Rinconcito is a special little corner in Somos en escrito for short writings: single poems, short stories, memoirs, and the like.
the body is as solid as the thought that holds it in place
by Carlos Schröder
this was the love of perfect form the verb the nerve the web colliding ensuring the demise of muscles tissues the melting into you mouths speaking in tongues never until now then understood the meaning leaning towards the light like plants unconscious barely
and words and words and more than what i ever wanted and more than what i ever got
this is the love of perfect form these are the loves of perfect form a conjugation mispronunciation the name is changed
the body is dreamed.
this is the occasion of language of changing from utterance to word from sound to meaning
this is the hour when the sun sets down reassuring our instincts and betraying the scientific certainties
and it is this sun sinking obliterating itself in the promise of a day following this one ceasing that gives us hope a glimpse of what we are a structure upon which to fall as the lover falls into the arms of the receiving lover who holds tightly waiting for his turn to fall to be held to be had to be over.
the body is as solid as the thought that holds it in place
the torturer knows this and lets the victim know that he can think of the body as chapters in a book independent from each other yet connected
then tears the pages one by one.
Carlos Schröder has taught English courses at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Virginia, since 2004 and before then, taught at the University of Maryland. A native of Argentina, his creative work, mostly poetry, has appeared in publications both in the US and Argentina in English and Spanish and he has had a play produced in Buenos Aires. He is an active member of the Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos (APDH), http://www.apdh-argentina.org.ar, and with local groups in Washington DC, where he resides.
Ferias II (detail) by Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo Mixed media drawing on mylar
I gave up a whole country and you keep asking for more
Tía Tere as Cipactli Tlaltecuhtli:
A Gang Rape in Six Parts
Where El Pueblo Points Their Thousand Fingers at La Niña Tere
We did what every pueblo did when soldiers came asking for our children. We hid inside barrels of beans and slept on rooftops. We called the names of our gods and our country hollered back. They found us at school, reciting the national anthem. They found us selling conchas a cora on the streets. They found us between bedsheets, nude as newlyweds, asking for names. And if they gave us the choice between their enemy and our head, we did what every pueblo did. We gave them puta ó pobre. We saved ourselves.
Where Tía Tere Knocks Out the First Conquistador and All Else is Unimaginable
Spilling colónes on the street is the closest we will get to smearing dirt all over
Cristóbal Colón’s gilded face. So, when soldiers tear the purse from her arm and bills rip ragged
as flags from its slapped mouth, burying coin and conquistador in shit and mud, we can call it
resistance, a victory for the little hand that spun and struck midnight raw against the jaws of soldiers.
Tía Tere’s wrists were younger then, stronger than they are now, puffy and punctured. She caught
the first soldier in the nose and broke red yolk down his rugged grimace. Before he raped her, she forced him
to weep a boy’s tears. If he survived the war, then he still walks today with the nose the devil gave him.
Best believe she would have merked him before the gun buckled her neck and for hours she blinked back black.
Love Letter from Tía Tere to a Boy Soldier
n the months dogs dig their dry noses through trash in search of water, you were the boy who left out tins for the strays to lap,
a chicken bone for muzzles to startle and snap. Papi threatened to beat us if we stole the fruit that fell from your father’s terreno
into our yard. I hid the mangos you gave me in my shirt and only got caught once. Later, we shared the bruised seed, our white uniforms
half-translucent in the summer sweat, the pulp, bright and yellow, stuck thirsty on our lips. I never repaid you for your kindness.
He had your face,
The man with the fat nose who dug through me like trash.
Here are my kindnesses in return:
I fucked up his mug, gave him a new nose and busted lip before he overtook me.
I told myself you went North instead of enlisting. You were the one I saw when I closed my eyes.
Where Tía Tere Faces the Judge
If bullet wounds had tongues to testify, ¿would the judges
believe us then? If the vagina could speak and write its darkest
name in blood, if she could count the soldiers and their barrels,
¿would my pain be legitimate?
I gave up water and let my voice evaporate in the Chihuahuan desert.
I gave up a language—even the words amor y luz --and now my teeth cut my lips like rakes.
I gave up a good mother who worked like an ass, a father who starved to feed his children.
I gave up my body and let its most tender parts crack to pieces like a clam full of dirt.
I gave up a whole country and you keep asking for more.
Your honor, dile al presidente, the officials of ICE, the alt-right, and this nation’s countless slaves: I am here to court each of you.
I brought you all the arm of a child, plucked from the earth the way some pick a daisy. I apologize for its lack of fingers.
You already know how these games go. He lives, he lives not. Are your men astute enough to tell me when it’s from:
¿our old war or yesterday’s tiraera? They all look the same. If it’s not el ejercito, it’s la policia. If it’s not a landmine,
it’s a mara. ¿Which are you? If you want to play Pantokrator, por favor, please judge me.
