ANATOMY OF A MONARCA by Antonio Lopez Emerging from the quilted cocoon of the brown monarcas is an infant who in silk immigrant dreams, vuela. His oceili eyes painted in Kahlo’s autoretrato-frontera, a horizon hued in moretones. Primed at his prefrontal cortex: his brother’s Mara Salvatrucha punches. Papá’s campesino hand ……..desperate a firmar el contrato. Barefoot newly-widows ……..scream their sobs inside a veil— ……..Quiche dresses ……..wave copal incense ……..over a pine box. Who determine Which Way Home* by steadying their tarsals, tres veces mojados, to the cold iron of La Bestia’s roof. They flap their limbs, patterned in the dead-leaf camouflage of cigarette burns. Their diet consists of soiled dreams. After fourteen days of hunching, the boys will have molted into men in the dead chrysalis of night. Dos huérfanos entrelazan brazos encima del tren móvil. Sus estómagos aporrean para esa Manzana Grande cuyos rascacielos ellos solo han salivado en … chop! chop! read more!
Curtains checked for anthrax, podium erected.
The balloons will fall to the floor if elected.
The ass-groper, interloper, and false hoper
Will find themselves shoved out the door if elected.
He doesn’t notice the desert.
The smell of the dead rising, birds or fish, saltwater
feeding on air or salt air on the water, the sand
turning black as it wraps his ankles like a skeleton hand.
He doesn’t know why the horseshoe crab shells
charred, acrid smell of gunpowder
smokes from the holes in Philando’s body,
which carries the stigma(ta) of
all things dark,
lead from the muzzle
to the flesh, three wounds enough
to steal the soul, four more
for good measurechop! chop! read more!
I know you’ve gotten used to the catcalls and honks coming from passing cars. I’m proud of you for learning not to react outwardly. But here’s the thing, sometimes these cars will actually stop in front of you and provoke more than just a roll of the eyes.chop! chop! read more!
A few hours in this room not much bigger
than a storage space, boxes replaced
with a teetering desk early this morning
and the heavy sound of uniformed men,
whose questions he has answered
as far as English carried him, wondered
why their eyes narrowed when he repeated his name
His back toward us, he faces history
and history is armed
with AR 47s, water cannons, grenades,
Andrew Jackson, and Natty Bumppo.
They myth of water is permanence.
The myth of war is purpose.
The myth of America is America,
spilling all over our computer screens,
soaking us to the root.
Philadelphia smelled like Vermont today,
after light rain. A fly buzzed
four or five clusters of crocus.
The sky draped with gray.
There are no stones in the Jewish cemetery
under the new president.
Our hearts are broken in half, evenly.
Lord, teach us how to care.
The branches are blurred like webs and ask me
to come in. I am only a poet. Am I holy enough?
Every bullet is aimed for sky.
the thin white one carrying my father and mother
only happened to be interrupted. The trajectory
was stopped by another home, a different country.
Here, no one would be turned away. Here,
every synagogue was more than a path
to an exit wound.
There are alternative readings; there are alternate routes;
There’s an alternative to president, which is dictator;
There are alternative realities, used to be in the movies,
There are choices we were presented with,
but demurred. As politely as possible, perhaps not,
Scientist of The Lambs
Scientist on the western front
Scientist I’m hunting rabbits
Scientist speak no evil
Scientist not at the dinner table
Scientist after 11pm
Scientist curfew in effect
Scientist silent majority rules
Scientist not your voice in anger
Scientist secret ball gag
Scientist John Cage 4’33”
When she arrived, the sun turned black
lead-rugged upon my ragged eyes
that marked the breast-pump’s watchful click.
But as she lay upon my chest
each night, the transcendental glow
the phosphor clock, the bobbing head
bred warmth beneath the surface rust.
The year is 2017, and it is still young. Yet already it has managed to make me very concerned about how it will turn out as it grows older.
