By Reno J. Romero


Behind the faded green duplex
the spider sleeps under the leaf
Where I make volcanoes out of mud
like the ones in Italy

My dad is singing drunk songs,
pounding a wall full of patch-ups
The Chinese landlord smells like vinegar
and mumbles to himself fixing
our broken faucet with the wrong tools
Last week he repaired our cracked front door
by painting over it like Picasso
But he’s no Picasso
He’s a slumlord of a hovel
on American dirt with Italian volcanoes
that someday will drop this place

Just one match away and I’ll make history
and send him to bed mumbling forever
Pull the spark from my pocket
My cat drops the pigeon from his mouth
The spider wakes
The faucet still drips
The roaches bathe
And Picasso watches the smoke rise
from a backyard in Los Angeles


RENO J. ROMERO was born in the badlands of El Sereno, California. A bona fide Las Vegan, he also lived in the dirty South for three miserable years, where he was introduced to depression, grits, humidity, and sweet tea. A graduate of UNLV, the Southern Nevada Writing Project, and seedy bars, he enjoys Chinese food, Tamron Hall, the Trickster, and football. He currently writes poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction from the California desert, living among rattlesnakes, old bones, and biker speed. He's been published in various publications including Falling From the Sky (short story anthology), Celebrity Poets, and Central Speak. He can be reached at [email protected]

7 responses to “Stucco”

  1. sheree says:

    Two thumbs up.

  2. Judy Prince says:

    Damnation, reno j!!!!

    POWER, serious music, thumping guts, beauty in images.

    I love this kick in the head and heart.

    U continue to rock-shock, you mighty man!

    Didja compose this whilst on the G’Hound? 😉

    I love you even more today!!!!

    roasted lamb with rosemary red-currant sauce,


  3. Irene Zion says:

    Nice, Reno.
    Really nice.

  4. Erika Rae says:

    This was some beautiful imagery, Reno.

  5. Amanda says:

    Your poem makes me imagine how hot the night was. Boiling. Like the ones when you sleep with your fingers stretched as far apart from one another as possible, because if they touch, they will melt like cake candles. Yeah, a night like that.

  6. Judy Prince says:

    Great to see you in Brad’s fotoz from LA, reno.

    Wanted to mention that your poem’s title, “Stucco”, (“stuck-o”) nails the feeling you present.

    Glad to know you’re in the Poet Squad.

    Judy packing for the UK

  7. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    Reno, I love this. It’s so visceral.
    “that someday will drop this place” really landed for me.
    “My cat drops the pigeon from his mouth.”
    Another stunner.
    It draws the energy to a guttural place — after meeting you this weekend, it feels like your ancestry really resonates in this piece.
    It’s beautiful. I’ll read it more than once, for sure.

    Do you like Richard Hugo? Different piece of land (he speaks more of the American Northwest), but he also shares a kinship with the earth and a translation of those regular, grounding moments that – when artfully distilled – will take us home.

    This is a gorgeous piece.

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