Friday, November 11, 2022

Three Poems by Richard Vargas

My Bullet

it follows me wherever i go

reading on the toilet 

shopping at Walmart

walking around Six Flags

or watching a movie

at the local cinema plex

it has learned

to say my name

it wants to be friends


i hold it in my hand

rub it between thumb

and forefinger while 

a stream of dread pumps 

through my veins 


it’s pointed tip presses

into the palm of my hand 

i envision how it

will pierce my flesh and 

ricochet off my bones 

only to exit a shredded mess 

as i bleed out for a 

30 second spot on the 

6 o’clock news


i throw it out the window

as i drive past dairy farms

and fields of summer corn


knowing that when it finds me

there will be hell to pay



Trickle This


it’s a tuesday afternoon

there are four or five people seated inside

eating or waiting for their order

one man is working the grill 

the deep fryer and taking orders

at the register all at once


he’s got the routine down

slapping raw patties on the sizzling grill

dropping a basket of fries into lava

hot cooking oil 


his cool concentration reminding me

of Kobe demanding the ball whenever

the team was down by 3 with a few seconds 

left on the clock


people keep coming thru the door

at a steady pace and now i realize

he’s also preparing online orders 


working the register

grilling the meat

bagging the fries

making a shake

he is an artist

a fast-food Picasso

lost in the spell 

of frenzied creation 


the burger is juicy 

grease drips down my wrist

it must be held a certain way

or it falls apart with each bite

my fries are crispy and salty

still hot to the touch

unlike the sad alternative

served by you-know-who


this is the real economy 

forget Wall Street’s smoke and mirrors:

we show up everyday

give it our best shot


with one arm

tied behind 

our back



60,000 Dead


it’s a tragic number but doesn’t hit home

until i remember what it feels like

to be with that many

fellow humans in one place

buying cold beer 

hot dogs and peanuts

sitting in the warm September sun 

at the L.A. Coliseum

cheering for our team

giving high fives all around

to perfect strangers sharing a

moment of joy when our 

team did something

spectacular and glorious


the postgame din and chatter

would be upbeat if we won

walking to our cars with

voices hoarse and strained


or the mood subdued

all of us simmering in 

the sour juices of a loss

blamed on refs who were

blind as mice


this is how i relate

to a death count of 60,000 


going into the stadium

with a raucous and lively crowd

none of us walking out alive


except now someone on t.v.

would pat himself on the back

tell us how it could

have been worse


Bio: Richard Vargas earned his B.A. at Cal State University, Long Beach, where he studied under Gerald Locklin, Dora Polk, and Richard Lee. He edited/published five issues of The Tequila Review, 1978-1980, and twelve issues of The MasTequila Review from 2010-2015. Vargas received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico, 2010. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference Hispanic Writer Award. He was on the faculties of the 2012 10th National Latino Writers Conference and the 2015 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. Published collections: McLife, 2005; American Jesus, 2007; Guernica, revisited, 2014; How A Civilization Begins, MouthFeel Press, Summer 2022, and a fifth book to be published in 2023. He currently resides in Wisconsin, near the lake where Otis Redding’s plane crashed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

One Poem by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

A Real Escape Artist  The woman upstairs  ran a tight ship, never let her husband speak out of turn and made him deal weed in the basement: ...