Jennifer Givhan

Ode to The Man Who Helped Raise Me
                                                for Paul Gonzales

My brother eats menudo on a Sunday morning
with a Mexican-bottled Coca Cola made with real
cane sugar at a dive in Santa Ana where he’s running
for City Councilman as the first openly gay candidate
where an opponent complained he is too proud. O
Pablo Honey, with your beautiful husband Mark Aurelio
in the two-bedroom brick house where you plant
aloe vera & raise chickens & listen
as they practice their egg songs—       Remember
at Sacred Heart how you stayed home with mono
[the kissing disease] & sent me to school
in your fevered state with a note for the boy you liked
& I didn’t know I shouldn’t have let anyone read it, I
swear then I didn’t know—& the whole school
when you came back tried to kill your spirit & I got sent
to the nun’s office for cursing the lot of them out?
The world is vast with hate, but you held me tight
& took me for sweet tea & donuts & told me we
would change everything. Mi hermano, I still believe.

Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American poet who has received NEA and PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellowships. She’s been published in The New Republic, Salon, and POETRY. The author of four collections of poetry and the novels TRINITY SIGHT and JUBILEE, she lives with her family in New Mexico.