JuanGa (en vivo)
Studded white mariachis
pluck the canary
yellow tassels ‘cross
Dim spotlight shimmers
on your golden sequin—
a man-made halo.
And you glisten,
as ebony fingerboards
draw a soft wine,
and your throat pours
la primera copa,
a todas las mamás
que han venido a visitar.
Priestly hands rise
for confessions to spill
onto your zapatos de León.
For a country to remember
the prayers unearthed
from their mouths.
For the ravine,
between Michoacán and me,
to burst as I feel tía Mari
rest on my shoulder.
No hay idiomas,
only quiet hazel
eyes que me cuentan,
Rudy hubiera parecido a tí.
Tears salt los garbanzos
piling atop la mesa.
It’s my turn to kiss
the cold glass
of his portrait, to lay
the brass frame
con la misma piedad
for bebe Jesús.
Y ya no quedan
palabras para mí,
so Tía mouths
the end of the song,
which isn’t a song
sino una oración—
la misma soledad
de tu sepulcro.
Leukemia takes nuestro hijo.
again; our throats offer
un novenario of empty petals.
La Reina de Tejas (Live from Astrodome)
Amá said you died the week before I born, que eras
tan feroz with your jumper, before se pusieron
de moda, and the little girls who wore them
butterflew into muchachas. Tenía que verte
in pot-bellied teles, canal crackling
like brown-backed tortillas. Te ví
con pants flared like your nariz, chata
like my sister’s. I munched on tacos, el jugo
dripping as Amá squealed, Agarra la colita! Te ví
your hands castanets, my size 3 Godzilla’s
tapped to their bidi bidi, to eyebrows arched
to a dome with tierra-dusked faces. Te ví
como la flor la maestra Barragán showed us,
a night-blooming cactus I called as selena
grandiflorus. From Tejana lips, ví
the Spanish I couldn’t mouth. Stuttered songs
‘till words flowed like the taco’s orange grasa.
I lick my fingers, lean on the couch cover. Ví
you peer from orange-stained glass, cooing
my tongue to finally sing, Me diste túúúú.
My heart trembles, I can speak like us. Ví,
full lips like mine hush the roaring crowd
that tightens my tummy just like Amá’s
raspberry kisses. You leave the stage,
and sparkles sugar the sofá’s puddle of drool.
Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Antonio López received a double B.A. in Global Cultural Studies and African-American studies from Duke University. He’s received scholarships to attend the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, the Home School, Tin House Summer Workshop, the Key West Literary Seminar, and the Vermont Studio Center. He is also a proud Macondista (2018 Macondo Writer’s Workshop). His nonfiction has been featured in PEN/America and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in BOAAT Press, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Acentos Review, Permafrost, Huizache, Tin House and elsewhere. He received his Master in Fine Arts (poetry) at Rutgers University in Newark. As a 2018 Marshall Scholar, he is currently pursuing a Master in Philosophy in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford.