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Emma Trelles
Emma Trelles is the author of the chapbook Little Spells (GOSS183) and Tropicalia, winner of the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize and forthcoming from the University of Notre Dame Press.
Interests: books, bands, poems, peace, hiking, camping, politics, cats, gardens, movies, and mulling.
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The Sound Of One Immigrant Clapping after Czeslaw Milosz by Adrian Castro Let's say he actually did not arrive on a boat-- that the relentless colonel never found his subtle throat hidden under the trance of the clave or thunder hands that spoke repíques of those crimes Let's say he went to Nueva York on the assumption Mario Bauzá Machito or Tito (Rodriguez or Puente) could make his legs & hips move in a constellation of joy Let's say he merely tried to hear the echo of his arms flapping through a factory like a red rag fastened to that fan Let's say the cold often froze his vowels tan Caribeña tan resvalosa y mermelada-- Could the immigrant even mute the melody of his tongue-- They say it is silence that makes music But this will be like drumming on a distant tuft of cloud like the colonel cutting the sound he never found But it takes years of forgetting for a stranger to breathe the salt water or glance at a pile of stones & say I arrived through this portal This is now my home... Adrian Castro is a poet, performer, and interdisciplinary artist. He was born in Miami from Caribbean heritage, which has provided fertile ground for the rhythmic Afro-Caribbean style in which he writes and performs. He is the author of Cantos to Blood & Honey, Wise Fish, and Handling Destiny, all from Coffee House Press, and has been published in several literary anthologies including Conjunctions, Paper Dance: 55 Latino Poets; Little Havana Blues; A Century of Cuban Writers in Florida; Step Into A World: A Global Anthology of New Black Literature; and Renaming Ecstasy: Latino Writings on the Sacred. He is the recipient of a USA Knight Foundation Fellowship, a Cintas Fellowship, a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, the NALAC Fund for the Arts Individual Fellowship, and the Eric Mathieu King award from the Academy of American Poets. Adrian Castro is also a board certified Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine and herbalist. "The Sound of One Immigrant Clapping" first appeared in his collection Wise Fish: Tales in 6/8 Time. Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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in the shadow, federico carosio iii Driving Down Old Cutler Road for Guillermo by Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello Banyans arch across the road, all braided with orchids and light, asphalt ragged with roots so that we have to slow down and take in more than we otherwise might. This is your favorite road. You said this once, stitching hours into the highways between us, and I remember us drawn up and down the eastern coast, each long-held breath hemming in our frayed days. Now, as I drive alone, these roots seem to unspool into garlands of stars, far-flung miles gathered back into the arms of a man who, for all your driving, can have a favorite road, and at the end of it, wait for me. Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello is the author of the poetry collection Hour of the Ox (University of Pittsburgh, 2016), which won the 2015 AWP Donald Hall Prize and a 2016 Florida Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2017 Milt Kessler Award. She has received poetry fellowships from Kundiman, the Knight Foundation, and the American Literary Translators Association, among others. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Best Small Fictions, The New York Times, and more. She serves as the poetry editor for Hyphen Magazine and as a program coordinator for the Miami Book Fair. For more, visit www.marcicalabretta.com Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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carla, 2014, mickalene thomas from When Rap Spoke Straight to God by Erica Dawson I’m covering my head, like Kool G. Rap said, in this red zone. Dead. This ain’t no motherland, though fek-uhnd as fuck. Florida’s the only time and place I’ve said, It’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand, like I will never understand the love- bugs fucking ass to ass, or man standing his ground, shotgun in hand, shooting at cans like they’re an unkindness of ravens. Seven years I have mothered this nature into a woman. The moon, her crevices, a tree the sharpness of her tough skin split. Erica Dawson is the author of three books of poetry: When Rap Spoke Straight to God (Tin House, 2018), winner of the 2018 Florida Book Awards Gold Medal for Poetry; The Small Blades Hurt (Measure Press, 2014), winner of the 2016 Poets’ Prize; and Big-Eyed Afraid (Waywiser Press, 2007), winner of the 2006 Anthony Hecht Prize. Her poems have appeared in Blackbird, The Believer, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other journals. Her poems have appeared in several anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2008, 2012, and 2015; Resistance, Rebellion, Life: 50 Poets Now; and American Society: What Poets See. She is the director of University of Tampa’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing, and, at UT, an associate professor of English and Writing. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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stump garden, 9" x 12" etching on zinc, sean sexton Nest Eggs by Sean Sexton Yesterday morning I prepared the roe of the mackerel queen my son caught on a Saturday morning off-shore excursion. I exhumed two swollen, pink, vein-bound bags from the silver damsel, and sliced them into pieces to sauté. I lament her demise, eggs never laid, fish lives that never will be--eaten and relished with shame. And the pea-hen that set five eggs in our dooryard at the foot of St. Francis beneath the penumbra of a sapling as we watched in awe of her sorry chosen nest, her unfaltering devotion to the task. She'd stand a moment, shift the eggs like a careful cook frying chicken pieces, managing warmth, and some kind of order. The curvature and needling devise of her beak revealed its perfection for such, as did her shape, crouched like morning fog upon a hollow. Day or night, rain or shine, she stayed. In a downpour at dusk, we tried to help her, swiped a shower curtain from the guest bath, to drape in the branches of the tree, affixed with clothespins and best of intention. We left a radio blaring through the night, wakened to the crying, same as last month's hen that hatched three fuzzy balls with legs she led half a week, feeding, gathering them in when they strayed, until in a single obliterating moment they were taken. For days she wandered yelping, searching aimlessly. Now shells lie