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

Every doorknob in the house is loose from Esai and Lucia

by Jimmy Santiago Baca


Every doorknob in the house is loose from Esai and Lucia

running and chasing each other and playing games

like hide-n-seek.

That’s how it should be, life should be used,

things worn down, broken, mended and reused, fixed,

handled, hit, bumped into, given to the world and the world’s traffic

and the world’s children, tested as they grow, explored and inspected

and gnawed and touched, pulled and slammed,

all in the name of growth,

celebrating children’s curiosity,

the infant’s intrigue with the world

that smells of bird shit & baby puke

and after the day’s done, the day’s bent

disfigured by children’s use,

one can say as the world goes to sleep

life fills the world.


It’s better,

better than a world where children cannot run

because they have no legs,

where tricycles smolder in rubble

where stairs have crumbled because children no longer dream

where canning jars and tools lie shattered in radiated blood

where young men and women must be fed because they have no hands,

where the only playmates are fear and terror

etched in every face,

where nothing grows or else is cut down in its youth

where children learn to count by pointing to spent bullet cartridges

and draw bodies on concrete with no limbs,

where dogs feast on corpses and words are drowned out by bomb blasts,

where cuts and bruises and broken limbs go unattended,

where stories are about the day’s atrocities committed,

where nightmares have replaced dreams and no one sleeps,

where every game played by children is about death.