When he felt the punch of the bullet,
he pulled to the left on the wheel,
skidded across lanes, hit the concrete
divider and rode it for a hundred yards.
His Candy Apple Red car scraped the wall,
left a line of paint behind him
like an arrow for Exit. Now, blood
pumps from a hole below his left ear,
splatters the window, colors his diamond
stud earring ruby. It is Monday, 5:00 A.M.
Fifteen minutes away, a woman
makes a bed, smoothes blankets
in the same hurried way she smoothes
her hair. She has learned to be fast,
to keep up with the street.
On the wall by her head, amusement
park banners and sprays of dried flowers
circle a picture of the Holy Virgin.
Its frame is as round as O sound
the woman will make when she learns
that the dying was quick.
Reporters want statements: something short
from the family. Her voice cracks over
stern English words. “Hard working,”
she says. “Conscientious.” His brothers sit
next to her on the bed and nod. “Oh yes,”
they say, “he was one hell of a driver.”
Later, she will cry. She will ask
his brothers how this could happen.
Their faces will tighten
on her question. “Hey,” they will say.
“This is the way it is. If you don’t want
to be shot, stay the fuck off the freeway,
the streets the alleys, the driveways.
Stay in your room under the picture
of the Holy Virgin, lock the doors
and the windows. Wait until the blood
is powder in your veins and prayers click
on your tongue like misfires. And then,
when you come out, hold your arms up
over your head and walk backward, away
from this place, as if you were dancing:
as if that is all you intended to do.