asunder like smashed crockery. She's afoot and again, loose in the air-- the sound the world makes. Sean Sexton was born in Indian River County and grew up on his family's Treasure Hammock Ranch, eight miles west of Vero Beach, Florida. He divides his time between taking care of a 600 acre cow-calf and seed stock cattle operation, painting, and writing. He is married to artist Sharon Sexton; they have two grown children and live on their ranch in a house they built with their hands. He has kept journal-sketch books drawn from his life since 1973 and was awarded an Individual Artist’s Fellowship from the State of Florida in 2000-2001. He is the author of Waldo’s Mountain: A Brief History of a Small Elevation; (Waterview Press, 2001); Blood Writing, Poems (Anhinga Press, 2009), and The Empty Tomb (University of Alabama's Slash Pine Press, 2013). He was a presenter at the National Grazing Lands Coalition Conference in Orlando on the subject of Art and Agriculture. He has been a panelist at the Florida Literary Arts Coalition Conference in St. Augustine, FL, since 2012, and a regular performer at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, since 2011. He became inaugural Poet Laureate of Indian River County in 2016. "Nest Eggs" is from his most recent collection of poems, May Darkness Restore (Press 53, 2019). Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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these are messages i'm sending to you, neil de la flor The Vagabond by Neil de la Flor We bond over electronic music and make out. On the dance floor, his arms are dumbbells destined for the seabed. We pray for the abyss to relinquish the red lights of the world. Adora welcomes the world batting her eyelashes like a flamenco dancer bats her abanico. She is ridiculous in her beehive wig. A boy and a girl wear leather dog collars as Lola spins the Cure, Depeche Mode, The Clash, New Order. We order two shots of tequila and photographic memories. Each shot is a declaration of love or something close to a crossbow. The arrow of time is a cosmic phenomenon divined in blue agave. The cosmos quarrels behind us in a black veil. He reveals his history of histories beneath yellow street lights—a pair of binary stars fight for more space. Vampires move over. Rats get out. He bends dangerously in awe of his own angels. We (don’t) share secrets. The shadow on the left puts his left hand in the right pocket of the shadow on the right. We (or they) are nouns and verbs created in a foreign language. Each lie a point of light in the sky. Neil de la Flor is a writer, educator, photographer, and executive director of Reading Queer, a Knight Foundation funded organization dedicated to promoting queer literary culture in South Florida. He is the author of Almost Dorothy (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010), winner of the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize and An Elephant’s Memory of Blizzards (Marsh Hawk Press). He also co-authored four collaborative books of poetry, including Sinead O’Connor and her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds (Firewheel Editions, 2011), co-authored with Maureen Seaton and winner of the Sentence Book Award; Facial Geometry (NeoPepper Press, 2006), co-authored with Maureen Seaton and Kristine Snodgrass; and Two Thieves and a Liar (Jackleg Press, 2012), also co-authored with Maureen Seaton and Kristine Snodgrass. He graduated with an MFA from the University of Miami, where he was a Michener Fellow, and can be reached at neildelaflor.com Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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the dream of flight, 2019, collage with japanese paper & watercolor on canvas, maria berrio Entry by Caridad Moro-Gronlier Tortillera, n. Pronounciation: Spanish /tor-ti-lle-ra/, Spain, Latin, Central and South America, U.S. Forms:Torti, Torta, Tort, Tortilla Etymology: < Latin tortus (twisted), <Spanish torta, <Germanque<English queer. Compare French tortille Origin:<From term torticera (tortious), derived from Latin tortus, with the meaning of crooked, twisted, etc. torticera, a highbrow word, by a process of popular etymology pronounced wrongly as tortillera by their phonetic similarity as in "she is tortillera" instead of "she is torticera" by an error in pronunciation. Synonyms:amaricada, arepera, bollera, bollo, buchona, cachapera, cambuja, camionera, come coños, desviada, ententida, fricatriz, hombruna, invertida, juega tenis, kiki, lechuga, lela, lencha, lesbiana, machorra, marimacha(o), obvia, sáfica, sopaipilla, tijeras, tribada, trola, troquera, virago, webiá, zapatona 1. a. Homosexual woman; lesbian. I outed myself as a tortillera at Noche Buena dinner last Christmas and I was roasted along with the lechón. b.Transatlantic traveler term known to connect homosexuality with the beginning of homophobia; refutes all sexual and onomatopoeic explanations (i.e. the supposed equivalency between the clapping sound made from kneading corn pancakes to the sound made during lesbian sex) as seen through the consideration of homosexual behavior as something twisted, deviant, first referenced in 1830 in the Spanish-French dictionary by M. Nuñez de Taboada, published in Madrid, in which the French word tribade is translated as tortillera and defined as "a woman who abuses another”. My mother did not allow me to play softball in high school because the coach was a tortillera and she didn’t want me to end up a tortillera, too. c. Derogatory slang that denotes deviant, twisted behavior, the lowest form of female debasement, term known to induce emotional distress such as shame and self-loathing, as well as physical symptoms including, but not limited to anorexia, bulimia, cutting, dermatitis, depression, enuresis, flushing, gastritis, heart palpitations, hyperhidrosis, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, kyphosis, lethargy, malaise, mania, nausea, nightmares, OCD, panic attack, paranoia, rash, rosacea, scarring, sleepwalking, stuttering, tachycardia, tongue biting, teeth gnashing, thinning hair, ulcers, vomiting, xerostomia. Better my daughter be dead than a disgusting tortillera. 2. Female producer and seller of maize pancakes. According to Adolfo Sanchez Vazquez, upon the arrival of Spaniards exiled to Mexico due to the Civil War, some were greeted by a sign that read "El sindicato de Tortilleras les da la bienvenida!", which caused someone to quip, “This is a very cosmopolitan country if even tortilleras have a union!” Caridad Moro-Gronlier is the award-winning author of Visionware, published by Finishing Line Press as part of its New Women's Voices Series. She is the recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant and a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pintura:Palabra, An Anthology of Ekphrastic Writing; Rhino Reading Queer: Poetry In a Time of Chaos; Bridges To/From Cuba; The Antioch Review; The Tishman Review;The Cossack Review; Moon City Review; The Damfino Review;The Collapsar; The Notre Dame Review; The South Florida Poetry Journal; The... