Downhill Triolets

by Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz

The phone rings—my brother was arrested again.
Dad hangs up, gets his old blue Chevy going, and heads to the police station.
It’s not the first time. It’s not even the second.
No one is surprised when my brother is arrested again.
The guy fell on my knife was his one-phone-call explanation.
(He stabbed a man five times in the back is the official accusation.)
My brother is arrested again and again. And again
our dad, our Sisyphus, pushes his old blue heart up to the station.
Ring, ring, ring at 2 a.m. means meth’s got my brother in the slammer again.
God told him Break into Grandma’s house and Lionel Richie gave him that
feeling of dancing on the ceiling.
My dad said, At 2 a.m., God and Lionel Richie don’t make good friends.
Ring, ring, ring at 2 a.m. means meth’s got my brother by the balls again.
With God in one ear and Lionel in the other, who can win?
Not my brother, so he made a meth pipe from the lightbulb and smoked
himself reeling.
Ring, ring, ring at 2 a.m. means my brother’s tweaked himself into jail again.
It wasn’t his fault, not with God guiding his foot through the door and
honey-voiced Lionel whispering Hard to keep your feet on the ground 
with such a smooth-ass ceiling.
The tribal cops are in our front yard calling in on a little black radio: I got a
10-15 for 2-6-7 and 4-15.
The 10-15 they got is my brother, a Geronimo-wannabe who thinks he’s
holding out. In his mind he’s playing backup for Jimi—
he is an itching, bopping head full of “Fire.” Mom cried, Stop acting so
crazy, but he kept banging air drums against the windows and ripped
out all the screens.
This time, we called the cops, and when they came we just watched—we
have been here before and we know 2-6-7 and 4-15 will get him 10-15.
His eyes are escape caves torchlit by his 2-6-7 of choice: crystal
Finally, he’s in the back of the cop car, hands in handcuffs shiny and
shaped like infinity.
Now that he’s 10-15, he’s kicking at the doors and security screen, a 2-6-7
fiend saying, I got desires that burn and make me wanna 4-15.
His tongue is flashing around his mouth like a world’s fair Ferris wheel—
but he’s no Geronimo, Geronimo would find a way out instead of
giving in so easily.

When My Brother Was An Aztec

Last updated December 15, 2022