Three Poems by Fernando Perez

Fernando Pérez

Fernando Pérez

Fernando Pérez has lived most of his life in the Southwest between Los Angeles, where he was born, and Phoenix where he received and MFA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. His poems have been published in several journals and his manuscript of poetry was recently selected as a finalist for both the Andrés Móntoya Poetry Prize and the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. He is currently living and working in the Pacific Northwest as a full-time writing instructor at Bellevue College and a resident of Seattle, WA. 

LEMON GROVE APARTMENTS

Forget about the complex,
the little girl and the busted patio chair
she stands on
watching her mother
and her mother’s boyfriend
 
through their apartment window
—a smaller drive-in movie—
 
She sees bodies slapped
by blue television light. Wrestling bodies.
 
To get lost, for a couple hours,
means playing with dirt. Other children
 
stalk the white owl grandmothers warn of.
A tecolote when the sun burns, an omen.
 
The little girl plays dead
behind the oleander bushes. 
She’s nameless like the shadows of cucarachas
 
crawling to cover and confuse
summer’s children waiting the onset of dusk.

 

 

 

THE PIGEON PROJECT

Half the birds are flat out smugglers
searching for a corner to loom in.
The history of pirating
on the southern border:
A drunken, fiery melee,
a flock of homing pigeons
flying one way
from Havana to Key West.
 
Drones don’t care about pigeons,
mug shots.
Inside a smuggler’s pocket:
harnesses fashioned
from bright bra straps,
cigars cast in resin.
 
Takeoffs, landings, ocean.
What a well-trained pigeon.
 
How those cigars end up
on the birds, I can’t say.
 
Minnie Burr from Memphis
transferred supplies under her skirts.
Pierre Lafitte of New Orleans
inked birds to his body
Sensitive bird-lover.
 
If a pigeon was a boy,
a pigeon would look real cute
in handcuffs.
 
The cigar carrying birds
often flout both laws and common sense,
landing on a ledge near the ceiling,
mating for life, breeding
in artificial light and heat.
 
If a bird ends up in his pigeon loft,
Pierre completes his mission.
Minnie, alas, is lost at sea.

 

 

 

EMPEROR MAXIMILIAN I AND EMPRESS CARLOTA OVER A MEXICAN RIVER

                          When mouths
began salivating: When Juan
opened the barrel,
poured pulque            
 
            into champagne flutes.
 
Etymology of “mixing.”
Frill of fancy, the dainty and
the silk, vomit-stained,
leaves a traceable river
over the water’s surface.
 
French awkwardly balanced
with shifting bodies, corsets,
confusing cadence, Juan’s oar
with romance.
                           Chum down
                                       river.
 
The Emperor and his wife
wiped their mouths
with Chinese kerchiefs,
abolishing the mess.
 
Another ceremony
of acquisition.
 
Ignoring Juan’s mestisaje,
 
jumbled words,
ferment ink,
a toast for gold pieces,
people to stand over,
big mistake.
 
He must have anticipated thirst,
when he held the oar
making it a part of his arm.
When they pushed away
from the dock
 
praying harder for the sun
to press the surface distortion
of that water. Those women and men,
their daydreams, fluid enough for
rivers in their own mouths.