John Murillo


“Thinkin’ of a master plan,
‘Cuz ain’t nothin’ but sweat inside my hand.”


Got drive enough to grab the moon with these hands,
These hard working, snatch-opportunity hands.


Left Soledad broke, made my first thirty G’s—
That was September, now it’s June—with these hands.


I serve Mama for free, keep her off these streets,
Off her knees, out of motel rooms, with these hands.


My baby girl asked me, Daddy, what’s ‘turn tricks’?
Got to pull us up out of here soon with these hands.


A man ain’t a man if he can’t feed himself.
I‟m carving steaks each afternoon with these hands!


I hear minimum wage is about six bucks.
Fuck I look like pushing a broom with these hands?


Read a book in my cell, said I was the one
Built pyramids, temples, and tombs. (With these hands?)


At ten, I was a lookout. Then learned to bag,
How to cook up rocks in a spoon with these hands.


Lost a good woman, said the life was too much.
Some nights I still smell her perfume on these hands.


No way to know, but maybe Daddy sang blues.
Blood explains the itch of his tune in these hands.




“Hustle” was first published in Lumina, Sp. ’07, and appears in Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher Books, 2010).