Rodney Gomez and César L. de León

Rodney Gomez is a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop and the proud son of migrant farmworker parents. His first full-length collection, Citizens of the Mausoleum, is forthcoming from Sundress Publications. His chapbooks include Mouth Filled with Night (Northwestern University Press), Spine (Newfound), and A Short Tablature of Loss (Seven Kitchens Press). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY, Rattle, Blackbird, Pleiades, Denver Quarterly, Barrow Street, Diode, Puerto del Sol, and other journals. His honors include the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize, the RHINO Editors’ Prize, the Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize, the Rane Arroyo Prize, and residencies from BOAAT Press and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. He earned a BA from Yale and an MFA from the University of Texas Pan American. He works at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.


César L. de León is a student in the MFA program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. His work has appeared in Pilgrimage, The Acentos Review, Yellow Chair Review, and the anthologies Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands and the Pulse/Pulso Anthology. He has received awards from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. An active participant in the local literature scene, he lives and works in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.



Untitled Violence


I. Autobiography


I spoke

ppppppeven with my throat



ppppppDuring the revolution

of my body

ppppppppppI took tweezers

ppppppto my face

ppppppppppin desperate reconstruction.


ppppppLater, a box cutter

slid through


ppppppmy arms’ gesso.


ppppppppppI always carried

a self-destruct


button:             wrinkled duster,

ppppppscuffed rain shoes.


ppppppSometimes I whispered


ppppppinto the ears

ppppppppppof ingrates.


ppppppppppI opened my flaps

to the vice cop:


he said he couldn’t hear

ppppppppppppppppppmy pleas.


ppppppAfterward, I was reflected

in red tide.


ppppppppppHe barked: pick up

ppppppyour teeth, there’s no

littering here.


II. Name: __________


Say my name

ppptaste gunpowder

pppon your lips

pppbear the weight

pppof a collapsed lung


ppppleated and concealed

pppppppppunder the root of your tongue


Say my name

pppFix the misshapen vowels

pppDust off the debris

pppFrom the R’s, the S’s, the T’s

pppUntangle each syllable before you




Say my name

pppSay      Her name

pppSay      His name

pppSay      My name


pppSay      Her name

pppSay      His name

pppSay      My name


pppSay      Their names

pppSay      Your name

pppSay      Our names


III. Flight


When I sewed wings

pppto my back

pppppppppyou warned me


against flight.


Called me

pppostrich. Called me



Feathery hands

pppprayed me

pppppppppppppppinto sky.


You took a garrote

pppof bile & sawed off

pppppppppthe stalks.


Named me



pppppppppppppppForced a crater into me

ppppppppp& I filled it up.


In my heart I kept

pppan arrow squid & fed

pppppppppppppppits growing arms.

I invited anacuita

& sailfish.


pppWhen I flew, you tore

the wings apart & threatened


pppwar. I sewed them back.


Didn’t you know how blood

pppbecomes kerosene


under the fist?


IV. Stillness


You cautioned me

About sticks and stones

pppppppppBut never        mentioned


pppppppppThe heaviness of invisibility

pppppppppOr                    the gravitational pull

ppppppppppppppppppppOf room corners


You said keeping quiet

pppppppppWas                 a virtue

ppppppppp“Silence           is Godly”


“Doesn’t God make thunder?”

I asked

pppppppppBefore lightning



V. A Rebuilt House


Light slinks in,

ppplets loose backwash

& bile,

ppppicks lesions

from the bruised body,

bit by sinewy bit.


pppppppppIts balloon throat


pppcalled warning.            Called defeat.


Scars, they never disappeared:

pppa permanent drape, & pain

requires no unmasking.


The mystery is how a needle

pppcut from the same bone

as your body darts easily


from one of you to another,    & all of them bound,


& all of them imperfect.


Calm appears among the blows’

pppmedic & ryegrass,       discarded shoes.

Yesterday crooks like headstones.


pppWindows frame flight as a street

vendor presenting peonies.


The lesson is how possible it is

pppto rebuild.


VI. Suture


Let us weave

pppA voice now





Away from black and blue

pppLacquered avatars

ppppppppp-Golden acronyms and stars


Follow the thick red thread

pppFrom your lips

pppppppppDown  your forearm


Into the streets of America


Braid it


Over chalk-drawn altars on asphalt

pppOver spirals of marigolds, daisies, and baby’s breath

pppppppppSwirling like galaxies

pppppppppppppppppppLike cicada litanies in August


Hold my hand


pppppppppYour sister’s fingers

pppppppppppppppppppYour brother’s palm

pppppppppppppppppppppppppYour father’s calluses

pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppYour mother’s pulse


When the time comes

pppYou will know

pppppppppHow to tie the mending knot

pppppppppppppppppppHow to intone the healing song.

















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