Issue Five:
Clinica Xalapa / Visiting Hours

By Alan Chazaro

The breath of the land
is an orchid night passing
over a rumble of stone
roads; it is a gentle
abuelita, moonfallen  undulation of hillsides
and banana trees slurping;
where there is a slow-rotting
bridge and music that wanders
around rooms where abuelo
has hammered every inch,
has hammered bottles
of mescal; where nothing
shatters when things are broken
and no one notices when your Adidas
have four stripes; where freedom rides
in the front seat of a dying Ford.

* * *

These mountains cannot be shoveled

because abuela is a forest

and after falling
we cried, and she spanked us
for crying

but when a home is under construction,
everything gets exposed—

wood, wires,
brick, rebar

like deformed

limbs,
and since she prayed for us all

en el nombre de el padre, el hijo, y el espiritu santo

you’d better holy-cross yourself
with two fingers

(forehead, chest, shoulder, shoulder)

when driving past a church, any church,

especially my abuelo
—a never-faithful-macho—
who always told us

eres Cuervo; translation: you are crow

because I learned
our name is a mountain

and on nearby mountains abuelo built a home

praying
abuela will live to see it from inside—

* * *

My hands are wilting, your face
the crush of sky. Gravity
is your breath in this room, a dwindle
of fugitive air. Outside,
geometries of smog
and chaos wait to be resolved
while I sit with nothing
clenched underneath my tongue. There is no
translation for this, no wrapping you
inside tomorrows. Abuelo waits
in the broken lobby
as I tune into the deep hum
of your bones.

* * *

If I am piñata then hang
me with strings of coriander
and rainbowdust while playing
surf-rider music and popping
party balloons until I am
spilling myself and you
are reaching to gather whatever
part of me is unbroken.


About the Contributor

Alan Chazaro is a public high school teacher pursuing his MFA in Writing at the University of San Francisco. His poems have appeared in Huizache, The Cortland Review, Borderlands, Iron Horse Review, Juked, decomP, Radius, and others. He is the Lawrence Ferlinghetti Fellow at USF and a graduate of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley. Most recently, his work was selected by the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner, Tyehimba Jess, for an AWP Intro Journals Award. A Bay Area native, you can usually catch him in Oakland A’s gear.


Losslit canon

Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi

I'd like to nominate Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, which is about the loss of home, native culture, and family identity. It's a recent novel I just read and it seems to fit very well with this theme

See all entries in the Losslit canon


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