Back to Issue Sixteen.

midwestern skulls for the broken latino

BY ROY G. GUZMÁN

 

People who crave the jaw
& not the fox’s gentle tail—
his land mine

of teeth; a temporary exit
for those who yearn to return to the coyote’s
tent to reclaim their belongings—
the chopped head, the neck
before it was plucked from the rest of the body
like a hen’s for dinner. Antique shops

for raccoons’ clawed feet;
a necklace
for a woman in labor. After the snow melts
the dead return to their natural habitats—
eyes barely shut under the charcoal, whiskers
trapped in the pinecones.
Some secrets are better rolled into the mouths

of strangers
when they sleep. A father can make up
suffering’s seasons: leave in the afternoon,
then sneak in through a windowless frame—

though these, too, can be called winter & fall
& held by a child’s contemptuous hands
in a garden where only the wind
can be torn from branches.

Did they really mean
to leave us shipwrecked—those sailors
who recognized flesh but not what the flesh
can camouflage? People covet

the mandible as it’s handed down
for all to drink from. In his hands
I appear dead—
but here, here in my chest, is where my father
finds the new continent

of directions measured in forgiveness.
I sleep in the wilderness,
like a fox loitering in a frozen meadow,
& I’ll feed him forgiveness
if he asks.

Roy G. Guzmán is a Honduran-born poet whose work has appeared or will appear in Notre Dame Review, Drunken Boat, Lockjaw, Fjords Review, Compose, Red Savina Review, NonBinary, The Acentos Review, and The Best American Poetry Blog. He is an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Minnesota, poetry editor for Sundog Lit, and has been nominated twice for Best of the Net.

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