for Jessica Alba & Danny Trejo
There has been so much death. So much killing.
From space, the wall along the Rio Grande
isn’t even a shadow of a shadow.
The rockets of his jetpack are cold now.
His mamá named him Isador Cortez.
México renamed him Machete.
a.k.a Navajas; a.k.a. Cuchillo.
Isadoro is Greek for gift from Isis,
the goddess who took the shape of a scorpion
and healed the sick and raised the dead.
How can I explain the man behind the legend?
Not everything people say is true.
For one, he never joined ICE.
He was no good at following orders
anyway, and yet, on Sunday mornings,
while I slept, he’d stalk the neighborhood
for pan dulce and barbacoa for tacos,
not too oily, not too dry.
To the ladies my papi is puro catnip, a sabretooth bone,
a walking Juan the Conquer root.
Even the Selena statue whistled at him
when we drove to Corpus
so I could show him how to fish.
When he was born, God said,
You will be a Mexi-can, not a Mexi-can’t.
He finishes rewiring the navigation system of a nuke
he’s sitting on and winks at me. Outer space is cold. Colder
even than the day he thought I was killed.
We didn’t know the villain of the month
had messed around with clones,
so while I was held captive on a space station,
my poor Machete put my double in the ground,
Agent Sartana Rivera,
while twenty-one guns saluted her.
What did my man find when he followed the bad guy
into space? Hundreds of kidnapped immigrants
forced to build a space station at gunpoint.
240,000 miles above Earth
and it’s the same old shit as down there.
Can you believe Cortez means polite?
I lost count of how many bad guys
he’s killed. He doesn’t even know.
When I asked him once, he said,
Machete don’t count.
and then laughed so hard
I thought the sombrero of the woman
tattooed on his chest was going to fall off.
Life hasn’t been all bad. He did find me here in space.
You could say our love is galactic now.
He’s only a cucuy to the pendejos
who see gardeners, busboys, and maids
when they look at us. What I see
is not God’s scorpion or a hurricane of blades,
but the man I love riding a nuclear missile like a Harley
into the mouth of a black hole.
He’s like a chromed-out star that forgot how to fall.
I know when my papi lights up the sky
in a few minutes, people are gonna talk
and say all the babies born today
were born under a bad sign.
The blister on my heart
and this machete in my hand say different.