James Tyner


is gold skin, brown folding over white.
A pack of 99 cent hotdogs grilled
over dented frying pan, wrapped
in a flour tortilla, edges blacked
from being held over flame.
It's speaking Spanish with your tias,
boxing with the tios, helping the primos
with English homework. Meeting
your cousins for the first time
on the other side of the nation
and they ask you what you are.
It's dark green eyes, flecked with brown,
flecked with gold, centers a thin rim
of iced blue. You are called gabacho
by your primos, beaner by your cousins.
To be told how many white people
were killed to get into that gang
and how many brown people
I hired under that table.
Having a grandfather that wouldn't
shake your hand cause you're a wetback,
the word heavy in his mouth
like too much spit, chocking.
Having a grandfather who wrapped
dirt hardened hands around you,
cleaned cuts and bruises from another
fight while singing a song about frogs,
saying to never forget, guedito.
It's about holding each of your children
in an arm, daughter on your left,
hair so blonde it's white, eyes crystal
they are so blue. Your son a dusky brown,
nestled in your right arm, brown eyes
bright behind his hawkish nose.
Both so beautiful.
It's about holding them to your chest,
tight to your heart, and standing up.

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