The Cactus Still Grows

by John C. Mannone

Dear Momma y Pappa,

I’m okay here in LA.
I should’ve written; I’m ashamed
and feel guilty that because of me
you got caught by the border
police. They sent you back.
But I escaped with Uncle Lauro.
We hid in the furrows of the sand
before making it to a small cave,
its opening covered with sagebrush.
I should’ve listened to you
when you told me not to play
with the flashlight. I was nervous
and I dropped it. It came on.
Couldn’t turn it off before
they saw it. Light travels so fast.
I hope you can forgive me.
I was a stupid ten-year old
and now I am thirty, and still
a little stupid. But I don’t
have to wash dishes anymore
for Cousin Bernardo. I plan
to open my own restaurant
with the money I saved
that I didn’t send to you. Sorry.
I still plan to write you a letter
and even mail it to you.

I am no longer an illegal.
But I still feel that way
because I stole your freedom.


Musical composition by Victor David Sandiego

John C. Mannone has over 450 works published in venues such as Inscape Literary Journal, Windhover, Drunk Monkeys, Artemis, 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar, Southern Poetry Anthology (NC), Still: The Journal, Town Creek Poetry, Tupelo Press, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, Raven Chronicles and others. Author of two literary poetry collections—Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing, Jul 2015) and Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wings Press, Dec 2015)—he’s the poetry editor for Silver Blade and Abyss & Apex, and has served as guest poetry editor for Inkspill Magazine (Issue 4, 2011) and Eye To The Telescope (Issue 14, 2014), as well as the 2013 Rhysling Chair. He won the 2015 Joy Margrave award for creative nonfiction and the 2015 Tennessee Mountain Writers poetry award. His work has been nominated three times for the Pushcart. He is a professor of physics in east Tennessee.