The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®

 

Bruce Cohn

Edna Cook and the Mexicans

 

The dogs scared the Mexicans.

 

It’s an interesting thought. 

 

Because, as of late, they seem to be frightening us with their three small children in the corroding Chevy, watching quietly as their father, with one final grunt, wipes his brow, heaves his shoulders and clears the curb with the four 50-pound mulch bags in the gray rusted wheelbarrow, the one with the flat tire and splintered wood handle that should be in the Smithsonian on display in the Primitive Tools of Man section. They frighten us with their coal-black hair and brown-stamped skin—attributes if your name is Clooney, probable cause when it’s Diaz, and okay when it’s Rubio, ‘cause that’s Cuban.

 

It’s an interesting thought.

 

That if the forefathers of Edna’s manure spreaders had utilized the merciful legislation of our leaders they would not be here to make her yard a beacon of tolerance, a manicured frontier of landscaping timbers offering amnesty, free of debris and diversity and those annoying gumballs that stick out everywhere and are simply unwelcome. If only they had signed on for the Mexican Repatriation Act, which mandated that the descendants of Tejanos, Nuevo Mexicans, Californios and Mission Indians be voluntarily moved back to Mexico when 500,000 were deported, many of whom were citizens, many of whom who had been in the American Southwest since New Spain’s Provincias Internas.

  

It’s an interesting thought.

 

That my two daughters’ reaction to the absurdity of Mrs. Cook’s comment brought on uncontrollable laughter, offering some comfort as to if the world is improving or otherwise, whereupon at every re-entrance to our neighborhood they mockingly reference all neighbors by their nationality or religion. Don’t let Sunny and Neville into Dr. Kim’s yard; we’ll scare the Koreans! Keep the dog away from the Murphys, those Gaelic bastards hate it when we interrupt their drinking! And as the garage door opens, Quiet! Those damn barking dogs will disturb the tranquility of Jews and the Catholics with their Sabbath and their…fish.

 

It’s an interesting thought.

 

That Marcario Garcia, Mexican-American war hero and Medal of Honor winner, would sit quietly in a wheelchair, listening to leaders of the New World explain that we need protection from his kind, the rapists and the thieves, the unilateral smack down of his heritage that he must not have been thinking of when the first or second German bullet passed through him. Or that his ilk lacks work ethic or intellect, some citing Selena Gomez interviews as proof.

 

It’s an interesting thought.

 

That Edna wants Trump on that wall, that Edna needs Trump on that wall.  Because Mrs. Cook has a greater responsibility with that yard than you or I can possibly fathom.  I weep for crabgrass and curse unkempt lawns­--I have that luxury.  And Edna’s existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to me, probably increases property values.  Edna uses words like compost and biennials and aeration and ground cover as a way to reference a life spent building something. My daughters use them as punchlines. And deep down, at places where we don’t really want to talk about it at parties and poetry readings, we are all thinking the same thing: That Ricardo Montalban was a real looker.

 

 

 

BRUCE COHN studied literature and philosophy at Kansas University and Columbia University in New York.  His poems and short stories have been published in various journals and anthologies, including Surface in California and the underground New York publication Guerilla Poetry. Influenced, encouraged and mentored by William Stafford in Kansas and Allen Ginsburg in New York, he continues to write short stories and poetry in the Midwest, where he is completing his second book of poems and first screenplay.

 

 

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