When the Bones of Ghosts Leave His Mouth

When I squeeze the rind of an orange

so that citrus vapors can flavor the air,

my grandfather is a tecolote

blooming pellets from his throat.

What other animal dreams this way?


My arms hold me there

—only this time

I am not pretending they belong

to a woman so in love

she would flatten herself

to get this close. This time

I am just holding onto skin.


When I conjure you

it is always the intersection

of water and spirits.


My grandfather watches a moth

tracing the orbit of fruit

around his head and we’re no longer

climbing trees. Sitting in the living

room. He is no longer

listening to me read

Viramontes tell of generations.


When he closes his eyes

he falls back into his seat,

holding the small wing of an insect,

a longer strand of women’s hair.


Fernando Pérez is Mexican-American poet from Los Angeles, CA. He attended Long Beach City College and received his BA in Creative Writing from California State University, Long Beach, before moving to Phoenix, AZ, where he received an MFA in Poetry from Arizona State University. Fernando is currently an assistant professor of writing at Bellevue College in Washington State. His work has appeared in several journals, including The Suburban Review, Hinchas de Poesía, Crab Orchard Review, and the Volta. His first collection of poems is forthcoming from The University of New Mexico Press in the fall of 2017.