You look so innocent, so sweet, you wouldn’t break a dish and all your dishes are broken.

                  The Acid Test, Élmer Mendoza (trans. Mark Fried)


Mayra knows better than most:

you’re either on the side of killed or killers,

tortured, torturers,

prey, predators,

raped, rapists.

Faithful Christian prostitute she is,

her choice was crystal clear,

and now she lies, cadaver,

nipple sliced off as an exclamation point.


Kind Christian that she was,

she saw me as I am,

a wicked man who still believes in good,

the warrior and protector all that’s left

of Señor Gentle Domesticity.

So launch me, Élmer,

out onto the broken dishes

of my teeth on edge

against the lupine sadists of the night.


Tom Riordan lives in New Jersey. He’s a retired restaurant worker and teacher, and dreams about becoming pope for his next career.

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