Inflatable Youth

—after Javier Carrillo’s “Vicente”

she puts her thumb to my chin and kisses the last evidence of the churro
instinctively i tongue the corners of my mouth desperately scanning for more sugar
justin is behind me and he’s swinging that inflatable hammer around
with every blow the mighty thor lands there follows an emasculating squeak
my mother looks at my sugar-coated pouting lips my eyes ready to roll
he won’t be five forever. and you won’t always be his hero.
he’s kicking up dirt from the earth
a red ring round his mouth
proof that can’t be wiped away
on his fifteenth birthday Justin ate some bad brownies
i stayed up all night convincing him he wouldn’t die
after his party we watched the balloons until they disappeared
out of his mind he sighed
that was my youth that floated on up into those clouds
a couple years ago justin helped me amend a fence
both blabbering
those trips to the flea markets
those nights we drank dad’s light beers
deflated he let rest his Mjolner,
How long is forever?

only as onward as that balloon floats.


el taquero

—after Javier Carrillo’s “El Taquero”

mama warns, Uncle Felix was shot
whilst waiting at the taco truck
down the road from Grandma’s house              waxed paper,
…                                                                                 black and white checked.

i’m in the kitchen and i’m seven,
she is rolling tortillas and i take a
small piece of dough and
I shove it as far up my nose
as I possibly can                                                 foil,
…                                                                            reynolds wrap bought in bulk.

chopping red onions
my eyes taste them first
falling spoon over pot
in love with that bean soup                             styrofoam boxes,
…                                                                            compartmentalized and white.

there were never not beans
on the stove and the house
always smelt of grilled onions
and spices, that’s home                                  littered within proximity.
…                                                                         a single trash can is never enough.

cutting board red from raw radishes
thinly sliced                                                              suits on lunch breaks,
                                                                                a second pack,
…                                                                                 at the corner store,
…                                                                                 slipping their next
                                                                                 behind their ears.
…                                                                                 loud exaggerated convos,
…                                                                                 in the heat. And then,
…                                                                                 jogging.

home-pickled carrots
vulgar odor of vinegar                                           overheated leathered skins,
…                                                                                 32oz of Pacifico,
…                                                                                 at the corner store,
…                                                                                 slipping their lime wedges,
…                                                                                 into the necks of the bottles.
…                                                                                 siestas before two more hours
…                                                                                 in the heat. And then,
…                                                                                 moonlighting.

runny from overripe tomatoes                         early 20s waking at two,
…                                                                              pedialyte and gatorade,
                                                                              at the corner store,
…                                                                              slipping and stumbling
…                                                                              across the parking lot.
…                                                                              seeking something greasy,
…                                                                              in the heat. And then,
…                                                                              slinging ‘zas before homework.


Shelby PinkhamShelby Pinkham is currently taking a swing and a miss at the post-graduate program at CSUB. She doesn’t whittle, but thinks that’s a damn fine hobby. Sometimes she plays music she doesn’t like when she is home alone with her two dogs because they all have different tastes and that’s okay with her because she has an open mind and is totally chill about sharing her Spotify account with two small dogs . . . She has been published twice and suspects that you can find both easily enough through a basic Google search.