Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts


by Jimmy Santiago Baca


I have been reading on Buddhism

to deal with the dark in me.

To be a good father to you

and nourish the cactus blossom you are, Lucia.

To teach you to keep your thorny spines intact

and alert for unwanted intruders,

to open your soul and heart to sun each morning

as if it were the first time opening, first time seeing,

touching and hearing the world.



we turned the garden hose on and I sprayed you and Esai,

you under the arc of bright water

opened your arms under the umbrella of flashing waterfall

and embraced

each droplet with gusto, with dancing and spinning

and running laughter,

while I thought of the floods in Pakistan

five million homeless, farmers committing suicide,

while corporations buy up every acre to plant

one type of corn, one type of beet, one type of strawberry—

when what your soul tells me is life is varied and multiplies

a thousand times a minute into unique and singular blossoms

of being, your essence my sweet child

is the wind-shredded tip

of a prayer flag, wind snapping

with innocent joy

at the cold summit.


As if people were not starving, as if whole communities

were not wiped out,

as if one hundred and fifty Mexican women were not

raped yesterday by the cartels,

as if one’s Hollywood ego was more important

than life, than breath, than soul—

and I hear my friends saying, But Jimmy, the world has to go on,

despite people wanting to deny the mosque so close

to ground zero 9/11 site,

despite 6000 murders in Juarez from cartel madmen,

despite all the cringing and gear-grinding mayhem,

most of us react like cooing rooftop cage pigeons,

afraid of angering the award-givers, the approval givers

the acceptance givers.


I know, just ignore it as most do, close my mind and heart to it.


After months of not mowing the lawn, I start up the lawnmower

and while you sit under the patio umbrella and watch me, Lucia,

everything is as it should be—the weeds, the tall grass, you sipping

your lemonade, the sun in the blue sky,

you don’t ask why so many weeds,

why the lawn hasn’t been cut all summer,

just as when you change clothes a dozen times

or you dance to your music in the sunroom,

life brims with abundant weeds, heady with seeds,

papa limping along with a torn calf muscle,

and you,

content as the day’s late summer sun

know that a little girl’s love can heal

a papa’s aching heart.