Cacayo Ballesteros

Cacayo Ballesteros

Volume 15:1, Winter 2014


The last door slams
on a courtyard once filled
with joyous wheeled equipment
shushing pleas for one more time around

the summer’s surviving window units
click on and buzz like dying cicadas
to dry off the sweat and tears
of the heartbroken
lured in with the promise
of tomorrows that they fear
won’t come soon enough

this is the time of the bat
that in U shaped flight
feeds on mosquitoes
plump with suburban blood
the time of the hummingbird moth
that visits potted plants
filling immigrants with want
for forest birds of youth

in the distance the train summons
an egg-faced moon
reflected in the eye of a fawn
grazing on the memory of day
her last eve before she is found
on the side of the road rubbernecked
on our way to work.


Adventures with God

Another one of your angels, fallen…

Toads croak for the dead in our gut
while women get in the widowed line
rumoring he must of been drunk.

Condolences dry up in our mouths
and cysts form on our lips.
We make albums of memory
while promising to better our marriages,
spend more time with the kids and buy less.

The musician that played
on the Powerpoint presentation of your life
didn’t hit a single a key, man;
but your wife’s sisters
as if intoning the Pietá itself,
bellowed their lust for you
recanting how you touched them.

There’s a tiny makeup smear
on the stuffed satin lid to the box
where you’ll rest forever
with all your organs
your wife would not give to anyone else.

She will stay all night with you at church
while we all go home
to fight about life insurance.


David Amoroso, "It's a Love/Hate Thing," linoleum block print, acrylic on canvas, 2013

David Amoroso, “It’s a Love/Hate Thing,” linoleum block print, acrylic on canvas, 2013

Mother’s Quilt se escribe con S de Switchblade

cutting them out of carajos and fuetizas
out of chirlazos and spying through keyholes
deja ver qué andan haciendo
we stitch them together
to feel better about taking off

we leave early on
when the weight of pencil skirts and pantyhose
of rosarios de plata and dining room summons
to discuss our latest misstep
always matched to a father’s abandonment
always igual a tu padre, ¡sin vergüenza!
is just too much

and we don’t come back until years later
when we think it is safe to walk in
and rest arms branded by a northern epic
hoping the words ahora soy alguien, mamita
and a few gifts
like sangre de dragón
uña de gato or baba de caracol
or at least like the soothing potions
las solteronas used to stew
for the family battles
against Los Suplicios de la Pubertad
are enough to iron out the scars

but they are not
you are never better
than the ones that stayed behind

Es que tú te fuiste…
Allá las cosas son diferentes…
Acá lo que importa es la FAMILIA…

so we depart cabizbajos on taxis and airplanes
holding onto our children for dear life
swearing we love them with the force
of all of the faith of all the pilgrims
that go to Nuestra Señora of the Whatever
and then we peek over our shoulders
and look at their mothers with contempt


Queen of the Road

We zigzagged abysses
sacred ravines between us
like a saint’s showcased bones
and in the most worn out corners
of museums
we fondled vessels
made as if to keep our ashes
that start their poisonous dance
every time you leave the room
or speak to another man

how you absorb the curves of my praise
with a smile part mother part debutant,
how you talk of the beauty
of a cheap rosary I bought
and of your blood’s hunger

let’s get everyone drunk
so they fall asleep
with their little dead
and leave us alone

let’s paint the walls red
with what you feel
fog up the mirrors
with my wanting to see you
naked of your fears
and your need to hold my hand

let’s tag the back of the seat
either with the tip of a crucifix
or a cutting glance
with our story

and though it too will disappear
like hours and lives do
let’s hope that a little further
than the next few stops
I can still make you cry from laughter
and your salty tongue continues
to whisper in my ear the words
por siempre.



cupola of the winds
corral for the stars
nuisance for the seas
ravines’ amorous flattery
timepiece of the latent rhythm
silence’s breast
death of language



Cacayo Ballesteros (aka José R. Ballesteros) is an Associate Professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland. He is the author of a bilingual book of poems Polvo Enamorado/Lovedust, forthcoming from Izote Press. He co-edited the anthology Voces de España (Cenage, 2013), and is included in Al Pie de La Casa Blanca: Poetas Hispanos de Washington, DC (Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española, 2010). Ballesteros translates contemporary Latin American poetry into English, and is co-founder and editor of the bilingual literary press Zozobra Publishing.