Jacqueline Balderrama has an MFA from Arizona State University. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Utah and serves as poetry editor for Iron City Magazine, creative expressions by and for the prison world. Her work has appeared in Blackbird, cream city review, New Plains Review, and others.
esperanza [ES-pear-AHN-sa] noun (f) :
Migration is written on this green heartache
of home, once its own discovery of water—
metztlixcictlico meaning moon, center, place.
Some are used to hopes being what they’ve been.
But singing one octave is Kansas to Oz. For a while,
my father didn’t know that the movie changed
to Technicolor since the family TV was black and white.
Mustangs stand in corrals across from the prison grounds.
Some sleep, some wander to water in the mouths of overturned tires.
Blocks of hay dry in the gated field smelling sweet
while black birds scratch loose straw near the roadside.
The inmates learn to feed and gentle the horses.
It begins with hands brushed along the shoulder.
Inmate and horse walk beside one another.
The inmate notices what the horse notices,
the sun at their back, their overlapping shadows.
salvaje [sahl-VAH-heh] adjective :
In grief, we cannot explain the body,
its tenderness, its heaviness.
Without tears, the animal nurses
an old shoe for weeks.