Silver City, New Mexico

Morning opens like a sore

                              in Silver City, where men

gut their own mother’s

                             belly—not for precious metals


                             but truck-loads of gravel

                                        for driveways, foundations,

xeriscaped yards trying

                                        so hard to look like they are


                                        self-sufficient. The sun

overtakes the sky, like pain

                                        evaporates the mind and

its little headlamp. A riddle:


what can be divided like a worm,

                                  squirms, welcomes itself into one

body, is alive three times, you

                                  would exchange a ton of gold


                                        for any measure of it if you only knew

                                  it was leaving. I bet you got it

                                        by now, I bet you guessed water.

                                  You’d be right. But I wasn’t


                              thinking water. I thought God,

                                        or universe. Not that I’m wrong

                              or right to think this way,

                                        because perception is on that list,


                                 too. It fractures and isn’t broken.

                                                  My neighbor in his 70’s trailer

                                 has about ten dogs, and those dogs

                                                  are believers, too, followers of the cult


                             of the Virgin of Pain. Their master

                                        punishes them with a baseball bat for shitting

                             in the fenced-in yard. The bat is the metal kind

                                        that rings across the exposed rock


                             as it strikes them across the back.

And the dogs don’t break, neither

                             does the bat. They are the kindest dogs,

they fear their own bodies, bringers


                             of pain, because they know their bodies

                                       are imperfect, defecate

                             when they meant to pray/fetch/

                                        bone. It’s hard to know what wise men


know. No, what wise men want

                             with such a limited brain. I wake to work

in the mines, well, to move

                             the gravel around, that’s all I do all day.


                             It’s what my father did, it’s what my sons will do

                                        unless they leave. We got rid of the old

                             trucks, the kind that dump by lifting back

                                        in one huge pile. Now the truck bed


                                        opens up in flaps like an autopsy,

                             disembowels itself. It’s easy enough.

                                        Still, I’ll wake up grating

                             my teeth. There are more shards of meth


in Hurley than there are stars in the sky.

                             But maybe we could all be good

if we could learn to be afraid

                             of our own assholes. Sometimes


                             when I wake, I could swear

                                       someone was there. God, my mind

                             leaps up—and I’m like a dog

                                       jerked awake by its own fart.


Each morning, I wake up grateful.

                             Each morning, I forget to remember

to call the dog pound. When I tell Marcelino,

                             I swear to God, one of these days


                                        I’m gunna do it, he only says: good for you.

                                                          And day makes a fist, and parts

                                        of Silver City spill into the far away suburbs:

                                                          Santa Fe—Phoenix—Albuquerque



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