The Acentos Review - Youth


Desert Crossing

Torn photos flitter in the desert night

Dangle from Acacias mourning

Sun kissed bones like candles

Under a giant sky’s brilliant stars

Empty water bottles shine

Upon half buried sneakers

“Viva Chivas” torn tshirt waves

on a skeletal branch finger-like

pointing to a wallet’s album strewn

Beneath Santa Muerte’s arms uplifted

Gazes on the graves of Mexico’s dregs

As the Virgin of Zapopan comforts

A dying mother without water

Dehydrated half-crazed prays among

Cactus rising high like spires to heaven

A coyote cries to the moon

A wild frontier anti-priest blessing

The horrific unjust scene

Del Tierra

Wrinkled hands gliding atop small beans

Las noticias blare on a blinking screen

next to an altar Maria glows with sun rays

on her face

As a rooster crows in the moist fields

Nana sorts pintos

With hands painted like raw frijoles

Darker brown with beige spots

One by one with love

Cleaning beans

Sorting dirt balls

At sunlight

As weathered hands divide dirt from food

Tata arises to the early morning fragrance

of dew on oleander

that line Fresno’s southern border

sinewed body with hands like leather

bleeding cracks reopen daily

as earth, pesticides, sun and sweat

vie for brutality on his aged flesh

nails thick as tortoise shells

yellowed from decades in the mud

come home packed with dirt

at sunset

As Tata’s old Chevy truck rumbles

Enters the unpaved driveway sending dust

Into the air like an explosion

His tires and fenders frosted with earth 

like a giant chocolate birthday cake 

Tio Bobby’s construction boots

Sit on the back porch

Covered in plastered tumors like cancer

Cement and dirt bake

As Tio Bobby scrapes plaster and dirt from his body

Tata chisels stubborn earth beneath his nails

Nana begins to scrub the day’s soil

From workmen’s clothes

Tia Annie rolling tortillas in la cocina

Next to a pot of simmering chile verde

Tells her own story of tierra

of living as a little girl

In Camulu, Mexico

In the 1960’s

Of her home, a small shack

No windows, no doors,

No screens, no plumbing

But coyotes and dirt floors

I didn’t know I was so Mexicano

I didn’t know I was so Mexicano
I didn’t know I was so Mexicano
Until walking the stone cold courts of Stanford
Brahman Lilly white faces that glare
Behind political pretensions
Aquamarine eyes burning holes into my skin
Like a child pressing harder and harder
On a light brown crayon building wax
Until beige becomes walnut
Over and over outside the lines
“See what I made Daddy, a Mexican”
Walnut becomes a dark burnt mahogany
I’m Latino
Look at me
There’s a sign outside my door
“Don’t feed the greasy Chicano…but if you do,

3 lengua tacos
1 chimichanga and a Corona vato”

I didn’t know I was so Mexicano
Until I cut my finger on a page
of William Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico

Roasted pepper blood splattered cloistered walls
Tagging “Somos Mexicanos”

like in the barrio
Mama’s salsa gushing as I strolled
Cool like a Stacey Adams wearing pachuco
Down corridors muffled snickers crept past
An alumn who took out a razor blade and sliced
Her snowy white pretentious ass
Bleeding blue rivers that mocked and swallowed

My earthy crimson blood reeking of cilantro

I didn’t know I was so Mexicano
Until I realized strolling Romanesque paths
As a morning’s chill wind blew across campus
Past Ivy league senator’s sons cheeks flushed
The only men that looked like me
Pablo Hernando Garcia with mustache trimming the tree
“Buenos Dias” we exchange

Patrick Fontes


Currently a PhD candidate in history at Stanford University, Patrick Fontes researches border issues, Mexican religion, the Virgin Mary from Medieval Spain to the Present, immigration into the Southwest, and the criminalization of Chicano culture.

He grew up in Fresno, in a working class Chicano home. His father was a construction worker, his mom, a waitress. His father grew up in makeshift tent communities, picking crops up and down California in the 1950s and 1960s.

During the Mexican revolution his great grandfather, Jesus Luna, crossed the border from Chihuahua into El Paso, then on to Fresno. In 1920 Jesus built a Mexican style adobe house on the outskirts of the city, it is still his family’s home and the center of his Mexican identity today. Nine decades of memories adorn the plastered walls inside. In one corner, a photo of Bobby Kennedy hangs next to an image of La Virgen de Zapopan; in another, an imposing altar to Guadalupe.

The smells, voices, sounds, hopes and ghosts of su familia who have gone before him saturate his poems.