He cuts his grass three times a week,
Never more, never less
And sometimes I catch him on his porch at night
Small lump at his center drooping
Over the elastic of his shorts
His garage is an immaculate jewelry box.
So much so, that I wouldn’t be afraid
To lick a pipe, or rim a corkscrew.
His one car and two pick-up trucks
Glisten in the sun
Sitting on the carport
Like a queen aside the brawn
Of two heavy generals.
I often wonder how he sleeps at night
If he dreams
If he wonders
If he’s smelled romance
He’s always outside,
Pestering the soil
Like the mockingbird
That litters the hood of my car
He and his wife hardly speak
Passing each other like two guards in a palace
As the grass grows and grows.
My mind wanders
What could he have possibly done to her
Or she to him
What if, I thought, he strayed?
Fucked her best friend on bedsheets
That told the story like a newspaper
Or maybe he socked her one,
Too many times beneath too much makeup
Or maybe he simply did nothing
But watch the grass grow and grow.
—from Rattle #15, Summer 2001
Manuel Paul López: “I currently work for the Imperial County Office of Education. I have already gotten caught three times writing poetry on the job. Oh well.”