Rachel Edelman


The dust of our summer sins
              gets kicked up with dried horse shit
before the rodeo gets going.
              Wind corrals sunshades and umbrellas,
circles the ring like a bronco.
              Cowboys’ spines ripple like whips.
The Grim would wed Judas here
              framed by scythes, each clutching
a rye-ear bouquet.
             No one there to dine and dance.
No need for bird-seed with the vultures circling.
             This is America,
the lens I judge dreams through.
             At the first freeze,
farmers sow their garlic
             cloves just so:
shoots skyward so roots reel down
             toward hell where our summer sins
feed tomatoes that burst out green
             on the 4th of July when we go to the rodeo.


Wannabe Atheist

Everyone’s embracing abuelas
in front of the Paisanos bus.
A man in a field hat

tucks a blanket over his mother’s shoulders.
Her skin is cracked slack over her bones.
Too thin we get getting on.

Prayers collect in my belly:
stay warm on the way to Nogales, abuelita,
with stay warm ‘til illness takes you

in the hospital       last year
when my mother dabbed cotton dipped in Vaseline
on my grandma's lips.

O tracheotomy, O chest tube.
O numbing agents, dry shampoo, sedation.
I’ve watched lava cool into obsidian.

I have a poetic grip on truth.
The last image I grasp for will be burning stellar dust—
ashes’ cascade from the stratosphere

to the cavernous pits of my lungs.
I will sit with a flight map
and plot where I was when she departed.


.All poems by Rachel Edelman