In the Last Judgement, we will all be sent to El Salvador to reap our eternal redress.
In the Last Judgement, you will be forced to face the insurrection of our dead.
Prayer to Cipactli Tlaltecuhtli
Tía says so many men went over her she lost count.
They all blurred into one— the soldiers y conquistadores the judges y el pueblo the police y las maras the boys who once offered her the ripe heart of a mango.
You were the goddess men tore in two and claimed they created the earth, as if la selva isn’t the nap of your kitchen, as if Izalco y Ilamatepec blossom from somewhere other than your bosom.
We call you the world monster—la mujer, la guerrillera, who survived a gang rape of gods and gave us your queendom, bloody belly and slaughtered womb. ¿Are you not madre y martyr of our Americas, splintered at the isthmus, legs thrashing
against every chain and stitch? ¿Are we not all the children of a woman torn at the border? You burst from the pin of a guerrillera’s grenade as an angel. You flapped your wings and the leaves of the trees fluttered
in flames and spoke--
Mija, soy la mera, mera, Santa Salvador. Mira las heridas sobre mi cuerpo, las bocas que gritan en cada rótula, el rio sangriento de mi pelo que llena mares con su furia. Sos mi hija-guerra, nene, carne de mi carne, la rosa de mis moretones. Entiendes ahora porque mis bocas siempre ansían por la sangre. He perdido tanto de la mía. Pero no vas a morir aquí, ahorita, mija, yo te concederá la vida.
and the men were blinded by your light, made deaf by the roar of your rifles
and the men hid behind your trees which fell like hands clapping flies
and guerrilleros ambushed the camp as the colonel selfishly begged Tía for life
and the men lost their arms in the scuttle and finally prayed to mothers they never loved
and the men lost their legs in the scuttle and finally knelt humiliated before their Maker
and her thighs were still mud-slapped, bleeding to her knees as she led him through her homeland, the dark arch
and dip of your chest, where once she nursed from your honey and felt her bones harden with your marrow
and where then you gave her the strength to save a man who didn’t deserve your blood.
Prayer to Tía Tere
When I call you Cipactli Tlaltecuhtli I mean this:
You gave us a world, torn limb by limb, rich with your sacrifice. You gave birth to the poet and the thug, to men who never knew your power. If you let us live, it is by the grit of your grace. If we betray your love, then we do not deserve your mercy.
Editor’s Note: This poem is about a woman’s abduction and torture in El Salvador in 1979.
Photo by Danielle Hernandez
Willy Palomo, the son of immigrant parents from El Salvador who now lives in Cedar City, Utah, is a McNair Scholar, Macondista, and a Frost Place Latin@ Scholar. He has performed his poetry at the National Poetry Slam, CUPSI, and V Festival Internacional de Poesía Amada Libertad in El Salvador. Other works have appeared in Best New Poets 2018, Latino Rebels, Muzzle, and The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States. His first collection of poetry is due out in 2020 by Black Lawrence Press. Follow him @palomopoemas and www.palomopoemas.com.
Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo immigrated to Canada from El Salvador at age 11. A graduate of The Ontario College of Art and Design, he earned an MFA degree at Concordia University in 2008. He has exhibited widely and received numerous awards. He lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. For a closer look at his works, visit https://www.osvaldoramirezcastillo.com/.
Rinconcito es un rincón pequeño especial en Somos en escrito para escritos cortos: un poema, un cuento, una memoria, ficción de repente, y otros. is a special “little corner” in Somos en escrito for short writings: a single poem, a short story, a memoir, flash fiction, and the like.
Por/By Sylvia Eugenia
Meintren tegas a las botayas something something (we will live with the bottle until we die with the bottle.) My mom had whiskey for the first time at nine; "tu flaca,” a Catholic martyr in the making in Managua. We had more in common that skin would tell. “aww, who’s this cabvrona?!” So, the conversation happens and my brain starts. I could try to talk about my fathers’ fathers’ father in Syria, offer up some patriarchal evidence of who this body is made up of. I would be telling a blood truth; but, nothing in me exists attached to that country or custom or people. I could talk about kibby, silt-coffee, un-filtered cigarettes; what is to be a man. My primary leaned lesson from that truth was not talking about “it.” By “it,” I mean, anything, like, ever. But, let's set aside a part of that part of skin steeped in side-stepping emotions and focus on the Pisces. By that, I mean, the woman. The female, the femme. The bruja of us. The emotional from us. I’ll conjour the grit of the saintly body that takes up the most space in me. My mother. I will tell you about mi mama, deliver my cred. Mira, I am the “simberguensa” crying crocodile tears that will never, could never suffer enough or know what real suffering was like. I’ll tell you about this potty mouth “chavala” that would cause my mother to gasp dramatically (inhale) “Que vulgarite, que vulgar” This is a story from the outside of an insider. Pero, an assimilated gordita. Por supuesto blanco, that is. Que?! I haven’t a clue I speak Spanish poorly, comprehend it fairly and understand it from the warm rain coming through pores. I agonize over this, I abide by this, I lose myself. I instinctually, move forward with the cross. My cross is only second hand but still holds like brand new. Thorns and nails are upkept to fashion my own contemporary guilt. Self-torture and my ability to say words that I didn’t even know existed on my tongue. “Aye dios” without a second thought” has turned into “aye dios; fuhckkkk” A Central American mujer walks away to suffer in silence as the Middle Eastern man stays to have the final say. Look at me, my everything “all nalgas peladas” This is my body, mi corazon, for all to see. Es mi vida.
