Back to Issue Twenty-Nine.

The Posada Sonnets



I – belén, campanas de belén


did the cargo bed burn? the one who looks like him

asks. outside, a car clears its throat pulling out


of gravel. josé opens the door, & the youngest

shores up to his knees. he clasps the clumps

of denim, washing its dirt with eyes brown

as the sonora. after their hearts slow down,


he goes outside with the men made of empty

modelos. they grab fistfuls of cacahuates, he

the neck of his red ecko. smells maría again,

recites her prayers of sweat & victoria secret


perfume. lips tremble for her clutch as mouth

climbed down her small cerros. & she moaned

his name una última vez—the rain coming down

like tears.



II – en el nombre del padre


is it a timeless knowledge que los hombres se empedan

as an excuse to cry? for throats of glass to be chased

con chente, who pours on the salted rim of lip—llorar.

was meño the first to water concrete with eyes, & ask

josé, compadre, do the cicadas still belt songs in june,

the boys mistake mating for the sound of heat? is yes

to see her circle la plaza with your rose held, a church

bell to tremble con chisme, as comas en cada cuadra

persignan her walking rhinestone? está la pista de baile

hecho de tacones y ostrich boots, la birria burnt over

un camarón pelao? y bodas después, will el novio only

be called father when he kneels to his sons, wishing

palms can shore pesos? as you walked uphill with a torn

mochila, & met the other men perched behind pick-up,

who was the first you bent your head to, their shoulders

a warm church bench?



III – Aguinaldo


Pozole oozes from metal mouths. Pots of pollo & hominy,

hummin’ about. ‘Nesa puts down a Gucci bag, lowers a bowl

into the greasy volcán. Calms the caldo with fistfuls of lettuce.

& let us give thanks, Abuela says, for this meal, the birth de nuestro

señor. For Sofia as she hoofs past the holy trinity in a reindeer

mameluco, sniffs las casuelas that tower o’er her space buns.

She tiptoes to touch the stainless temples, the chunks of skin

stuck to walls, ‘till she hears the alarm sound of tías boiling

behind her, VANESA! AGÁRRALA. She jiggles down

to the back table, inspects the crops of Vero Mango poking

through plastic, & snaggletooths the twigs of twist knots.

As ‘Nesa grabs Sofia, she the goodie bag, both hold

the sweetest gift.



IV – The Most High


Tías walk in wax, Chuy rolls his on

bible-thin paper, dresses Our Lady

in a spliffed robe. White petals float


backseat, the tuffs of sons sprouting

from Dora sheets. Their sheepish eyes

graze Chuy’s hands—how they thicket


a street sacrament. His fingers of tired

vultures pluck the stem, a stubborn vein,

& open the body of Mary until she’s a palm


of kief. Face-to-face with their Messiah,

Moi bleats, Can I try? & inside the shepherd’s

whip, lungs confess their first hit. He gropes


for the door, still child-locked, so he rips

his baby-blue hoodie. Moises coughs,

& the burning bush dies laughing. Mi’jo,


your arms is too short to hotbox with God.



V – the wise men stop to play chess in the front yard


he grooms the feathers of an adidas hoodie,

logo of a chest swelling, hit em wit dat one-two.

with mando’s call, a flock of primos encircle

us, soles glued to patinetas & plastic chairs.

the apostles of postin up, they raise phones

like staffs, snapchat the pawn’s cold march,

a lone brown boy who’s crossed the guarded

line. how do you win this game, chirps baby alex

as he nestles inside my cotton shirt. i lift

his sleeveless wings, so perched on my lap,

he can hear, let them believe you only move once.



VI – next of kin


darting their heads at the pieces of men who’ve gone

from this board, the older crows kiss their teeth, naw

this ain’t it chief. which i think’s millennial for tweeting,

has death always been this wooden, waged over color

by a murder of homeboys plumed in puffer jackets?

i watch samuel put on his from across the table, & try

to remember antonio’s face, how old he would’ve been,

the age when red was just a bandana, not the stain never

cleaned from a white t. & maybe this is why mexicans have

so many nicknames, to flower the nearest flesh with our lips

before a corner does. like papá as he knocked on the tinted

window, handed tamales to our neighbor Nate, ten carnal.

how dimebags fell from his lap as he bit into the warm husk

of spanish. & sang, man oh man.

Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Antonio López received a double B.A. in Global Cultural Studies and African-American studies from Duke University. He’s received scholarships to attend the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, the Home School, Tin House Summer Workshop, the Key West Literary Seminar, and the Vermont Studio Center. A proud Macondista (2018) and CantoMundo Fellow (2019), his nonfiction has been featured in PEN/America and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Palette Poetry, BOAAT Press, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Acentos Review, Permafrost, Huizache, Tin House and elsewhere. He received his Master in Fine Arts (poetry) at Rutgers University in Newark. As a 2018 Marshall Scholar, he is currently pursuing a Master in Philosophy in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford.


Next (Dana Levin) >

< Previous (Kamilah Aisha Moon)