She grew up under the shadow
of El Pollo Loco in Petaluma, Ca.—
a life that revolved around chickens.

As a toddler she used to help Mother
feed the flock—she clucked like a chicken,
and chased after them as if they were friends.

Lola loved these fat birds who couldn’t fly.
The ghost of a chicken, marinated in lime,
warns the whole flock to run for their lives!

But like Jews in Europe in the 1930’s,
most of them stayed behind— rumors
they heard were not to be believed.

Father hypnotized a capon, rooster
and an egg-laying hen, a technique
he learned on his father’s farm
in Jalisco. Lola believed Father
had magical power and wouldn’t
hurt her friends.

When she got a little older, she watched
Mother wring their necks and witnessed
how they ran around without their heads
leaving a hemorrhaging rain of blood
before collapsing in heaps—and afterward,
have their feathers plucked—one by one.

When Lola asked if that is the same chicken
we eat in our restaurant, Mother nodded
affirmatively, turning Lola into a lifelong
vegetarian overnight