At present, I’m staying with my aunt Rebecca in her house in San Francisco, California, under the wing of her charity. The back of the drought has been broken by a glut of rain. Every night Rebecca watches the news. She watches the news of her own will and choosing, and I am simply there for it, experiencing its noise and light because I am in the same room while it plays. Rebecca is an American, by her own identification, and lives in America. I am simply here in it, situated physically in this spot on the earth, borrowing space in other people’s lives.chop! chop! read more!
I’m a prairie mongrel, not a signal
I’m a tethered satellite, never floating away
I’m Florida, I’m underperforming
I’m drinking refined,
not eating my white valley
I’m neck and neck
I’m not anymore
I’m a cliché, not a rishi
I’m the boy crying, I forgive him
I’m a raving bitch
not the interpreter screaming, I love you
…The rivers evaporate, fill the sky with water, then fall again to soak the soil. Trees grow,
pines cedars, sturdy. A system designed to give what is needed; a system that burns
This November blew
down to the just-reaped
fields a hectic
More golden leaves
than fevered leaves
but the fevered
claimed the land
in the way
that we call fair.
On my flight back to Washington at 4 am
in air marbled by night and snow
I leaned against the oval glass and saw
tiny bodies of light pushing slowly
down the mountain roads, each sphere
its own life full of sideways winds.
Cars, packed together like cattle in a feed lot, belching noxious gases into a sky already brown with grief, circle the globe like a noose. People desperate to reach anywhere-but-here find themselves turned away again and again. Wile E Coyote continues to run down the highway, smashing into a tunnel that does not exist. Children no longer laugh at his antics.chop! chop! read more!
Two weeks before Election Day, I took a new job at a private high school in Minneapolis. Faculty passing by in the hall poked their heads through my doorway and asked, “So, are you the New Asma?”
“Kind of,” I replied.
But, I am not the New Asma.chop! chop! read more!
When I got home that night, I plugged my camera into my laptop and discovered that the images I had shot—without any clear intention—had captured the heartbreaking intensity of the crowd. My photos—reminiscent of the images of the 1963 March on Washington that I had recently studied—made me feel as though I had done something valuable in documenting the first breaths of resistance, and as if they might give me a voice. After posting the photographs on social media, I was surprised to discover that they served as balm for many now politically-disillusioned viewers. They felt reassured that young people, in particular, would fight back.chop! chop! read more!
Noble Firs on Thanksgiving
Here they stand
up to their names.
Gently shake fists.
so green, you forget.chop! chop! read more!
you are telling
me my skin
i must weave
steel around myself, must
temper it, must
who say they
let too much through
their skin—but I am
they. My family, my history
So They Will
Time is the lightbulb burning for the first three traffic lights
And blinking after that
Is the side street slick with remainder
And a storm cloud trying to drown
from the protest We pour
water from the bottle another marcher
gave us over this temporary
sign With my wet and dirty
hand Lifting the fist
I would vote with Taking the side
of my arm and smearing it out
and horns crawl like an apology out of my skull;
my tongue splits in two and gropes the air
in front of my mouth. I need two tongues, you see.
One for me and one for my grandmothers.
One for Yahweh and one for Shekhinah.
One for the body and one for the blood
they would have you think was theirs.
Suspect in transgender slaying says ‘manhood’ was threatened”
– NY Daily News, April 1, 2016
Manhood: more fragile
than the hollowed-out egg I practiced pysanky on.
More frangible than the hem
of snowbank in early March.
More delicate underfoot
than the infant seachop! chop! read more!
argue over semantics while
decapitated bodies and babies litter
hospital floors in aleppo and
not-my-president unites with Russia in
a fight with common enemy number 1
terrorism and extremism and
hoses spray ice and gas and bullets
against water protectors protestors while sophia’s
arm is exposed cartilage and elders ache from
head wounds let’s argue over safety
I turn bread into tortillas.
I leave dried guajillo chiles in my wake.
My hair is wild cilantro.
My footprints are poinsettias.
My tongue is an eagle whose wings will shout.
The fringe of my rebozo is made of infinite braids.
