(NORF NORF) by Julián David Bañuelos

I’ve always tried to proceed
with caution. The few things we
owned I made sure not to break.
How selfish could a poor brown boy be? Let alone three?
Grassless backyards and
baseballs there we were.
Unminding any manner we learned in a country that
molded & scolded us.
America’s past time to pass
time, what a thought it was, is,
to be a triumvirate in a state that
kills boys like us. A state where
it’s a statement to not own a
gun. Trigger happy mother
fuckers shoot at things that
don’t move, always remember
that, my father says. He ain’t
really say that, but he does call
brown boys wetbacks, must be
the machismo stained in his
pigment though. I wonder if
this is what the pig meant when
he pulled the gun on us for
walking through alleyways
foreign to him. What’s foreign
to you may be akin to another.  I
learned to deal with death a
long time ago, kinda feels like
watching the hands on a clock
for way too long— don’t waste
your time, it’ll come whether
you want it or not.  To be
vulnerable is to be a target, to
be a target means those hands
on the clock move quicker 
for you, for us, for me. 

Julián David Bañuelos is a Chicano poet and translator from Lubbock, Tx. He is a graduate of The Iowa Writers’ Workshop where he was a Provost Fellow, a Stanley Award Fellow, and a 2022 Fulbright semi-finalist. His work can be read in Wine Cellar Press, Latino Book Review, The Bayou Review, Acentos Review, and Annulet Poetics Journal. He currently lives and teaches in Iowa City.