Eye of the Hurricane

Benjamin Garcia  is my common name, but you can call me by my suborder:

         Vermilingua, because my tongue worms into pockets. ¿Quieres

                  ver mi lengua? If you want to keep America America, better bolt it

                                    down or lock it. Ahí vamos.

An anteater isn’t afraid of a cage, won’t hesitate to smite, transforms

         its tropical depression to a migration

                  of wrath, machetes down its own path, though it contains

                                    in its craw, a rainbow—un arco iris.

If you choose, you can crawl away from this, if

         you brunt the gridlock and contraflow

                  on I-45 North, along the evacuation route.

                                    There is an out

though disaster is never complete. Without you,

         the domestic animal left inside

                  the house might still survive.

                                    Though you are embarrassed

by something smaller than a crushed ant, the shit-stains

         of cockroaches, pocking the spine of your English

                  texts, the edges of your spiral-notebooks.

                                    A tongue isn’t worth very much,

but there is enough for everyone. Remember: there is no cage;

         you cannot leave; the joke: why do Mexicans wear pointy boots?

                  To get the roaches in the corners.

                                    We all had German,

American, whatever kind of cockroach

         shitting on our books, in our alarm clocks telling us to go the fuck

                  to school, where with difficulty,

                                    I learned in drills

to kneel in single file along hard and polished halls

         where the floor confronts the wall, then cover my ears

                  as the storm roared above. My class was promised

                                    a piece of hard candy

to complete this analogy: tire : hubcap :: hurricane : _______. You

         keep those grades up, one day you’re going to make so much money.

                  So why do Mexicans wear pointy boots? I didn’t

                                    delouse my tongue, because even then,

I knew. Nothing comes quickly but disaster. I would have to make myself

         fat on what others might be made sick by. But where is your family

                  really from? What’s your native tongue?

                                    I ate it—

Benjamin Garcia is a Community Health Specialist who provides HIV/HCV/STD and opioid overdose prevention education to higher risk communities throughout New York’s Finger Lakes region. He had the honor of being the 2017 Latin@ Scholar at the Frost Place and the 2018 CantoMundo Fellow at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. He has work forthcoming in: New England Review, American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Puerto del Sol, RHINO, and Nimrod International. Find him on twitter: @bengarciapoet