local_library El Paletero’s Song

by Alan Chazaro

Published in Issue No. 243 ~ August, 2017

each flamethrowing summer

we’d stay in a pool of air-

conditioned cool until he called




his voice the graffiti

braiding fences

around our neighborhood


Tengo paletas!


sugar melody rising

above noises from

the nearby freeway


Paletas de Piña!


our ice-cream-man

wheeling what we wanted

across sticky pavement tops


Paletas de Limon!


handcart plastered with pictures

of Spider-Man popsicles

with blue gumballs for eyes


Paletas de Cacahuate!


chased around street corners

by little ones, tots

with missing teeth


Paletas de Fresa!


handing out fruit pops

in exchange for kiddy smiles

and crinkled dollar bills


Paletas de Tamarindo!


bundling money in his back-

pocket with rubber bands

because no one carried his interest


Paletas de Arroz!


stopping only to wipe sweat

off his sun-glazed brow

before pushing on


Paletas de Mango!


a cowboy in leather boots

circling suburban blocks

until he gathered enough savings




who showed us photos

of his family in Jalisco, three

boys and a wife he left behind


Tengo paletas!


his song still in my head

account_box More About

Alan Chazaro is a public high school teacher pursuing his MFA in Writing at the University of San Francisco. He is the current Lawrence Ferlinghetti Fellow and a graduate of June Jordan's Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley. His work has been featured in the Intro Journals Project from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs and has appeared or is forthcoming in Borderlands, Juked, Iron Horse Review, Huizache, Pilgrimage Magazine, and others.