tell you different, but there are nights that I leave
you and the children and the dog and the dying Safeway Roses
and the house and my phone and wander into the forest,
hoping, praying, I find a large pair of glowing eyes, the largest
pair of glowing eyes I’ve ever seen, so I might kneel
before those eyes, and compelled, say this:
PATRICK HOLIAN (he/him/his) is a Mexican American writer from San Francisco. He holds an MFA in creative writing from St. Mary’s College of California and a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Black Warrior Review, The Cincinnati Review, Salt Hill Journal, Arkansas Review, Bennington Review, The Acentos Review, and Yalobusha Review; he was a 2019 Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Fiction finalist and a finalist for Michigan Quarterly Review’s 2021 Laurence Goldstein Poetry Prize.