Kiss the boy, he was a street kid,
running with a gang
who tagged and snagged and disappeared.
The scar from the hatchet that
changed his life stands out
on the back of his head, where even now,
at 40, the hair will not grow
and the blue tear drop under his eye
has been lasered away until only a dark spot
He turns away when I ask,
even all these years later.
He keeps a tight grip on his sons,
both at the age of wreckage
and doubt and the gangs
in Santa Ana are waiting to see
what they will choose.
He crossed the border alone at 12 -
an uncle got him into school
then took him out at 13 to work off
the debt to the coyote.
What childhood he had was farther South
than I will ever be and farther still
is what he lived and he survived.
I randomly kiss his scars, greet the tattoo
of Jesus blazed across his chest,
later admire his newest van,
his mobile car wash business going strong
into its third year
and when, now and then, he stops at
Home Depot to find itinerant workers,
they will not come.
Too much work to wash and buff all day,
better to hang with their boys,
shoot the shit while they watch for cops,
go home and tell their family,
"No, there was no work today."