Read the introduction, "The Horse Is Always Running" by Monica Sok.
Tracing the Horse
The moon’s gone down again.
If you play cards at night, the devil
pulls up a chair, plays with you.
I believe my Mother; I’m ten.
She told me, study the moon.
Take a picture and tell the world
what the picture means,
only I wasn’t sure what the moon
would say, especially to me—
I couldn’t look out the window.
We drove to Ensenada
where we sailed to an island of squid
that once hooked
stained the Pacific.
The dark over that ocean.
So dark it was blue.
Maybe Mom’s the horse,
because aren’t horses
beautiful, can’t they kill
someone if spooked?
I fell down in the rosebush.
Mr. Wyrick ties
Anthony’s hands like a pig
killed for first communion.
The devil did grab my feet—
to cover them in pollen.
Once, the moon was our only source of light.
I should stop talking about the devil.
He turned me into a crow.
There’s music in me,
plum trees called Purple Heart.
Now I know why the moon,
chained to our house,
talked like that.
* * *
I’m riding a horse I can’t stop drawing,
a wild one with a whip for a tail.
It’s a song in a dream
where words burn
* * *
Mom brushes my hair
and asks me to tell time
but if I get it wrong,
she hits me.
On a sea where birds
make space for sunlight
and count blue water,
we followed him
into our garage
to gut barracuda,
Mr. Wyrick’s Loaner’s Library.
I take a book home, read it,
bring it back and he puts a star next to my name
on a Rapid Readers Chart.
I don’t read whole books,
just sentences, words in a row.
I read for feelings.
The horse is always running.
Letter from Corcoran Prison: Please deposit $1500 into the P.O. Box of Debra C.—
the Mafia’s going to kill me.
After 911 they asked the Chicanos what it meant and one of them, raised his hand in
prison, “How do you think we took it? We took it like Americans.”
Mule Creek, Delano, Chowchilla, Avenal, Pelican Bay, Calipatria, Sentinela,
Ironwood, Solano, Wasco, Corcoran, Tehachapi.
California has a lot of prisons but they all have beautiful names.
A cop I’m dating charges a gang member with possession, “I feel that I understand
you—the people I arrest remind me of your family.”
Dad’s arm is out the car window, “You’re going to have a hard time finding a man.”
On my brother’s fortieth birthday, “I played Gin Rummy with Birdman; Manson’s
signature’s worth money; they sign his name with a stamp.”
After robbing H&H Liquor, they hide in the cellar from City of Industry Sheriffs,
drowsy with blood. At night, they dream the same thing: gang fame.
Driving to the methadone clinic, “You know too much about us.” Addicts are lucky;
they get to focus on one thing their entire life.
Cornell! Princeton! Pepperdine! The names sound like exotic spices. Dad’s drunk,
“Which college are you going to?”
On a bench at La Puente Park, “call my manager—he stashed ten thousand dollars
for me,” then from his backpack he pulls out a watch that doesn’t work.
I lived next to a train passing on Valley Blvd, the sky above, pink-and-gold stars.
Summers were horses traced on paper; the denim I wore smelled of peaches.
My youth unfolding, paper fan.
Diana Marie Delgado is the author of Late Night Talks with Men I Think I Trust (Center for Book Arts, 2015). She is a recipient of a 2017 NEA Literature Fellowship ands received grants and scholarships from The Frost Place and Bread Loaf Writer's Conference.