1. Home
  2. Poems & Poets
  3. Browse Poems
  4. The Only Mexican by David Tomas Martinez
The Only Mexican

Related Poem Content Details

The only Mexican that ever was Mexican, fought in the revolution
and drank nightly, and like all machos, crawled into work crudo,

letting his breath twirl, then clap and sing before sandpaper
juiced the metal. The only Mexican to never sit in a Catholic pew

was born on Halloween, and ate his lunch wrapped in foil against
the fence with the other Mexicans. They fixed old Fords where my

grandfather worked for years, him and the welder Juan wagered
each year on who would return first to the Yucatan. Neither did.

When my aunts leave, my dad paces the living room and then rests,
like a jaguar who once drank rain off the leaves of Cecropia trees,

but now caged, bends his paw on a speaker to watch crowds pass.
He asks me to watch grandpa, which means, for the day; in town

for two weeks, I have tried my best to avoid this. Many times he will swear,
and many times grandpa will ask to get in and out of bed, want a sweater,

he will ask the time, he will use the toilet, frequently ask for beer,
about dinner, when the Padres play, por que no novelas, about bed.

He will ask about his house, grandma, to sit outside, he will question
while answering, he will smirk, he will invent languages while tucked in bed.

He will bump the table, tap the couch, he will lose his slipper, wedging it in
the wheel of his chair, like a small child trapped in a well, everyone will care.

He will cry without tears—a broken carburetor of sobs. When I speak
Spanish, he shakes his head, and reminds me, he is the only Mexican.

David Tomas Martinez, "The Only Mexican" from Hustle. Copyright © 2014 by David Tomas Martinez.  Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books, Inc.
Source: Hustle (Sarabande Books, 2014)
Discover this poem's context and related poetry, articles, and media.
The Only Mexican

Related Poem Content Details

  • Born and raised in San Diego, poet David Tomas Martinez earned a BA and MFA at San Diego State University and has completed doctoral studies at the University of Houston.

    Martinez’s poems explore themes of masculinity and machismo. In a 2013 interview with Erika L. Sanchez for NBCLatino, Martinez stated, “You know in any good piece of art when their truth is poking through. I know those moments when I write. I think, “This is true, this hurts, and this is not ok.” I indict myself in so many poems. I think that to a certain extent, you have to be unafraid to make a fool of yourself.” He is the author of the poetry collections Hustle (2014) and Post-Traumatic Hood Disorder (2018). A CantoMundo Fellow, he has served as an editor for Gulf Coast and has contributed to the Voz Alta Project in Barrio Logan.

    Martinez lives in Brooklyn.

  • Poem Categorization

    If you disagree with this poem's categorization make a suggestion.

Other Information