by Lisa Eve Cheby

the high desert stretches     hours west of airbnbs and selfie backdrops    here Joshua Trees weep their ancient heads       droop in sorrow          warning  

warning: injustice ahead      Adelanto means progress     the land of unlimited promises

promises can be a curse     a trick     like a traffic ticket that makes a father disappear

like a detention center         a euphemism for eradication           of brown bodies,

Not-so-temporarily         uniformed in blue or orange or red        coded by threat level

AC blasts    windowless rooms     109 degrees     water sucked from skin    I must remember

we could not bring in paper, pen, phone     Ximena denied entry:  "no leggings allowed"

or was it no brown skin friends?          Refugio's in bright orange       talks slowly,

as if to his 3-yr-old daughter       Martha and I            listen         struggle to understand:  

9 months         no patrocinador           patrocinador      no     patro         cin         ador    sponsor   the man in blue at the next trio of chairs        pauses his visit             interprets

asked   no sponsor    asked    no response    asked   no attorney   asked asked   savings   no access     a fiancée       no crime       a cousin        no letters      no calls    no visits   no rights

                                   Espero una oportunidad  /  I want a chance

English sneaks into Refugio's story – appliance, Best Buy, Sears – and I understand:  he is a man who knows how to use straps and triceps to contort stoves over the counters into tight spaces,

like the cirque du soleil show in my kitchen by men wearing tan costumes streaked in grease    

of course it was not him in my home    was not my stove on his route    now he cleans

for an extra plate    a phone call to his daughter     who struggles to understand, too      we leave  

money through the kiosk outside       even our cash kindness is suspect      subject to surveillance:

name    birthday    address      phone number      & a $4 transaction fee         unlimited profits

will I get a receipt?   "We withhold any guarantee of a disruption to our system, GEO & ICE"

Lisa Eve Cheby

Lisa Eve Cheby's writing appears in various journals and anthologies such The Rumpus, Ghost Town, Ruminate, Tidal Basin Review, A cappella Zoo, Drawn to Marvel, and Coiled Serpent. She was nominated for a 2015 Pushcart and was a 2017 SAFTA Writer in Residence. Her chapbook, Love Lessons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (DancingGirlPress, 2015) was featured in The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed Series. Lisa holds an MFA from Antioch and an MLIS from SJSU. "What I Learned When I Visited Adelanto" was first published in Writers Resist.

Follow Lisa on Facebook @LisaChebyWriter or on Twitter @LisaCheby

Illustration by Jared Schwartz,