Casandra Lopez

house of bullet

I house the bang of Bullet in my amygdala, in my tizzied **** brain now prone
to hijack.                                         Brother’s brain housed

a bullet for 14 hours. 14 hours of waiting

                                         room chairs in a caffeinless hospital.
                                         14 hours is a song lodge in throat,
                                         a soft isthmus where no food can pass.  

                                          We are all less now.
                                          Pieced together with lack.

                                          We must house
                                          him in our bodies—
                                          A clavicle scripted with initials, a marked arm
                                          or stomach and almond eyed children become
of a man’s existence.

Brother once housed a secret
and now I the prick of survivor’s guilt.

House this question: Who did this to you?
The police report says [REDACTED]
Someone tells me, [REDACTED]
Someone else tells me, [REDACTED]

Live this city as a question. A mark of tomorrow never guaranteed. Live
in this city’s muck, this edge                             of desert.                             What is below
will rise,                             a laked underground,               the gut of it,
our soupy middle.                                       Because each house is built      on a fault

line, so close to the spine.

Open my closet.           Open my suitcase.          Open our neighbor’s house. Open
my childhood friend.           Open our relations.           Open the stranger. Open
                                                  this city.  

And you will find each year it grows full
with more clothes printed with “In Memory” and ‘RIP.”

Do not advert your eyes when you shake
the hand of the mother of
Brother’s youngest child.
She houses Brother’s face

on her forearm.
                                          Here, she declares a theft,
                                          [ an                                     absence ]
                                          This tattoo, this scarred skin, a wound
                                          healing–made visible.

Bullet won’t stop.

It’s in Cousin’s computer.                                       She needs more
memory.                                                                       There is always more
to record,                                                                       more slides to set to music. More                                                                                Diana Ross singing
about                                                                                missing you.

Brother-Friend houses Bullet
in a drink, in his knuckles
deformed from a night’s punched fist.
Where else can he house                                             this wild?

                                            Can it live in a thirty day sobriety?

                                            Where can we rest our chorus of grief?

Eldest Nephew lives his grief
                                                        in a soccer limbed run, in a kicked

sphere. He learns this game—what it is to win and lose—in Spanish and English.

He learns that his first loss
                                                             after Father-death will turn him into a limp limbed

boy, his knees cutting into
                                                             the green regulated grass

He learns he will need help to stand.

for brother-friend who contemplates suicide on a Saturday

Casandra Lopez is a California Indian (Cahuilla/Tongva/Luiseño) and Chicana writer who has received support from from CantoMundo, Bread Loaf and Jackstraw. She’s been selected for residencies with School of Advanced Research and Hedgebrook. Her chapbook, Where Bullet Breaks was published by the Sequoyah National Research Center and her second chapbook, After Bullet,is forthcoming from Paper Nautilus. She’s a founding editor of As Us: A Space For Writers Of The World, and teaches at Northwest Indian College.