“In Line at the Welfare Office” by Sergio A. Ortiz


He wanted to tell that woman behind that glass window she had failed: morning supplication on the edge of her tongue had been worthless. Tell her she was wrong about his brothers from the barrio; they weren't in his bed because of the engravings of Andrew Jackson in his wallet; tell her he was worn out from praying to Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz while immigrants were shamelessly gunned down on city streets. Show her he grew wings on both sides of his temples, and unless something was done about the ban on same-sex marriages in California, he wasn’t voting in another election.

in line
at welfare office
rejected haiku

His Social Security benefits were not enough to pay next month's bills. He wanted to break the piñata. Write rengay about pancakes and frogs in fish tanks. Write about his lover's naked body imprinted on white sand. However, he was sixty-five and barely managed on his own. Sixty-five and afraid his bed was no longer a battleground.

starfish sprawls
beneath the full moon
she hogs the covers