Eloisa Amezcua

Eloisa Amezcua is an Arizona native. Her poetry and translations are published or forthcoming from BOAAT, Prelude, The Journal, and elsewhere. Her chapbook On Not Screaming is forthcoming from Horse Less Press. You can find her at www.eloisaamezcua.com.



Watching Underworld, Inc. Episode 3: Human Cargo



The Pima County Morgue,
approximately 110 miles

from my childhood home,
houses John Doe, Jane Doe,

[sexless] Doe. Dated remains
found in the Sonoran Desert—

nameless and alone. The medical
examiner holds a fragmented

cranium, points to where
the eyes would go.


I cross the borderxxxxon foot.
My fatherxxxxxwaits for me

in the McDonald’sxxxxparking lot
one blockxxxxxxinto America.

I standxxxxxxin the line


Francisco, a people smuggler
in Nogales, says his secret

is training others
to hide and survive.


I don’t remember muchxxxxfrom middle school
US History—xxxxxxxxwho lead the troops

that tookxxxxxxFort Ticonderogaxxxor who forced
General Pembertonxxxxxxxxxto surrender in 1863—

but I rememberxxxxxxxlike yesterday
xxxxxxthe sound of my mother’s voice

practicingxxxxthe Pledge of Allegiance
before herxxxxxxxxxxnaturalization ceremony.


A Border Patrol agent
explains how after five days

on foot in the desert,
skin begins to split

from the burning sun—
flesh exposed and open.

Nothing can be done once
the breaking has started.



xxxxxxis a word

that comes

xxxxxxto mind.


In Phoenix, Magdalena buys and sells
moneyless migrants wholesale—

their families unable to pay off cartel
trafficking rates. Three women/girls sit

one room over, faces hidden with pillow cases—
they’re background. And Magdalena, she talks

a tough talk, says business is business
and business is good. Her face concealed

by a black bandana and mirrored sunglasses
reflecting the camera back into itself.


When the show’s over,xxxxI’ll call my mother
xxxxxjust to hearxxxxthe sound of her voice.

Como estas?xxxshe’ll ask.xxxxxAnd I’ll lie,
tell her things are finexxxxxxxthe way

xxxxxxxshe’d sayxxxxthe same to her mother
thirty years beforexxxxxxxxxxwhen she moved

to this countryxxxxxxxxxxxxxxalone
xxxxxxwith her husband.xxxxxxxxxxxI’m haunted

by that for her.xxxxxxI moved thousands of miles
awayxxxxxxxxalonexxxxxxxxxxjust to feel

closer. Beforexxxxxxxxxxwe hang up, she’ll say
Dios te bendiga,xxxxxxpicture me signing myself

or kissing a crucifixxxxxxxxxxxI can’t bring myself
to wear.xxxxxA blessing I don’t need

but I take itxxxxxxxxanyways.





map your surroundings

locate another womanxxxxxxxlocate

a group of womenxxxxlocate a well-lit space

xxxxxto stop and punch

9-1-1 into your cellphonexxxxxif needed

hold your cellphone hold your thumb

over the green ‘dial’ buttonxxxxxxhold

xxxxxxyour cellphone inside a pocket

your keys in the other

xxxxxxxhead between two fingersxxxxblade sticking

out from your fist like a small rhinoceros

xxxxxxx[whose only predator is man]

wear clothing with pocketsxxxwear nothing

that clings to your shapexxxxxxxxbe shapeless

don’t look scaredworriedpanickedxxxdon’t look

friendlyapproachableopenxxxxdon’t look back

xxxxxxlook natural

don’t smilexxxdon’t not smilexxxxxxxdon’t

come undonexxxxxxxxthe key is to go unnoticed

the key is to get where you’re going

the key is to hold yourself

inside of yourself as long as you can

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