Timothy Perez


4 Poems

Grandma Lupe and the Bible Brothers


Grandma Lupe fed the poor at the mission,

went to daily mass, survived three marriages,

13 children, and raised four grand kids after their

mama ran off with some biker—Noah, Jehovah,

Cain and Abel.  

She was also the largest dealer of marijuana in Colonia.

She never bothered to weigh it, “My palm’s a dime’s

worth and a two finger pinch is a nickel,” she said.

She sold it from a large Hefty bag off the porch

of her home. No one ever argued with her.

She was always armed. She had a zip gun holstered

to her ankle and two Rueger .45’s rested across her lap

like crocheting needles, well oiled and loaded.  

Once she shot a guy who tried some grifter move—

showed her a twenty, slipped her a ten—she waited

till he turned, the gun’s blast blew him off the porch

and into her cactus garden face first—blood poured

out of his left ass cheek; his lips and eyelids full

of needles. Lupe held a .45 in one hand, a ten-dollar

bill in the other. The guy took off limping; she pocketed

the money, said, “It was his loss. I could have sewn

him up, saved him from paying those doctor bills.”  

When Mr. Baron ratted her out to the cops,

she went quietly. While she waited in her cell,

her grand sons broke into Mr. Baron’s home—

crossed out his family photos with a red marker,

shot his dog, broke his dishes, pissed their names

on his walls; piled his jewelry in the middle of his bed

with a note that read, “Walk away.” They pawned

his VCR, TV, and stereo; used the money to post

Grandma Lupe bail and a bus ticket to Mexico.

Anna had a tattoo


She got it when she was jumped into 18th Street. To earn respect she fought

her way down a double line of cholas. Peewee gangsters in oversized

Ben Davis and Dickies stood lined at the front—small fists clenched.  

Veteranas stood at the far end with brass knuckles, mini Dodger bats, and chains

dangling at their sides. Anna made it half way. She was the first to make it that far.

They picked her up and walked to Gloria’s house to celebrate.  

Anna’s face decorated with cuts and bruises. Gloria told Anna she needed a tat

to represent the ‘hood. She sat her down at a table, took out her tools. A bottle

of ink made from the blood of pigeons thickened with clay, and a thick grimy

sewing needle melted onto a toothbrush.  

“It doesn’t look clean,” Anna said. Gloria held the needle up to a bare light bulb.

“You’re right mija,” grabbed a bottle of tequila took a gulp and spit on the end

of the needle, “Is that better?” Anna sat for an hour—drinking, sweating, her hand

oozing blood.  

Gloria raised Anna’s arm, the 18, etched crookedly between thumb and wrist,

the tattoo—a crushed box kite, a fallen church, a wilting lily. Anna walked home

along the tracks that separated 18th Street from Hazard, their biggest rival, every now

and then Anna stepped onto Hazard ground to tempt worth.  

At home Father waited patiently for daughter to return. Anna opened the door slowly,

the porch light shined behind her. “Anna, come here.” She walked into the kitchen

to face Father. His bare arms revealed the remains of unfinished tattoos. Anna’s hand

was caked with blood, the crooked 18 stared at her father.  

He looked at Anna, shook his head, walked around the table and sat Anna down.

He unbuttoned the sheath to his knife, stuck the shiny blade under the simmering

coffee pot and turned up the flame.  

Anna made to move, he slammed his hand over hers pinning it to the table. The coffee

pot’s lid trembled and quaked, black coffee sputtered, rolled down the sides of the pot.

He reached over removed the charred smoking blade and slid it gently along the thin

bone of her thumb, Anna bit down on her busted lip.  

He flicked the knife, a thick fillet of flesh sizzled on the table in front of them—the ink

running from that ruined skin spoiling before them. The leathery heads and tails of her

father’s unfinished tattoos squirmed and writhed underneath his skin.

In the end it’s all about the bull 

It is said that Vasquez’s father was a stable boy

for Manulito, that his father grew up to be a lawyer  

and had a penchant for prostitutes, that Vasquez

was born under a freeway, 

but in the end none of it matters—

in the end it’s all about the bull . . .  

Vasquez can smell the season coming to an end;

it rests in the air heavy as curd.  

Sweat rolls steadily into the heavy velvet lining

of his collar; the great beast’s shoulder slouch  

from the picador’s thrusts;  

its thin legs tremor, it pounds the arena floor, dust

rises feebly around blood caked hooves. 

Snot falls from flaring nostrils in great thick clouds

lands with a thud.  

The beast lowers its head in anticipation of the strike

that will separate its spirit from its wasted body. 

The strike that will separate all idea, all feeling, all pain.  

A boy rushes into the arena with the final sword strapped

to a gold satin pillow. Vasquez wicks sweat from his brow  

caresses the boy’s cheek. 

Vasquez turns, walks forward; keeps eye to eye with the animal—

it rocks to and fro drunk with death—witless and feeble as a newborn. 

He leans forward, blesses it with a kiss on its torn muzzle and steps

back; he takes a wide stance cocks the blade back and pierces the bull

severing its spine in one swift blow. 

Death is never simple, but it’s supposed to be.

And for those about to die— 

they are the only ones that know this truth.

Pebble in Your Shoe 

You live your life in fragments anticipating routine.

Surround yourself with rock, brick, mortar: wait,

expectantly for the shelling to begin. 

Leave that pebble in your shoe: there will be more.

Leave that pebble in your shoe to remind yourself

to take notice of yourself. You’ve been silent for six

months, your tongue is atrophied, withered.  

Stand in the shade of a tree; blend with your surroundings.

Birds are the ashes of God’s memory, listen to the breeze

reinvent their song.  

Tomorrow you will have forgotten that you attempted

a poem; tomorrow fill your pockets with rocks; tomorrow

be a boulder.


Ten years ago I had a chapbook published by Gary Soto's Chicano Chapbook Series titled  Crooked. I am a graduate of Long Beach State's M.F.A program in creative writing. I took a ten year hiatus in submitting work: I got married , I got a job, and started a family, but I continued to write amassing an arsenal of poems that have been waiting to be unleashed on the literary scene. I teach Language Arts at Santiago High School in Corona, CA, and am an avid home brewer.