Photo by Jeff Sirkin



I drove the misery

only a panhandle is capable of,

a West Texan mystery towards a selfie

in front of the San Angelo City Limits sign

a sky at my feet a flatness

matched by the way I use “moon” as a facial description,

and a dirt road for 60 miles

to find my way back to my beloved

La hija de Genaro emerged from the Concho Valley,

in a super 8 film wearing white, a hellion

the queen of her cousins,

empty Coke bottles her crown.

Grandpa Chico sneaks them to her under the table

—everyone can see. His affection a rough rasp that billows

in the nape of her vellicate,

her baby Texan drawl rains

like a fictionalized account

worth dying for.

Little girl shrieks toothsome,

makes a mockery of Chico’s sediment tongue,

an accent that prefaces bells and sales of petrol,

the best in San Angelo

where all of their kin trace their line before others

crossed them brusquely.

I’m looking for Chico’s gas station, the only ghost in this town

full of chain restaurants that all look the same

My beloved’s hair falls down long and straight

like the narrative of quantum

the state dictates

and the scar along the trail amid her soft lips

beneath a mutinous chin,

an errant wandering.

The little girl in the film makes no sound.

And I wake up at 5am to meet the sunrise

just to say I did



| top |

*** ** ***



in the garden and refrain from weeding the flowers you call weeds,

break the tar down in my lungs

sweet mugwort mugwort bitter

salve in the mugshot

of my alkaline.

The Spanish arrive like clockwork

turn the page history book where it all looks the same

it’s late 17th century, the Tohono O’odham permanent villages these waterways

were systems                       a flourishing. We let go of Tucson last,

Mexican troops on the ground

two thousand farmers                     1856 (almost ten

years after Guadalupe Hidalgo),

I know you say annoyed as fuck

you know everything that spills off the parchment about what used to be Mexico.

Gadsen Purchase

for the New York relatives,

El Tratado de la Mesilla

for the Royal Aztecs, vatas locas purple nylon sheen,

Despegate de tu vaga settler wanderings           come home already

only you can save me

when you touch me with the tips of your fists.

Hold on, Sonora, hold on to yourself for one more winter

where we call these ocotillos, these the tunas.

We call these the desastres.

Yo soy Sonora, in a time machine adobe

that takes me back to an 1848 that can wait until

we’ve mastered our astrology of fate.



| top |

*** ** ***



I had no love but love

and no occupation but labor

primero de mayo 1859 seven Mexican workers             Reventon Ranch                    whipped by their overseer.

I’m not turned on by normal power               Catholic church and seven sacraments later

this is why I call you pasty, lover. Safe word repeat cinco de Mayo comes true.

Mercer shaved off their hair in a particularly brutal manner. The Anglos blazing infinite.

Dickies and Cortez.

What I drink doesn’t

heal the cut on my belly

As these settler bros approached a mescal distillery               how to preserve dignity down on my

knees my country piss on me

government, taxes, public debt. It was                              perfect,               just

nature Mexican and Yaqui workers tried to escape a broken sullen fire

too busy to be dreaming here

what I snort cuts the cord between cortex          a warning warm moaning          assemblage

mob of seven armed men,                                          four Mexicans, one Yaqui lay dead

Sonora Mining and Exploring Company

a promise heart on Mexican labor                          peonage to the mall and these bags are heavy

forget the bleed,

just us miscarriage      in the building of state out of frontier

that followed Arizona’s captain extractive industries captive with

the years to come

the years to yonder

but I’m lazy for money, imagination                don’t do orphanage games, bad meals at high prices

I’m a lumpenproleteriat here to set a precedent to hunger, a rage in your belly

and I’m yawning the best years away waiting

to find ourselves as lovers in a land

lording over us again

scraping flesh from our rind



| top |

*** ** ***



and the wind scratching out of its skin


the remaining moisture from my hands

we are in the middle of it             cracking

The ice melts The stone erodes

the obedience; it got us

clawing until

we bleed

Tonguing fire, molten Nicorette

birthing flowers in my pores

for memory to condition body

back from the part of the dead we sprung from

here we come on winged eyelids

and butterfly knives

Barbara Lynn East Texas southpaw Fender maple

playing angel has beckoned us, a pack between

three-quarters Mexican hot pink fight

just try it, Daddy

You want

to bring out

the cholo

in me



| top |

*** ** ***



I want to wear you down like mammalian powder,

and masticate you maternal like time                fight the tempt

against your omniscient maw

a monster with no brood, no control, a mestiza maker of messes.

We get blood on the sheets again.

Before your sex sunders into monotonous stone,

the quarry yawns inside             your mouth crusting with phosphate,

the earth dried home for stray and starry scoria; the pine cones pleaded

and their saplings never saw geminids or perseids or the fiery tails that promise

your restless tresses laid bare on the concrete parts of a national park.

You could barely move,             forget                   the viscuosity

of younger forests            between thumb and forefinger,

you took the pulp for granted

and when I gave you a taste you bucked            medallion wild on bare breasts

you took and took, watched your hand backlit by sun                as if for the first time ever there was time

Spasm sought nipple

for I, mere boscage and eager chaparral            avoidant fire warning

I never learned to keep my wailing at bay.

You didn’t give me back. You took an axe and thought about it

and said I had jouissance but I didn’t have a job.

I was kindling in your arms.


| top |


Raquel Gutiérrez
is a writer of personal essays, memoir, art criticism, and poetry. An adult child of Mexican and Salvadoran immigrants, she was born and raised in Los Angeles and currently lives in Tucson, Arizona where she is a semester away from completing an MFA in Poetry and Non-Fiction from the University of Arizona. Raquel is a 2017 recipient of the Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. She also runs the tiny press, Econo Textual Objects (est. 2014), which publishes intimate works by QTPOC poets. Her poetry and essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Open Space, The New Inquiry, Zocaló Public Square, and other venues. For more info, click here: raquelgutierrez.net/.


To download a printable PDF version of this page, click here.


| top |