I dare you to touch.
I am a field.
My hands are dirt, my fingernails roots.
Diego Rivera has painted them.
My bones are made of corn and chiles.
My stomach is arroz con frijoles.
My lungs are comino y canela.
My blood is lemon and salt.
Two months ago they played FUCK MARRY KILL
He picked me as Fuck and the other brown girl to Marry
Kill was a white girl who changed her name a lot
Anna then Ann then Anne then Anna again
Marry Girl told me, I wasn’t there
He would have been my Kill, so you know
Then when the president was elected he yipped his pitchy yip
Marry Girl shrugged and told me, don’t forget
That they think of things when they see us
And especially when they see us together and recall
There is more than one here
this is not an essay. no, this is not that. not a poem. not a bomb. not hydrogen. this is not blackface. not a pledge to a new allegiance. there will be no cotton picking. there are signs – a cross stump stuck in a lawn, a flag burning. there may be a march, some spring uprising to coincide with fall palettes and patterns, of bodies being flung to concretes, red pastels overshadowing the grainy elements of white hoods floating in the background.chop! chop! read more!
The shoes are made of iron
presumably to preserve the
symbolic footwear, but they are
attached along the Danube’s
stone embankment, so
perhaps the sculptor intended
that the splashing water
would with time
have its own effect;
anarchy isn’t for everyone can you hear me now
find your soul paint here on a saturday night
light is grandfathered in we sit in an ancient garden
dropping flower seeds and breadcrumbs dripping blood
beauty and music descend leaves and petals circulate
in the world the world grows dark and people grow older
x-rays float in the stream two car doors slam two doors down I sing
Walt Whitman With Light On A Lake
The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.
The land and the sea, the animals fishes and birds, the sky of heaven and
the orbs, the forests mountains and rivers, are not small themes … but
folks expect of the poet to indicate more than the beauty and dignity which
always attach to dumb real objects … they expect the poet to indicate the
path between reality and their souls. Men and women perceive the beauty
well enough … probably as well as the poet. You shall ratchet up the moon.
Giggling girls have power the radio tells me
after the election. An epidemic of contagious
laughter spread through a girls’ school
in Africa, 1962, and no one then knew
why. Hearing this carries a now-giggling
me back to my 5th grade classroom—to tiny
freckles on Eddie’s nose, sprinkled sweet
as whispers. My girl-small hands unfold a scrap
of notebook paper, where penciled print
asks, Do you like Eddie? Circle: Yes or No
Throughout the election season, I noticed that some of my students seemed uneasy. After Donald Trump’s election, true fear had taken hold in many of them. A Congolese boy, who I had never before seen without a big smile, asked me why he would have to go back to his country. His village did not have enough food, he told me. People were very sad and hungry there. A second grade teacher showed me a picture one of her students had drawn. It showed two men with Crayola guns standing over a woman, scribbled red.
“This is my aunt,” the girl said. “Please don’t make my family go back.”
When I took this job, I knew that I might have to console students who were going through rough times: moving, divorce, the death of a beloved pet. I never imagined I would have to have a discussion with elementary students like the ones my college professors had with us after 9/11.chop! chop! read more!
WHAT IT IS
is how I hate my face. is how my face is amnesia. is how i love my face. is how my face is still amnesia. is waking up at 4am feeling like there is someone in the room, someone saying don’t forget me. is saying, ma, you know what the really effed up thing is, is how knowing where you come from is the privilege $99 and a mailing address gets you. is that the effed up thing is it isn’t a right. is buying your mom a dna kit for christmas. is what the hell is christmas anyway. is collective amnesia. is wanting to know if her estranged father had royal blood in him. is rethinking what is royal. is what is blood. is colonialism. is sitting in a lecture hall while a professor talks about post-colonialism.
Abide with me the night shadows
caterwauling on the walls—Lava Lamp Red
as the squad car pulling up to the curb.