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Aedes Aegypti by Brian Turner With the audio on mute, the television flickers over the bodies of lovers tangled in dream, carbon dioxide pluming from their mouths the way factory smoke billows from the industrial park outside of town. Mosquitoes circle in a holding pattern above. As the female’s wings beat 400 times per second, the male’s at 600 hertz, their wingtips trace the smallest figure-8s into the invisible, a gesture toward the infinite. Such brief lives they have. One month, maybe, their coupling a conversation at 1200 hertz, the high pitch of their union an A above concert C— Beethoven’s last note, perhaps, the note he chose not to take by feather from the well of ink the way a mosquito might dip a stylet in blood. He let the note play itself out. To recognize the cry of the bat with its hunger returning. Blue notes smoldered out from the throats of lovers. That no matter how certain the crushing weight of the indomitable, even the smallest of flyers raise their wings in music. Brian Turner is a writer and musician; author of a memoir, My Life as a Foreign Country, two poetry collections (Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise), and a debut album with The Interplanetary Acoustic Team. He edited The Kiss anthology and curated the series on Guernica. He’s received a Guggenheim, a USA Fellowship, an NEA, the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship, the Poets’ Prize, and a Lannan Foundation Fellowship. He’s published in The New York Times (online), National Geographic, Harper’s Magazine, and more. He directs the MFA at Sierra Nevada College. Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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flamingo hammock palm, 24 x 24 in. oil on canvas, eleanor blair Harvesting the Heart by Angela Narciso Torres In Florida, I shall eat a palm seed and see if that’ll grow a new heart for me. -D.H. Lawrence Indeed, swallowing a seed seems the better option. For stealing a palm’s heart from its solitary stem is back-breaking work and spells certain death for the tree. The part you can eat, otherwise known as swamp cabbage, lobster of vegetables, or burglar’s thigh, lies deep in the green trunk between woody bark and where the fronds begin. You’ll need a machete to work down the trunk, cutting away fibrous layers one at a time, each about the weight of a small child. You’ll want to give up after the third or fourth layer. Don’t stop. Nearer the core it’s denser, sap-drenched, and very tender. You’d be surprised, despite how much you’ve uncovered—arms sore, fingers splintered—the sheer size of that heart. Angela Narciso Torres is the author of Blood Orange, winner of the Willow Book Literature Award/Poetry. Recent work appears in POETRY, Missouri Review, and TriQuarterly. Her chapbook, To the Bone, is forthcoming from Sundress Publications and her second full length collection, What Happens Is Neither, from Four Way Books. A graduate of Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and Harvard Graduate School of Education, Angela has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Ragdale Foundation. She resides in South Florida where she joins the 2020 Palm Beach Poetry Festival faculty as a manuscript consultant. Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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The tenth season of the Mission Poetry Series begins with a reading on Saturday, November 3, 2018, at 1 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Public Library. Sunlight, Leaves, & Shadows: Three Poets in Autumn features three award-winning authors: Chella Courington, Joseph Rios, and Vandana Khanna. The title of the event is taken from “Words,” a poem by Dana Gioia, the current Poet Laureate of California. The reading will be held at The Santa Barbara Public Library, in the Faulkner Gallery, at 40 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA, and is free and open to the public. The event offers complimentary broadsides, refreshments, and poets’ books for sale. The Mission Poetry Series is hosted by program director Emma Trelles and production coordinator Mark Zolezzi. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/missionpoetryseries/ Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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The ninth season of the Mission Poetry Series wraps with a reading on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at 2 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Public Library. In Bright Sky Blue: Two Poets in Spring features award-winning authors Marisol Baca and Christopher Buckley. The title of the event is taken from a poem by Joanne Kyger, a major poet of the San Francisco Renaissance who studied poetry and philosophy at UC Santa Barbara. The reading will be held at The Santa Barbara Public Library, in the Faulkner Gallery, at 40 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA, and is free and open to the public. The event offers complimentary broadsides, refreshments, and poets’ books for sale. The Mission Poetry Series is hosted by program director Emma Trelles and production coordinator Mark Zolezzi. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/missionpoetryseries/ Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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The Waiting, acrylic on canvas, by Julia Khoroshikh Metamórfosis by Pat Mora Pearls here Pearls there Pearls behind us —George Sarandáris I Topless she rules her turquoise sea, this child, kicks her commands. Arms outflung, she orchestrates waves, enters her Aegean kingdom, plants her small feet triumphantly on obedient sand, scolds a swell that lifts her with its clear power. The sea bows, retreats. Vasílissa tis thálassas smiles regal approval at the light rippling her long mysterious hair. II Laughing, full nude fengári tosses an eager string of fish to cheer the night-brooding sea. Like fireflies they dart and glint in the sea’s dark, whispering folds. The fish leap to ride the waves of its silver sorrow like stars scurrying to our fabled shores. Might I step softly on the jasmine shimmer of their fins from island to island on this fragrant bridge of light? III We are all beautiful in water. Girls lift their mothers laughing in their arms. Grandmothers, heavy in sand, float in this caressing sea, point their toes, dancers again, their arms, graceful, as silvery- green olive trees, their legs, lovely in play, in ripples of light. In 2018, The University of Arizona Press will publish Pat Mora's seventh adult poetry collection, Encantado: Desert Monologues; and Lee and Low Books, her children’s poetry collection, Bookjoy, Wordjoy. Her other adult collections include Adobe Odes; Aunt Carmen's Book of Practical Saints; Communion; Borders; Chants, and Agua Santa: Holy Water, where "Metamórfosis" was first published. Among her awards are Honorary Doctorates from North Carolina State University and SUNY Buffalo, a Life-time Achievement Award from the Texas Institute of Letters, a Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, an Honorary Membership in the American Library Association, a Life-time Membership in USBBY, a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship to write in Umbria, Italy, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Texas at El Paso. She was a recipient and judge of a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a recipient and advisor of the Kellogg National Leadership Fellowships. Born in El Paso to a loving, bilingual family, Pat lives in Santa Fe. She is always working on new books. