ROMERO Y CARVER
Artemisio Romero y Carver (she/her/hers)—a Miller Scholar, YoungArts Merit Award Winner for Spoken Word, and Santa Fe’s 2020 Youth Poet Laureate—has poems in Inlandia Literary Journal, Rigorous Literary Journal, Pasatiempo Magazine, Magma Poetry and elsewhere. She is anthologized in Dreams of Montezuma (Stalking Horse Press), Everything Feels Recent When You're Far Away (Axle Contemporary Press) and A Tiny Grain of Sand: The National Youth Poet Laureate Anthology 2021. Her 2020 essay for Tumbleweeds Magazine earned First Place in Specialty Articles from the New Mexico Press Women Communications Contest. She studies at Washington University in Saint Louis.
SELF PORTRAIT AS ARTEMISIA, WALKING TO CLASS
you could use these hips
as letter openers,
like a candleholder,
like a spirit box
black hair in a bun
like a perched crow.
in a spacesuit made of home
like a Christmas tree, like celebration
like how Judith must have put on her hoops
before she went out to slay Holofernes.
MY SECOND FOURTH OF JULY POEM
this city (her city) is a drum kit, somehow fit in a dishwasher and then set to heavy
—timed, metal and ringing
your canyon was round like a body, a simile that is effectively incoherent in the Upper East Side but she doesn’t like when you call New England quaint, a trick you learned from your dad
who also told you, before you left for the summer: “you’ll know a true preppy by how he immediately insults you with something arguably ironic and feigned”
so dad said, in turn, to be “violently earnest,” and so now you do that,
with maybe too much zeal, and so then she takes you aside at the upstate lake
(that seems to you a beach) to tell you “sweetheart, you shouldn’t have escalated that” which is funny, cause uh, you wonder the same thing in a different way—
when you finally stop trying to tell her about the mountains or your ancestors (which in this context are essentially synonyms)
as she asks you, very reasonably, to not position yourself like a visiting professor at lunch and while she shows you her favorite part of the museum (the birds)
in what you know to be a future teapot memory. meaning a moment that in some later morning will scream at you and evaporate.
FOLK CATHOLIC, IN WHICH CHAVEZ IS A SAINT
The protest ends like a house party,
in that no one was sure when it ended
and a couple of stragglers are still
paranoid that the cops will intervene.
A short boy steps out of red dawn,
crossing our perimeter.
The tactical vest, the tactical knife
enough tactical pockets
to be equal parts man and backpack.
A pinball look bounces between all of us.
He offers, like a dog with a rat,
a folded American flag
while pointing to the newly circumcised
flagpole of the New Mexican State Capital Building:
the site of the Mexican-American War’s Moon Landing
(where a sheet claimed to own a frontier).
As my friend accepts the flag, I realize I have only ever looked up to it
since they have always flown it at height of a sky god
so that you would need wings to meet it as an equal.
The boy leaves without a word.
YOU KNOW, THOSE WOMEN IN FRONT OF US ARE LIPTON TEA HEIRESSES
at a private school graduation, in a park.
tile white plastic chairs, the full ornamental band,
her mom gossiping to my blazer’s shoulder pads, my hair up I think to myself, in the way you talk to a dog,
you’re a good boyfriend.
I’m a better girlfriend
but you should just be that in her room
or a more empty park,
I say to the dog me
WATCH ME ATTEMPT TO EXTEND EMPATHY TO THE TOURIST
if a ritual is a means of time travel
then picking these red currants is my ritual
no blood on my hands now. just juice
if a souvenir is a means of arresting time
then her name is a souvenir that I can say
as if I still have a reason to. I can word myself
in such a way that I am not alone tonight
in the same way, I can mark his grave
verbally, and at a safe distance
from that mud brick church
that they might call primitive, where
my brave uncle, whom they might call an addict,
had eulogized his mother
if a tradition is a common habit between generations
then assimilation has been our tradition
a literally self-effacing inheritance
what the Spanish called blood-mending
are a means
is a means
and a spell
is a poem
TO PARAPHRASE MARX
it all erodes
walk through myself
it all erodes
and now I’m lost
a dirt road
and an arroyo
if this is still
a dry river bed
a few summers ago
a volunteer abuelita
smokes with us
a mirrored casket in Ferguson
a mirrored shield at Standing Rock
I don’t have
I have books
which tell me
that my goddess
she was a
was at one-point
give it time,
that court building
to the wind
a snake woman
find a boot
over the hole