Some more bad ethnographic poetry

...because I can't find a way to write about these things in prose.

The cell phone signals in the prisons were blocked two weeks ago, to keep us safe
Since then she hasn't been able to talk to her boyfriend
She is irritable, her brothers tell me
She misses him
And that's why (they say) the broom handle broke when she hit little Juan's back

86 per 100,000
Marvin often screams in his sleep
Sometimes he breaks things and doesn't remember in the morning
Tonight his brother Josué sobs loudly
I bought Josué too much beer, because he said he wanted beer
I didn't know what else to do
"Mamá" he cries out

I go downstairs and touch his shoulder
I'm sorry, he tells me, I'll try to be quiet
He lets me hug him and tells me
This is the only present I have from her
Look, he says, holding up the smart phone
she gave him
There she is, his background screen picture
so pale
Her lipstick seems too red

Before she died
he tells me
If I had a cough, I would call her up
I'd say
Mamá I have a cough
Now who will I call when I have a cough?

Our cousin steals things
they explained to me, taking the last of the damp threadbare socks off the line and
locking the muddy plastic sandals and stool inside
He's a crack addict, you can't let him out of your sight
His friend is too, she turns herself into a cat to rob houses
Sometimes he hunts iguanas for crack money
when there's nothing good to steal

I saw him hunting one day across the latrine creek
He had waded to the other side, holding a long stick with a noose at the end
I didn't see any iguanas
Only Fred sees the iguanas, his cousin said, laughing
But he caught one and sold it to a neighbor for dinner

One day I asked one of his cousins why they let him in the yard
He looked at me, eyes quizzical and shocked
at my stupid question, he said
Fred is family

He was a narco, everyone knew that
But he never killed anyone so everyone called him
a coward
Then he got killed and during the wake
a tornado came, the first tornado anyone had ever seen in the village
it destroyed half his house
But the one who sent the tornado made a mistake
his body was in the other half

I asked if they'd heard about the mass killing to the North
Were they narcos, who got killed? I asked
Those guys weren't narcos, said the first
They were chiquinarcos
No, said the second, laughing
They weren't chiquinarcos
They were the maleteros of the chiquinarcos
No, said the third, laughing ever harder
They were the assistants of the maleteros of the chiquinarcos