Rationalizing Privilege in Atzompa

A dry, hard lump, the shriveled foreskin

corn husk embalms

the white masa and a brown stain of cooked pork.

Eyes first, she offers me the tamal.

When I lift it from her grasp, her split palm opens

like dry-lipped mudcracks in Arizona in June.

The fissure on her hand crosses the life line, the love line, x-ing them out.

My pocket shimmies with coins and they fill her craters.

Here I am, hopping buses across the clay-rich countryside,

a region of Mexico that quenched Spain’s gold throat nearly five hundred years ago,

and to take a bus this woman, who could be

my great grandmother, who could be dead by now,

must steal her way onto the bus, slipping off ten minutes into the ride,

in the back pocket of a family.

It’s not about the wad of week-old tamal

or about the fact that it costs the same as the bus ride,

and that, this time, she pays it up—clinks into the driver’s neat stacks of change,

still warm from my pocket—

but feeling the gold marrow of my body

blushes my neck and my face contorts with…

pity.

And I don’t want to have it, to be burdened with gold teeth,

but now that I am, I must eat wedged tamales until I die of thirst.

I sit in my bus seat, knees pulled tight to my chest,

hugging all the pieces of myself, terrorized by their departures from each other,

by growth, by intellect, by simple observations.

 

-Zoë


NaPoWriMo AJ Style!

As the magazine does its thing at the printers, Alligator Juniper staff have decided to delight in the April celebration of NaPoWriMo or National Poetry Writing Month.

Yes, we know it’s already day three of April. This is not an excuse, but we’ve seriously been working night and day to format and bring to you—our writing family, fans, and loyal subscribers—the 18th issue of the magazine! So exciting, but we all need to just take a breather, sit back, read, and write poetry as we wait it’s arrival. To calm the nerves, you know.

On a rotating basis, the AJ office staff will be posting our own raw, uncooked, unrevised poetry. These are first drafts, y’all; that’s what it’s all about! We encourage all writers, no matter what your genre preferences, to give this NaPoWriMo a go. We would also like to invite our readers to post original poems in the comments. We will feature select poems along with our own throughout the month.

Keep connected: follow our blog and we’ll exchange the favor. Let’s generate some drafts for the National Writing Contest next fall…or just play, because spring, especially, is conducive to that!

Love, AJ Staff