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's "Flores Woman." The poems in this project were curated by Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Sestina, as my mother cooks by Lory Bedikian I tell her it’s a problem of the nerve. She doesn’t look up, but eases a scar on each small olive, making room for the marinade to soak in. Not one eye blinks as she does this. Like before, I’m pretty sure that this is my cue to leave. But I think back, when she had to leave Aleppo with my father, each good-bye plucking a nerve, hitting notes against her chest—quite pretty for a plainly dressed Protestant. Like a scar they mark the bible with this date. One eye on the future, they fly and find a one-room apartment in New York. Now, my mother acts as if this room holds only her. She mumbles there’s nothing wrong, just leave the past alone and you’ll be fine. I lunge my twitching eye toward her. But she doesn’t have the nerve to look. I wonder how she handles the brush of scar below her abdomen, where I entered the world, pretty different than most. She asks me to put on something pretty for once. The L.A. noon heat rises. I pace the room thinking of how to tell this woman of the scar tissue the doctor found; how I tried to leave the office smiling, grateful it wasn’t worse, just a nerve disorder, its radar placed in the sphere of an eye. After so many years, she still gives me the eye over. What I say next is anything but pretty: Has she ever thought each cell, each nerve of my body is conspiring in rebellion to the room we’ve always held between us? She says she must leave for work, she’s late. My fingers shake. I say another scar will form from this—like each scar you brought across the Atlantic. I feel as small as the eye of a needle. A cutting board, an empty sink is what we leave behind us. She walks ahead, down the hall. I stop. Pretty soon she’ll reappear. In this house I have no room left, so I grab my keys, knowing it’s enough that I’ve struck this nerve. This is how she survives, making sure to leave the house looking pretty. Not one scar visible to the eye. She doesn’t question this world, how it has the nerve to move us from room to room, so far from where we started. Lory Bedikian’s The Book of Lamenting was awarded the 2010 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon, where she was awarded the Dan Kimble First Year Teaching Award for Poetry. Her work has been selected several times as a finalist in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition and in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Competition and has received grants from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial fund and AFFMA. Poets & Writers chose her work as a finalist for the 2010 California Writers Exchange Award. Her work was... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Looking at Women by Iliana Rocha My father taught me how. His curious eyes, perpetually amber from drinking, would scan a woman, rest on a bold curve they liked: tits or ass. He was not a leg man. It would begin innocently enough, his arm draped across a bench at the mall, my mother shopping. I’d sit in his armpit, matted hair in Old Spice while his gaze trucked each body teetering on stilettos. Weekends, my father watched Sábado Gigante, would hoot & holler at the women wearing nothing but dark eyebrows & overdrawn lips, occasionally an accordion as a dress. ¡Damn! he would exclaim. Damn. There were also the pornos, soft-core, half-naked women with their hard breasts mistakenly attached to ribs. “Hot blonde” was a universal phrase, & brunettes became sexy only when they removed their glasses & shook their tight buns loose from their heads. Teachers can be hot too. Sometimes I slept on the living room sofa, & the TV’s glare would wake me: nude mermaids fingering each other in the gills, merman sucking their shiny pennies of nipple. Then there was the internet history. More women—some pregnant, some just chubby. I noticed my own body, legs half-tree trunk, half-lightning rod. Tried to pinch the skin around my knees & ankles into neater shapes. A waist strangled into a waist: el número ocho, la guitarra. Some have found that waist, others reached right through it to other women everywhere: one positioned obediently in the emptiness of one boyfriend’s computer screen, sunny & grinning in bikini. Continuous others popped up, contained in rectangles, snapping a thong’s hot pink. I started to look, too, at one in a commercial licking barbecue sauce from her fingers. My stare isn’t all that different than his—start from the face, scroll down. I love a woman in a tight dress, done up like a drag queen. Iliana Rocha earned her PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Her work has been featured in the Best New Poets 2014 anthology, as well as The Nation, RHINO, Blackbird, and West Branch. Karankawa, her debut collection, won the 2014 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and is available through the University of Pittsburgh Press. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma and lives with her three chihuahuas Nilla, Beans, and Migo. "Looking at Women" first appeared in Karankawa. