Juan “Moncho” Alvarado

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Juan Alvarado was born and raised in Pacoima, California. He has appeared in the Northridge Review, Chaparral (an online literary magazine based in Southern California), got honorable mention for the Rachel Wood award, and has won the Academy of American Poets prize for his poem “Pacoima Corrido.” You can usually find him near Macumba's, biking around Los Angeles, or doing workshops at the House of Brews. He is currently working on his first collection of poetry. 

Beneath Me

I look at the gash

on his face;

he’s an old pirate

map with a line

leading to the X

& when I open

it, all I see

is a letter.


To be a man,

sometimes you have to eat

memories like Eucharist.


A stream of words

wants to be understood

from his mouth,

like dreams

my son Benito

drew on pink

construction paper:

grey soldier hugging

a rainbow-skin kid.


Feelings betray

the real enemy.


His open hands

look as if they are

waiting to get a letter that

was lost in the millions

that move in this

world, each telling a story,

waiting for the words

that were witnesses

to why mom left him.


Once I asked what he wanted to be.

When he was young

and all he did was show

me his back hands

in Old English. Right

hand: chance smiles,

left: time cries.


I didn’t whine, I just said how

do I become a man?

My uncles took me

for a ride on my twelfth

birthday to Angel’s mountains.

We got off at a cliff

and opened the trunk.


Dad would always

talk to Benito,

tell him jokes,

carry him on his back like

a drunken turtle. There was a wall

near his house with a painting

of Angels National Mountains

that he would feel

with his hands

like a man touching

his face

for the first time.


Uncle Kiko put a machete

in my right hand. Uncle Willy

opened the trunk.



I let go of him and wait



The mailman

puts a letter in the

mailbox and moves along.