a mexican dreams of heaven
BY JOSÉ OLIVAREZ
all of the Mexicans sneak into heaven. St. Peter has
their name on the list, but none of the Mexicans have
trusted a list since Ronald Reagan was President.
St. Peter is a Mexican named Pedro, but he’s not
a saint. Pedro waits at the gate with a shot of tequila
to welcome all the Mexicans to heaven, but he gets drunk
& forgets about the list. all the Mexicans walk
into heaven, even our no good cousins who only
go to church for baptisms & funerals.
it turns out God is one of those religious Mexicans
who doesn’t drink or smoke weed, so all the Mexicans
in heaven party in the basement while God reads
the bible & thumbs a rosary. God threatens to kick
all the Mexicans out of heaven if they don’t stop
con las pendejadas, so the Mexicans drink more
discreetly. they smoke outside where God won’t
smell the weed. God pretends the Mexicans are reformed.
hallelujah. this cycle repeats once a month. amen.
Jesus has a tattoo of La Virgen De Guadalupe
covering his back. turns out he’s your cousin
Jesus from the block. turns out he gets reincarnated
every day & no one on Earth cares all that much.
all the Mexican women refuse to cook or clean
or raise the kids or pay bills or make the bed or
drive your bum ass to work or do anything except
watch their novelas, so heaven is gross. the rats
are fat as roosters & the men die of starvation.
there are white people in heaven, too. they build
condos across the street & ask the Mexicans to
speak English. i’m just kidding. there are no
white people in heaven.
tamales. tacos. tostadas. tortas.
pozole. sopes. huaraches. menudo.
horchata. jamaica. limonada. agua.
St. Peter lets Mexicans into heaven
but only to work in the kitchens.
A Mexican dishwasher polishes the crystal,
smells the meals, & hears the music
through the swinging doors. they dream
of another heaven, one they might be allowed in
if only they work hard enough.
my family never finished migrating we just stopped
BY JOSÉ OLIVAREZ
we invented cactus. to survive
the winters we created steel.
at my dad's mill i saw a man dressed
like a Martian walk straight into fire.
the flames licked his skin, but like a pet
it never bit him. in the desert, they find
our baseball caps, our empty water bottles,
but never our bodies. even the best
ICE agents can't track us through the storms,
but i have a theory. some of our cousins
don't care about LA or Chicago; they build
paradise under the sand, under the bones
of our loved ones, worn thin as needles
to threaten any blue agents, bones
thin as guitar strings to welcome us home.
José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants, the co-author of the book of poems Home Court, and the co-host of the poetry podcast, the Poetry Gods. A winner of fellowships from Poets House, the Bronx Council on the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, & the Conversation Literary Festival, his work has been published in the BreakBeat Poets, the Chicago Tribune, the Adroit Journal, & Hyperallergic, among other places. His first book, Citizen Illegal, is forthcoming from Haymarket Books. He is from Calumet City, Illinois, and lives in Chicago.
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