It’s one or the other, says the owner
of American Printing. I can’t hire both.
But your ad said two, Tío reminds him.
Tío Genaro is a prize-winning pressman; my father
the best in Print Shop at Lanier High. It’s 1945—
war is over and there’s a bright gleam in these young
brown men’s eyes—you can see it, the starburst
of possibility that swirls in them. But the owner
tells my uncle—the elder, the fixer—just one ‘Pedro’;
I don’t want no trouble. As if together, my uncle, my father,
and every Chicano like them, might spill blood,
not ink. Might print feisty manifestos, instead
of hospital invoices. Might give new meaning
to “die-cut.” It is 1945 and radical acts are few
in San Antonio. Thank you, sir. My brother and I
will look elsewhere. Tío says this even though elsewhere
is not much better in that oddly peaceful year.
from Brazos, Carry Me
© Pablo Miguel Martínez, 2013