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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In Her Image by Sandra McPherson French postcard, circa World War I In agreeing to be the crucified woman, she knew she would need to hang there with no pockets, no purse, no pearls. She would know how to stretch into it when the time came. Did she enjoy an innate ballerina who could express befitting grace? While still her bearing should look disciplinary, chastening. Express duress. She must suffer while blooming with a boast of pulchritude the lighting director could work with. At the tryouts, the rest of us were already too mangled with practice nails, and slivers. She stepped right up, and now she is holding on. Jesus as evangelist from girlhood, a young savant known for finespun sayings and secrecy revealed as sorrow. Her death would fall somewhere in her menstrual cycle. Her belly invites most — soft and so slightly split into those two lobes which make apricots and peaches superior to the moon. Lustrous, a stage-curtain rope knots right over pubic hair. Feet bound with ribbon, a satin tether to appeal to some, she ails ungaunt, her edges sled-round, cambered. Coifed in the same style as her carnality: in even waves, marcelled. Are agony’s good looks art’s job, or labor’s contract, or sex’s by swoon? Whatever, they’re hers. And the age’s. Real senselessness, stupefying power over lives, eventually tore men’s faces off. Their leaders made millions rot millions. Many choked on rats’ mud. Flies had no teeth for skulls so there it stopped. What did this have to do with our sacrificing, sacrificing our breasts barely between a triangle of bleeding nails? How we numbed evil. How unbearable we made goodness feel. Sandra McPherson has twenty collections published, 5 with Ecco, 3 with Wesleyan, 2 with Illinois, and 2 with Ostrakon. New work appears in Field, The Yale Review, Agni, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Ecotone, Cimarron, Crazyhorse, Basalt, Cirque, Plume, and Poetry. She taught for 23 years at UCDavis and 4 years at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her collection of 67 African-American improvisational quilts is housed at University of California at Davis Design Department. She founded Swan Scythe Press. Her new collection, Quicksilver, Cougars, and Quartz is scheduled for 2018 from Salmon Poetry Press. She is the great-grand-niece of Abby Morton Diaz, Plymouth feminist author and abolitionist. "In Her Image" was first published in Ploughshares. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's "Flores Woman." The poems... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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From the Lake No. 1, 1924, oil on canvas, Georgia O'Keeffe Refrain by Jennifer Elise Foerster There is a woman who whistles from the arroyo—oh hollow bone you have a body you cannot carry alone. What I carry beneath an ocean same color as the sky is not my own though I am always yours, collecting fractals of falling hours, coral scales for your necklace. Nightly I fall from my skin to the surface—glass worms drift in the trade winds, sighs of porpoises billow the dunes. Beneath the swimming Sargassum blooms, snails’ sapphire wings, I depend on the rain of the dead for food— my umbrella, flared, is a fossil. Oh abyssal fish with telescope eyes, fish with luminous torches, where are the whirling Spanish dancers? Where are my drowned teeth, ear bone, jaw? A crab marches its marbled shell across the ocean floor— as if the body was ensnared by its own memory. Body, I drag you like a shipwreck, pluck the pelican-trampled weeds from the cracks of the gas-lit shore to fasten into your hair nest— and some days can only manage to sit on the deck with a cigarette watching the tin clouds rust in the rain, my fish-shaped bath soaps bleed into gutters no longer knowing blue from blue, flesh from light, sea from sky. I cannot echo your absence without dissolving you, cannot retrieve you from rock or from sound, nor can I return you. A freight train carrying last night’s dreams steams across the in-between where I wait at the depot catching dust, holding a suitcase and your clammy hand— where the eyes of fish are not windows but moons the earth has forgotten. Like a bone afloat on a darkening sea the arroyo’s fluted surface whistles— Body, have you forgotten me so soon? Jennifer Elise Foerster is an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and received her MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts. She is the recipient of a NEA Creative Writing Fellowship (2017), a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship (2014), and was a Robert Frost Fellow in Poetry at Breadloaf (2017) and a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford (2008-2010). A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, she teaches at the IAIA MFA Low-Residency Program, and co-directs For Girls Becoming, an arts mentorship program for Mvskoke youth in Oklahoma. Jennifer is the author of Leaving Tulsa, (2013) and Bright Raft int the Afterweather (2018), both published by the University of Arizona Press; "Refrain" first appeared in her most recent book. This spring, she will be completing her PhD in English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver. She lives in San Francisco. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Arbol de la Vida (Tree of Life), from the Silueta series, 1976, Ana Mendieta In the Afternoon by Achy Obejas You worry between pots and pans about your body swollen; straightening your back, the snail's roundness your own. You cringe. You're embarrassed. You see too many similarities with the soup spoons. "It's nothing," you say, your skin rice paper, tea color, and musty like a morning bed. In the afternoon, we buy bread and cheese, hard because you want to cut it with a blade. Your finger has string around it to remind you of me. You add wine to the shopping list. I want to take two hours to read, to do nothing, to find a place on the tree to carve our initials. I have no knife. You, stretching, reach for the ceiling and blue lines shoot through the inside of your arm -- neon, a boulevard, water for the garden. You laugh, tell me I would not survive in the wet, black-green of the forest. "Your skin," you say, touching this, touching that, "is too light, too bright. Something would eat you." I want to take a long nap, stiff-fingered, limp breasts, sour-sweet like a baby's breath in the cave, in the cave. Achy Obejas is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Ruins, Days of Awe, and three other books of fiction. She edited and translated (into English) the anthology Havana Noir, and has since translated Junot Díaz, Rita Indiana, Wendy Guerra, and many others. In 2014, she was awarded a USA Ford Fellowship for her writing and translation. She currently serves as the Director of the MFA in Translation program at Mills College in Oakland, California. The Tower of the Antilles, Obejas' stories of contemporary Cuba, is longlisted for the 2018 Pen Open Book Award and for The Story Prize. This poem first appeared in her poetry chapbook This Is What Happened In Our Other Life, published by A Midsummer Night's Press. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's "Flores Woman." The poems in this project were curated by Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Brown Girl Sings Whalesong by Barbara Jane Reyes When they say you are as big as a lumpy, blubbery whale, you may go ahead and bellow deep. Creak, croon, and trill, moan low. Go ahead, open your mouth so wide, that you can swallow the sea. Know that your blood pulls you through what your oldest ancestors committed to heart. Remember you have touched the ocean floor, and you have made your garden there. Remember, your skin is thick. Remember, no one has tamed you. Yes, you are immense, your lifespan and memory long, your heart larger than a full-grown man. Your lungs carry air for us all. Your ribcage could be a refuge. Your skull is a cavern of deep song. Through murk and poison, you move true with the moon. Your body lights a million lanterns. Your deep pitched song finds your sisters, your mother. They say the earth’s most unruly parts sing like you. Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of Invocation to Daughters (City Lights Publishers). She was born in Manila, Philippines, raised in the SF Bay Area, and is the author of four previous poetry collections: Gravities of Center, Poeta en San Francisco, Diwata, and To Love as Aswang. She is also the author of the chapbooks Easter Sunday (Ypolita Press), Cherry (Portable Press), and For the City that Nearly Broke Me (Aztlán Libre Press). She is an adjunct professor at University of San Francisco’s Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program and has taught at San Francisco State University and Mills College. She currently serves as an Advisory Board Member for Philippine American Writers and Artists (PAWA). She lives with her husband, poet Oscar Bermeo, in Oakland. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's "Flores Woman." The poems in this project were curated by Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Heart-Shaped Bruise, NYC, 1980, Nan Goldin The Body And Its Origins by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza I must have had a good reason to leave. Think back to the body and its origins. Dream of night sky. Neutral colors. Imagine the moment this all came to be. I was conscious beneath the ocean waiting to become this thing. There were no words. No death. God was touching herself everywhere. I crawled up walls and kissed ceilings. I mixed with dirt and felt the world come to life and then come up with a word for life. And then a word for death. And then a word for body. And then a word for man. And then a word for woman. And then a word for me. They took my skin and stretched it out over the kitchen sink. I can feel the warm water, the soap, the fork scraping over me. Light coming in through the window. My first sounds. It was all love when I didn’t have anything. All wet grass and cold snow up to my neck. I remember seeing my name on a piece of paper and asking mom what it meant. It was like a broken mirror to my eyes. Further and further from the stars. Emptying of the soul. Time felt as cloth. Strange memory of dad as a skeleton praying for god to save him. And do you know what prayer does? It makes you feel like nothing again but most people who pray don’t understand this. When I pray I am pure. I don’t ask for anything. I am a vision of the future. I am spread out on the couch sobbing because I’m feeling some shit. I listen. I give myself to the world at my leisure. I run as far away from men as I possibly can. This is all to avoid what I really mean— That purpose is transformation. That body is life. That life is a word. And death and woman and man. That I didn’t have to fight to exist. That I drifted into this light and it just happened. That I am a woman because there are stars and water and air and trees and dirt and flesh and words and dreams and love and feeling. That I have less than forever to hold myself. Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is a trans woman poet living in California. Her work has been featured in Denver Quarterly, PEN America, Lambda Literary, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere. She is the author of two collections—i’m alive / it hurts / i love it (boost house 2014) and There Should Be Flowers (CCM 2016). A third collection, Outside Of The Body There Is Something Like Hope is forthcoming in 2018 from Big Lucks. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Amorphous Landscape II: oils & pencils on wood, 2014, Alexandra Levasseur Song to be Sung before Dying by Ellen Bass Break me like bread. Take me apart. Strip each rib down to light. Pour me out like a bucket of milk, sloshing hot from the teats of a goat. Shear my hair and toss it onto the back of the wind for the birds to weave. Like the egret pecks at the elephant’s hide, like the plover scrapes the crocodile’s teeth, pick me clean. Whisper to my lonely breasts. Tell them a story, you are going to die. But don’t let me go until my body is a wilderness. Burrow like mites head-down into my lashes. You be the whale. I am the krill. Open your jaws and swim through my shoal. Strip me down to my foundation. Handle each plank and rusty nail. Erect me again in a new location. I’ve always wanted a view of the sea. Unload me like a cargo ship. Hoist cases of whiskey and all the flaming threads of saffron. Don’t be patient. Plunge your hand through my flesh like a Tibetan healer and pull out the nest of hair and teeth. Give me eighteen sinuous arms like Avalokiteshvara so I can hold you through every terror. Give me infinite legs like the Nude Descending so I can be always rushing toward you. Excavate me with your chisels. Crack me and free the mirrored fossil waiting for you these fifty million years. Ellen Bass's most recent book is Like a Beggar (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). She co-edited the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women and her non-fiction books include The Courage to Heal and Free Your Mind. Her poetry frequently appears in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, and many other journals. Among her awards are Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, three Pushcart Prizes, and The Lambda Literary Award. A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, she teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University. This poem originally appeared in Narrative. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's "Flores Woman." The poems in this project were curated by Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Keeping Faith Alive, acrylic and oil on canvas, 2008-2009, Poli Marichal & When We Woke by Aracelis Girmay It rained all night. It did not rain. I strapped my life to a buoy—& sent it out. & was hoping for a city whose people sing from their windows or rooftops, about the beauty of their children & their children’s eyes, & the color of the fields when it is dusk. & was hoping for a city as free as the rain, whose people roam wherever they want, free as any real, free thing is free. Joyful. Green. & was hoping for a city of 100 old women whose bones are thick & big in their worker hands beautiful as old doors. & when we woke, dear reader, we’d landed in a city of 100 old women telling their daughters things. & when we turned to walk away, because we did not think we were citizens of this strange & holy place, you & I, the hundred old women said, No, No! You are one of us! We are your mothers! You! You! Too! Come & listen to our secrets. We are telling every person with a face! & they stood us in a line facing the