Playing with fire

Mere feet from fire station, the Big Y thief burns
an old couple in their bed. Cut throats, empty wallets, then burn.

Mami shoves some chicken into microwave. Twenty minutes
on high. Papi’s pollo scorches,her fingertips burn.

Jahn Foundry explosion. No more skin on Pablo’s fingers to touch his melting face,
to fling off flaming clothes. The cartilage of his ears crackles as it burns.

Whenever Papi passes out on the floor, we dare each other to lift
his shirt and touch the island-shaped scar, old foundry burn.

When we kids don’t stop jumping on our one good bed and the little one busts
his head on the heater, out comes the Vicks! Close your eyes or they’ll burn!

Nine years old, Mami cooked for rich Puerto Ricans and their dogs.
She was allowed to wrap table scraps and bits that smelled “ahuma’o”, burned.

Teachers sometimes think we squirm too much in our seats. They only check
our heads for lice. Not my legs for the crisscrosses of split wires that burn.