Darren Dillman grew up in the New Mexico desert and earned an MFA in creative writing from McNeese State University. His short story "Cloudcroft" appeared in the fall 2008 issue of Shenandoah and has been selected for the anthology Best of the West: Stories West of the Missouri. He won the Washington Square Review's poetry contest and his novel The Preacher is forthcoming from David C. Cook. He resides in Yuma, Arizona, where he teaches English for Arizona Western College.
for my mother
When you tossed the cigarettes
because I'd sneezed from the smoke
dancing in my eyes,
when you chomped Super Bubble,
chewed juju fruits and candy corns
to rid taste and stain from your mouth,
I never wondered what your nights were like,
how your rounding body fit against my father's,
how he felt the flesh morph
around your waist, your hips.
You bought me a Green Machine, and Christmas morning
I found it sprawled under pine like a preying mantis,
black veins furrowed in the plastic green.
You asked Dad to pick it up, and he carried it outside.
My bony back pinched against the seat.
You gave me a push from the porch
and I pedaled the big front wheel,
pulled the balled levers for steering,
spun hard tires in the dust.
As I wheeled across the sidewalk
I looked back at you and Dad
stepping from the porch, through winter grass
and saw you together, smiling.
You've grated your life for mine.
The Taipei Dead
They stare at me on the MRT,
gun barrels of elbows in my ribs,
bags and purses sagging into my lap.
Teach me English! Give me money!
Look at the boy picking his nose, the man
clipping his toenails! Hear the woman burping?
Yet they shriek when I bite my nails. At the stop
they blitz on and off the car, heeding no one.
I find refuge in my dorm, where blood-drunk
mosquitos hover from the ground. If I could snooze
to the chorus of crashing plates, the two-edged clink
of Mandarin ...
Have they heard of Jesus or the desert?
Their mouths crammed with rice, cell phones,
rotten teeth. The prices jacked up
like L.A., my salary chopped in half.
Why does businessman mean thief?
When I open the door they fly past,
wisping in the air with their chi,
slaving nine to seven, seven to nine,
chiding each with Confucian tongues.
They spy my classes with video cams,
and the students never raise their hands.
And my work is never complete.
My work is never complete.