Shooting Ladybugs

Poetry by Erika Ayón

Apá’s voice pierces through the front door, as we play outside
on the porch taking turns letting a ladybug crawl inside our palms.
Apá is in the kitchen with Amá, screaming about how Mr. Craig,
whose house he painted the exterior of, refuses to pay.
The two story house took Apá weeks to paint. He hand painted
the blue and white trim around all the widows and doors.
He was careful not to spill paint on the black screen doors.
Apá needs the money for the rent.

Apá goes on to say how in Mexico,”Los hombres son honrados.”
They keep their word. If they don’t, you can take the law into
your own hands. He jumps up from the table, enters the bedroom,
returns holding a black case. The case contains the gun
he keeps under his pillow at night.

Apá storms out the door, carries the case tightly underneath
his jacket, rushes past us on the porch, avoids our stares.
Joel whispers, “Is he going to shoot him?” Marissa shakes her head,
eyes watering. I try to shake the thought of Apá shooting Mr. Craig
like he shoots the paper silhouettes of men when he goes to the shooting
range—bullet holes in their chest, their heart, their head.
I release the ladybug and watch it disappear from my palm
into the wet dirt, and wait.

erika-ayon-photoErika Ayón emigrated from Mexico when she was five years old. She grew up in South Central Los Angeles and graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English. She was selected as a 2009 Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellow and has taught poetry to middle and high school students. She is currently working on a collection of poetry entitled Orange Lady, which deals with her childhood experience of selling oranges on the streets of Los Angeles with her family, in order to survive financially.

6 comments for “Shooting Ladybugs

  1. Marissa Ayon
    May 7, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    This poem is inspiring. It’s a reminder of how people come to the United State to live the “American Dream” and provide a better life for their loved ones but are faced with distress and dishonesty and yet are able to survive. His children are his proof..Yes Apa could have taken the law into his own hands but he didn’t because he is “un hombre honrado” and in doing so we too are honest people…Erika keep up the great work..Your voice is being heard!

  2. nancy
    May 7, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Your work is vivid, dramatic, and inspiring. As unjust laws such as sb1070 in Arizona pass your work is refreshing..keep writing and giving a voice to the underrepresented and misunderstood “immigrant”…

  3. Mauricio Benitez
    May 10, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    I really enjoyed this poem.

  4. Araceli
    May 10, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I really enjoy your poems they inspire me in so many ways and I can relate to them.

  5. May 11, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Poems like these that are honest and heartfelt put a human face on the struggles of immigrants in this country. Thank you for sharing this with us. I believe poetry has the power to bring understanding and humanity, and your poem does that. You rock!

  6. Bob
    May 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Great stuff.

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