sea, (because that is the direction we came from) & behind us there was another line of women & another, & we sang songs. & we filled the songs with our mothers’ names. & we filled the songs with trees for our mothers to stand under, & good water for our mothers to drink. & we filled the songs with beds for our mothers to lay down in & rest. We filled the songs with rest. & good food for our mothers to eat. We made them a place in our singing, & we faced the sea. We are still making them a place in our singing. Do you understand? We make them a place where they can walk freely, untouched by knives or the police who patrol the borders of countries like little & fake hatred-gods who patrol the land though the land says, I go on & on, so far, you lose your eye on me. We make our mothers a place in our singing & our place does not have a flag or, even, one language. Do you understand? We sing like this for days, standing in lines & lines & lines, facing the sea. The sea knows what to do. We sing like this for days until our throats are torn with singing. Do you understand? We must build houses for our mothers in our poems. I am not sure, but think, This is my wisest song. Aracelis Girmay is the author of three books of poems: the black maria, Kingdom Animalia, and Teeth. She is also the author/illustrator of the collage-based picture book changing, changing. Recent collaborations include an interview with Emmy Pérez and a poetry translation project with visual artist and writer Rosalba Campra. For the last several... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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The ninth season of the Mission Poetry Series opens with a reading on Saturday, November 11, at 1 p.m. at Antioch University Santa Barbara. “Furious Music: Three Poets in Autumn” features poets Alexandra Lytton-Regalado, George Yatchisin, and David Dominguez. The title of the event is a phrase taken from "Duende," a poem by Tracy K. Smith, the newly appointed U.S. Poet Laureate. The reading will be held at Antioch University Santa Barbara, 602 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, CA, and is free and open to the public. The event offers complimentary broadsides, refreshments, and poets’ books for sale. Join us! Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Paul Fericano is a working class poet, satirist and social activist. He is the author of The Hollywood Catechism (Silver Birch Press) and several more poetry and prose books and chapbooks, including Interview with the Scalia, Commercial Break, Driving to Reno with Freud, and Loading the Revolver With Real Bullets. He is the editor and co-founder of Yossarian Universal (1980), the nation’s first parody news service, and he is a founder of SafeNet, an advocacy group that assists survivors of clergy sexual abuse by fixing on healing and restorative justice; he also writes an online column about this work, A Room with a Pew. Since 1971, his poetry and prose have appeared, disappeared and reappeared in various underground and above-ground literary and media outlets in this country and abroad, including: The Antarctic Review, Inside Joke, Mother Jones, Poetry Now, Projector, The Realist, Saturday Night Live, SoHo Arts Weekly, Vagabond, The Wormwood Review, and Catavencu Incomod (Romania), Charlie Hebdo (Paris), Il Male (Italy), Krokodil (Moscow), Pardon (Germany), Punch (London) and Satyrcón (Argentina). Paul Fericano received the Howitzer Prize for his poem, “Sinatra, Sinatra,” an award he himself created and exposed as a literary hoax to reveal the absurd nature of competitive awards. The following year, Commercial Break received both the Prix de Voltaire (Paris) and the Ambrose Bierce Prize (San Francisco) for upholding the traditions of socio-political satire. He resides on the San Francisco peninsula. Because I am valuing order at the moment, I thought I'd start at the beginning -- literally. The front matter of your book includes praise from a variety of newspapers & publications both here and across the pond. I noticed that several described you by summoning the language of subterfuge, such as how you write "like a wanted man hiding out in the basement of Poetry magazine" (Chicago Sun-Times) or that "if a witness protection program" existed for poets, you'd be in it (Washington Post Book World). How does your work, and this book in particular, connect to the covert? Yeah. If you talk to some of my friends they’ll swear they never heard of me. The Hollywood Catechism represents the progressive arc my narrative has taken since my high school seminary days at a Franciscan boarding school in the sixties. My desire to write conspired with my need to be funny which collided with my vocation to serve God. As a naïve fourteen year old freshman I was taught that God and poetry were essentially great because both were solemn and unfathomable. In English class we were instructed to examine not feel. Poems were prayers and prayers were sacred with no hint that ancient writers even knew what a joke was. What little I knew of poetry and God was encyclopedic compared to what I knew about sex and my own body. During this time the priest who ran my screwy English class was sexually assaulting me under the guise of medical treatment. I was a fearful, angry and depressed kid, ashamed and confused about... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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A river in which time quenches its thirst, 2015, gouache, colored pencil and ink on paper, Firelei Báez Weighing In by Rhina P. Espaillet What the scale tells you is how much the earth has missed you, body, how it wants you back again after you leave it to go forth into the light. Do you remember how earth hardly noticed you then? Others would rock you in their arms, warm in the flow that fed you, coaxed you upright. Then earth began to claim you with spots and fevers, began to lick at you with a bruised knee, a bloody shin, and finally to stoke you, body, drumming intimate coded messages through music you danced to unawares, there in your dreaming and your poems and your obedient blood. Body, how useful you became, how lucky, heavy with news and breakage, rich, and sad, sometimes, imagining that greedy zero you must have been, that promising empty sack of possibilities, never-to-come tomorrow. But look at you now, body, soft old shoe that love wears when it’s stirring, look down, look how earth wants what you weigh, needs what you know. Rhina P. Espaillat has published ten full-length books and three chapbooks, comprising poetry, essays and short stories, in both English and her native Spanish, and translations from and into Spanish. Her work appears in numerous journals, over seventy anthologies, and dozens of websites, and has earned national and international awards, including the T. S. Eliot Prize in Poetry, the Richard Wilbur Award, the Howard Nemerov Prize, the May Sarton Award, the Robert