The mango tree with its arms spread like an embrace is home base.
The green grass is boiling lava and the coiled garden hose
is an island you can land on if you don’t want to turn to ash.
The porch can be safe but only for a flash because the old lady
with the broom handle will cast a spell on you in Spanish.
Sin verguenza, maldita, hija del diablo, desgraciada.
The pit bull tethered to the avocado tree is a snub-tailed devil.
If you get too close, he’ll munch up your soul with his rotten teeth,
and you’ll have to sink down to the underworld to steal it back.
The kitchen is the underworld where fire licks the popcorn ceiling
but never burns the Formica cabinets. The old witch stirs all the souls
in a steel pot, takes tiny sips from her ladle, throws in pinches of dirt.
If your soul ends up in her brew, it will turn the color of dishwater.
It will be gritty until your dying day. Sneak in through the back door
but don’t hide under the eaves because that’s where the wasps hang
and their poison will paralyze your legs. If you can’t run away
the Palmetto bugs will come and burrow under your skin, make nests
inside your bones and you’ll hear them skittering whenever you fall
asleep. If you see any yellow mangoes on the ground, scoop
them up. You can bite through the skin with your teeth and suck out
the juice which will give you an extra life. The blackened ones are atomic,
throw them against the old Impala, explode them against the house.
Don’t lob them at the witch, she will catch them in her arthritic fist
then stare you dead with her lazy eye. She’ll turn you to a pile
of sea salt, sweep you into a dustpan, sprinkle your remains
over every dish. Sin verguenza, maldita, hija del diablo, cabrona.
There’s no finish line, dummy. Just be glad there’s something to eat.