Inside, a fish tank shifts—precarious—Colors dizzy
in a kitchen of bodies without form. Pot partying,
I made-out with my boyfriend, our friend gave
his hands to be cuffed into silence—Whispers in
the next room. All said and done, Willy sat
in jail for an ounce of stale attic
mouse-weed. We went to college to cavil
in a dormitory of freshman.
The week has been long, one of the longest
in my heart’s slim record-book. But the moon
is at its perigee. It hasn’t come this close
in years, more than you and I have known. So rise
and go to the window, the one that faces the canyon.
Tonight, as red as Mars, it will ascend, round
and smoldering, through the dust.
The city guys are stringing Christmas lights on the locust trees.
The men are lifted up in buckets. First, any old witches come down.
And then the forgotten paper pumpkins. The bats.
The city guys shake loose the dried up locust pods: brown and curled
they land on Essex Street like snakes dropping. Finally, the white
lights can go up and stay up past the New Year.chop! chop! read more!
Everywhere I went in Sudan, people offered me things. I was the foreigner in their country and they could tell the minute they saw me that I was different with my lighter skin and my long hair and my rounded body. They understood that it was me who needed their help. They knew that my system wasn’t used to the extreme temperatures, that I had not sufficiently acclimated to bacteria-ridden water, that my skin was too soft for hard work, my eyes too sensitive to the dust.chop! chop! read more!
Accounts coming due, enunciated in
The mumble of feet. Coathangers,
The electric eye of catechesis.
Populism blushes in a frenzy
Of bared teeth, biceps swelling
With the ripple of Confederate flags.
Manacled in a pageant of
Disconsolate shotguns, the echo of
Self-confident dice, public figures on both sides
wondered about the succulence of the Crow.
In the aftermath of the election, I overheard a phone conversation my housemate had with his friend, a conversation that was casual enough to be had while he was on the toilet. He explained he was bummed that Trump had been elected president but that he was also excited. He had plans to go out and buy a gun. He’d always wanted to play out a survivalist scenario, even if he would hate it when it finally came.chop! chop! read more!
I am not sure now, the right or wrong way to post on Facebook. I attempt feebly my own brand of humor, certainly misunderstood. I surge with so much caffeine that the days go by in a blur. Then, binge drink, nights hazy and filled with whiskey, wine, spiked seltzer and even one time, a Twinkie. I do not eat things like Twinkies. So, this is therefore in and of itself the perfect metaphor for America really going to shit right now.chop! chop! read more!
On Saturday, for the second week in a row, I attended a protest march against the election of Donald J. Trump as President. These marches here in Philadelphia, as they have been around the nation, are meant to bring people together to assert their anger, their betrayal, and their worry over the direction of the nation under Mr. Trump. To press for action. They provide an instant sense of camaraderie and communal feeling, and, yelling righteously into the cavern of towers, or the granite of monuments, or, in our case, the sturdy brick of Independence Hall, a heartfelt outlet for protest. The marches allow a person edging toward hopelessness to feel alive again, if only for an instant, and to sense oneself melding into the body politic. After despondent days, they come as a relief.chop! chop! read more!
I am watching the election results with a friend that I’m kind of in love with. He texts me after the first polls close. I join him at the Women’s Center where they are holding a viewing party, a nonpartisan event in name only. Early numbers look bad, and then they begin to look dangerous. People leave the party visibly upset. The Friend and I decide we need a drink. I call a local Mexican restaurant to ask if they’re showing the election results on any of their televisions.
One girl suggests we come with her to a fraternity where they are watching CNN. The frat has hard liquor, and we could buy mixers on the walk over. I bite my tongue. I don’t want to come across as judgmental, but I have always hated boys’ clubs. And besides, I want to be alone with The Friend.
“The love of my life is in that fraternity,” he says. “Just kidding.”
The Friend continually cycles through moments of revealing (if exaggerated) honesty followed by sham retractions. We continue to discuss specifics.
“Do you want to go, Cody?” he asks.
“I’d be willing, but it’s up to you,” I say.chop! chop! read more!