Cielito Lindo

Brandon Holmquest

          I began to feel hatred for birds which flew back and forth across my blue
               sky, cloudless sky,
          because they tried to bore holes in my greatest and most beautiful work.

                                                                                —Yves Klein

I burnt so many English muffins. It was awful. Another immigrant to Canadian Mexico, so high I don't know anyone. Listen, I just can't listen to that record I bought. It's too, too painful. Bittersweet like breakfast some chill morning in Guadalajara, Saskatchewan. For example. Or, for example, somebody's birthday. Any random whoever's birthday.




The resulting confusion nothing new to an immigrant who might actually be a refugee. Who's learning the language in his off hours. Who hangs around the German beer hall, among the polka impresarios. Trudging two gratuitous blocks through Mexican snow on my way home, to stop and feed the ducks, who would starve if I didn't feed them. Really they would. I'm the only one who's got tortillas and they eat nothing else. They can't understand other food. They're from Juarez, Ontario and they intend to stay that way.

And so do I. I tried their food, I really tried. But when I was buying it there was this child next to me, and beside her a mother screaming in English, which I don't speak. Though I did understand it when she said, No santa, no santa, no santa. And she's right, the supermarket is unholy. It sets off syllogisms. The grocery store is a museum of human wretchedness. My heart is a museum of human wretchedness. My heart is a grocery store. I use it to sell you vegetables and feel imaginary emotions like emapathy or nostalja vu. Animal guts is a thing you can go in me and buy.

I try to root for the local team but I can't understand the game they're playing. The aimless running into one another, then stopping and minutely planning the next aimless collision. I worry that I'm aging about as well as a rapper's bragging, and it's lonely, when you have no one to talk to, because you're the only person who speaks Spanish in all of British Columbia, so you go out and wander among the cacti, the cacteese, the cactuses and polar bears. The last Aztecs in their igloos, with the same movie playing all the time so you just walk in whenever, sit down and watch a while, and see the movie several times, but only ever out of sequence.

Gather in service then separate, cast a short diaspora before the next day, leaning against things like bored horses, talking just to hear the sound of the syllables pronounced what we call the right way. Our agreement that all these gringos are crazy becoming the only thing that binds us. Stomping down the middle of the street. Going to a bar. Through a blizzard. Singing the Himno Nacionál, knowing that if we die here they'll bury us shallow in the frozen ground. They won't ship our bones home, who'd pay for it? So we're almost lying when we sing, which makes it sadder and makes it matter more that we get to the bar. So we can sing more.

And you ride your secondhand bike around in unstylish clothes. You begin many sentences with the word back then the word home. Every time you say it, everyone nods. This is to signal that they know which where you mean. Discussion of not knowing which who you are. We all feel that way, in our grocery store hearts, with their clean aisles, ordered contents, refrigerated cases all cold only at different temperatures.

Brandon Holmquest edits the poetry and criticism sections at Asymptote and writes poems and translates things, usually poems.