CALIFORNIA by Alfredo Aguilar

After Jericho Brown

In the dream, I buried my father
Then ran toward the mountain set on fire.

Running back to the mountain set on fire
Meant returning home to where I was raised.

I returned to the small blue home, raised
Dust searching for boots that belonged to me.

The leather boots my father bought me
In youth so I would learn what work was.

As a young man I thought I knew what work was,
But my hands never callused or blistered.

My hands are still soft. Scarcely blistered
From working, not on work, but on words.

Shaping words, I’m told, is its own work—
Dreaming, I buried words then my father.

Alfredo Aguilar is the author of On This Side of the Desert (Kent State University Press 2020) selected by Natalie Diaz for the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, and the chapbook What Happens On Earth (BOAAT Press 2018). He is a recipient of 92Y’s Discovery Poetry Contest and has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Frost Place. His work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Best New Poets 2017, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. Originally from North County San Diego, he now resides in Central Texas.