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'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, https://www.jaredsart.com/protest-artwork