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The Stove

Suegra was pissed the water bill was so high
so she didn’t pay it
and the city turned the water off.
Now Suegra and the kid and whoever else might be there
have to come over to our place next door 
to piss and shit and take showers.

Then yesterday the gas was somehow left on
on the stove and when Suegra went to light it
it exploded
and hurled her into the wall.
The oven door popped open and got her in the knee
which swelled up like a mango.
The force broke two windows in the house
and all four grill covers went flying
one of which we can’t find anywhere.
Natalia and Adriana took Suegra to the hospital
where she had an anxiety attack
but they gave her a shot and some gel 
and she’ll be fine,
they say.
Me and Ubaldo put cardboard over the broken windows  
since there’s no money for new panes
and Suegra is afraid to turn on the stove
but she can’t come here to cook
because we don’t have a stove.

After all that Natalia took Suegra downtown
to put some money on the water account
because without water human beings have a tough time. 
Far as the stove goes, she’ll just have to
face her fears.  

Something similar happened to my sister-in-law Sofia’s stove 
some years ago.
Her eyebrows and eyelashes got burned off
and she looked like an alien for a couple weeks.
Yesterday Sofia dropped off her 4-year-old niece
for Suegra to babysit
and that’s who I think turned 
on Suegra’s stove knobs up to high
when nobody was looking.
Sofia left her niece with Suegra
and went out to eat 
with a married man who lives in Los Marisoles 
and is rumored to be mafioso 

but I’m not going to touch 
that ticking time-bomb 
and anyway everyone needs a little affection 
before the whole enchilada goes kablooey. 


Suegro's Tour 

Suegro didn’t die gracefully.
He made a big damn show of it,
squalling at Suegra from his deathbed in the house
calling her a crazy old lady,
a fucking bitch,
getting even for all the things that pissed him off his whole life,
telling her to come in there and help him go to the bathroom.
He would fall on purpose 
and wipe his shit all over the walls.
He would go into the kitchen and yell from the window:
The neighbors would come.
Once the police came too.
Suegra had to explain.

Poor old Suegro.
He was a sweet man when he was healthy
but dying, no.

During his last years he always talked about taking a tour of Mexico.
He hadn’t been anywhere in his whole life,
just the same dirty barrio 
but he had seen in a magazine
they had tour busses that would take people
around Mexico to visit the famous sites,
the Aztec ruins, 
the “magical pueblos”
the tequila breweries.
He wanted that tour so bad 
but it cost too much. 

He finally died in midsummer 
when it was hot as hell.
The funeral was in a church so he could go to heaven.
That funeral probably cost more than the bus tour 
but somehow they always find money for funerals, 
funerals and beer.

After the ceremony 
we all got in the procession to head to the cemetery.
The hearse was in front and kept making odd turns.
I said to Natalia, 
Isn’t the cemetery on Progresso?
She just shushed me and we followed.

The hearse ended up going all over the place,
through neighborhoods I didn’t even know existed.
We skirted the reservoir, snuck past the prison
and wound through what passes
for the rich side.
The kid driving the hearse 
didn’t know where he was going
and was drunk.
Finally some fed-up uncle got out of his car at a red light 
and set the punk straight.

We pulled into the cemetery as the sun was setting.
In this way old Suegro finally got his tour.
Now he’s seeing places we can only imagine
and he can’t even send us a postcard.