Edition of 1, 2021

From Caballero’s manuscript MAMMAL. Part of MONOGRAMA NFT Gallery. Originally published by The Acentos Review.



There must be a right way to chop cauliflower,
one that doesn’t spew a million tiny florets
all over the kitchen counter like so many clots
of beige blood bursting from a zero-gravity
wound, you see, I have this problem whereby
I can’t stand mess anymore—which is a problem
because Emerson says it’s a problem, this need
of my mind to categorize though I can’t help the despair
I feel (which must look like rage to my children)
when I see burnt turmeric all over the stove before
sitting down to eat—I know what you’re thinking—
why not heat up tortillas, but I have this other
problem, which is I crave tikka masala every
week, and that’s a problem because Goethe
says it’s a problem, this need of my mind to live
full at all cost, so I mince ginger and onion though
the skins and rinds drive me nuts, even crazier,
I’ll over-sprinkle cumin and coriander until they jet
out of the pan (because, come on, live a little)
but then immediately I must sponge it up, so I
wonder if I’m the secret villain from a Telemundo
soap opera who won’t just chill and grill tortillas,
but instead must wreck the lives of other people—
here “other people’s lives” a metaphor for tikka
masala (but you got that, of course)—and the mess
in my kitchen isn’t so bad as the rush in my brain
to tidy it up, not as bad as how my opposing problems
collide: my desire for explosive mixtures of spices
(bang!) against my fixation for impeccable counters—
now you see why I must turn and return to Linnaeus,
who tells me it’s fine to catalogue every crumb,
while I concoct a categorically unsortable life.