Home PageArchivesVolume no. 5Issue 3Poetry: Emmy Pérez

Downriver Río Grande Ghazalion

by Emmy Pérez


Drive into the Valley, past a field of old farm equipment.
Near the tip of Tejas: sal del rey, blatant farm equipment.

I never bent into onion fields or declined sweet strawberries.
The kid in everyone’s kitchen, escaping farm equipment.

When I think about seeing you, I want to jump on your back.
I confess—you’re sexy, luxury—let’s paint equipment

The color of parakeets congregating, squawking on 10th
Street McAllen power lines, strip mall trees, fading equipment.

99 cent meals. Surreal pickles like vine fetuses in jars.
Wrinkled wienies on a Stripes treadmill, saintly farm equipment.

Julia (te necesito) ¿dónde estás? ¿En el barrio
De nuestra nostalgia? ¿En el Río Grande de Loíza?

                                                           excavate equipment
                                                                           shell and bone
                                                                                 shards and kernels
                                                                                      study hopi
                                                                                          dry farming
                                                                                     dare roman
                                                                           incan farm terraces
                                                                      aztec chinampas
                                                                  mississippi plantations
                                                                     california strawberries
                                                                          seedless watermelons, grapes
                                                                               cherries still need their pits
                                                                                   suck and spit them like chew

Sometimes I defer to the blues, tejanas, two chachalacas
Rustling in ebanos, and ebanos in chachalacas

                               bravo       ~grande
                      caracoles             snails
                                both       spiral

Agha Shahid Ali prayed for each couplet’s own identity
Sin fronteras. Linked by rhyme, refrain, y su nombre de diosas
                                                                                   (& colonizers.)

Snake, bobcat, great horned owl, pauraque, bats, tlacuache
Burrowing vato owls protect their land, urban EPT.

Return? To rivers, loves, monte, el chalán? Erase citrus?
So-called fences? Faith in Boca Chica~Gulf of México, fresh salt-
                                                                                (water confluences)?
              Salt is old, older than cranium.
              What’s older? Salt or water?

It’s time to move beyond binaries, old loves. Remember eyes.
Not love but eyes—eyes are love. Yes. Remember the smell of skin

                                (go swimming)

El día en que tú naciste, nacieron todas las flores.

The scent of water. A tolerance for ambiguity
In nepantla: between Hurricanes Dolly and Alex

                                Terremote, huracán
                                     You lithium
                                          The grass
                                               Mineral, metal
                                                   Leaf cuts the ants clip and carry
                                                        Ant path
                                                              Sheep crossing
                                                                 Rio Grande

It takes hours to defang cactus. You nursed an orange all of
Christmas Day; at night, just before going to bed, you ate it.

A ~ marks your open text unions. Sign your ~name in email,
Feel your flirty ambiguity, friendly besito.


“Downriver Río Grande Ghazalion” has quotes from Gloria Anzaldúa’s “Borderlands/La Frontera,” the traditional song “Las Mañanitas,” and Richard Wright’s “Black Boy.”

Perez Author PhotoEmmy Pérez is the author of “Solstice” (Swan Scythe Press, 2011, 2nd ed). Recent work has appeared in Mandorla, The Laurel Review, Diálogo, and New Border Voices. A member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop and an inaugural CantoMundo fellow, Pérez is an associate professor at the University of Texas-Pan American.

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