Marcelo Hernandez is an undergraduate student at Cal State Sacramento and the current
poetry section editor for the student run Literary Journal Calaveras Station. He won first
place in the undergraduate poetry section of the Bazzannela literary award and is
recipient of the Warmdal and Willhelm Memorial Scholarships. His works appeared in
Carginogenic Poetry, Sex and Murder Magazine, and Puffin Circus among others. He lives
in Yuba City California and earns his keep as a handyman paying his way through college.

Conversations With Her Over Coffee

After three minutes,
I ask her if she knows
about copper.

How in the morning, the workers
drag out the bucket and vomit
bright copper coils laced with some cum
and stomach acid, rattling
on the floor, aged a milk-green.

Copper makes a mouth
like an anus. The Muscles
tighten to pucker.
But it really is useless,
the way they sneeze and shower
orange flakes onto the table,
hard as penny shells.
Soon, run to grouch
a sweet melodic chorus
against the porcelain.

Their eyes milk
to a rusted green,
so they scratch them off
with long and malleable
copper nails.

She smirks and folds a penny
into a moon.

We sip back our coffees
and talk about the weather;
gently wiping off each other's lips,
dripping with little green beads at the corners
that taste like batteries.

In the Hands of a Cartel Heist: Tamaulipas Mexico

A piece of her smile curling
over black garbage bags
told me she wasn't afraid;
that the embers at the pit

of an oil barrel welcomed her,
but she wouldn't.
The breeze tossing her hair

in a corner meant that
she must have found God
spitting plumes of fire instead.
Yet, I couldn't make anything

out of her hands, two delicate
creatures draped before her,
that seemed out of place in a

poem. Perhaps they
elude in a way others can't.
Her hands were hardly there,
though hung with grave
austerity, and slender fingers.

So I quickly turned away
to regard her half smile
telling me again and again
the silence I needed to hear.

Upon Emptying Her House Two Years After Her Passing

We will bury thousands of pills today
in a hole that smells
like rotting anything.
Pills that belonged to my great
aunt's mother, useless pills,
but this is not about her.

The cold afternoon brushes
against the heat of my palms; digging—
an unwavering balance
tipping closer to the marrow.
The walls of the cylindrical hole
foam with eggshell
and banana peel in the old
compost heap in the backyard.

We throw them in like candy,
and against the dark earth
they look like candy; tell me
why she never swallowed them.
Unblinking stars against the dirt,
those that hurt a little when you
swallow, ones you hide from teenagers.
Perhaps she spat them out,
but they look too dry;
clustered in like colors
and shapes; a low pixel mosaic.

I did not know her, only of her;
but this is not about her.
Emptying the bag, I know
what my aunt knows.
The night settles on our shoulders,
too late to go back now.

The lingering smell of potato skins and old
sausages as we cover the hole
makes it look warm down there,
that I could live out the rest of winter
on only the rising steam of the heap
that sloshes more like pudding than
dirt. The hole looks untouched
again; we do our best. The pills
would have made her worse,
would have made her
forget anything at all.

Sure of It

(and the sour blister beetles throng
tugging lumps of dew drops
to what somebody calls an altar
and how can anyone forget them
skidding in the concave
walls of this brittle clay jar
during mating season
there are days when
one of them slips
out on the lip of the jar
with a string tied to the skinny
of its leg braided from bits
of dried antennae and also miles

away in the parking lot
of a prison rodeo
that comes once a year
her lips blush dark purple
white knuckles glimmer with sweat
near a steel flashlight again
no one hears the noises
legs can make when they move
on their own
everyone listen)
it is filled with grains of
rice tapping against wet clay like
the splintered legs of beetles
patting down ruffled knots of hair

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