Cactus and Patron

Tequila comes from cactus, and as a child, God sounded like my grandfather and is probably a pachuco

For a long time,
I was on the outs
with the Old Man.
Me and God weren’t speaking.

Then one day,
He spoke,
“Que pasó Jr.?” He said.
“I thought you were bolillo,” I said.
“I get a lot of that,” He said,

One day we were hanging at my crib,
I went all Job on him
and began to riff his verse.
“I don’t believe in heaven,” I said,
“I don’t wanna wait for the blowing of the trumpet to get my reward.
I don’t wanna swim in heaven.
I don’t wanna taste the permanence of death,”
me, all poetic-like.

He pulled up a chair
and said,
“But mijo, no one is exempt!”

I brought out my best tequila—my Patrón,
since God is very frugal,
and never brings his own.

I poured us each a drink and said,
“So, I just wait for the reaper to rap upon my door?”
“Simón,” He said,
all Pachuco-like,
and poured himself another.

“Oye God,” I said,
“Que mijo?” He replied
as He swirled the tequila in his glass and savored the bouquet.

He raised his glass and said, “To the passing of the Cactus, and the Spirit it gives up.”

I took away the bottle.
“Old Man you must be drunk.
Don’t speak to me in riddles.
I want my heart’s desire.”
He leaned into the table,
“No te quejes tanto, you complain too much,
your complaint is the companion of self-proclaimed innocence,
a cry for exemption—and I don’t bend the rules,
for foolish aspirations’
of those,
who don’t want life to end.
I can’t take away deaths pain,
unless I take it all away—get my drift?”

He wasn’t done,
oh no
not yet.
He came a little closer,
“Now, let me tell you what I think,” He said, and took away the bottle
and poured himself another.

He was about to wax poetic;
I’d seen that look before.

He sat up in his chair
and then began to share.
“Should I take the lamb from the hungry lion, so the lamb can live and not the lion?
Ask the hungry cub or bleating ewe!”

“That was harsh Esé” I said,
figuring God must dig Pachuco.

I think God drank too much.

He stood up from the table
and laid his hands on me,
“It’s justice mijo, just justice that’s all.
I can’t be governed by the woes of men alone,
it’s a big universe to tend.
Isn’t it enough,
I rain upon the wicked and the just?” He said.

I slumped into my chair, “Half my tequilas gone!” I said,
“And the answer to my prayer is No!”
“Simón mijo,” He said,
and handed me the bottle.

He straightened out his tie, and said,
“It’s not about then—It’s about now,
it’s not about when—it’s about how.
If I won’t stop the lion—you must.
I will shed a tear, but you must lift a hand.
If I don’t thunder—then you must.
And one more thing,” He said, “Don’t look for adoration, I don’t.”

Then, He dawned his black stitch hat,
made sure the feather was intact,
He struck a pose—showing-off his Stacy Adams shoes.
He twirled his gold-chain
and walked right through the door.

I got his drift—but I still railed against the end
I can’t live again
I only get to taste life once,
I am baptized into man.
I share the fate, of the lion and the lamb.

I stared, at the almost empty bottle,
and realized,
I was the cactus,
I was the bottle,
of left ov-er Patrón.

With an almost empty bottle,
I was tempted
to horde the precious drink.
You see,
the closer to the bottom the richer the brew is.
I know the richness will end soon,
and there’s no need to measure what remains,
I raise a glass to God
and say,
“To the passing of the Cactus, and the Spirit It gives up!”

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