KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Haibun Story: 278 words

After the Dream, the Dream Remains

by Rich Youmans

The chef with the barbed-wire tattoo is shouting for clean plates again. C’mon, wetback, vamoose, vamoose! Carlos feels the old snarl building in his throat, his chamuco temper ready to erupt. He grabs a rack of plates, shoves them into the dishwasher, brings down the door like a guillotine blade. Leans against the sink. The kitchen air smells of bleach and seared meat, and all the hanging metal pots reflect a smaller version of himself. The busboy booms through the swinging doors, carrying another clattering tray; Carlos takes the dishes, sprays off grease and chunks of fat. Yesterday his brother called: another raid, this time down at the carwash where his cousin worked. This is not how it was supposed to be. He pulls from the washer the now-clean plates, their round faces shining.

border crossing    saguro arms raised toward the moon

Carlos washes the water glasses, rubs a rim until it sings. Marissa should be home from work by now, resting her swollen feet. Soon he will slip into bed next to her, her skin smelling of tree bark and cinnamon. If he’s lucky, he won’t have the bad dream—the crowd spilling from the funeral parlor onto Avenida Ruiz, the gang names spray-painted on corrugated shutters. Instead, he’ll return to the plaza of their earlier days: children chasing pigeons from cobblestones, their voices a flutter of wings. The air sweet with the smell of atole and charred banana leaves. The high sun turning their skin to gleaming copper—cobre reluciente—as if it were the most ordinary thing in the world.

border crossing    night river flowing into its own sound


Rich Youmans
Issue 11, Spring 2019

has published his short prose and poetry in various journals and anthologies, including Contemporary Haibun, Haibun Today, KYSO Flash, and Cape Cod Poetry Review. His most recent collection, Head-On: Haibun Stories, was recently released by Red Bird Chapbooks. He currently serves on the editorial team of Haibun Today and lives with his wife, Belle, on Cape Cod.

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