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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

My heart is a headless pigeon

By: Jose Oseguera

Roosting desiccated on a road

trudged by my grandparents

from Michoacán to Tijuana,

San Diego to San Fernando in Los Angeles;

it thrashed as a facedown newborn

begging to be picked up

and nurtured like a seed in the earth.

“Look, I think his eyes are going to be blue,”

Mom said, as if her incessant repetition—

a trapped bird trying to fly through glass— 

of what she wanted her half-Mexican, half-White

grandchild to grow up to look like—

more white than brown—

would make the recessive pigment

rise like cream in the milk of his irises.

“But as cute and güero as you see him

smiling and cooing,” she warned,

“He is filled with sin,

and it’s your job to hit him

so that he grows up to be happy and healthy.”

Although a grandchild was all

she wanted ever since she found

semen-stained tighty-whities

in her 12-year-old’s laundry hamper,

Mom didn’t mind going against my beliefs

so long as her grandchild’s soul

wouldn’t be lost because of her Lord’s sacrifice.

“Oh my God,” Mom said,

my son rustling out of his swaddle,

“If you would’ve had kids

when that stuff started coming out

of you know where, 

your kids would’ve been 24 years old.”

She looked at her grandchild

and then at the TV, Spanish news

reporting on a man who’d been

decapitated and electrocuted

on power lines— somewhere in El Salvador—

trying to save two children

stuck on a neighbor’s roof.

It was the same look she gave me—

a sepulcher buried in subterfuge—

when she walked into the bathroom

while I was showering,

looking for the hairdryer

but instead found my Playboy subscription renewal postcard—

under Dad’s name, on the toilet tank—

and cried to me, asking God,

“Why does this man keep

torturing us even from prison?”

When the scent of sweat and spoiled milk

overtook the brand new baby smell,

Mom shoved my son’s wobbly head toward me—

as if he were nothing but a shit-filled diaper— saying,

“Oh, I think the baby went to the bathroom on himself!”

I took his wiggly body—

intermittently stiff with wailing cries—

as if it were a beating heart breaking,

flapping its wings,

batting its tiny lashes

over unfocused eyes

that cried but couldn’t yet shed a single tear.


Jose Oseguera is an LA-based writer of poetry, short fiction and literary nonfiction. Having grown up in a primarily immigrant, urban environment, Jose has always been interested in the people and places around him, and the stories that each of these has to share.

His writing has been featured in The Esthetic Apostle, McNeese Review, and The Main Street Rag. His work has also been nominated for the "Best of the Net" award (2018 and 2019) and the "Pushcart Prize." He is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection "The Milk of Your Blood."


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