(Ivan Armando Flores)

Malas Calles/Mean Streets

Our streets didn’t need names. We knew where we were. Where we’d been. Where we were going.


A version of this story ran in the September / October 2022 issue.

Our streets didn’t need names
We knew where we were
Where we’d been
Where we were going
Set in the same state
A litany of different places
suffering the same neglect
Brazos Frío City Laredo
Calaveras Chipinque
Chupaderas Durango
Dolorosa Guadalupe
Navidad Tampico

Bankrupt barrios bad lighting
Pot holes every 50 yards
No sidewalks just gravel
Shaking off the alkaline dust
collected on our clothes like fine ground bone
Ramshackle paint peeled shacks
Earth scorched down beaten
& always the railroad tracks
splitting the poorest among the rest of us
Empty corner lots with overzealous dandelions
Brilliant Indian blankets maroon to buttery
Mexican hats igniting green clover aflame for miles
Razor sharp Johnson grass up to our necks
Wasps & yellow jackets zooming overhead
Mongrel dogs chasing us down
As we made for the uppermost branches
along twisted mesquites muscling their mangled limbs
Plucking wild blackberries in abandoned lots we called woods
Our teeth & t-shirts stained with their blood juice
Never less lost never more alive