Sylvia Eugenia combines elements of fiction and memoir into a prose poetry. Her poems have no structure except, the pauses in her breath and metronome of her heartbeat. She graduated from Mills College, Oakland, California, with a BA in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She has presented her work at many small readings in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2013, she performed at Beast Crawl in Oakland and Lit. Crawl in San Francisco. She lives in Santa Cruz, Cali.
You deployed six times, I count them as such Never mind the lingo and the requirements to define – You fought in one of the nastiest of them – Fallujah - Against Al Mahdi and his friends,
Yet you came back with all of your men. You grew up in a town that might have been mine, Except that yours was near rivers and mine Was in the desert; You fought in the desert too,
Learned to love there, to be fully alive, sober to the threats, To be kind to the populace. Then you fought at the ends Of the earth, making friends all the way, even as you had To remember to be lethal. A dog, you said, in that other
Country had come upon you and your forward man: You were trained to slit its throat, You – dog-lover, rescuer of dreams, Faithful man to your wife, whom you left and came home to Twice. Dogs, yes, dogs you are faithful to, and this one did not bark.
So you did not have to slice and silence him with a knife, And on that night you made your way back with relief For sparing - at least- one more life. Archangel, Sniper, man from the skies, friend for life.
On the conquest of Raqqa
Mourn with your brother in war and Love, Alex, And mourn for the Kurds who have declared Like lions their autonomy. Mourn for the women You miss, indescribable loss not to hold them In your gaze and in your embrace.
Mourn the purpose they gave you, both ends Combatants and warriors, women and culture, Ancient, tested in fires from century to century. Mourn, too, your brother and friend, who like Odysseus and Gilgamesh, who like Aeneas
And Patrick Leigh Fermor had to voyage back to Woman, society, and cultivation of mother earth; Mourn them who had to sheathe the sword, put it beyond use Back in the head and on the hearth - who always have it at the ready In the heart, in the hand and in the mind
And in the memory of those you fought for, that sword From beyond time, now and past and for the future. Mourn them, mourn them all warrior, friend, Poet, lover, son and brother. Mourn, brother Andrew, mourn.
Mourn the man who blew up behind you Spinning legs in the air were all you saw, Yet you had to go forward and take the village See the traps, the mines, burned out and blasted Cinderblock of once-homes made sniper shot-watches.
Mourn now because you can, brother Andrew. Mourn the families you embraced and those who Adopted you: Mourn and rejoice: So many are alive because of you. So many have hope because of you.
I want to lay my head in the warmth of your lap Then watch iridescent stars fall behind your hair Trace your brow’s shape, the pomme of your cheek Touch your lips, while tracing light in scintillant eyes.
I feel the emanating warmth of your womb Hear your voice in the dark, taste its sweet depths; Then feel your pulse beat through your sex As you shape the sounds of your words - like angels falling,
One-third, from the sky. Auburn-haired woman, sapphire-braided skies Halo you, while stars hang pendant From your tilted head even Renoir could not capture.
Kiss me with your eyes (and lips), Sing to me with your honeyed voice.
I scent you in the breeze of fall as Spring -- Soft fire, feminine song, emerald eyes: You. You evanesce sooner than the scent of Your body. Oh Soñia, how I wish that you would
Place my ring on your finger –and you do. But don’t you know what that means? Or best, you do. That’s what leans me To you, emerald eyes, Soñia
Such womanly hips, such warm thighs. I Follow your time, your rhythm, your honeyed Voice, knowing that once I surrender to you -- if That is what you wish -- I am complete or finished.
Indicate, say, tell me all I need to know. Time, age, those erase if you say them so.
David Vela is a professor of English at Diablo Valley College, in Pleasant Hill, California, where he is also an advisor to veterans and an instructor and mentor in the Puente Project.