Frost “Tree at My Window” Prize for translation, several honors from the New England Poetry Club, the Poetry Society of America, the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Salem State College. Espaillat’s most recent publications are two poetry collections in English titled Playing at Stillness and Her Place in These Designs, both available from their publisher, Truman State University Press, http://tsup.truman.edu. Espaillat has also published a book of Spanish translations titled Oscura fruta/Dark Berries: Forty-two Poems by Richard Wilbur, and a book of Spanish translations titled Algo hay que no es amigo de los muros/ Something There Is that Doesn’t Love a Wall: Forty Poems by Robert Frost, both available from Amazon.com. She is a frequent reader, speaker and workshop leader, and is active with the Powow River Poets, a notable group she co-founded in 1992. "Weighing In" was first published in Where Horizons Go (Truman State University Press). “Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration” is the first public offering of the newly formed Poetry Coalition—twenty-two organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Coalition member Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present ten poems in March that engage with this year’s... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Los contempladores, acrylic on canvas, 2004, Tomás Sánchez The Island Within by Richard Blanco for Ruth Behar I’m still thinking about your porch light like a full moon casting a foggy halo in the frigid air last night, the bare oaks branching into the sky like nerve endings inches away from the frozen stars, the pink gables of your Victorian home protesting yet another winter for you captive in Ann Arbor as you practice mambo by the fireplace. I’m following your red-velvet shoes to conga beats and bongo taps taking your body, but not your life, from the snow mantling your windows outside, 1,600 miles away from Cuba. I’m tasting the cafecito you made, the slice of homemade flan floating in burnt sugar like the stories you told me you can’t finish writing, no matter how many times you travel through time back to Havana to steal every memory ever stolen from you. You’re a thief anyone would forgive, wanting only to imagine faces for names chiseled on the graves of your family at Guanabacoa, walk on Calle Aguacate and pretend to meet the grandfather you never met at his lace shop for lunch, or pray the Kaddish like your mother at the synagogue in El Vedado, stand on the steps there like you once did in a photo you can’t remember taking. I confess I pitied you, still trying to reach that unreachable island within the island you still call home. I thought I was done with Cuba, tired of filling in the blanks, but now I’m not sure. Maybe if I return just once more, walk the sugarcane fields my father once cut, drive down the road where my mother once peddled guavas to pay for textbooks, sit on the porch of my grandmother’s house, imagine her still in the kitchen making arroz-con-leche— maybe then I’ll have an answer for you last night when you asked me: Would you move to Cuba? Would you die there? Richard Blanco is the fifth Presidential Inaugural Poet in US history—the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban-exiled parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity and place characterize his body of work, including three poetry collections (Looking for the Gulf Motel, Directions to the Beach of the Dead, and City of a Hundred Fires); and two memoirs (The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood and For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey). The University of Pittsburgh Press has published commemorative chapbooks of One Today, Boston Strong, and Matters of the Sea, the poem he wrote and presented at the historic reopening of the US Embassy in Havana. Blanco’s many awards include the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press, the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Thom Gunn Award, and a Lambda Literary Award for Memoir. He is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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"Pericos" (the flock), by Amber Rose, from the series "El Aviario." Year: 2014 Technique: Ink and acrylic on 1970s El Salvador legal paper. you can count on it: La Mano by Alexandra Lytton Regalado For the more than 60,000 children from Central America who cross the border unaccompanied. With lines from Maya Angelou and Richard Wilbur Arcing above our apartment building, above the rousing city and green skirts of the San Salvador volcano, a flock of wild parakeets comes to roost outside our window; my nine-month son rests his head on my chest and all I want is to draw the curtains, but he’s coughed all night and now his breathing is slow, near sleep, though his eyes snap open with each squawk. I imagine the parakeets preening their emerald feathers, joyful in their ceremony of clacks and trills. They are not musing the capriciousness of nature as I am; they don’t know five thirty am, only that the sun has tinged the mountainsides gold and that this alcove echoes their welcome beautifully. The wild parakeets tap at the windowpane and my son stirs, raises his sleep-etched face to mine. Together we slip past the curtain and discover seven green parakeets, perhaps a little smaller, their feathers scruffier than I had envisioned. Two squabble over a prime niche and the stronger one comes towards the glass, wings unfurled, fat tongue thrusting from his open beak. I want to unlatch the window and sprinkle seed, lure them to perch on our shoulders and arms, anything to make them stay longer. Instead, my son, rooted in the things unknown but longed for still— greets them with the slap of an open palm to the windowpane, and in a clapping of wings they leap from the narrow corridor at once, a raucus fleeing, with headlong and unanimous consent, a disappearing stain, a distant murmuration swallowed from sight. Alexandra Lytton Regalado’s poems and short stories have appeared in Gulf Coast, Narrative, Notre Dame Review, OCHO, Puerto del Sol and elsewhere. She is the winner of the St. Lawrence Book Prize and the Coniston Poetry Prize. Her poetry collection, Matria, (Black Lawrence Press) is forthcoming in 2017. "La Mano" was first published in Green Mountains Review. Learn more about Alexandra here. ______________________ “Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration” is the first public offering of the newly formed Poetry Coalition—twenty-two organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Coalition member Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present ten poems in March that engage with this year’s theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem, “Borderbus.” The poems in this project were curated by Francisco Aragón & Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2017 at The Best American Poetry