Diego Enrique FloresSanta Muerte, Mexico City (35 mm film)

When the firing squad lined up, honey
is what I heard, jars of it glowing
in the sun, the buzzed lasso
of bees hovering above the lids,
a busker’s accordion...

the vagabond who taught me staring
was impolite takes out his teeth
& smiles. Shipwrecks

of rice, hanging scales weigh clouds
of mulato pepper, a bag of pig's feetevery sale
shakes the dials

from sleep...& past a parade of surgical masks,
the backdoor of the pink corner store
brightens to the scuffed yard where

I set down my first rooster & watch it blaze
its head feathers towards a house of cards.

If I was born into vengeance, dragged
into life to carry death across a battlefield
that doesn't exist. If I was born

into these alleys butchers & vendors use
drain on the floor, hoses nearby
humming with sandblasts of water

then the man with a desert scorpion ambered
in his belt buckle has been in charge
this whole time. When I hear another accordion

join the busker, & the men raise & point,
the scorpion is the one who comes over
to my ear & grins No,

that’s the sound of Santisima Muerte pulling
her drenched hair out of a bucket.


Mike Soto