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To Juan Doe #234

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I only recognized your hair: short,
neatly combed. Our mother

would’ve been proud.
                            In the Sonoran desert
your body became a slaughter-

house where faith and want were stunned,
hung upside down, gutted. We

                                           were taught

to bring roses, to aim for the bush. Remember?
You tried to pork

a girl’s armpit. In Border Patrol
                                          jargon, the word

for border crossers is the same whether
                            they’re alive or dead.
When I read his flesh fell

off the bones, my stomach rumbled,
                                                      my mouth

watered. Yesterday, our mother said,
                           “My high heels are killing me.
Let’s go back to the funeral.”

                                           You were always

her favorite. Slow cooking a roast
melts the tough tissue between the muscle fibers;

tender meat remains.

                   Remember the time
I caught you pissing
                              on a dog? You turned

away from me. In the small of your back
I thought I saw a face.
                                         Split lip,

broken nose. It was a mask.
                            I yanked it from your flesh.
              I wear it often.

Source: Poetry (March 2014)

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

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To Juan Doe #234

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