The Virgin of Pico Rivera with Child – a poem by Richard Manly Heiman

The Virgin of Pico Rivera with Child

after artist Jaime “Germs” Zacarias


I saw you in the rundown K-Mart on Cudahy. Guadalupe miracle teen mom like a cuttlefish, cuddling baby cephalopod wrapped in swaddling clothes or a quondam shroud. No polyester sweaters covered boneless arms. No lotion soothed dry suckers. No infant hoodies in the three dollar bin fit a gold-trimmed mantle.

Who cares for madonnas in palatine blue and horn-rimmed spectacles? What lips ever dared press your Aztec zipper mouth?

At the strip mall laundromat papa clutches his lapis cross and strokes his Fu Manchu. Your eyes wobble loose behind teardrops and riotous tentacles. Could Los Angeles infect with chastity? Could the Lamb enfold this broke-down town like a mother hen, riding his hydraulic Chevy, aglow in a Nautilus halo from Rosemead to Southgate?

And the six-armed shall inherit the Earth. And the eight-armed shall rise on a perfect spiral from Marina del Rey to enter the kingdom of Heaven.


Richard Manly Heiman lives on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. He works as a substitute teacher, and writes when the kids are at recess. His work has been published by Rattle, Rust + Moth, Into the Void, Sonic Boom and elsewhere. Richard holds an MFA from Lindenwood University. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and his URL is

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